Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata cv.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mystery Plant

Here is another older picture I came across recently when going through my image files. If I remember correctly I took this one in a park in Delhi; the shrub was scruffy and leafless but its orange flowers are quite showy.

I do not have the slightest idea as to the identity of this plant. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Garden on the Beach

I was going through some older pictures looking for images to use in one of my final projects and I came across this picture I took of a little garden of palms and various succulents someone had laid out around the remnants of a wooden boat on a largely deserted stretch of beach in southern Portugal:

I have no idea who created this little landscape in such a tough environment - sandy, hot, arid, and constantly exposed to salt spray - but I find its improvised, hardscrabble aesthetic very intriguing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011


It just occurred to me that today is December 4, the feast day of Saint Barbara, and that I have almost let the day pass without writing a post about the flower-related traditions associated with this date. Following an old custom, many people in Germany cut branches of spring-flowering trees and shrubs - those of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) are most commonly used where I grew up - and bring them inside to put in a vase. In the warmth of the house, the Barbarazweige or "Barbara twigs" are supposed to blossom by Christmas.

 Prunus sp.

You can find my previous, more extensive posts on Barbaratag here and here... And I assume that the forcing of the branches works just as well if one cuts them on December 5...

Another Houseplant Update

My collection of houseplants in my apartment at school has been slowly and steadily expanding. The relatively low light levels make it a bit of a challenge to find suitable plants but by and large things are doing well.

One of my African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha), just beginning to flower for the second time

Date palm seedlings (Phoenix dactylifera) just sprouting

A white-flowered cultivar of Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)

Young coleus seedlings (Solenostemon scutellarioides) beginning to display their different leaf patterns

Miniature Phalaenopsis, still flowering and already setting the next set of buds

With the African violets doing so well, I wonder if I should start giving some other gesneriads a try. Episcias particularly intrigue me, especially since they come in intense shades of red. Of course, I would have to find a good source for such plants first, preferably one compatible with a graduate student's rather limited budget.