Monday, May 31, 2010

A white-crowned pigeon visits

Actually, they're quite common in my neck of the woods, but they are considered "near threatened" throughout its range, which consists of the Caribbean islands and parts of coastal Central America. For once, habitat loss isn't the problem; it's hunting. At least they're protected now in the U.S. where  they're only found in Florida south of Lake Okeechobee and through the Keys.

This one's a juvenile; an adult is easily recognized by its bright white pate. If you click on the top image, the enlarged photo will show you where its white crown is starting to appear.

It hadn't quite got flying down, and was having a hard time landing on the bird bath. A smaller blue jay arrived, but the pigeon successfully shooed him off.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rangoon creeper

I don't remember seeing a Rangoon creeper (Quisqualis indica) around here, but I came across this one this afternoon while taking Sparky (the dog) for a bike run.

It's a big, vigorous vine, as the second pic illustrates, but it certainly is beautiful, and has a pleasant, light fragrance. The flowers start out white, change to pink, eventually becoming a deep red.

The strange thing was that as I continued the run, I came across four more (okay, three were in close proximity).  One of them was growing up a dead tree on the right of way, and there were lots of easily-removed suckers nearby. Guess what I'm going to do tomorrow?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Biodiversity and gardening

I came across an article on the topic in The Daily Telegraph, which I recommend reading. At the bottom of the piece are these recommendations:

  • When you buy plants, try to ascertain which family they belong to. It will help you understand what they might be good for in terms of nectar, food plant and so on.
  • Leave at least some of the garden to grow wild. Let it do what it wants to do and follow the course of the seasons naturally. This will have a very beneficial effect on diversity in the garden.
  • Try to grow at least some native plants apart from grass. Notice what wild flowers and bulbs are native to your area and bring them in. They feed the indigenous population of birds, insects, fungi and bacteria.
  • Always include leguminous plants in the veg garden to grab the free nitrogen that they produce.
  • Make as much compost as you can in order to recycle nutrients around the garden. It uses up waste, be it kitchen or garden, to best effect.

The Telegraph is the paper my family read growing up. It's a conservative paper, but it does seem to take seriously the connection between "conservative" and "conservation." And it's the only paper I know that has a whole section dedicated to "beekeeping."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dancing ladies

These dancing ladies (yellow Oncidiums) grow on a live oak a few blocks from my house where they appear to be extremely happy. I've watched them grow over the years and have always been surprised they do so well because I thought Oncidiums needed much more light.

I hope the homeowners cut the Epipremnum back before it strangles the orchids.

My own DLs, including this one with giant flowers (I have no idea what its name is) have mostly finished flowering, so it was nice to see those in the oak still going strong.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Very late Project GROW April report

My bad. 'nuff said.

OK, my Spitfire nasturtiums from Renee's Garden are flowering and some of them are beginning to trail.

The first pic is of one growing in a large pot along with some rather sad Turnera subulata, but the leaves compliment each other nicely.

The flower color is what I consider to be "traditional" nasturtium orange, not the scarlet-orange of the description, which is a bit disappointing. (I love yellows, such as Whirlybird Cream, and deep reds, like Cobra, which also has grey/green leaves.) Perhaps Spitfire will get redder as she grows.

The second pic shows one of three plants, in a different location, beginning to wander off. These are in the toughest spot; the soil is poor; it doesn't get watered often, and I suspect that, since it's close to the street, a dog is using the heavy wrought iron screen I "planted" as a place to pee. But nasturtiums are tough plants, which makes them such assets for a chaotic gardener like me.