Tag Archives: Clivia

Over Due

2 Mar

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been neglecting this poor blog, but I’m here to say I am still alive and well! I just left Edinburgh this morning and now I am settling into London and I start my first day at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew tomorrow. It has always been a childhood dream of mine to live in London and work at Kew, and now it is finally happening!

I really should be getting ready for tomorrow, so this won’t be a substantial post in the way of words. It hope a parade of pretty pictures will satisfy most of you. These photos are all from around Scotland (RBGE = Royal Botanic Garden Edinbrugh, GBG = Glasgow Botanic Gardens).

The pleasingly prehistoric Ferns & Fossils House. RBGE

The pleasingly prehistoric Ferns & Fossils House. RBGE

Another view of the Fern & Fossils House. RBGE

Another view of the Fern & Fossils House. RBGE

There is desert fern Notholaena standleyi in the Arid Lands House. RBGE

There is desert fern Notholaena standleyi in the Arid Lands House. RBGE

Here is tropical rhododendron (Vireya) Rhododendron christi in the Montane Tropical House. RBGE

Here is tropical Rhododendron (Vireya) Rhododendron christi in the Montane Tropical House. RBGE

Here is Primulina tamiana in the Montane Tropical House. RBGE

Here is Primulina tamiana in the Montane Tropical House. RBGE

Here is another Rhododendron christi, but this time growing out of a bed of feathery Selaginella. RBGE

Here is another Rhododendron christi, but this time growing out of a bed of feathery Selaginella. RBGE

The frothy flowers of Begonia angularis in the Temperate Lands House. RBGE

The frothy flowers of Begonia angularis in the Temperate Lands House. RBGE

The icy-white flowers of Vinca difformis glow in the soft light by the John Hope Gateway. RBGE

The icy-white flowers of Vinca difformis glow in the soft light by the John Hope Gateway. RBGE

Here is Helleborus cyclophyllus braving the biting cold in the Woodland Garden. RBGE

Here is Helleborus cyclophyllus braving the biting cold in the Woodland Garden. RBGE

Also braving the cold is Primula sibthorpii. RBGE

Also braving the cold is Primula sibthorpii. RBGE

There is a bench full of Begonia socotrana grown from wild collected seed from a collecting trip during the 1990's. RBGE

There is a bench full of Begonia socotrana grown from wild collected seed from a collecting trip during the 1990’s. RBGE

Here is the extremely rare Pelargonium insularis from the island of Socotra. RBGE

Here is the extremely rare Pelargonium insularis from the island of Socotra. RBGE

An aroid blooming in one of the backup glasshouses.

An aroid blooming in one of the backup glasshouses. RBGE

What looks like a mass of little aliens is a Gymnospermium albertii waking up for the year.

What looks like a mass of little aliens is a Gymnospermium albertii waking up for the year. RBGE

Primula allionii beginning to flower in the backup alpine houses.

Primula allionii beginning to flower in the backup alpine houses. RBGE

This Dionysia afghanica is only 1.5" wide and 11 years ago it was as big as a pinky fingernail - cute!

This Dionysia afghanica is only 1.5″ wide and 11 years ago it was as big as a pinky fingernail – cute! RBGE

Here is another Primula allionii. It's so tiny!

Here is another Primula allionii. It’s so tiny! RBGE

This is Agapetes variegata var macrantha and I've never seen such big flowers on this genus before!

This is Agapetes variegata var macrantha and I’ve never seen such big flowers on this genus before! RBGE

Now this little lovely is Rhododendron himantodes - a tropical Rhododendron that was once in the genus Vireya.

Now this little lovely is another tropical Rhododendron:  Rhododendron himantodes. RBGE

This Pterostylis hybrid, 'Nodding Grace', reminds me of a thirsty goblin.

This is hybrid Pterostylis ‘Nodding Grace’. The flowers remind me of a thirsty goblin. RBGE

A tiny Narcissus, possibly Narcissus assoanus.

A tiny Narcissus, possibly Narcissus assoanus. RBGE

This teeny weeny orchid might be an Appendicula sp. (Thanks Marc for the partial ID.)

This teeny weeny orchid might be an Appendicula sp. (Thanks Marc for the partial ID.) RBGE

I found his beautiful arrangement of orchids in the back up greenhouses. The large orchid with the black throat is a Dendrobium nobile type, while I can't remember the name of the lovely white one.

I found his beautiful arrangement of orchids in the back up greenhouses. The large orchid with the black throat is a Dendrobium nobile type, while I can’t remember the name of the lovely white one. RBGE

This tranquil scene is a moss sanctuary at RBGE Benmore.

This tranquil scene is a moss sanctuary at RBGE Benmore.

This recently refurbished Victorian fern house is also at RBGE.

This recently refurbished Victorian fern house is also at RBGE Benmore.

Here are some young Araucaria trees in the Chilean Garden at RBGE Benmore.

Here are some young Araucaria trees in the Chilean Garden at RBGE Benmore.

Here is a shot of one of the gardens at RBGE Logan.

Here is a shot of one of the gardens at RBGE Logan.

This quaint bed of snowdrops had my swooning all day. RBGE Logan.

This quaint bed of snowdrops had my swooning all day. RBGE Logan

This is Sparmannia africana and when my mentor for the week flicked the flower I watched with amazement as the anthers in the flower quickly spread out.

This is Sparmannia africana and when my mentor for the week flicked the flower I watched with amazement as the anthers in the flower quickly spread out. RBGE Logan

The flowers of Calliandra haematocephala are wonderfully soft and I like the very cheery red. GBG

The flowers of Calliandra haematocephala are wonderfully soft and I like the very cheery red. GBG

Not a flower, but a seed pod of Glottiphyllum angustum. GBG

Not a flower, but a seed pod of Glottiphyllum angustum. GBG

This lovely thing is hybrid orchid Coelogyne 'Unchained Melody'. GBG

This lovely thing is hybrid orchid Coelogyne ‘Unchained Melody’. GBG

This beardy orchid is Coelogyne barbata. GBG

This beardy orchid is Coelogyne barbata. GBG

These Primulas are tender Malacoidea- type hybrids. GBG

These are tender Primula malacoidea – type hybrids. GBG

I love the orange bell flowers of this Kalanchoe. Looks like a species, but it may be a hybrid. GBG

I love the orange bell flowers of this Kalanchoe. Looks like a species, but it may be a hybrid. GBG

These trusses of tiny flowers belong to Dendrochilum tenellum. Fragrant too!

These trusses of tiny flowers belong to Dendrochilum tenellum. Fragrant too! GBG

I think this is Blechnum orientale, but whatever it is the new fronds are glorious!

I think this is Blechnum orientale, but whatever it is the new fronds are glorious! GBG

This little orchid is Scaphosepalum verrucosum. The flowers look like little vipers to me.

This little orchid is Scaphosepalum verrucosum. The flowers look like little vipers to me. GBG

This amazing room is the Filmy Fern Room at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

This amazing room is the Filmy Fern Room at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

The Clivias in the living room continue to bloom and bloom!

The Clivias in the living room continue to bloom and bloom!

Something you wouldn't find in the US - a castle in the middle of town!

Something you wouldn’t find in the US – a castle in the middle of town!

Is it just me or is there a skull in this Eucalyptus tree? RBGE

Is it just me or is there a skull in this Eucalyptus tree? RBGE

I had such a wonderful time in Edinburgh that leaving was a little bittersweet. However, I have a feeling that this isn’t goodbye for good. I know that was really short, but I’ll be back with more posts soon – I promise. Talk to you all soon!

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Neighborhood (Plant) Watch

8 Jan

Like Seattle, people in the UK can talk about the weather for hours, which is a handy thing if you are trying to make small talk and don’t know what to talk about. People have been telling me this year’s winter has been milder than it has been in a couple of years, which I really appreciate. Though since we just started winter last month we still have January and February to see if Mother Nature decides to change her mind. It’s been quite windy lately and sheets of rain whipping through Edinburgh, but between all of that we’ve had a few calm sunny days.

The Viburnum x bodnantense across the road can be smelt throwing out its soft perfume on (relatively) warm days.

The Viburnum x bodnantense across the road can be smelt throwing out its soft perfume on (relatively) warm days.

I love that Edinburgh is a walkable city. On my way to the grocery store, museums, and parks, I like to take different streets to see the more intimate parts of town. Plus I like to see what people have growing in front of their apartments. Some homes were very fortunate to have little garden spaces in the front (and some in the back), but most places were paved over. So potted plants and containers of all sizes are a common sight.

Most apartment gardeners have myriad of pots.

Most apartment gardeners have myriad of pots.

The neighbors in the basement level to the left have a wonderful collection of plants. All the potted plants are lovingly arranged and organized. I can imagine it filled with annual flowers and riots of color in the warmer months.

The neighbor's plants down below.

The neighbor’s plants down below.

The neighbors in the basement level to the right are a little bit more eclectic. On the staircase going down, you are immediately greeted by a terrarium. I wonder what secret plantiness is hiding in there.

An outdoor terrarium? It almost looks like there is a Lycopodium living in it!

An outdoor terrarium? It almost looks like there is a Lycopodium living in it!

On the other side of their patio you see this:

Putting a (hopefully) decommissioned toilet to good use!

Putting a (hopefully) decommissioned toilet to good use!

The apartment down from the one above has a nice collection of containers in front. The plant choices of Fremontodendron and olive hint at the types of plants laying down below in the basement level.

I love the cobalt blue containers plus extra points for the Fremontodendron (behind the olive, against the wall on the left).

I love the cobalt blue containers plus extra points for the Fremontodendron (behind the olive, against the wall on the left).

Unfortunately, my camera died the way back home, so I could only get a shot of one side of the patio. The patio is dotted with tropical plants including passion flowers and an Abutilon (which is looking quite alive and good for January).

I bet it's a nice grotto of tropical flowers in the summer.

I bet it’s a nice grotto of tropical flowers in the summer.

It seemed that anywhere I looked pelargoniums (aka zonal geraniums) were still growing and blooming, which really shows how mild it’s been. For the longest time I didn’t like zonal geraniums. I think it was the association with cheesy bedding schemes and their weird smelling leaves, but since then I have learned that pelargoniums are quite tough and deserve a second chance with jaded gardeners/plant snobs – you know who you are!

Still blooming and a nice bright pink, I might add.

Still blooming and a nice bright pink, I might add.

This apartment really took on the idea of container gardening. It looks like a full on garden. The mature potted trees give lovely height and structure and the seasonal annuals really create a cohesiveness between the containers and bring in much needed color to combat the dreary winter weather. I like the addition of the palm and Phormium, a nice strong evergreen contrast to the deciduous trees and soft leafy bedding annuals.

Look at the range of plants!

Look at the range of plants!

As I walked past I was taken away by the weeping cherry tree in the back. I think young weeping cherry trees are a little awkward in a garden – unless trained up to appropriate height – since the branches tend to drape much to early when young resulting with flowers buried in the dirt. Cleverly here, the tree can weep as freely as it likes without the earth below to spoil its graceful posture.

I bet it looks so lovely in spring with a cascade of pink/white.

I bet it looks so lovely in spring with a cascade of pink/white.

Further down the block I saw this entrance and thought it was cute, but then the trough on the right made me do a double take.

Oh I love the pansies - wait...what's that on the right?

Oh I love the pansies – wait…what’s that on the right?

I leaned in for a closer look and I thought it was a Haworthia! (Haworthia is a genus of succulent plants originating from Africa and are not cold hardy.) It’s growing in a container in an exposed site and what puzzled me most was that very evidently it has been growing undisturbed here for a few years. I took to Facebook that night and it turns out it is Haworthia look-alike Aloe aristata. This Aloe is from the winter rainy high elevations of South Africa and lends itself to growing well outside in the UK.

Are my eyes deceiving me? Is that a hardy Haworthia?!

Are my eyes deceiving me? Is that a hardy Haworthia?!

As I looked back (and below) I realized whoever lives here has a taste for tropical/succulenty plants.

Looking back up the street. (The lady on the left jokingly asked if she could be in one of my photos.)

Looking back up the street. (The lady on the left jokingly asked if she could be in one of my photos.)

In addition to tall beautiful specimens of Trachycarpus fortunei and Cordyline australis  emerging from the depths, there is a yucca at the foot of the palm and potted plants including an Agave, an Aloe vera and some Sempervivum.

A statuesque Trachycarpus fortunei with lovely frayed older leaves - much like a botanical illustration.

A statuesque Trachycarpus fortunei with lovely frayed older leaves – much like a botanical illustration.

A mature Cordyline australis with faded inflorescences.

A mature Cordyline australis with faded inflorescences.

Oh I bet that Aloe vera is feeling a bit chilly...

Oh I bet that Aloe vera is feeling a bit chilly…

The next apartment, which I think is actually an office for a business, had a nice healthy Fastia in bloom.

Nothing like a healthy Fatsia for a softening touch of the tropics.

Nothing like a healthy Fatsia for a softening touch of the tropics.

Another block down another planty person must live here. There was a range of plants with wonderfully different shapes, textures, and colors. Though it seems like the focus was on evergreen foliage, some of them, such as the ChoisyaOsmanthus and Sarcococca, would also provide some flowers and sweet fragrance.

Very foliaceous and a nice touch with the Eucalyptus.

Very foliaceous and a nice touch with the Eucalyptus.

More foliage...

More foliage…

and more foliage!

and more foliage!

Around another block there is this wonderful secluded basement patio (except for the fact that nosey people like me enjoy peeking in).

I love the bench for relaxing - a walled garden in the city.

I love the bench for relaxing – a walled garden in the city.

This it on a quiet street next to a church. I know some may find it bleak, but I like it. I love seeing an effort to green up a space and there is nothing more encouraging to see. Plus it’s fun seeing the Pyracantha and bulbs busting out of the pot (literally).

I like the shiny leaves and golden berries against the slate-grey walls.

I like the shiny leaves and golden berries against the slate-grey walls.

Across the street there is a small tree hole erupting with growth! If the birch tree wasn’t enough, there is a giant rose climbing up and arching over into the sidewalk, and a large Brachyglottis greyi ballooning out through the “cage”.

This tree hole(?) is stuffed!

This tree hole(?) is stuffed!

It’s nice to see green and life thriving in a place surrounded by stone and concrete. Again, very encouraging! (Plus there is something poetic about seeing plants escaping and busting out of their confines.)

Evidence of someone trying to keep the overflowing planting in check.

Evidence of someone trying to keep the overflowing planting in check.

On the same street there is this apartment with more evergreen goodness. The Pieris and camellias must be lovely in the spring.

I love seeing people's personal collection of pots and plants.

I love seeing people’s personal collection of pots and plants.

Back at the apartment, the landlady has a wonderful collection of houseplants. In my last post I mentioned that the houseplants in the entrance really excited me, but little did I know what treasures the living room would hold. The night I arrived, I was invited to have some drinks with the landlady, her daughter, and friends (it was the daughter’s birthday) in the living room and to my delight I saw more thriving houseplants!

The plants growing and blooming in the living room are a wonderful sight!

The plants growing and blooming in the living room are a wonderful sight!

I loved the range of plants in there, but what I was most impressed with was the not just growing, but a thriving and blooming florist azalea! Normally these azaleas are doomed to die when they enter any home, but this one was doing very well. (The landlady said she is just as surprised as I am, but I think she is just being modest.)

Seriously this is beyond words - an amazing feat!

Seriously this is beyond words – an amazing feat!

It might be the combination of large, bright windows and cool temperatures in the living room that is allowing this florist azalea to flourish. Either way, I’m entranced!

Those flowers just glow with the promise of spring.

Those flowers just glow with the promise of spring.

Sitting next to the florist azalea is her collection of blooming clivias. Clivias are as tough as nails: they can take dim, dry, and drafty situations and plus they grace us with flowers during the winter when color is most appreciated.

One of the toughest houseplants around.

One of the toughest houseplants around.

I love the much needed fiery flowers of Clivia during the winter.

I love the much needed fiery flowers of Clivia during the winter.

Such a welcoming sight. Almost all of the landlady’s houseplants are Victorian classics, but the one, and only one, in the TV room is the poster child for Victorian houseplants.

This perfect specimen of Aspidistra rightly deserves center stage in the window.

This perfect specimen of Aspidistra rightly deserves center stage in the window.

Yes, it is an Aspidistra! Also known as “cast iron plant”. They were very popular then, because, like their common name suggests, they could survive Victorian parlor rooms. These rooms were drafty, dry, dim, and smokey – a death sentence for most houseplants. Despite all of these things aspidistras would stay alive and look quite good (though,  understandably, they didn’t grow much). There are many Aspidistra species and they are naturally found growing in the dim and often dry-ish forest floors throughout east Asia. The species Aspidistra elatior is most commonly grown as a houseplant (which is the species of this one), it is hardy enough to grow outside in USDA zone 6. If you have dry shade and nothing seems to grow there, an Aspidistra is a good candidate.

I love the deep green and glossiness.

I love the deep green and glossiness.

Every morning and evening I am greeted by her pelargoniums in the kitchen window. She also keeps those live herbs that you can buy at the grocery store there too. I love that she has plants that are well suited to the conditions of the apartment and they carry on with their planty lives without taking over her’s.

The landlady just picked the basil leaves (two pots on the left) the night before.

The landlady just picked the basil leaves (two pots on the left) the night before.

Here’s my temporary “houseplant” while I am staying here. Yup, another Primula! Though this one doesn’t really have a scent, it’s quite cheerful and it reminds me of home and when I have to sadly leave Edinburgh I can guerrilla plant it somewhere in the city. Anyway, I gotta run again, but I will write to you soon!

So sweet and cheerful.

So sweet and cheerful.

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