Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Blossoms from the south

February 20, 2017

Two visits to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, one a few weeks ago, one last week, netting wonderful plants from the Southern Hemisphere (South Africa to Australia and New Zealand): Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’ and Tulbaghia simmleri ‘Cheryl Renshaw’ on the first visit, a species of Bulbinella (possibly Bulbinella nutans) on the second. All winter-blooming here in Palo Alto (though their blooming times are variable, in both hemispheres).

Meanwhile, we’re having a continuation of winter, with all its plants (including various magnolias, camellias, citrus fruits, cymbidium orchids, leafy greens and brassicas of all kinds, cyclamens, hellebores, pansies and violets, and so on). Meanwhile, the onset of spring comes in January, with narcissus / daffodils (now in great spreads of bloom), the first leafing out of deciduous trees, and then the flowering fruit trees in the genus Prunus (now blooming gorgeously and dropping their petals everywhere). There are seasons, but they overlap. Very soon: the first roses.



February 19, 2017

… the plant, viewable locally in planters outside two office buildings, one a block north and one a block west of where I live. They thrive there; they are tough plants, aggressive even — they are invasive pest plants in South Africa and Australia — though they suffer some from vandals who manage to break their stems off. The local species, Equisetum hyemale, in a big stand:


Two red hot pokers

December 14, 2016

About plants and their names, on the occasion of another visit to the cactus and succulent garden at Stanford — to view the incredible profusion of plants now that it’s been raining fairly regularly. Especially remarkable carpets of ground-cover succulents, and lots of jade plants in bloom. And two similar-looking flowering plants — red hot pokers — that on closer inspection turn out to be quite distinct: the Kniphofia that I posted about a while back, and a different plant that was clearly a species of Aloe.


Con Ed and the Ramona St. Squirrel Squad

December 4, 2016

… share a slogan: Dig We Must.

For Consolidated Edison (the NYC energy company), it was a slogan from the 1950s, asserting the company’s need to excavate under city streets to install power and gas lines, to create a better city.

For the squirrels around my Ramona St. condo, it describes their relentless drive to dig in the nice loose soil of my container gardens, to bury the nuts they find in the neighborhood, leaving devastation in their wake.


Silver-bush everlasting

December 1, 2016

One common name (in trochaic tetrameter, even) for Helichrysum petiolare, the ‘Moe’s Silver’ variety of which Juan Gomez and I admired at Palo Alto’s Gamble Gardens this morning, along with other features of the early-winter garden (gorgeous late-blooming roses, narcissus shoots boldly up, some already blooming, and much more). One nice feature of the beds in their mostly cut-back-for-winter state is that you can appreciate groundcovers and other low-growing plants, like the delightful silver-leaved, gold-flowered Moe’s Silver:


And so it begins

November 28, 2016

… winter that is, with cold nights (cold for this part of the world), and one rainstorm after another sweeping down from the northwest (over the ocean). And with the First Cymbidium of Winter:

The shoot appeared several weeks ago, and the buds began opening on Thanksgiving Day, just the way they’re supposed to (first plants flowering in late November, last ones finishing in mid-June).


The strap-like leaves belong to the cymbidium. The plant in back of it is a kalanchoe, and the other visible leaves belong to pelargoniums (what are commonly called geraniums). Plus a shaft of early-winter sun.

Rain over the weekend. Now it seems that the next storms went inland well north of here and will miss us, so no rain for, oh, maybe, 10 days. Nice crisp days, but no drought relief for a while.

Going extinct there, flourishing here

November 17, 2016

Noted today in the section of Palo Alto’s Gamble Gardens devoted to plants from arid areas — the Mediterranean, Chile, South Africa, Australia — with climates like our local climate: a very attractive ground cover, with thin, leathery, silver and green leaves. Not in bloom, but still pleasant to look at. Identified as Dymondia margaretae, and if that’s not a taxonomic name derived from a personal name, I’ll hang up my onomastic hat.

The plant, and then the person. And a background story that’s part misfortune, part good fortune.


Two Mediterranean plants for wintry days

November 9, 2016

A visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto yesterday, where fall plants like chrysanthemums are on display, winter vegetables like lettuces and bok choy / pak choi are flourishing, and most of the garden is in transition. Several striking plants in the Mediterranean gardens, including two that are of note in the fall and winter: Drimia maritima (the sea squill, though it really should be known as the rat poison plant) and Iris unguicularis (the Algerian or winter iris).


A planter for phallophiles

November 8, 2016

In line with my recent posting on vases for phallophiles, now a little planter for the same audience. Sold on Etsy last year, link sent to me on Facebook by Emily Rizzo, photo below:

Explanation from the site:

MRandMAsCeramiCrafts: This listing is for our regular size 04 bisque ready to paint clown cactus planter standing approx. 8 inches tall by 2 inches by 2 1/2 inches across with a shipping weight of 2 lbs.

The inside has been clear glazed so all you have to do is paint and plant! The finished planters are shown so you can see how they could look when finished.

I suppose you could call this a “crotch planter”. Pretty much anything you plant in it will appear to be coming out of the clown’s crotch — but some plant choices, like the blooming cactus here, mimic a penis more successfully than others.

Patio, with plants and penguins

November 5, 2016

From a little while ago, this photo of part of my front patio, featuring, in the front, two giant pots, with an Agave desmetiana and, behind it, a Hydrangea macrophylla in bloom. With attendant plastic penguins. Behind them, two deck chairs and a small table. And to the side, a cymbidium orchid in a pot, one end of a stand of these orchids, together with many geraniums and a collection of other plants in pots.


That was then. Now the patio is completely empty, waiting for a contractor to begin work on repairing the two dry-rotted balconies above my patio. Scaffolding is soon to be erected.