July 27

Carnivorous Plant Update [Nature]

It was ridiculously dry here in North Florida this past spring. We’ve gone for weeks without a single drop. At least at my house. My partner and I have watched storm fronts plowing their way towards our location, only to see them dissipate or break around us. We joke that someone built a dome over our part of town. I blame Mr. Burns.

But Tropical Storm Claudette seems to have broken the dry streak. She made landfall hours to the west of here a month or so ago, but the majority of the rain was on the east side of the storm (as it is with most tropical systems) and we finally got some rain. And then every single day. My yard is transforming into a jungle.

Which is great. Especially for my carnivorous plants. My big pitcher plants were in rough shape and my smaller plants – flytraps, sundews, and small pitchers – were struggling. Even my rain barrel was bone dry. I was getting desperate.

A bit of rainfall made a huge difference. The big plants are still recovering, but the small ones are thriving.

I think my little shop of horrors is going to be damp and happy for the foreseeable future. In fact, I’m so happy about their recovery I thought I’d share some recent photos of my little shop of horrors.

Flytraps

I picked up a new flytrap last year from California Carnivores and he (or she?) is doing great. Lush and green and gobbling up little insects. The brown traps are ones that are used up. Meaning, they’ve caught at least one insect, no more than two, and now the plant discards the trap and develops new ones. Venus fly trap

But what I’m most happy about is this little one on the right side of the screen. I’ve had this flytrap for over five years, but this past spring was especially rough on it. I thought it had died off, but I left the pot alone because I still had hope. Carnivorous plants, although somewhat difficult to take care of, can also be surprisingly resilient. Venus fly trap

And I wasn’t disappointed. About two weeks ago I noticed a tiny bit of green poking up through the moss. Now it looks like it’s on the way to a full recovery!

Pitchers

These guys are my small Nepenthes and Sarracenia pitchers. Both are new additions to my patio. These guys grow low on the ground in the wild. I have them because I love the colors and patterns on the pitchers.

Pitcher plant and sundewThe one on the left, with the companion sundew, will have to be transplanted once the weather cools. Winter dormancy is the time to uproot them or take cuttings. The sundew was a bonus. I had ordered the pitcher, but the sundew suddenly appeared and almost took over the pot.

This one has beautiful coloring and, judging from the dead/dying pitchers, has been eating well. In fact, if you check out the second photo you’ll see a recent victim.

Pitcher plantInsect floating in pitcher

 

I have a few more members of the ensemble, but I’ll save them for the next post. I hope you enjoyed seeing these unique plants. Remember, carnivorous plants are protected, so please don’t dig them up if you find them in the wild. If you’re interested in adding a few to your garden, please do your research first and buy from a reputable dealer.

If you have any questions or comments, you can post them below.

RB

 

June 7

A Poetry Moment VI – Surf [Poetry]

Hollywood Beach
A photo I took on Hollywood Beach, FL, 2013.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the ocean. I grew up on and around the water, spending long hours swimming, snorkeling, boating, fishing, and laying on the sand with a good book to read.

I tried to capture the essence of a day at the beach in a poem. Something that expressed how I feel inside when I hear the ceaseless roar of the waves, the smell of salt in the air, the warmth of the sun. I think I ended up with something very close.

Surf

Porcelain white gulls,

shadows crossing me like a dream

as I lay in the gilded rays.

My thoughts adrift

on the audible surf,

gently bobbing

here and there.

The contours of the sand

like a maternal blanket,

holding me fast and secure.

Shadows flit over me,

gentle caresses,

a lover’s touch

and I sigh.

RB

April 30

A Photo Moment – Amaryllis

One of the reasons I love flowers is because they remind me of the impermanence of things. It’s a tenet of Buddhist philosophy, that nothing lasts forever and our attachment to things is one of the causes of suffering. We have to appreciate things while we have them because we never know when they’ll be gone.

I’m reminded of this every spring when the Amaryllis in my yard begin to return to life. They’re flowering bulbs, meaning, they sprout and bloom when the weather begins to warm, then remain green through the summer, and die off in the winter. Amaryllis blooms

I have several of them in pots on my back patio, and a few growing in a bed further out in the yard. It’s kinda funny how excited I get when I see those first shoots rising up out of the soil, the flower stalk pointing at and reaching for the sky like a green rocket ship. I know what’s coming and I know it won’t last long.

Amaryllis bloom

This year they bloomed in a staggered fashion, first breaking the surface in one pot, then another, then another, as if they were trying to make the beauty of their blooms last a little bit longer. When they finally were in full display, the deep, rich reds were a sharp contrast against the greenery that served as a backdrop.

But my focus is always on the flowers. The colors are so dense, with the delicate stigma looking like alien antenna. Amaryllis bloom

Of course, there is one aberration, which is the one I call the candy cane. Predominantly white blooms with red stripes. There’s only one in the yard, but it’s my favorite. I don’t tell the other ones, though. Amaryllis bloom

The photos posted here were taken a little over a week ago, so now the blooms have faded and drooped and are ready to be cut back. It’s unfortunate, but inevitable.

However, I know they’ll be back again next year to brighten my yard for a few days. I’ll be waiting patiently.

RB

April 16

Pitcher Plant Flowers

You may already be aware of my love of carnivorous plants. Now that the weather is warming, most of them are starting to bloom and their flowers are amazing. The pitcher plants tend to bloom the earliest in my little shop of horrors, and this year I thought it would be interesting to take a photo every day to capture the flower’s life cycle.

I initially created a gif, but the finished product ended up too small to appreciate the beauty of the flower. That, and the file size was a bit too large.

So I ended up tossing together a video. It’s only about a minute long, but it gives you a chance to see just how incredible these plants are.

I also wrote the music, too. In case you were wondering.

Hope you enjoy this short educational moment.

RB

April 7

Godzilla Can’t Compare

It’s not often one gets the opportunity to witness an epic battle in nature, but I was lucky enough to see two lizards lock up on my back patio wall the other day. My dog, Siri, alerted me and we watched with wide eyes as the two opponents circled one another looking for an opening. Then things got a little crazy…

My old girl loves to watch the lizards sunning themselves and often barks at them. However, I think she was a little disappointed in this match. As the heat of battle cooled, she let out a little frustrated sigh. Don’t worry, girl. I’m sure they’ll be at it again soon.

Now back to getting the patio straightened up.

RB