Succulent Ramblings

I like to ramble on about my plants... and other things! My hope is to log the progress of plants and talk about my frustrations with others. So, tune in, turn on, or drop out (if you find it boring!)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Notes as I work in the GH...

I started this on my laptop, got my first paragraph in and the stupid thing deleted it!  I don't know what it is about both of my laptops, but for some reason, the keyboard just doesn't sit right and apparently, I must hit something as I'm typing that does one of two things - it either jumps back into the middle of what I've already typed, OR it highlights everything and as soon as I hit a key, it all disappears.  It makes me so mad I just wanna SPIT!  

Ok, back to my notes.  I've been spring cleaning...and what I mean by that is I take a plant down, check it over, trim, primp, whack, toss...whatever is called for.  I've had losses this winter because it's the worst year I can remember for mealies.  I'm usually really good at catching them before they get bad, but for some reason, they're hiding better from me.  My only explanation is my eyes are getting older and I'm not seeing them until they get bigger.  So I'm going to have to be more diligent, I guess...  In any case, it's weird because they're here and there.  In other words, I'll find a plant on a shelf that has them, and none of the surrounding plants have them.  Then several feet away, I'll find another one with them, but again, none of the surrounding plants have them.  It's weird...

I'm counting some of the losses as "maybes" at this point.  For example, I found 'Annakey', one of my super-expensive cuttings from Carol, dried up and destroyed by mealies.  I whacked it clear back to the soil, but the roots feel solid so I'm going to play "wait and see" - maybe it will come back.  I've got a few of those that I'll put out on the porch as soon as it's warm enough and see if I can't get them to come back.  

Then there were two (so far) that I whacked back just because I thought they were ugly.  Pentaphlebia is one I've been growing for some time.  I got a cutting from Dee about 15 years ago, then I got a plant from Gardinos a few years ago.  I put them together.  Well, they've always grown a little "funky" for me.  The leaves are almost always kind of wavy, not particularly pretty.  So I figure I'll let it restart and if that's just it's nature, I'll trade it off for something else.  

Kenejiana is another one.  I'm sure I blogged last summer about how my kenejiana is no favorite, but suddenly it sprouted 3 new shoots off at the edge of the pot that seemed completely different than the growth I'd been getting before.  Now granted, there are two different clones of kenejiana in the pot - one from Gardino's, and one from David Liddle.  Well, these new shoots are very eye appealing.  So what I did was I whacked back the old growth to see what will happen when it grows back.  I guess I'm feeling in an experimental mood this year!

My oldest kerrii really needs to be repotted.  Maybe back into the same pot, but it definitely could use some new soil.  It has such a super thick trunk on it, I think it would be better to put it in a slightly larger and very heavy pot.  Right now, it's in a lightweight metal pot.

Sp. aff. vitellina is one that has turned into a real beauty, and it's just covered with peduncles.  It looks like they may even be gearing up to bloom.  Here's a photo:
The leaves are relatively succulent, and subtly veined.  I think the spots are just from the sunny spot it sits in.  Sometimes, if there's droplets of water on a plant when the sun is blazing hot, the water magnifies the suns rays and "burns" a little spot into a leaf.  This is one that is pretty bug resistant, probably because the leaves are tough and vines are woody.

In the same vicinity is sp. Chicken Farm, one I got from Carol about 3 years ago.  It's grown nicely and the leaves are absolutely primitive looking!... 
This one is very succulent and the leaves are textured, veined and silver-mottled.  Very pretty!

I repotted bicknellii... poor, poor bicknellii!  It really should have been repotted last year at worst, and probably the year before would have been better.  I have it in one of my (what I call) BJ pots.  BJ was a good friend in the cactus club who passed away from cancer several years ago.  She made very interesting pottery, very textured and a little off-the-wall.  This was a heavy, tall pot that had about a 4" opening at the top, and it was maybe 6 or 7" tall.  Well, it was so grotesquely potbound that that I had to use a long, slender knife and cut along the outside of the rootball to separate it from the pot.  Well, even after that, I struggled like crazy to get it to "let go" from the bottom of the pot, and ended up losing about half the rootball.  I put it in a bigger, heavy clay pot and I'm so hoping it will adjust ok... It's such a lovely Hoya.  Here's a pic from a couple years ago...

And the flowers...
 
They're surprisingly small for the size of the plant.  Anyway, I'll be watching it closely with fingers crossed that it will adjust.

My huge H. australis ssp. australis has a lot of dead leaves on it.  I'm not sure why.  It's ancient, so it may just be experiencing some dieback that comes naturally with older plants.  When we have a nice warm day, I'll take it down (it's on the top shelf in my GH and quite heavy!), take it outside and spray it off with the hose, getting all the dead stuff out and getting a good look at it to make sure it's otherwise ok.

Time to fix supper!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

It's March at last!

March is here!  The Robins are back, the geese have all returned.  It's warm as all get-out.  We've been breaking temp records right and left!  

It's getting difficult to keep up with all my plants, which is why I'm gaining enthusiasm for "cutting the population".  I have so many nice-growing ones, I just don't need to be burdened by the difficult ones.  So some "speak" about the good ones...

H. krohniana has been hanging in the east window in the dining room all winter.  It has produced some extraordinarily large leaves.  The large ones aren't nearly as textured or as succulent as the small ones, and they are very shiny.  If it was all a single vine, I'd wonder if it was a different species stuck in there with it!  I guess it just proves that leaves can be quite variable and you really can't prove species purely based on leaves.
 That tiny leaf above the two large ones is on the same vine.  Oh, and notice the peduncle budding at the bottom of the photo?  Here's one that's a little further along...
I'm looking forward to that deliciously fragrant smell.  I miss not having a lacunosa - of course, some think that krohniana is a form of lacunosa.  They could be right - they smell the same!

I heard from the publisher of Hobby Greenhouse magazine that my article about Hoyas will be published in the next issue.  (It comes out 4 times a year...)  I submitted it late last summer, and they liked it, though they said it would probably be a couple issues before there was room for it.  But I'm excited to have it published and I look forward to sharing it with my Hoya Peeps on GW!

I don't think I've blogged since my computer woes started...  About 3 or 4 weeks ago, I got an e-mail from UPS that stated that they had attempted to deliver something and it had a "package status" link, which I clicked on.  My bad... I should have known better.  But I get packages ALL the time from UPS, and it really didn't occur to me that this was bogus... UNTIL it installed a zip file that I could neither open nor delete.  Uh-oh...  Nothing bad seemed to happen, so I decided to deal with it later.  Well, it was one of those things they call "ransomware".  The first time you open a document, it encrypts ALL your documents.  And I mean ALL.  18 years of documents, inaccessible.  Oh, and my thumb drive with all my backup files was connected to the computer so all THOSE files were encrypted as well.  I was totally panicked!  I took the computer over to the GEEK squad and he booted it up and said, "Nothing you can do but set the computer back to day 1."  I came home and started pulling off files with photos, music, etc. to move over after I reset it, but those started getting infected, so I ditched that effort and set it back.  Spent about 10 hours getting programs back on and up and running.  A couple days later, I go to get on and it won't get past the wallpaper screen.  It tries, but it won't load the screen that asks for your PIN.  Back to the GEEKS, paid them $200 for a year's worth of service, and they said the reset was corrupted somewhere along the line, and they had to reset it back, AGAIN!  So start over, the 10 hours to get all the programs back on and set up and running...  Guess what?  Now I have no Excel.  I have a version of MS Office that does not include Excel. It must have come on the computer pre-loaded and now I don't have it anymore.  I am NOT a happy camper!  I do not want to buy a newer version of Office, but I suppose I will eventually...

On a positive note, I found a thumb drive that I apparently backed everything up on at the end of 2015.  So I got back a lot of my old files.  There were newer ones I lost, but it's not the end of the world.  I found I had all but 2016 RCCSS newsletters, and I got the 2016s from a couple of the members, so I have all those archives back.  And I put them in the cloud so that I won't ever lose them again!  But I have to recompile my plant database.  What a hassle...

Well, I'm off to my club meeting.  More another day...

 
 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Let the GROWING begin!

I think we're in for an early spring.  I've been saying that for awhile.  Since about mid-December, I've seen flocks of geese flying north.  A week or 10 days ago, I drove to KC and on the way down, there were many HUGE flocks of geese coming north.  Now I pay close attention to the geese migrating - I'm a huge fan of birds in general, but especially BIG birds.  So I'm on the lookout for them always.  In years past, these heavy migrations usually start anywhere from early February to the first week or two of March.  I tend to trust that the geese "sense" when spring is on the way, and that's when they start moving back north.  They don't watch the calendar, they don't sit around saying, "Well, January and February tend to be the coldest months, so spring doesn't even start until March."  No, they have instincts that tell them when to come north.  I say these things to my fellow drivers and they just poo-pooh me.  Well, we'll just see...

Anyway, several of my plants are in agreement with the geese and are waking up and putting out new growth.  For example, the first Hoya I noticed with new growth is my aff. fischeriana, which is in the bathroom.  There it is, with a new vine and teeny-tiny new leaves forming!  Which got me watching some of my other plants as I water.  Yesterday, I took down my Gardino clone of merridithii x crassicaulis and found a new HUGE leaf.  Now this might have grown over the winter, so I won't say it's just come up proving new spring growth.  But then on examination, I found my VERY FIRST peduncle!  So here is the whole plant:
And here's a closeup of that giant leaf off to the right:
 
 And the sweet little peduncle, complete with itty-bitty buds popping!...
 Very exciting!  I've found several others that are starting to grow as well, but I was particularly excited to find pubicalyx 'Philippine Black' has THREE new growth points!!  Here are two...
See that tiny black leaf?  Then here's the tip of the plant:
Geez-louise!  Look at all the cat hair on that cloth!  Yikes!  This is a little handmade tablecloth sent to me from a plant friend in Turkey several years ago.  I put it on a little table next to the window where my cats perch to look outside.  It's in my dining room, and you can see my greenhouse out that window - if you take three more steps past that point, you're in the kitchen standing right in front of the GH door.  It's so funny... one cat will be perched on the little table, looking out and catches sight of one of the other cats out in the GH, and you'd think they didn't recognize that other cat!  The cat on the table will get downright antsy!  It is TOOO funny!

Started this yesterday (Sunday) and since I have to go to work this morning, I'll go ahead and "publish" it, and write more on my next plant day!
 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

One of my new favorite "quickie" meals...

Awhile back, I bought this package of thin personal-size pizza crusts:
The crust:
 I spread about 2 tablespoons of pesto sauce over the crust:
Then I cover the pesto with spinach leaves:
 Lookin' healthy, right?  Now I cover the spinach with my favorite toppings:
I put thin slices of mushroom, red onion, grape tomatoes quartered and green pepper, then about 3 tablespoons of feta cheese on top.  I bake this in a 425 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are a bit brown.  I slide it onto a wire rack for just a few minutes, which firms up the center of the crust a bit (baking it on a wire rack or on a pre-heated pizza stone would accomplish this, too... but bake it less time, I'm sure!)  I call this a Mediterranean pizza and it is to DIE for!  And it's not bad calorie-wise.  Crust: 150, pesto: 150, feta cheese 105, veggies: pretty much FREE.  Total:  405 calories and very satisfying.  Oh, I could probably eat two of them without batting an eye, but one is plenty for my tummy - it's just my MOUTH that wants more!  LOL!  It's very tasty! 
 
 
 

Friday, December 30, 2016

BEST...DAY...EVER!

I must get this down before my excitement fades.  My mind isn't a steel trap like Mom's, so it won't be as clear in 6 months or a year and I want to be able to look back and feel this excitement!

I worked today.  And it started out well, with 5 of my favorite guys... But it's what happened at the Lincoln airport that made the rest of the day truly outstanding, so that's what I'm going to describe...

So the 6 of us took vehicles over to the Lincoln airport.  It was around lunchtime, so it was decided that everyone would do whatever they wanted for lunch, so I picked up something at Casey's and ate on the road.  I was the 2nd to arrive in Lincoln, so I sat down with the guy who got there just before me (Tom) and we chatted.  Tom and I were sitting a couple seats apart, facing the same direction (I think it was west).  Larry showed up and sat next to Tom facing north.  Then Harvey showed up and sat across from Tom and I facing east.  Then Gordon showed up and sat next to Larry, facing north.  This is important only because Tom and I were facing these 4 paintings that are the focus of this story.  We were all waiting for Bill to show up...

So about the 4 paintings...  They were interesting, but I won't go into a detailed description because that's NOT really important, but they were in a "t" - one above another, then two off to the sides.  They were obviously meant to go together, kind of abstract, very colorful, but it was the bottom middle one that I especially liked and kept being drawn to.  As I chatted with the guys and we waited for Bill, my attention kept going to the bottom one - it was shades of burgundy, one of my favorite colors.  Suddenly, my eye was drawn to a window off to the left because a plane was taking off and flying at a 45 degree angle.  "Looky there!", I thought!  My eye went back to the burgundy painting and it was swaying back and forth, back and forth...No one was near it.  There were doors nearby to outside, but no one had come in, so a wind gust wasn't the cause.  Back and forth, back and forth. 

Just before Bill showed up, the Enterprise lady came over and asked if, since were were waiting, one of us could get a car for them from a dealership as she had no one to go get it.  Gordon volunteered and off he went.  Bill showed up and now we were waiting for Gordon to come back so we could head back to Omaha.  And there was the painting, going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  After about 5 minutes, I commented to Tom (who is facing the same direction), "Isn't that weird how that painting is rocking back and forth?"  He looked and said, "Huh, I guess a gust of wind must have got it going."  I said, "No, no one has come through those doors!"  All I got was a "huh"...

For a full 20 minutes after that, this painting continued to rock back and forth.  Never slowing down like it was losing momentum.  At about the 15 minute mark, I went to the counter where the Enterprise lady was and said, "Have you ever seen that painting over there rock back and forth like that?"  She said, "What?"...looked and said, "Ok, now THAT'S weird!  No, I've never seen that happen before!"  I said, "Cool!  I guess that means it's a message to me!"

And it continued to rock, back and forth, back and forth, never losing any momentum!  We got up to go get our cars and wait for Gordon to show up out in the parking lot, and as I passed the Enterprise counter, I told the lady, "Would you check that out in 10 minutes and see if it has stopped?  I'll ask you about it next time I'm here!"  And she said, "Yeah, I'll be interested to see if it does stop!"

Now, if you have an explanation that makes sense about this, OTHER than a spiritual message, I urge you to share it with me!  I think I've been nudged by one (or perhaps many) of my friend(s) on the other side!  YAY me!👍

Saturday, December 10, 2016

163 days and...

163 days since we sold the business.  I'd like to say I'm getting bored, but I'm not really.  I know I want to do something else, but I'm kind of waiting and watching.  I think something will come up that screams "THIS IS IT!!!"

In August, I went to Des Moines with Kathy to help judge the Mid-Iowa club's show.  Well, on our trip there, she was telling me that Ken (her husband) had been working at Enterprise for awhile.  I asked doing what, and she said they basically drive cars from one location to another - part time.  It sounded like something I might like to do "in the interim", while I wait for the universe to drop the next thing in my lap, so I applied.  And I started with them in early October, and I LIKE IT!  It's just minimum wage, mind you, but it is stress free, I'm meeting lots of nice people.  I've morphed into the 10:00 crew and I like it.  I work with a lot of the same people, but yet I get to work with someone new almost every day.  There are a few strange cats and oddballs, but for the most part, I like it.  But I've still got my eye out for the "next thing."  And it might be as simple as finishing my book.  I just need to get past this block about where it's going next (or more about how I will get it there!)

But now, I'm having a little "plant block" as well.  I'm just feeling overwhelmed by my plants, and I'm seriously considering choosing 100 favorite Hoyas and getting rid of the rest.  Or letting them die off naturally, meaning the ones that aren't doing that fantastic for me, just give them up.  Maybe ship them off to Marco in Florida and see if his climate will fix them up...I don't know.  But I think I'm experiencing some plant burnout, because I'd almost rather TALK about them than actually take CARE of them.  

So I just went out to water for a few minutes and found megalaster all but dead.  Strike it from my list!  I whacked it back to nothing and I will set it on a windowsill somewhere, and if it decides to make a serious comeback, I'll consider putting it back in my collection.  But for now, that brings my number down to... about 200 species.  TOO MANY!  And that doesn't include ANY of my succulents or cacti!

Going through my list... these are the ones I don't want to part with, and how long I've had them, maybe some comments about why I want to keep them.  I put an * by the ones that I absolutely can NOT live without under ANY circumstance...

aldrichii (10 years)
amoena Java (7 years), up-potted this year and seems to be happy!
australis (11+, 0006 & Lisa just a year), I like them all!
Ban Ngong Ngoy (3 years), just because it blooms so easily
bhutanica (10 years), because it's an aggressive grower!
callistrophylla (8 years), leaves of course
cardiophylla (4 years), nice sized, shiny leaves
carnosa rubra (16 years), nothing special except it came from Bob Smoley
all the other carnosas, K8, KP, KQ, ssp. carnosa,except Chelsea which is ehhh
caudata (3 years), if I can get the dang thing to grow for me!
Chicken Farm (2 years), stunning leaves!
clandestina (2 years), interesting, super succulent leaves
dasyantha (6 years), because it looks so beautiful and flowers easily
*deykeae (7 years), if I had to get rid of all but 5, this would be one of the keepers!
DS-70 (13 years), one of my old favorites - love how succulent it gets
el-nidicus (7 years), finally growing and I love the rubbery leaves
finlaysonii (7 years), gorgeous leaves, pretty flowers
fungii (11 years), large, veined, matte leaves, huge flower clusters
glabra (1 year), I'd like to get the large leaf clone as well
hueschkeliana (10 years), it's a tiny gem
inconspicua (8 years), easy to grow, not a space hog, succulent leaves
'Iris Marie' (10 years), just 'cuz I want to get the dang thing to bloom!
'Jennifer' (8 years), for it's magfificent leaves and perfect flower balls!
'Joy' (3 years), the leaves knock my socks off!
 kanyakumariana (6 years), great name, cute leaves
kerrii (forEVER), all clones are worth keeping, but only one of each
Ko Chang (2 years), super succulent and splotchy leaves
*krohniana (3 years), all 3 clones, love the heart shaped succulent leaves
Kumning Kina (6 years) if I can figure out how to grow it well
*latifolia & loyceandrewsiana (10 years), I'm putting them together next year
longifolia (?), easy bloomer, long leaves
lucardensiana (3 years), love the silver dollar sized round leaves
*macgillivrayii (10 years), love the super succulent, almost black leaves
*macrophylla (16 years?), my #1 favorite of all time!
mac variegated (8 years), just because it's a mac!
macgregorii (3 years), because it took me so long to get it growing nice!
meliflua (8 years), for the outstanding flowers
memoria (4 years), fantastic leaves, hangs beautifully
merridithii x crassicaulis (8/6 years), both clones have outstanding leaves
merrillii (8 years), I love it growing in my Chinese teapot
micrantha (7 years), a compact, easy to grow species
'Minibelle', shepherdell & shepherdii (10/9/? years), love their long leaves!
 mitrata... if I can learn to grow it well!
nicholsonaiae (11 years), but only one!
'Noel' (1 year), because it looks so much like 'Joy'
'Nong Nooch' (8 years), very cool leaves, nicer than fin
obovata (forEVER), probably just the silver flecked clone
*onychoides (?), for the almost black, succulent leaves
pallida (8 years), love the compact way it grows!
polystachya (6 years), because it's so similar to macrophylla
pottsii (7/3/>1), 3 clones, nice thick leaves!
pubicalyx (6 cultivars), beautiful flowers, nice growers - cut back on how many and how big... (*PS)
'Rebecca' (4 years), only because it's my $200 Hoya!
*retusa (4 years), because it's so weird
rotundiflora (6 years), for it's square leaves (need a new one!)
*sigillatis (8 years), for it's uniquely pink and splashy leaves
surigaoensis (3 years), outSTANDingly large and shiny leaves!
tjadasmalangensis (1 year), love the large leaves!
treubiana (2 years), love the long, thick and shiny leaves!
tsangii (3 years), love how delicate it looks
verticillata (9 years), both green and variegated, easy bloomers!
vitellinoides (4 years), very, very veined leaves knock me out!
*wayetti (forEVER), old favorite - both green and variegated
wibergiae (3 years), love the subtle silver flecking
                     
Maybes...
coriacea (6 years), it's grown out to be large and TRIED to flower last year
crassicaulis (7 years), it's looking really good since in the SR
juannguoiana (5 years), a nice looking and succulent species

That's around 90... it would give me a lot of room!  I'm sure as I pare it down, I'll find some I'd rather keep than not, and if I limit myself to 100, that means I have to let one on the list go to keep another.  I think this would be a good thing for me to do as I will appreciate the ones I have more, and it will feel like less of a burden to take care of them...

More about it later...