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!)

Monday, June 17, 2024


I need to do a little venting. I am editor of the cactus club newsletter - have been since 2007. I think I do a pretty damn good job. I get a lot of compliments, and considering that I don't get much help from members, with the exception of Kathy who used to be editor before me and knows how uncooperative other members are, I come up with 8 pages of content every month. Members should occasionally send along SOMEthing - an article, a suggestion of an article, a website of interest, a photo...they could contribute in so many ways, but I can count the number of times that someone other than Kathy has sent something along to be published. So it's mostly up to me. Oh, and a few years ago, the Des Moines club's editor passed away and they asked if I could make our newsletter a joint newsletter until someone stepped up to take it on. Well, no one ever has, so that pretty much doubled my responsibility. 

Well recently, the CSSA's historian, who is a member of the DM club, has started sending me things to put in the newsletter. Painfully BORING things! The first thing he sent me was a multi-paged "Time Line of CSSA Firsts" which has little quips about people in the past. Just brief facts about people in the past with no bio info that might make it interesting. Like "John Smith was the first club president" - where did he live and president of what club?  It took me nearly a whole year of one page every month to get through the whole thing. Well, he recently sent me a long paragraph about an important figure in the cactus world and some of his memories of him. I was thankful it was ONLY a paragraph, but there was no explanation about who this guys was - it just launched into a comment about him being a Nazi and his interactions with him. I did recognize the name, but had no idea who he was and figured if I, an experienced grower, didn't know who he was, the newbs in the club certainly wouldn't, which makes his ramblings... well, just ramblings. So I prefaced his comments about the guy with a brief bio that I found online. I sent him a copy of the article to get his ok and he came unglued. He did NOT want that bio above his comments. His email was rather nasty, saying things like "Let's get down to the nitty gritty.  Why don't you NOT put anything of my old dead people in your newsletter."  And "You were doing such a nice job before my old history stuff."  He came off sounding like a big narcissistic baby throwing a tantrum.  I can't figure out if he felt the professional bio made his writing sound amateurish (which it kind of dis) or if he's just so egotistical that he thinks HIS account is enough to satisfy the reader.

Anyway, I was rather disgusted by his childish outburst.  He could have been nicer about it, like "I'd rather you just print my comments and leave the bio out."  The man is in his 90s and in hospice (has been for a year) and I guess I shouldn't be too hard on him.  Maybe he's just trying to get his "last hurrah" in, but maybe he could put "being civil and kind" on his bucket list...


I started this yesterday (Sunday) just before we left to go to the cactus club meeting in Des Moines.  Before we left, this man's son got a call that he's in the hospital.  (I don't want to mention his name because I don't want anyone to google his name and have my vent come up...)  In spite of this bad experience with him, I wish him well, whatever that may be at this point for him.

And one more thing to vent about before I comment about plants.  Since my mom died, I've made it a point to initiate getting together with my sister every couple weeks.  Merry and I are kind of like oil and water, but we stay away from the subjects that cause trouble and we get along for the most part.  If we weren't sisters, she wouldn't be the kind of person I would seek out as a friend, but we're all that's left of our original family and it was Mom's wish for us to stay connected, so we make it work.  And I do love her kids and grandkids, and Rick is a great guy, so... family is good.  

However, every time we get together, the subject turns to diet and fatness.  I am pretty darn fat and Merry is fit.  And she seems to have a real obsession - not just with staying fit, but like a repulsion to anyone who isn't fit.  She goes on and on about what's working for her (please, I've heard it so many times I could recite it in my sleep!), what I might try ("oh, you should do the intermittent fasting"), how Rick could stand to lose a few more pounds, how fat all of his family is, how they have ALL had surgery and then proceeded to gain it all back... and on and on.  When she takes a breath, I change the subject to something else, but pretty soon, it comes back around. It's to the point that I really don't want to hang out with her.  I can't decide if she's trying to be helpful (it's NOT), if she's insulting me, or if she's just plain insensitive.  Not that I'm easily offended.  I know I'm fat and I'm the first person to use the "f" word about myself.  And I'm not opposed to hearing ideas on how to lose weight.  I figure someday, someone might tell me something that will resonate with me.  But Merry talks about the same thing every single time.  It's not like she's offering anything new.  It almost feels like she's trying to tell me, "Hey, you embarrass me!"  And maybe that IS it.  I remember at Brian's HS graduation, Merry pointed at a girl in Brian's class and said, "Brian dated that girl for awhile."  I said, "Oh, it didn't work out?"  She said, "Well, no and I'm glad 'cuz she's kinda fat and, well, he's such a fit guy."  Um, Merry, fatty sitting right next to you here!  Could you BE a little more insensitive?  (And BTW, that girl had a decent figure, one that might once have been called "curvy".  I would have been proud to have her figure in HS - I looked more like a pre-teen boy with my scrawny ass, narrow hips and tiny boobs!)

Anyway, I'm just sick of the dialogue and I think I'm just going to wait for HER to initiate the next meetup (which she never does) and when she does, I will try in a kidding demeanor tell her, "Ok, but NO diet or fat talk!" See if she gets the message.  If I try to talk about it seriously and directly, she'll get all huffy and deny that she always brings it up.  I think I'll do what I used to do with Mark.  He would get so negative and be such a downer, at one point I told him I'm tired of that kind of talk.  It just brings me down.  So, when the conversation starts to go that way, I'm going to knock on the table, which means "knock it off!" That way I didn't have to say anything that would start a whole argument, leaving me feeling even worse...

So to plants.  Wow.  What a great year for... well, everything!  A few weeks ago, at the Men's Garden Club sale, I bought one of Kathy's String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii).  It had huge leaves!  Of course, the new leaves are much smaller.  I want to figure out how to get them large again!  Usually less light = larger leaves.  Maybe I need to bring it into the house and put it in the north window in the sunroom...

It has such pretty markings!  And this Ceropegia blooms off and on all year long.  But it's a touchy one.  I've grown it several times over the years and it will go along nicely for awhile then suddenly the leaves will start drying and dropping.  It has to be rebooted often.  But it's worth growing...

One of my favorite Hoyas, juannguolana, which I call juann for short because it is one of the few I can not spell without looking up, has been blooming and putting on new growth.  Very weirdly, I might add!  There are 2 new growth points out of which popped new peduncles, one with a double.  Check it out:

I have never seen a peduncle pop out right at the point of new growth!  It must be something this species does sometimes.  It's doing very well.

All of my H. macgillivrayiis are growing like mad.  The mama plants as well as the for sale plants.  I need to get them on FB to get them sold before they get too big...

H. cv. 'Michelle' bloomed recently.  It turned out Marco's (in Florida) and mine were blooming at the same time!  That's unusual.  And the flowers are very short-lived on that species...

And H. obovata has been blooming.  Even the one in the living room is budding up.  Seems to be a good year for my biggest one as it's vining all over the place!

This is a smallish flower compared to most of them, but it was the only one with a good angle for a photo.  I would have had to be a contortionist to get a photo of one of the other bigger ones!

Oh, we got a big hail storm last Thursday evening.  Wow, was it big hail!  But thankfully, it was either softish or just wasn't that dense because it didn't do a lot of damage to my plants.  My car got nailed pretty good - a lot of dimples on the hood.  And OMG, when it was coming down, I was SO sure it was going to break my roof glass in the GH!!  When the big stuff just started to come down I was outside and I heard glass breaking twice, in the distance.  So someone got glass damage.  That put the fear of God in me!  But it held up.

I'd like to go on, but my back and hip have been screaming at me all day.  I sit down and do a little writing until it becomes unbearable. Up and about.  Then back to it.  It's just not working out.  My appointment with Dr. Jana is another 5 weeks away.  My fingers are crossed that he will tell me it's time to replace this right hip.  It's getting close to being as bad as the other one was by the time I had surgery and it sure happened a lot faster this time!  It'll be late fall or winter before I can get it done - he's always booked out at least 3 months...But that will be perfect.  I'm a little ... this time because I'm alone with no one to help.  I think I'll be ok, but I also think if I do need help, I can probably get Laurie, or maybe Amanda or Liane to help me out.  They could all use the money and I'd be happy to pay them to help me because I'd have to pay anyone else... Thankfully, it's a pretty fast recovery so I won't need help for long...



Monday, May 20, 2024


Yep, just another Saturday.  Yesterday, I dipped my toe in the auction pool and listed two of my Hoyas on Hoya Lovers FB page and apparently, this is not going to be a good year for auctions.  I've gotten nary a bid... and looking at others who have listed plants, neither have they.  So, I sent out some offerings to 40 of the folks on my HoyaPeeps customer list (I have about 140 total on my list.)  



Now it's Monday. I spent about 5 minutes on my blog Saturday and then my Aunt Judy called and we must have talked for an hour. I've had a sinus infection and haven't been able to talk much on the phone because it sends me into a coughing fit. I'm not a big fan of phone talking, but with her so far away and no chance of face-to-face talking, I guess that's all we have! It keeps me feeling connected to Mom. They talked every day for the most part.

So what I spent the majority of Saturday doing, well at least a few hours, was painting. Back when Mark was on his decline, in the hospital and in the home, I had my handyman painting the house. Well of course the greenhouse attaches to the house at the kitchen. I would never ask anyone to try to paint around my plants, so I told him I would take care of that. And jeezy peasy, that's almost 3 years ago now! So I thought I should get to it. Got all my plants out that I was going to put out, and for the front porch I put out the plants that hung at the back of the greenhouse close to the wall. So it's really spacious right now. Friday, I scrubbed down a section of wall. That was quite a chore in and of itself! Bucket of water, a scrub brush, and a lot of mess! The deep stucco traps dirt so it's quite a process. When the handyman painted the exterior of the house, of course he used a power washer to clean it. Can't do that inside a greenhouse! Anyway, Saturday I painted that section. Then yesterday I scrubbed another section of it, and this morning I painted that portion. I would say that I'm about half done square footage wise, but probably more like 1/3 done timewise. I'm coming up to the most tedious part of it which is above the doorway and down the other side on the south end. Lots of trim to deal with. And pulling out/pushing back the south shelf with each session. And oh boy, has it made my arthritis flare up in my hands! And up and down the ladder, which really isn't even that much, is hard on my hips and knees. Glad it's not much to deal with!

Now to vent a bit about a problem. The neighbors on the corner.. this house is a rental that almost always houses students that are renting for one year. So the changeover is annual. I've always had a problem with the people in that home pulling into my driveway. When these people moved in, I told them it's okay to pull in to load or unload large things, but otherwise not to use my driveway. Well it's gotten to the point where someone's in my driveway every single day. And those are just the ones I'm seeing. Obviously, I'm not standing at my window looking at my driveway 24/7! So I know if I'm seeing it once a day, it's probably happening far more often. Well unfortunately what tends to happen is that end of the driveway gets broken up much faster than the rest of the driveway. I'm sick of it! So I'm getting ready right now to sit down and call the property managers and give them a piece of my mind. We have to figure out a way to keep these people out of my driveway! I've also sat down and made template for a sign to have a professional sign made that I can put in my yard. I know that may irritate some people, but it can't be any more than it irritates me that they presume to use my driveway all the time. It's hard to believe that people are consistently so inconsiderate!

I'm sending a big box of plants to my friend, Karen, in NY this week in exchange for one of her quilts.  She is quite an artist when it comes to quilting.  I had her make quilts for each of Merry's boys' first babies.  They were both very impressive!  It'll be fun to get one to keep for myself.  And it will be good to get rid of some of these plants!  One way or the other, I'm going to be rid of all of the baby plants by fall!  I figure whatever doesn't sell at the farmer's market and online, I will take to Sheelytown (a little plant shop nearby) and see what they will give me for the lot...

More soon.

Sunday, May 12, 2024


Apr. 25th

  ...I think it really might be here at last.  At least I hope so since I've got about 70% of my succulents out!  I took this week off for two reasons:  first, it was Mom's birthday on Monday and today is the 1 year anniversary since she passed, so I knew it was going to be kind of an emotional week.  And I figured it was a good week to get all my succulents out for the season, thus distracting me from the former somewhat.  Tomorrow, Merry and I will be getting together, probably stroll down memory lane a bit...

As I was puttering around FB today, I saw a post from Merry Potter's (formerly Jones) husband.  Which got me thinking back to when she married him.  He's actually her 3rd husband - she married a guy right out of high school, divorced him then married my cousin Danny Govig (who was abusive like his father).  Divorced him (they had one son who would be my 2nd cousin, who I've never met...) and eventually married Ken.  Ken is 81, making him 16 years older than us!  Which may not have seemed like a lifetime when we were 30, but now... I don't know, but I can't imagine an 81 year old that could light my fire, LOL!

But this line of thinking led to the realization that all three of my best friends from HS married old guys!!  Deb Mahoney (formerly West), one of my besties, married a guy right out of HS and then a few years later, she divorced him and married his father.  That guy was more than 20 years older than her!  He would be 87 now if he were still here!  But he passed in the mid-90s as I understand it.  Then there's Ann Whitney... she was married to my ex, Paul, for a year when she was still in HS.  (She was 16 when they got married - they divorced and both he and I were rebounding from relationships, which is how we got together...)  She got a little wild and, as I understand it, was cavorting around with the town's sheriff.  From what my mother told me, he was more or less disgraced for being involved with an almost teenager (I think she was 19 or 20 and he was 25+ years older...)  They ended up married and live in Texas now.

So how weird is that?  That my 3 closest friends from HS all married old guys??  Of course, they would say they weren't old guys back then, but to me, they would have seemed like old guys even then because they were all older than (or close to) my dad's age. That was a big "ewww" factor then, and it would be even more so now!  LOL!  But I guess at least 2 out of the 3 married healthy guys!  That gave them a leg-up on me!  Well, Mark was healthy when I married him, but he was a dum-dum who abused his body until it gave out on him.  So maybe what I should say is at least they married SMART guys who took care of themselves!  Of course, I should talk.  I managed to get super-fat, though at least otherwise, I'm healthy.

Which brings me to...tomorrow I have a morning appointment with Dr. Tierney, the oncology gynecologist who did my hysterectomy 3 years ago when they found a bit of cancer in my uterus. What a shitty year that was... and what terrible timing. It happened right in the midst of Mark's decline.  But thankfully, it turned out fine with no need for any further treatment.  After this exam, I will only have to do this 2 more times and I'll be at the 5 year mark, making me officially "cancer-free".  I still wonder if I'd just left well-enough alone if my body would have just resolved it all by itself.  They said it was a very slow-growing cancer, and I've got a hell of an immune system.  Trouble is, once you know you've got cancer, we've been programed to believe it's unbeatable without medical intervention, and we get what we believe, so in order for my body to "fix" it, I would have to be oblivious to it.  Which is why I'm not a big proponent of preventive medicine.  I think that cancer (like so many things) probably comes and goes for us throughout our life, and most of the times, our immune system nips it in the bud.  It's when we have turmoil or discord or crisis in our lives that our immune systems fall short allowing something as small as the common cold or as big as stage 4 cancer to invade our bodies.  The key is to find your bliss, keep the faith that all is well, even when everything screams that it is not.  Easy?  Fuck no!!  Which is why doctors and hospitals stay so busy!

Ok, on to more cheerful thoughts!  I'm finding all kinds of budding peduncles on my Hoyas... cv. 'Michelle', 'Dapple Grey', 'Philippean Black', juannguoana, krohniana, lucardensiana, hueschkeliana, the obscura that I think is really cv. 'Sunrise', pubicalyx 'Red Buttons', verticillata (my large leaf clone), patcharwalai (or icensis, whichever is the correct name) - first time for this one...  I'll be on the lookout for others.  I'm happy with the new growth I'm seeing on most.  Oh, there are a few stubborn ones that aren't showing any signs of new growth, but some fall into the category of "late-starters" and some are just needing a little longer days perhaps.  

I wish I could figure out what's going on with blogger.  I keep getting a message that says "update failed". 


Sat. 4/27

Yesterday afternoon turned out to be a record-breaking day of storms.  There were tornados all around me, but thankfully I had no damage.  It really didn't even get severely windy here.  We did have 6 rounds of hail before it was all through, but none of it was huge.  There were some quarter-size chunks, but most were dime-size or smaller, and thought it rained hard, it didn't have the driving force we had with the one in 2022, so I think my plants are MOSTLY ok.  Of course, you never really know until a few days after when the pitting and bruising starts to show up.  But unlike 2022, I did not have gobs of leaves and debris that fell from my plants.  My Crown of Thorns got the worst of it with some torn leaves, but it's early enough that they will recover.  We ended up getting a little under 1.5 inches of rain, so no leakage in the basement (knock on wood!)  

They said there were a record 41 tornado warnings, but interestingly enough, last year we broke the old record at 33 warnings!  If that's not an indicator that our weather patterns are changing, I don't know what is.  Anyway, I assume that number is a Nebraska number, because they said there were 75 tornadoes in the vicinity of Omaha yesterday.  (They're saying "biggest outbreak in decades, possibly forever!")  I have no idea if part of that figure includes funnel clouds that didn't make it to the ground... I suspect maybe it does.  The towns they're talking about the most are Waverly, which is practically part of Lincoln; Elkhorn, which is now officially part of Omaha, but is the furthermost west town of Omaha - they got it pretty bad. One touched down at Eppley Air Field - I think that was the closest to me and if there wasn't so much city between me and Eppley, I might have actually gotten to see my very first tornado! They said the airport itself wasn't damaged, but one of the buildings at the back of the airport was.  It must have hit close to the river... Blair got nailed - it's about 15 miles west of the northest part of Omaha.  In Iowa, they said about half the homes in Minden were destroyed. There was a massive tornado on the ground for a LONG time, knocking around Shelby County near Shelby and Harlan and sounds like it might have damaged some homes on the outskirts of Harlan:

I'm sure we'll be hearing about more of the towns that got it.  What a mess!  And guess what - sounds like there's a high likelihood we're in for another round of he same later today!  And possibly tomorrow will be stormy as well.  


May 12

Finally getting back to this and I'll publish before day's end.   I took this last week off because I came down with a sinus infection.  I typically get one about every 12-18 months, but this is just 6 months after my last one!  The only reason I remember that is because I was getting over my last one when I had my dentist appointment, and I've got my next one in a week or so.  SUCKS!  If I had an office job (or the business), I'd work through it.  But since I spend half my day "cooped up" in a car with a bunch of old guys who I would probably be freaking out with all my coughing (wondering if I'm going to get them sick) and driving, which is hard to do when you go into a coughing fit, I always just take it off until the worst is past.  But at least I got a lot done, mostly because if I sit or lay around (which is what I FEEL like doing), then the gunk in my sinuses sort of "coagulates" and creates more coughing, more blowing, etc.  If I keep moving, everything stays "loose" and I feel less miserable.  So plants are out, GH is pretty damn tidy, chores around the house have gotten done... 

I'm getting that last room in the basement (designated "kitty-poop room") cleared out for the tile.  Handyman John will be back in town in a few days and hopefully he can get started on it.  The tile came on Tuesday - that was a bit of a fiasco!  I got notice it had been shipped and that led to a realization that it was coming on a big carrier truck which means (most likely) driveway drop-off.  UH-OH!  I hadn't given that any thought when I ordered it online.  The notice said it was going to be something like 600 lbs!  I called and sure enough, "curb-side drop-off", but they would schedule the delivery.  Well, at about 9 am Tuesday, I got a text that said it was going to be delivered between 11 am and 3 pm!  SHIT!!!  So I called Laurie's handyman (who had saved my ass a week earlier by mowing since my guy has been MIA for a couple weeks) and he said they would come over and move it into my garage.  Whew!  I imagine a pallet of nice tile would probably disappear pretty quickly if I just left it there!  So I went to the garage and made sure there was an open space so I wasn't rushing around while they were here to make room.  And at about 2:30, I heard some commotion out in my driveway and there was a guy with one of those pallet jacks placing the tile in my garage!  I ran out and he said, "I just assumed since your garage was open that you wanted it there - do I need to move it?"  I told him, "No, that's perfect!  Estes told me you would only do curbside drop-off, so I was just getting ready for some guys to come help me move it!"  He waved his hand and said, "Yeah, a lot of drivers won't lift a finger, but it's not that much trouble and it's good customer service!"  I thanked him profusely and he was gone in a flash.  If it hadn't all happened so fast, I would have offered him a $20 tip for the great service!  He saved me way more than that!

Anyway, by then John was already on his way (because it was getting close to 3:00) and I asked him to go ahead and mow again so it wasn't a wasted trip, so I got that done as well.  So everything worked out, just like it always does.

Since my last "rambling", the Epiphyllum I got from Dave Shorney (a member of our cactus club who passed away in early 2022) bloomed for me.  It was so beautiful!!...

It's hard to see in the photo, but those middle lines on each petal are an electric orange.  It was one of those eye-popping flowers!  Just stunning.  About 6" wide.  I feel like it was a little gift from Dave because Epis, for me, are stingy bloomers! And there were actually two... one was hidden behind the shelf and didn't open fully.

And also since last post, we had the Men's Garden Club sale.  I sold quite a bit, certainly more than I expected.  I didn't take many Hoyas on Friday, but there was one very excited Hoya enthusiast that showed up - a young Hispanic girl that didn't speak the best English.  But she seemed pretty knowledgeable about them.  When she picked out what she wanted, she talked to me about how she's trying to reduce her collection and some of those she was parting with.  There were a few in there that I didn't have and she said, "How about I bring them by tomorrow and you see if you want them?"  And I told her I would bring some cuttings of what I think she might want from what she described she was keeping. So she brought 3 that I really liked and don't have and took a few of the cuttings I brought (none of the rooted plants as they were mostly replacements for the ones she bought...) I asked if I could pay her anything for the plants and she said, "Nope!"  So here's my haul from her...

Variegates tend to grow very slowly, so those won't take up much room for quite some time.  The last one should live up to it's name after awhile in the GH... I'm excited!  I think the hueschkeliana is the most exciting and probably the one I'll worry about the most.  I have two plain green ones in the kitchen that I watch like a hawk.  It's one of those that responds quickly to a little bit of drought.  You can not let it get dry for too long!  On the other hand, it seems to be salvageable when it gets past the point of "no return" as I've done it with my oldest one a couple times.  Which is why I keep it in the kitchen where I can keep a close eye on it!  the variegated on will go in the kitchen in the fall when I start moving plants back in - maybe sooner if it harps at the heat of the GH...

Today is Mother's Day.  I usually at the very least spend part of the day with Mom, so it feels a little weird not to have any plans.  Now it's just another day... Kathy called yesterday and invited me to have dinner with them tonight - just a grill out.  I was kind of anticipating the call and had intended to bow-out, but I decided to say yes because I haven't really had much human contact in a week.  I just hope my sinuses cooperate and I don't go into an embarrassing coughing fit.  I guess it will serve as my "test drive" for going back to work this next week.  My original plan was to drive down to Villisca and put some flowers on Grandma Dora's grave (that's where we decided to spread Mom's ashes...) But I think I'll wait until a day this week because there will probably be other people at the cemetery today, as I'd really rather do this alone.  Then I'll drive out to Pilot Grove cemetery and put some flowers on Grandma & Grandpa's grave, where Dad and Wes's memorial plaques are...  I may even drive by Pilot Grove park where we left Dad's ashes...

Well, I want to get my day started and get this published.  More later!

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Time to grow

 I'll start with another sign.  I've talked about the signs I see, often numbers and especially in license plates.  Mark, I believe, sends me 4 numbers most frequently: 73 and 77 (the years each of us graduated) and 54 and 58 (the years each of us were born).  I see these so frequently it's uncanny!  With Wes, it's triple numbers.  I think these signs are simply saying "hi, all is well".  I seem to see the triple numbers when I have times of worry, crisis or if I'm just feeling down about something.  When Mark was so bad and until about 6 months ago, I saw several every day.  It's been rather "quiet" from Wes recently and I suspect it's because life has settled into a mostly peaceful routine.  I haven't needed as much encouragement since Mom got through her painful transition.  She's probably keeping him busy on the other side!  LOL!

Anyway, yesterday I was out and about and I came up behind a car whose license plate number was 077DF - huh, my year of graduation AND my pre-marriage initials!  Then I stopped by Arby's - I had a coupon for a reuben for $3.99, so I ordered that and a small curly fry.  The total was $7.77!  Numbers fascinate me, and I think this is why they choose to use them to communicate with me!

Yesterday, I took the curtains off the French doors that go to the sunroom and put decorative film on the windows.  Here's how it turned out:

A closeup of one pane for detail:

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  It was a tedious project, but worth the effort.  I really like the effect!


I started this about a week ago then had to get on and complete the cactus club newsletter. This month, we're having a joint meeting with the Des Moines club (I'm also a member there) so on the 14th, around 10 of us will be driving over to tour the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens.  We'd originally planned to rent a packer van (a 15-passenger van), but for some reason, they aren't giving me my usual discount and it was going to be nearly $500!  So I'll be driving my vehicle and Kathy will be driving hers and we'll get 9 of them in our 2 vehicles and one of the newer members is driving with her sister who wants to come along.  I'm looking forward to it!

Last fall, I took cuttings of some of my larger Hoyas that really needed a "reboot".  Ones that had gotten very large and had a lot of older growth that looked a bit... well, old and dull.  I suppose plants are like people - they age out and eventually die.  So I have pots of cuttings that have been growing in perlite since last fall, and this last week I potted up a new H. pubicalyx 'Bright One'.  This cultivar of pub is probably my favorite for flowers.  The leaves are rather unremarkable, but the flowers are truly spectacular.  In fact, it's the one I use on my business card.  Here's a photo of one from a few years ago:

I love how the corona is outlined in white.  'Red Buttons' has the same white outline and is so similar in both leaf and flower, I've often wondered if there is really any difference.  Anyway, I got it potted up into a nice ceramic pot that my neighbor, Marcy, gave me.  It's now in the front window where it will hopefully grow and flower this summer.

Hoya shepherdell has been losing leaves - one here, one there.  They yellow and drop.  On top of that, it has leaves that crisp at the edges.  I figured it's a sign of doom, so I went ahed and chopped it up and made one nice potfull for myself to replace the mother plant, and several small ones to sell.

It's roughly 2 pm and I was just outside observing the eclipse.  We're in the range of 86% of a full eclipse and the "height" of it was about 10 minutes ago.  I was checking it out with my eclipse glasses and it's pretty cool.  Right now, it's a weird hazy gray, looks as if I've got my sunglasses on inside.  But my transitions are clear.  And I saw my plant rack in the sun was casting a weird double shadow, which I think is always the strangest thing about an eclipse.  I don't think the critters get quite as weird during a partial eclipse as they do during a full eclipse, though I really don't hear much bird activity right now.  I tried to take a photo using my eclipse glasses over the photo lens and it did work, but it wasn't clear enough to be a "keeper".  Oh dear, Pearl just up-chucked, which reminds me of a stupid rumor I saw on FB - don't eat anything during the eclipse or it could kill you.  The premise was that the sun would "poison" your food.  LOL... right.  Oh, it will poison JUST the food you're eating DURING the eclipse, but none of the food you will eat later.  Where does this shit come from??

Anyway, as I water and groom plants, I'm seeing all kinds of new growth.  This is the time of year that really gets me excited about the things I grow.  Gets me in a mode to whack things back, to get less-than-perfect leaves removed from otherwise perfect specimens.  Gets me excited to give them a spray-down often - if not every day, then every other day.  If you consult the Eleanor's VF0-11 flyer, it says that foliar feeding is the most effective feeding.  Of course, in winter I hate to do a lot of spraying because I fear getting mold going.


And here it is, another 11 days gone by!  I'm going to publish this one today, come hell or high water!  It's Sat. the 20th.  I plan to just stay in and work on plants.  Today, I've been watering the plants in the spare bedroom.  Dischidia ovata is one I typically water every other time to the others as it is in the original mix from the nursery and doesn't dry out very fast.  So it gets watered about every 20 days and seems to be pretty happy with that.  It seems to be doing fine, though I really don't see a lot of signs of growth yet.  I have a start of H. australis IML 006 that seems to be very happy.  I started it because the mother plant wasn't doing much for some time.  Taking cuttings was smart as it kicked her into growing mode and she's looking much better now!  But this small one looks so nice that I intend to keep it, at least for now.

Also in that window are three that aren't doing much yet - nummularioides, obscura and vanuatuensis.  They maintain a nice, healthy appearance, but not really any signs of new growth.  I need to trim back the obscura and will do that, probably by offering super cheap add-on cuttings when I sell others.  

I put my older variegated macrophylla in this window a few months ago and I think it's very happy!  It has two brand new leaves that I think may be all white (right now they are pink).  That's not necessarily a good thing as it does zap energy from the plant, but I'm going to enjoy it as long as they look good.  Next to it is cardiophylla, which has been growing in that window for a long time, and boy-oh-boy is it HAPPY!  It has 4 new vines and new peduncles! I see from my photos that it did bloom for me, but it looks like that goes back to 2014, so that's 10 years ago!  It's about time!

Also in that window is my oldest glabra with one new vine on it.  It's always exciting to watch those leaves grow as many of them are just massive!  And last is a rooted cutting off my allegedly "splashy" clone of fungii.  I got it from Colorado Kathy several years ago and it had 3 very nicely splashed leaves.  She warned me that it may or may not have "splash" as it grew out and the new leaves I got were not at all speckled. But it grows like a weed and looks fabulous in my sunroom! Well, last year I took the oldest splashy leaves off and rooted them separately to see if I could get a splashy plant out of it.  It has yet to grow, but I do think I'm seeing one, maybe two "growth nubbins" down at the base, so it may be getting ready to grow!

One last one worth mentioning is callistrophylla.  This has been a long-time favorite, but it just...doesn't...grow.  Well, last year it did grow a little.  I'm hoping maybe THIS is the year it will take off.  This is what it looked like in its heyday...

I got it from Gardino's back in 2008 and it did well for quite awhile, but then started to decline.  It was coming back in 2022 but was out in that hail storm and was hanging in the tree when it fell, both that same year.  I think the shock of being beat up might have inspired it to grow as it grew a little better last year.  I'm just hoping it will keep it up this year, but no signs of growth yet...

We (the cactus club) are going to participate in the Men's Garden Club plant sale again this year in a couple weeks.  So I'm hoping to sell a few things then.  I've got some leftover succulents from last year, and maybe I can sell a few Hoyas as well.  I also need to get off my duff and start selling all the ones ready to go from last year.  I'll have a few going to a lady in Idaho here in the next couple weeks (waiting for some new growth), but I have at least a flat or two that are already growing and ready to go.  Then we have the farmer's market again this year starting in June...

Something was blooming in the dining room overnight - I guess I have to assume it is Rebecca.  Hard to believe those tiny blooms can create that strong scent that was a bit overwhelming.  My sinuses have been a real mess lately and I'm wondering if the Hoyas add to that???

I have a couple small flats of little bulbs for the Men's Garden Club sale.  I got them all cleaned up and marked - I'm going to ask $2 apiece for them, which isn't much, but I just want to be rid of them.  There are a few other little things in there, like some little Sansevieria starts and one Kalanchoe.  And if I have time, I'm going to split up another pot of bulbs to add to these that I need to get rid of.  Or maybe I'll just sell them bare-root for $1 apiece.  I would also like to split up my Haworthia truncata 'Lime Green' - take all the pups off the biggest plants to give it some room to plump up as it's very crowded right now.  That's one that sells well because it's so odd-looking!



Tuesday, March 26, 2024

What's going on...

I'm opening a new post and will leave it open a few days while I putter around with my plants, recording the goings-on as I go.  So far today, we have Hoya pubicalyx 'Philippine Black' is still blooming after 10 days or so.  I walked into the GH one evening and the scent knocked me over.  I had seen it budding up but did not realize it had opened until then.  And it's still hanging in there, though I'm not detecting the scent like I was before.  This one reminds me of a mix of 'Royal Hawaiian Purple' (the flower) and 'Pink Silver' (the leaves).  It's just lovely...

Then this morning, when I found a first-timer, one I got last summer as H. patcharawalai (icensis).  It's leaves remind me of the pottsii group, but less oppressively succulent.  It's said to get black margins, though I have yet to notice that one mine.  Here's the flower:

I have to admit I do like the colors and how far back the coronas reflex.  It's cute!

I started chopping up my old 'RHP'.  I got a new one a couple years ago, a much nicer clone, and it's doing very well.  The old one is rather gnarly and needs a re-start.  I look forward to seeing how it grows out this spring once it gets rooted.  

I have a few losses... one is the crested Crown of Thorns.  Crests are so touchy.  I'm sure I under-watered it and that's all it took for it to collapse.  I might have lost the Hoya 7727.  It's becoming very dehydrated, so I put it in a zip lock bag to see if I can get it to re-hydrate.  It does work sometimes, so I'm hopeful.  It's funny because Colorado Kathy sent me a start of that fall of 2022 and it grew nicely for me last year.  Not by leaps and bounds, mind you, but it did well.  She contacted mid-summer and said she had lost hers, could I send her a little start back, and I got it started and sent it to her last fall.  Will I have to ask her for a start of her start from my start that was from her plant?  LOL!

Another one I think I've pretty much lost is Hoya australis ssp. tenuipes.  I've grown that one for years and it got very crazy and out of control at one point and I whacked it up.  Last year, I think I got rid of all that I had for sale and was down to one smaller plant.  Well, I put it in a spot where I forgot to water it for some time and I think it's toast.  But it's a pretty common one and I'm sure I can get a start from either Karin or Kathy if I want.  I just have to decide if I want it back.  I'm trying to be more selective about what I grow, and perhaps get rid of most of my duplicates...

All the plants on the shelf in the south window sure look terrific after a winter in the sun.  And I think every one of them has new growth - well, all but H. deykeae, which grows so painfully slow...It must be that it is simply not happy in the midwest because it seems to grow like a weed for Marco in Florida.  I've had my original one for over a dozen years and if I get one set of new leaves each year, I'm happy.  I've had years when it didn't grow an iota.  Mind you, it looks good, looks healthy... it just doesn't like to actually grow.  Marco has sent me up cuttings and they root fine and then just sit there.  I've got one in the sunroom and one in the front window this year.  Maybe I'll hit them with a double-shot of VF-11 now that we're coming into spring.


Veering away from plants for a quick rant... On the news, they've been talking about the fact that DT is talking about pardoning all those who went to prison for the Jan. 6th insurrection once he gets in office.  Didn't he deny that he incited that day?  Didn't he deny thinking it was ok?  And now he's calling those violent criminals "patriots"?  And his followers continue to follow him.  And he talks about how "there will be a bloodbath" if he doesn't get into office.  And his followers continue to follow him.  Revenge and retribution seems to be all he talks about.  And his followers continue to follow him.  I'm simply stunned at what has become of our country.  I only pray that after November, our biggest problem is worrying about the "old guy" making it another 4 years. 


Before I go back to plants, I started taking collagen about a year ago and noticed a few months ago that my hair has started growing fast and the texture has felt more like the old days.  My intent in taking it was to counteract my hair that's been thinning on top.  I know it's very common for women to have this problem as hormone levels decline with age, but it sucks.  I was starting to consider wearing a "wiglet" and even bought a couple, but getting them to blend with my hair takes a lot of work, and then if you get out in one of our typical midwest winds, won't it be obvious you have on a wiglet??  Anyway, it's definitely making my hair grow and MAY even be helping it fill in a little on top, though it's certainly not growing at the rate the rest of it is growing.  But a few months ago, I decided since I'm taking collagen that I would quit taking the Knox gelatin I've been taking for many years.  The stuff in that is essentially collagen, so I figured why double up.  Well, apparently there's some benefit in Knox that doesn't come in collagen because oh how my joints have been hurting!  It finally occurred to me that it might be because I haven't been taking the Knox.  So I looked it up and this is what it says about gelatin:

Gelatin is a protein that may promote skin, joint, hair, nail, and gut health. It also provides essential amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which can provide potent health benefits. The protein and amino acids in gelatin can help the body build more collagen, a vital element in healthy skin.

So I'm back to taking it... just the last couple days, but I somehow think I can feel it already.  I really kind of missed it.  I put it in a hot cup of beef broth - I use the Tone beef base I get from Sams and then use maybe 2 tablespoons of Knox.  It's funny because I've done this for probably at least  a dozen years and a few years ago, taking "bone broth" was suddenly all the rage.  And so you can buy "bone broth" and it's pretty freakin' expensive.  It's exactly the same thing - it's all about marketing!

This last Sunday was the DM cactus club meeting, and it was their annual trip to a nursery there in Norwalk called Bedwell's Gardens.  We do a dish garden.  You can bring your own pot or buy one there, and then the club gives us a $10 credit toward plants to put in our dish gardens.  Bedwell's supplies the soil, substrate (for pots w/o drainage holes...pebbles, charcoal...) and top dressing.  So it's about creativity more or less.  I decided to buy a pot there this year because I think it's good to give them support because they're so kind to host this every year.  Here's the finished product:


I got two Haworthias that were loaded with offsets and picked all the little offsets off the mother plants and used them in the dish garden.  The babies I put in with other plants - most in my huge old Jade sport 'Skinny Fingers'.  (The Haworthia on the left is one I grew for many years and have been looking for, H. geraldii, and the one on the right is, I'm pretty sure, H. cymbiformis.)  I got a small Aeonium 'Kiwi' for some height (hard to tell in this photo - it's the one in the top of the photo...)  There's a tiny unidentified cactus just left and below center of the rock.  I'll get a closeup of it and see if I can't get someone to ID it on GardenWeb. And I needed a little filler and threw a bit of an unusual and compact little Wandering Jew in there.  I don't know if it will stay compact like that, and it may be too much light if I give it enough for the Aeonium.  We'll see how it does.

Just a quick aside - I guess "Wandering Jew" is no longer politically correct.  I made this comment at the meeting and a young guy piped in, "Now it's Wandering Dude.  You know, we have a large Jewish population in the midwest!"  It seems political correctness has gone a little berserk IMHO.  I mean, are Jewish people really offended by this??  I always thought it was a recognition of their wandering in the desert for 40 years - maybe they don't want to be reminded of that!  Anyway, if it's an insult, I guess it's ok to insult a "dude"!  LOL

Back to the dish garden - I found that nice rock at Corwin Toyota when I was dropping a car off for work.  They had some really nice rocks in their rock bed!  You can't tell from the photo, but it's a nice pink with sparkles in it.  Very nice and nicely shaped. 

On top of those plants, I also got a nice sized Rhipsalis.  I'm relatively sure it's one I don't already have!  It's really compact, which is an indicator it was grown down south and in lots of sun.  Well, when it starts to grow here, it may suddenly start to look like one I've already got.  If it had been tagged, I would have known one way or the other, but as is typical of Rhips, it wasn't tagged except to say "Rhipsalis".  So many of them have similar attributes that it takes someone with some expertise to tell them apart. 

And lastly, I got a crested Sedum.  A cute little thing.  We'll see how it holds up...

It's winter-hardiness is questionable, so I won't put it out in the ground.  It might survive, but because it's a crest and they tend to be less hardy in general, I won't risk it.

My Hoya pubicalyx 'Royal Hawaiian Purple", the clone I got a few years ago from Canoyer in Papillion, is bursting forth with new growth!  I counted 6 new vines, some already reaching out a couple feet, some just getting started. I might have to find a bigger spot for it this year.

I've had this open several days now and need to finish it up for now.  One last photo... I got this Orchid at the show at Lauritzen Gardens on Sunday:

The tag says Osp. Brazilian Sun 'Samba'.  I looked it p and Osp. is short for Oncostelopsis and it says it is an intergeneric Oncidium hybrid.  It's gorgeous and I hope I can keep it alive and get it to rebloom!

And with that, I'm done for now!


Tuesday, March 12, 2024


If you're watching for them, signs are everywhere.  Yesterday, I was in Des Moines, and I was reminded of one that happened not long after Wes died.  I was driving to work (our business) one day and I came up to the stop light at 42nd & Center and a car in front of me had a dealer's sticker on it that said "Wes Finch Motors".  OMG, there was Wes's name, and a bird - everyone who believes in this stuff knows that birds are said to be messengers from our passed loved ones.  It was a clear message!  I wondered - is this a real dealership?  I hadn't heard of it...  So as soon as I got to work, I got on the computer and googled "Wes Finch Motors" and sure enough, there's a dealership in Grinnell, Iowa, which is about 55 miles east of Des Moines.  Of course, then comes the question of how likely it is that I would intersect with a vehicle that was bought 180 miles from here that just happened to have my brother's name on it?  And not just his name, but the name of a messenger?  It had to be fate.  It gave me goosebumps and still does when I think about it!

And I see signs all the time.  Last night, I got in the shower after telling Alexa to play songs from one of my playlists.  I can't remember the song, but as I was getting out of the shower, I thought, "Wow, it feels like this is a message from Mark."  It wasn't exactly a mushy song, but it was a loving song.  Anyone who knows Mark knows he wasn't a mushy guy, wasn't the kind of guy that said "I love you" often, but in the last 4 or 5 years, he started telling me every single day, sometimes more than once, that he loved me.  I think there came a point in his decline where he realized that I must love him an awful lot to have stuck it out.  His poor health choices did wreak havoc on my life as well as his... So it felt like he was trying to make up for all the "I love yous" that he withheld because he was the "tough guy". 

Anyway, so I get out of the shower and go out to my chair to get my bed clothes on.  I had paused my program and the screen saver was on, which are photos from my phone (I still have NO idea how that works!)  I sit down and look up and there's a photo of the framed picture that is my favorite photo of him, this one:

 I felt like that was an acknowledgement of the song.  But as if that wasn't quite enough, here comes the photo of this:

A quick synopsis of what this is... back in Dec. 2021, 3 months after Mark died, I got an flyer from Danbury Mint addressed to Mark.  Mind you, I've gotten stuff from them for years, always addressed to me.  It's been a long time since I've gotten anything from them, so I was surprised not only to see one of these show up, but it came in Mark's name!  It was actually the 2nd one in about 10 days, the the other one was a heart-shaped necklace with both of our names on it!  Anyway, this photo came up right after his photo, so it was like a double acknowledgement.  It doesn't stop there.  The next photo after this one was:
I took this in a screenshot from FB a long time ago because I think it's incredibly true!  Music was probably my strongest connection with Mark. So that was my clear sign from last night.  


Monday, February 19, 2024



I like to get it written down when I have one of those strange experiences that I can only attribute to a message from the other side. I was in bed and woke up a few minutes before 3:00 a.m. this morning to the sound of flapping paper coming from the dining room. To give a more vivid description, it sounded like one of those giant tablets that you would have in front of an audience on an easel where you draw or make notes and then flip the giant page over to the next page. So it wasn't like the sound of a thin newspaper, which does sit on my dining room table often. It was the sound of a thick large sheet flapping. Anyway, I woke to that sound and my first thought was that my dining room fan had turned on to high and there was something sitting on the table flapping. The reason this thought came to mind was that when I went to bed and I went to shut off the light (which is a remote on the wall), I had to poke it a few times to get it to go off. So I thought perhaps I had accidentally hit one of the fan buttons and turned it on higher and didn't know it since the light had gone off. The flapping sound happened a couple of times and then it stopped, and of course my next thought was "did I just dream that?" But Pearl, who always sleeps beside me,  sat up on her princess pillow and was looking in that direction obviously also wondering what that sound was! So then I sat there a minute and thought what the hell would make that sound?? A few seconds later, it happened again.. flap flap, flap flap. So now my curiosity got the best of me and I got out of bed and went into the dining room and turned the light on. There was absolutely nothing that would have made a flapping sound, and the fan was on the usual slow speed. So the only explanation is that it was a sound made by one of my transitioned loved ones. Mom? Mark? I always want to figure out what something like this means, but I have the feeling that it mostly just means "I'm here, watching out for you". The psychic told me that Mark watches over me, told me that he often lays next to me when I'm in bed. It's kind of a comforting thought.



They didn't call me to work today, so I'll spend the day working with my plants.  We're going to have an extraordinarily warm will be in the 50's and the coolest day of the week. So it will get me in the mood to get things repotted.  The little seed dome has a lot going on!  I think it's time to move the Desert Rose into its own pot for starters.  The tiny Rhipsalis (actually Pseudorhipsalis) seedlings are developing their first flat leaves:

Aren't those just the cutest little leaves??  As for my "mama" plant, I've decided I'm going to restart it.  In fact, it's hanging over the sink right now - I watered the shit out of it yesterday so it will be well hydrated when I chop it up today.  The thing is so severely potbound that it really does need a reboot.  And it has a huge Drimopsis bulb that showed up in there a couple years ago that needs to be extricated from the hard mass of soil.  It's the only one of its kind that I have (for some reason).  Here's what it looks like in there:


This is actually from a year or more ago and it's much denser now.  I will take a photo when I get it potted up on it's own...

And now a mystery.  In the seed dome, next to one of the two Haemanthus albifloss bulbs, is a tiny "tuft" of green...maybe moss??  I took a macro pic of it and this is what it looks like:

I have no idea what it is.  I figure there's a good chance it was some seed that was in the mix I used, which came from Dick of the DM club.  Maybe I'll send a photo of it to him and see if he might have seen something similar when planting in his mix...

Well, that's all for today.  If I don't stop here, I won't getting any plant "stuff" done!