Sunday, November 14, 2010

Paphiopedilum Maudii.... So close! Audrey is that you?

Ready for "Little Shop of Horrors II" I think. Audrey is waiting. ALMOST fully open. Lovely! And the first Pahiopedilum that I have grown from a new start to bloom. Awesome!

Dendrobium nobile buds and bloom

I treated this Yamamoto-type Dendrobium nobile to outdoor chill for more than one month. It's pictured in other posts. NOw it's produced a bud at every node. What a treat! Now need to treat it nicely until blooms result.

I think this one is Dendrobium Spring Dream "Apollon". Purchased plant in bloom. It will replace another that responded to cold by developing rot at the top. This variety is reported on the Yamamoto website as warmth tolerant, so may not need the cold treatment.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


For the past month, I've been hoping to see the new Cymbidiums at Fred Meyer and Trader Joe's. And now, there they are. Last year's Cymbidium grew nicely, and a nice green one would be a perfect addition. On seeing this one, relatively compact and lavish blooms, plus fragrance, I lost my resolve to buy only the green one and added this. Getting it home, I noted tiny grey spots that wash off easily - mildew? or something from the air? Washed them off, and drenched with neem. We'll see if there is something to worry about.

This was the first one I saw, and added it before the others. Didn't buy it, went back to the store the next day then the next. So here it is. A little buyers' remorse here. Beautiful, big, fragrant flowers. I don't really "need" it. If "need" is the right word. Still, they are not a lot of trouble, outside spring through fall, including now. Only when freeze threatens do I need to bring them back inside.

That green one. This isn't the green one I had in mind. It's better. The flowers are more unusual.

The entire plant, flowers included, is much more compact. Better for a windowsill grower. Smaller ones are reported as less dependent on cool weather to bloom. Not sure that's an issue for me. They are always an experiment. There are too many beautiful orchids.

The brown-flowered Cymbidium from last year. She torments me with her slow, gradual unfolding. The two buds are larger than a month ago. I need to wait two weeks between looks, to see change. I discovered it had been knocked over and off its perch. No obvious harm. Outdoor orchids are looking a little borderline as far as mold and threatened rot, so I sprayed with neem. It's still in a sheltered spot, out of rain but on south side of house. With gloomy rainy days, I hesitate to call this full sun.

Golden ginkgo leaves

Beautiful golden leaves. Backyard ginkgo is still green, but others around town are a beautiful yellow color as well. This tree grew nicely this year, after taking a break last year. Not nearly as big as its backyard sibling. I suspect the backyard tree benefits from generous application of doggie "products" that don't happen in front. That may also be why the backyard tree is still green.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mystery Orchid

This orchid plant is growing nicely, quadrupled in size from last winter. It was a gift. Previously I speculated that it might be Dendrobium biggibum / Vappodes phaelenopsis, due to flowers that I mistakenly thought were on the source plant. I do think those flowers were Dendrobium phaelenopsis or hybrid thereof, but now have other thoughts about this plant. Until it blooms, if it blooms, it will be a wild guess. With the variability and endless variety of orchids, even when it blooms I may not know. I should just call it "Jovie's orchid".

The small section below the roots, was the original cutting. The rest has developed since that time, including the now-largest growth. Whatever I'm doing, it seems to like it for growth. Whether it will like it for flowers, I don't know. That's why I wanted to identify it.

I did find a similar plant on, link here. Even more, this link from "the lush garden within", a blog on More here. Due to copyright issues, I'm not copying those images, just linking. This does look like "Jovie's Orchid".

Image from wikimedia commons. This is identified as "Oerstedella centropetala"

Another wikimedia image, same species. describes these are winter blooming orchids. More information from "warm to intermediate-growing species native to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama... grows at low elevations in wet montane forests on the Pacific slopes... 1,400 m altitude...wet and dry seasons succeed each other... also really good pic on, stating that these orchids grow in heavy shade. That would be good for an indoor plant. That site states these bloom in Spring.

Old sketch illustrating similar plant, also from wikimedia commons, labeled "Oerstedella centradenia and Oerstedella centropetala / Epidendrum centropetalum".

As with all things ortchid, "We'll see" is the appropriate concept. This may or may not turn out to be the correct ID, but it's interesting to learn about all orchids.

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A few late fall flowers, and kitchen garden produce

Late summer planting of Roma bush beans. These are very good stir-fried with mushrooms, garlic, and peanuts, along with some stir fry noodles. Yum!

A few last roses showing me they're still here. They are mostly such a mess, I'm looking forward to pruning them back this winter. Weeds took over. That is largely the job of kitty cat, who decided that the mulch was the worlds biggest and best litter box, stirring up all of the mulch with weed-seed-laden soil below, and fertilizing as she went along. Still no solution for this challenge.

Nice Dahlia. It's survived many years in that location. I thought it was dead, but there it is.

I keep saying it over and over, but best pepper crop ever!

More schlumbergeras

There is such a thing as having too many Schlumbergeras. Over the years, I've thought "that's a cool looking one, it's small, what's one more" or "Let's see if that will grow from cuttings" and they've added up. Still, when in bloom they're very dramatic and fun.

That salmon colored one again, close to full bloom. Discussed before, it's grown from cuttings.

This white one I separated from a red flowered Schlumbergera. Originally, I bought the red+white combined pot because I wanted the white one. It has fewer 'trunks' because half of them were red. Maybe next Spring I'll cut it back, taking cuttings for a thicker planting, and start it over. Should still get bloom next winter.

This one might have to go. The flowers always ball up and look somewhat mushy. One time I can excuse, but it happens every year. Maybe I can find a home for it. Very dramatic red color, anyway.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Spider

Spiders are our friends. I happened on this beautiful web, glistening with morning dew. It's maker lurks in the center, waiting for unsuspecting insects to land on her web.

Time to move shrubs and trees

We've been talking for a long time about moving this lilac. It was next to the grape arbor. We planted it as a bare-root specimen about 8 or 9 years ago. It's grown too large for its location.

It's fall, heading into the rainy season before winter comes. Now is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. By moving them now, they get a chance to replace lost roots before the hot summer season. They get a bit of a head start and are more likely to survive the process of moving.

I did not take photos of the digging and moving process. I pruned the lilac shrub, removing about one half of its growth. It's still a large shrub, despite that amount of pruning. I dug a trench around it. Not easy - the ground was very hard. The roots were not deep, probably due to the hard ground. I think most of the roots were in the upper 18 inches of soil, or so. Any torn roots, I pruned with a pruning shears to remove ragged edges, but otherwise they were left intact. Of course, a few were lost to digging.

As such a large shrub, it now looks like "it's always been there". Interesting.

I drug the uprooted bush, using an old vinyl shower curtain to smooth the way. I dug a whole in the new location, moved it into place, back filled the soil, and gave it a very good soaking. Even though this is Pacific Northwest and the rains are about to come, I did not want it to suffer dry conditions at the roots, and the ground is only damp to about 1 foot so far.

Lilacs usually take several years to bloom from a small bare-root plant. Most of ours seem to start blooming 4 or 5 years after planting. This is a mature lilac, and I did not want to lose the potential for lots of flowers soon. They bloom from the tops of strong stems that were produced the previous summer. By pruning it back, I probably removed most if not all of the potential blooming stems for next spring. There may be a few to give us a taste, I tried to keep some. If it settles into place, I expect it to bloom in the following Spring on growth it makes early next summer.

Backyard Orchard: Mulberry

Seems like it's growing faster now that it did all summer. I DID get 2 mulberries from this tree, so at least got a taste. Interesting, I liked them. Not as sweet as raspberries, they had their own distinct flavor.

This winter I'll cut it back to about 5 feet tall, to encourage low branching and start it on the way to the "backyard orchard" method.

This tree got off to a slow start but is now looking healthy and strong.

Barrel Planters and Peppers

Peppers looking great. Now I need to pick them and figure out something to cook. I'm thinking about making risotto-stuffed peppers.

I've never had so many peppers reach maturity before. The barrels are definitely the way to go.

The mysterious "night blooming Cereus" blooms again.

Otherwise known as Epiphyllum oxypetallum.

Charlie had to see what it was all about.

If I had taken excellent care of the plant, it might have had more flowers. One or two is sufficient, however. I forgot how fragrant they are. The house was filled with the sweet scent.

Just beautiful.

I applied some pollen to a couple of Schlumbergera. Chances of that coming to fruition are small - I have no idea if they are related! But if they do, it might be fun a few years from now. Assuming they grow.

These are SO easy to grow, it's easy to wind up with extra plants. If a piece breaks off, or is too long and I trim it off, all that is needed is to stick it into some potting soil and it grows. I've never had one not-grow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More buds on orchid plants

So often, it's difficult to find a photo or reference telling us "what is this growth on my orchid" or giving us an idea of "how long from this bud to an actual flower". Which is why I photographed these early buds. I don't know how long it will take either, but I feel certain these are flower buds and not new growths.

This Cymbidium hybrid (brown flowered, shown in posts earlier this year) has been in full sun, outdoors, from early summer to now. I've quit fertilizing, and quit watering unless it looks completely dry. I feel certain the two bottom growths are flower buds - the new growths that result in leaves are green, while these buds are deep maroon. They've been present about one month and are very slowly growing. I think they'll be blooming in a few more months, but not having grown them before I'm not sure. The plant will have to come inside before actual frosts, but not until then.

This Phalaenopsis hybrid is producing a new growth as well. The point of confusion for Phalaeonpsis would be with new roots. However, the roots look like little green and white worms, and point downwards. They seem to originate more on the side, as opposed to just within a leaf node. This growth is pointing upwards, seems to have a sheath structure similar to those seen on the old, dried flower stems, and doesn't have the downy vellum of a root. Again, I don't know how long to a flower. I'll have to post when it actually blooms - probably in 2 or 3 months. Meanwhile, I continue fertilizing weakly weekly, 1/4 teaspoon of "Growmore Bloom Formula", 6-30-30. The instructions state 1 teaspoon per gallon, but I'm using the 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of rain water method, which is the designation "weakly weekly". One thing I noted, this fertilizer does not contain magnesium (It has manganese which is an entirely different mineral). I've read that orchids do require magnesium, and therefore benefit from occasional dose of Epsom Salts. Not sure if that's true, and they seem to be doing quite well without it, but maybe I'll add a 1/4 teaspoon of Epsom salts per gallon to the next watering. This plant's leaves have a burgundy hue, which could mean too much light, but I think that's just this plant's coloration. I like these dark colored leaves. Some others in the same, North, window, are a grassy green.

These are the current outdoor orchids, except the Cymbidium above. These are in full sun, south side of house, and just being watered with rainwater, rarely adding some "bloom food" but usually just rain water. These are Yamamoto dendrobiums, and this is as close as I can come to their instructions for fall care. Giving water and fertilizer is said to encourage growths (keikis) and discourage actual flower buds. The plant in the greenish pot has 3 keikis, and had one earlier this summer that I removed and started as a new plant, but that's all. They may shrivel and the leaves may turn brown and fall, that's considered normal. I takes self discipline not to water them more, and when looking very dry I do give some water.
In addition, there are two young Oncidium (probably variety "Gower Ramsey") plants grown last year from backbulbs. One has a second growth/pseudobulb sprouting off the side. These are quite vigorous and fast growing, for an orchid, but I cant seem to get them to bloom. This is my attempt to simulate their unknown native conditions and encourage bloom. These Oncidiums may be too young to bloom, or this may not be the correct condition, but it's worth a try.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cattleya-type orchids. Work in progress.

Not having bloomed a Cattley-type orchid from start of growth to bloom, I'm anxious to see if these make flowers. This is Potinara Cheryl Winkleman "Chris", bought earlier this year. It has a nice new growth now, and a sheath that potentially could become a flower. That process can take months, so it's suspense for a long time. Looks healthy for now.

Potinara Achung Yoyo "Little Goldfish". I enjoyed this one when I bought it, in bloom. The new growth appears as healthy and sturdy as the previous growth. No sheath yet, but I have some optimism due to the healthy-appearing growth.

Schlumbergeras are starting to bloom

This salmon colored Schumbergera is usually the first to bloom. This year I took some cuttings from this plant, they are just beginning to make buds. This plant was left unattended for a couple of months this summer, under the grape vine. It might be more prolific now, but I can't complain.

These tend to make buds on the side facing the window. I suppose if I turned them more often they would have buds all around.

All of these were summered outside, some under the grape arbor and some on the North side of the house, where they received some morning and some evening sun, but not midday. I watered them when I remembered to do so. Most years I'm more attentive, but they don't seem to mind. Others are just beginning to make buds, so there will be Schlumbergera flowers for at least 2, maybe 3, months.

In their own way, these are as colorful and exotic as orchids. In fact, they are epiphytic and originate in Brazil, in some of the same general areas as some orchids. I may not appreciate them enough, because I'm so accustomed to them. But it's always great when they bloom.

I don't know orchids well enough yet to know if some are as easy as Schlumbergera - maybe so. There is more diversity of flower. I'm glad I don't have to choose, these are all great exotic indoor bloomers that brighten up the shortening days.

This pink one is newer. I wish they had name tags, but as it is I have to accept them for who they are.

A little lopsided, but that's fine. It's really beautiful.

These are supposed to be "Christmas cactus" or "Holiday cactus" or "Thanksgiving cactus" . The "Christmas cactus" label is really a different species but these are sometimes given that label. I prefer the genus name, otherwise what would these be - Columbus Day cactus?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Planted some Tulips

I planted big bunches of tulips in the back yard, from big bags from a big box store. Each bag stated there were 60 mulbs, so 120 tulips. I plant them in bunches of 5 or 6. Instead of using a bulb planter, I dig with a shovel, it's faster and gives me a chance to till the soil a little. Also planted some bunches of these in the front yard:

Most of the tulips were "standard" varieties, but I like adding some more elaborate types as well. There were from a big box store.

These might be nice for some cut flowers. These were from a local nursery. I think the blends usually have a predominance of a few types, but it's like that box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

Most tulips seems to "peter out" here. A few varieties persist and proliferate. Unclear why, but I tend to look at them as a type of annual, just to cheer me up by shouting "It's Spring, it's Spring". Daffodils seem to persist better and multiply, although some bunches of those sometimes die out as well. Both have their place, and I feel like I'm doing something for myself when I plant them in the fall.

There are so many bulbs under the ground here now, I can't dig without finding a few. No problem, I just replant them

Friday, October 01, 2010

A little orchid report

I thought this was a miltonia but on reading closer the tag stated Beallara Purple Haze "Jimi Hendrix". Beallara is an intergeneric of Miltonia with Brassia, Cochlioda, and Odontoglossum, heavy on the Miltonia, so I wasn't too far off. I don't know if I'll keep it when it's done blooming - just something to look at until other flowers start to bloom. Quite nice I think. According to the book "Bloom Again Orchids" by Judy White, Beallara needs day temps in med 60s to mid 70s, and nights in mif 50s to 60, so I think it could do well for me. Plus, light requirement is "Medium" indicating bringht indirect eastern or southern window. I think I can do those.

This Paphiopedilum "Maudeae" is gradually getting closer to blooming. It will be the first Paphiopedilum to bloom for me, all on growth that occurred under my care, so I'm pleased.

This Phalaenopsis is inching closer and closer to rebloom. This is a new spike, from a previously blooming spike that finished. It's almost as good as blooming from growth that occurred under my care. This little Phalaenopsis is a real trooper.

Quick spur of the moment quiche

There was enough pie crust left over to almost fill an 8" pie plate. I didn't want to bother for lunch, so I made a quick quiche using the left over crust. This was pure laziness.

This was too easy to believe. No recipe. Placed broccoli florets, sliced onion, big slices of garlic, and slices of sun dried tomatoes into the crust. I LOVE sun dried tomatoes.

Then used a fork to stir 2 eggs vigorously, with about 1/4 cup water to thin them a little. To the eggs, I added some mozarella from the fridge, about 1/2 cup, and some parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup. Poured over the broccoli mixture.

The quiche went into the oven on a shelf below the peach pie. It took about 10 monites to make, to it cooked about 10 minutes less. Since it was small, that's all it needed. This was great! That's all there was to it!

Call me "Mr. Pie!" Pie baking is good for the soul. It's a form of meditation and a way to experiment with countless variations. Only a good person can make a pie, I'm sure of it.

Peach pie from home grown peaches! Yum!

There were enough peaches remaining on the tree for a pie. So I made one.

I did not hve success with fresh peach pie last year, so I did more research. The techniques that I think made this one work were using a quick boil the chill to remove the skins, and adding lemon juice to the peaches to prevent browning. I prefer that pies not be too sweet, so the amount of sugar is small. Others might want to lat least double the sugar content.

Some ripe peaches. Home grown organic fresh peaches, right off the tree!

Quick dip in boiling water. Just one minute.

Then a quick dip in ice water. One minute, again.

Then just rub the skin with my thumb, and it slides right off. Who knew it would be so easy!

Then slice up the peaches, and quickly add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and mix to coat the peach slices. The lemon juice prevents browning of the peaches.

Now I added 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tbsp quick cooking tapioca, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Most recipes call for butter, but olive oil is healthier and I don't need the extra buttery flavor.

It's all mixed together. Now let it sit 30 minutes. As it happens, it takes about 15 minutes to make the crust. This is the same as my other olive oil crusts in this blog, including the lemon juice for extra flakiness.

Forgot to show the mix in the pie shell, but it looks the same as the mix in the bowl. Added the usual foil, baked 40 minutes at 375. This time the edges didn't brown at all, so I took the foil off at 35 minutes.

I liked this pie best cold. A bit more sugar would make it more appealing for people who like a sweet pie. I can't believe I know how to make a peach pie! It was great!