Category Archives: Flora

Picture of the Moment—Be a unique star!

Picture of the Moment

A picture of some teen tiny flowers on one of my succulents, a jade plant (Crassula ovata). Taken with a Tamron 90mm Macro lens.

How many stars can you count on just the one flower? I see 7 but I would not argue with you if you made a case for 8.

I would/could never have seen this without that cool macro lens.

Be more than a star. Be a unique star.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Did You Know?—Euphorbia, Datura & Brugmansia

Did you know?

When I was living with my wise old grandmother from 1965-1973, one of my “chores around the house” was pruning the billions and billions and billions of oleanders forming a fence around our property. I hated those things (which is why I have never had oleanders on any of my properties) because I was severely sensitive to oleander sap. I quickly learned to wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and gloves when pruning those blasted things. Hmmm. Deep south Texas and a teenager working outside with long shirts and long pants. Hated it.

Another plant that I am overly sensitive to is actually a plant genus: Euphorbia. Some of you might know that the common Christmas poinsettia is a Euphorbia, Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias grow year-round here in San Diego and can get about 20 feet tall, making a beautiful statement at Christmas time when they bloom.

Poinsettia

Another common plant around our homes is the “Crown of Thorns,” Euphorbia millii.

Crown of Thorns

My wise old grandmother also had poinsettias and crowns of thorns, both planted along the driveway. Well, guess where this tall, skinny dude had his basketball court? Inevitably a missed basket would result in the ball bouncing over to the poinsettias and crowns of thorns, and breaking branches, getting sticky sap all over my basketball. Poinsettias and crowns of thorns were also on my “Never in my own yard” list. Because poinsettias and crowns of thorns are succulents, though, I have had them in my home and on my property simply because I plant them out of the way and forget about them. They can survive on the water that Mother & Father Nature provide them, and since they are out of the way, I don’t have to prune them. The Crown of Thorns picture above is from one of my past gardens.

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993 and started exploring, I found a plant that grows wild, is very beautiful, and has a heavenly scent, especially at dusk: Datura.

Datura

Datura

I never saw Datura in a nursery, though. Eventually I found out why. It is very poisonous, especially their flowers and seeds, and people like me can develop a severe skin rash when the milky white sap gets on our skin. Their common name is Devil’s Trumpet.

Related to Datura is a plant that IS found in nurseries although it is just as poisonous: Brugmansia.

The Brugmansia’s common name is Angel’s Trumpet. The Angel’s Trumpet in the picture above is from one of my past gardens. It bloomed year-round, so the scent outside the master bedroom window was out of this world. I think the window was always open at dusk to let the fragrance in.

Brugmansia’s are difficult to find in nurseries and are usually carried by the smaller mom-and-pop nurseries. I recently found a small yellow one that is now outside waiting for me to transfer it from nursery pot to the ground, although the longer it waits, the more I’m thinking about putting it in a large glazed pot.

A side story to Datura and Brugmansia is that if the flowers are boiled in water, they create a “tea” that, when drank, creates a “natural high”—delusional and hallucinogenic euphoria. Sadly, this natural high can paralyze the vocal chords; cause liver failure, dry mouth, blurred vision, and incontinence; and even cause death. About every five years or so, some high school students here in the San Diego area learn the hard way about getting a natural high from these two plants. Animals, especially dogs and cattle, also are affected negatively when they eat the plants.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Plants of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

One of the meetup groups that I belong to is the Pacific Photographic Society with 2,248 members.

A perk of having that many members is that when we ask a company or its representative if we can have access to something, the answer rarely is no. Companies seem to be only too happy to let a bunch of photographers come in and take pictures of everything, even behind the scenes. Quite often we’ll be asked to provide our best pictures to the company, and sometimes those pictures get used in promotional brochures for the company, with photographer credit!

A disadvantage for me is that I have about $3,000 worth of equipment. That sounds like a lot but there are people in the group who have $30,000 worth of equipment. I can’t compete with them, nor do I want to. So I try to do things differently. When I go out with the group, I usually am the last person in line. I watch what the other people are taking pictures of, and then I take pictures of something different.

Such is the case each year when our last event is a visit to the San Diego Zoo. I have been going to the Zoo an average of once a week for many years, so I have billions and billions and billions of animal pictures. Since the San Diego Zoo also is an internationally recognized botanical garden, I also have billions and billions and billions of plant pictures. It’s the plants that people seem never to notice when they go to the Zoo, and since I love plants as much as the animals, I have an advantage there.

So, of course, at our Zoo visit on December 31, 2017, I took nothing but plant pictures. Well, I was promoted to group photographer since I was the only one with any kind of a wide-angle lens, mine being a Tamron 16-300mm zoom lens, so I got to take the group photo::

Pacific Photographic Society at the San Diego Zoo on December 31, 2017

I’ll share pictures of some of the animals from my two visits to the Zoo on the last two days of the year but meanwhile you’ll have to be satisfied with plant pictures. Of the following, the first two pictures are getting a lot of comments and “best picture” votes, and that was my intent, to show them that there is more to the Zoo than just the animals.

Which plant picture is your favorite?

1 – Teeny tiny mushroom forestMushrooms at the San Diego Zoo

2
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

3 – Cycad
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

4
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

5 – I think these are dates
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

6 – Aerial roots of a Ficus tree
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

7
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

8 – Philodendron branch
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

9 – Philodendron fruit
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

10
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

11 – Ficus tree
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

12
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Picture of the Moment—Meet Robyn Gordon Grevilla

Picture of the Moment

My new macro lens is a 90mm lens, which means that I can capture things that are a fairly good distance away.

Couple that with the fact that my camera takes pictures that are 6000 pixels by 4000 pixels, add in the ability to crop in Photoshop, and the following two pictures show what is possible.

Original Picture
Original picture

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But look at the cropped picture:

Cropped Picture
Cropped picture

Apparently its name is Robyn Gordon Grevilla.

I’m really liking my new macro lens.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-29-17)—Macro pictures

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have never done any type of photography that involved people. No portraits, no weddings, no graduations, no reunions. I just didn’t want the hassle of dealing with people.

I never did certain other types of photography, like macro photography, because I deemed the equipment to be too expensive relative to the results. That has changed. Recently I saw some extraordinarily awesome macro photographs using a lens that was within my price range: the Tamron 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD. Sure glad they never named cars like that!

I bought one.

Following is my first set of pictures taken with my new macro lens. You just knew they were going to be either plants or Zoey the Cool Cat, yes? Well, Zoey the Cool Cat was not being cooperative so you’ll just have to make do with macro pictures of these plants. Happy Friday!

Poinsettia
Many people think the red things are the flowers.
They are not. Those are flower brachts.
The green things here are the flower buds
but the flowers aren’t much bigger.
The flowers are what plant people call “insignificant.”Poiinsettia

African violet
I learned a lot about nature after my wise old grandmother adopted me
in December 1965. One of her joys was her collection of African Violets. Although I have an extraordinarily green thumb, I never could get
African Violets to do well after I bought them. Until this year.
This little one is on its second bloom cycle with me.
African violet

Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
I am a huge fan of Aeoniums, and this is one of my favorites.
Aeonium 'Sunburst'

Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe delagoensis)
This has been one of my favorite plants since I was 11.
Little plantlets grow on the edge of the leaves.
They drop off, hit the ground, and start their own lives.
This particular one is ‘Pink Butterflies.”Mother of Thousands

I have no idea what this is and the pot I bought it in didn’t have a name
other than “Succulent.” As a friend of mine who owns a succulent nursery
likes to say about plant names, “Who cares? If you like it, buy it.”
I bought it.
Graptopetalum

Milkwort (Polygala myrtifolia)
Seven of these plants were growing at our new home.
Since I think they are kind of pretty, I kept them.
Milkwort

Pussy Willow (Salix sp.)
When I lived in northern Utah (1961-1965),
pussy willows grew everywhere. I liked them.
They are long lasting and look great in a large vase.
This is from a group that I bought in 1999.
Pussy willow

These last three pictures are Osteospermum flower buds.
I was experimenting with various f/stop settings
to give me different depths of field.
Osteospermum

Osteospermum

Osteospermum

Which one is your favorite?

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-8-17)—San Diego Botanic Garden in December

Friday Flower Fiesta

I like to take my photographs and kind of mess them up in Photoshop and various other programs so that they don’t look like photographs anymore. That means I’m always on the lookout for new digital photo editing programs. One I discovered a few days ago is called “Impresso Pro” by a company called JixiPix. They claim to have

a long and lucrative history developing well-known 3D, Video and Multi-Media software, not to mention an industry of iOS and Android apps. Thanks to the response from our users, we have been recognized as one of the top developers from Apple, Mac World, USA Today and other industry leaders.”

Yet they don’t have a page on Wikipedia….

Nonetheless, following are 24 photographs from my December visit to the San Diego Botanic Garden, messed up a little bit in Impresso Pro.

Which one is your favorite?

1 – BromeliadSan Diego Botanic Garden

2 – AgaveSan Diego Botanic Garden

3 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

4San Diego Botanic Garden

5 – PassionflowerSan Diego Botanic Garden

6San Diego Botanic Garden

7San Diego Botanic Garden

8 – Day Lily & visitorSan Diego Botanic Garden

9 – FigSan Diego Botanic Garden

10San Diego Botanic Garden

11 – Bamboo TunnelSan Diego Botanic Garden

12San Diego Botanic Garden

13 – AgavesSan Diego Botanic Garden

14 – BromeliadSan Diego Botanic Garden

15 – Woodpecker treeSan Diego Botanic Garden

16 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

17 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

18San Diego Botanic Garden

19 – CycadSan Diego Botanic Garden

20 – BromeliadSan Diego Botanic Garden

21 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

22 – Shaw’s AgaveSan Diego Botanic Garden

23 – AloeSan Diego Botanic Garden

24 – SunflowersSan Diego Botanic Garden

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Why the A is worth only one point

Succulent flowers

Zoey the Cool Cat, Jim, and I moved back in July to a ground floor house that actually has property surrounding it. We had been in condominiums from 2007 to 2017 because we liked having a pool and spa without having the maintenance on a pool and spa.

Now that we have property surrounding our house again, I can get back to serious gardening. Serious gardening means spending lots of time again reading through the plant books in my gardening library as well as spending time at the plant nurseries throughout San Diego County.

Most of our property will be dedicated to non-cactus succulents—my body has decided to move on from thorny cactus.

My time at nurseries led me to Solana Succulents, a cool little nursery in Solana Beach, California, which I discovered 15 years ago. A couple of weeks ago as I was wandering around the nursery, the owner, Jeff Moore, was on the phone and telling the caller that he would have to be closed the next day because he was traveling up to Los Angeles to speak to one of the botanical societies there. After he hung up, I told him that I was retired and if he ever needed someone to keep the nursery open for a day while he was gone, he could call on me. Well, he called on me as soon as I finished my sentence, and I got to work the nursery all by myself the next day. Pretty cool. Even though I was in a nursery, I was pretty sure I was in Heaven.\

Jeff has written two books on Succulents: Under the Spell of Succulents and Aloes and Agaves In Cultivation, and has a third book, Soft Succulents, coming out in a couple of weeks. In my continuing conversation with Jeff, I commented on his book as to its design and text fonts. He sent me a PDF of his not-yet-published Soft Succulents to read through and offer comments. I did. I did the same for his first two books in case he gets to reprintings.

It’s been a joy reading his books because of his knowledge, the pretty pictures, and his sense of humor. Some of the pictures almost—almost, I say—convince me to give some of the agaves a try, but they are mean, spiny creatures which have no problem sampling a taste of your blood. That, however, doesn’t prevent me from enjoying the pictures—they don’t bite—and sharing them with you.

The little one in the following picture from Wikipedia has some serious spines and is quite pretty, but it’s the name that caught my attention:

Agave guadalajarana

It’s the reason why the A in Scrabble is worth only one point.

Agave guadalajarana

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post