In Dominica, you might just see a giant
Datura Brugmansia (I was told they are sometimes called “ Agouti umbrella“*), flush to the breaking point full of drooping, soft peach flowers. Chances are good that you’ll see this on several occasions, in varying locations, and always the same colour.
I saw this one on a steep mountain road in the village of Trafalgar on a climb up to visit the most amazing twin waterfalls that run hot and cold (also called Trafalgar). It was raining at the time, as it is almost always raining in the rainforest.
Long story short: we were not let in due to incredibly ridiculous local politics and posturing. I’m still very bitter about what went down and the fact that I did not get to see the falls. But the brugmansia was incredible and so was the view from the top of the hill.
* An agouti is a rodent that lives in Dominica. It kind of looks like a large guinea pig. I saw one from the back on our second last day on the island.
Turns out I messed up. My notes had datura as agouti umbrella but it’s actually a small fern called selanginella that goes by this colloquial term. Oops. Seems like it should be the datura though, doesn’t it? The little fern does not remind me of an umbrella. Brugmansia does. Go figure.
I bought this Euphorbia a few months ago at the local Cactus and Succulent Society show and sale. It’s called a Medusa Head (Euphorbia flanaganii). I knew I had to have one when I saw my friend Barry’s potted up in an old clay mortar (he drilled a hole in the bottom for drainage).
It’s the sort of plant you can only picture as a houseplant. It seems too weird to come from nature, and yet it does… Somewhere in South Africa these are growing wild.
I would love to see that landscape. Wouldn’t you?
Inspired by a tour of Erika’s unusual houseplants, I bought myself a Sinningia. I purchased it for 2 bucks at the spring Toronto African Violet Society sale, which happened to be taking place at the Toronto Botanical Gardens at the same time as the Ontario Rock Garden Society annual sale, which I was helping out with. This is all by chance, as I am not a member of either group.
But I digress (again). The Sinningia I bought is called ‘Kevin Garnett’. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting, nor a choice for that matter — I was just happy to find one at all, and so cheaply, too. Given a choice, I would have selected a plant that produces a much simpler, red flower. Regardless, I’m happy with this one, despite the fact that it’s not really to my taste. The novelty of keeping it alive and making it bloom hasn’t worn out yet.
At home, I repotted the plant up in a little terracotta pot and placed it alongside my other African Violet Family plants. I used African Violet soil and planted it shallow, exposing the caudex like Erika’s. Mine did not come that way, but I prefer the look.
It is still early days in my Sinningia growing experience and I am not well-read on the subject. To be honest, I’m kind of winging it, going on instinct more than anything else. Whether or not exposing the caudex is good or bad for the plant is beyond me; however, months later and ta-da, my plant is blooming. I must be doing something right.
I ordered these bulbs from Garden Import back in the early spring and put them outside after the last frost. Low and behold it grew, and the flowers opened up just this past weekend. Coincidentally, their Fall catalog arrived at the same time. I spent some time flipping through it last night, oohing and awing at the many bulbs I’d love to buy and grow.
When I threatened to make a list of everything I want from the catalog, Davin suggested I make one called, “All the Plants I Will Not Be Buying This Fall.”
Coral Drops, (Bessera elegans) is a Mexican flowering bulb plant with very delicate flowers that dance and bob on thin stems. The bulbs are very tiny and the leaves are thin, making them a good choice for container growing. I grew my set in a pot on the roof and gave the remaining bulbs to a friend who is also growing them in a container with very gritty, well-draining soil.
I planted 7 bulbs in a pot that is 10″ wide and 8 1/2″ deep, a few more than the recommended number for a pot of that size. In hindsight I was too safe and feel I could have pushed it and put all 10 bulbs into that pot for a tighter display. Regardless, they look great and I’m really glad I allowed myself to splash out on this and a few other non-edibles this year. There are all kinds of nourishment, and this one was for my eyes, not my stomach.
Here’s what it looks like when you flip it upside down. You can really see the strange purple pistil and green pollen.
A flower that is just opening and some buds.