This last trip to Cuba was one of many firsts including a few from my life to-do list, one of which was to ride on a horse. And now that I’ve done it I probably won’t do it again. My ass thanks me in advance. I definitely will not do it again in a place where there are no certainties about the care of the animals. I worried for my little horse and wondered about all the heavy tourist butts she had been forced to bear in her lifetime of servitude.
The horseback trip we took was a short, but painful jaunt to a waterfall up in the mountains. The waterfall itself was interesting, although not remarkable. What was amazing were the plants! I particularly loved the wall covered in epiphytic plants (air plants) shown in the photo above. Wouldn’t you love to have that in your living room? Those strange snake-like plants on the left side are epiphytic cactus. And the big-leaved vine in the foreground and left background? Philodendron!
This is what happens to a basil plant when it is allowed to continue on with life well past one year. I wish I had a context shot to really show just how big and woody this plant had become. The bush came up past my hips and was so huge I didn’t even recognize it as a basil plant. I passed by it several times, and on a couple of separate occasions without giving it a second glance.
I don’t know which variety this is. The look and size of the leaves remind me of a variety called ‘Lesbos’, but the plants I have grown have never developed a purplish hue like this one. ‘Lesbos’ has a strong smell, but the leaves of this particular plant were very strong with an even deeper, spicier scent. When I asked, my host said it was medicinal and not used in cooking.
In an effort to identify this species of Opuntia I consulted my gigantic, big-enough-to-use-as-a-potential-weapon 776 page tome, “The Cactus Family“, saw that there were 40 paged on this genus alone and promptly gave up. I’ve got a headache.
I took this photo back in October when Swiss Chard was one of the few producers left in the food garden. Davin drew the illustration while I cut back a Swiss chard plant for demonstration photos (and eating, of course!). Our spontaneous outdoor chalkboard project ended up being a big hit on the roof last year. All it took was an empty frame that we had lying around, chalkboard paint, and a cheap piece of Masonite. Make one for your garden!
Here’s another photo of it in action.
Today’s Daily Botanical is brought to you by Davin Risk because my photo of the same subject was unsuccessful.
I have a special affection for store front windows that are completely filled with a monster plant. Perhaps there is a lot of nitrogen or some kind of growth hormone in the chemicals used in dry cleaning because they tend to be the most popular businesses supporting gigantic plants. There is one nearby to where I live with a rubber tree (Ficus elastica) that is literally crawling along the ceiling in a million tangled appendages.
In Santiago de Cuba we found this bookstore window completely overrun by a pothos. Bonus points because the name on the window is also botanical.