Back in July I posted two photos of lithops plants my friend Barry grew from seed. Here’s one of the plants blooming for the first time! Worth the patient effort don’t you think?Leave a comment
Botanical and garden photography by Gayla Trail.
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.Leave a comment
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?Leave a comment
I couldn’t resist sharing another image from the presentation I am working on and will be giving later this month.
This is Giant Milkweed (Gossypium). The only time I saw it on the trip was when we travelled to the north end of Barbados to visit the Animal Flower Cave. The cave was a must-do item for me. When I was growing up, my mother, who is from Barbados, spoke of it fondly. What she described was an ocean-side cave filled with blooming flower animals: sea anemones. Unfortunately, the anemone population has dwindled significantly over the years. While the cave and the surrounding landscape was fantastic, and one of the highlights of the Barbados leg of our trip, what I saw was nothing like the cave as it would have been in my mother’s day.
But I digress. When I hopped off of the last of a three bus journey, the very first plant I noticed was the Giant Milkweed. How could I miss it? It looked like an overgrown version of the milkweed that grows in dry landscapes here in Toronto. The landscape at the north end of the island, and on Barbados in general, is quite dry and flat. There are a lot of dry fields. For that reason, I didn’t see this plant in Dominica, an island that is almost entirely mountainous rainforest!
I did some research and discovered that Giant Milkweed is sometimes called “pillow cotton” because the giant pods are filled with a soft and silky fibre that was once used to fill pillows. How appropriate. You see, for a good month prior to our trip I worried endlessly about the availability of a decent pillow in Dominica and wondered aloud to anyone who would listen as to how I might pack my pillow in addition to all the books and camera gear I felt necessary. This is all because I read somewhere that there was a pillow shortage in Dominica due to a fire, and that it is hard to get stuff there period, regardless. Which is true.
I know this sounds very Princess and the Pea, but I assure you that I can sleep on rocks as long as I have a good pillow. I NEED my pillow. Of course, after all of that fuss, I forgot the pillow at home and then worried about it endlessly during our 4 days in Barbados. Where could I get a pillow? When would I get a pillow and would it take me over Liat’s minuscule carry on limit?
I should have harvested some “pillow cotton” from the Giant Milkweed and made my own while I had the chance.
Amazingly, later that night — our last night in Barbados, and well after I had resigned myself to “suck it up already”– I purchased the perfect pillow from a group of ladies (the Pillow Ladies), and at the fish market of all places!