Bahia Bustamente and Malaspina Bay

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Only about 40 people live there now, but at one time some 500 residents -- mostly single men-- worked in Bahia Bustamente harvesting seaweed. The village was founded in 1952 by an Italian, Lorenzo Soriano, who was looking for a source of seaweed for hair gel. With his four sons, Don Lorenzo established the first seaweed village in the world. Four types of seaweed still are harvested, washed, dried and packaged for markets around the world, used in Japan for sushi and in nutritional and ...

Learn More

The Bones of Patagonia

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Puerto Madryn, Argentina -- The steppes of Patagonia are filled with stories of the past despite their monotonous demeanor. Listen to Darwin describe the physical aspects: "The level plains of arid shingle support the same stunted and dwarf plants, and in the valleys the same thorn-bearing bushes grow." Yet across these wind-swept arid landscapes are exposed strata of the ages, and within each layer, there are bones of the ancients. Many of the mammals that lived here have been unearthed, ...

Learn More

Magellanic Penguins

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Patagonia is the southernmost region of South America. It spreads across 260,000 square miles of Argentina and Chile. Along with right whales and penguins, the area is famous for guanacos, glaciers, beech trees, sea birds, and a hairy armadillo. Charles Darwin spent much time here during the voyage of the Beagle, examining its geology and fossils. But he was not the first European here. In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan first saw penguins on his trip around the tip of South America, and the ...

Learn More

Montevideo, Uruguay

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marjory Stoneman Douglas said for many years that she wanted to write a biography of William Henry Hudson, a naturalist and ornithologist as well as a writer. Hudson spent a long time in Patagonia, that southernmost part of South America shared by Argentina and Chile. I am on my way to Patagonia, W. H. Hudson's "Idle Days in Patagonia" in hand. Hurricane force winds in the southern Atlantic meant we had to be tied to the dock here for two days. This morning we were released as the port of...

Learn More

Rare plants at upcoming auction

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tropical Fern and Exotic Plant Society's annual auction on Monday, Oct. 22, at Fairchild will feature some rare plants that you may want to add to your collection. Angiopteris smithii, a rare fern. Dr. Jeff Block, a horticulturist par excellence, is donating some fine plants, including Angiopteris smithii. This large and rare fern from Borneo and Sumatra has leaves that tend to resemble cycads in the genus Ceratozamia. When I asked how he grows it, Dr. Block said the key to successfully...

Learn More

Picking a peck

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sweet Heat. For the Edible Garden festival last April, I have a little stand-up talk about what vegetables to plant during the summer. As a prop, I bought a little pepper plant at Publix for $3.95 because hot peppers can really take our heat. It was called Sweet Heat and it was a sweet-to-spicy pepper that was developed by Burpee. After the talk, I took it home and planted it. It has produced peppers all summer long, as many as 25 at a time, and it still is loaded. It got whitefly at one ...

Learn More

Aroid show: a feast for plant-lovers' eyes

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Denis Rotolante's Anthurium plowmanii Grande' greeted you at the entrance of the International Aroid Prize-winner Anth. plowmanii'Grande'. Society's 35th show and sale this weekend in the Garden House, and it was a whopper of a greeting. The enormous, crystal trophy-winning plant had leaves at least six feet long rising like a green Old Faithful, spouting plant exuberance for all to see. Nearby Don Bittel's exquisite, long-leafed Philodendron Spiritus-sancti won a...

Learn More

Fall flowers

Friday, September 14, 2012

This Dendrobium has the funnycultivar name 'Mung'. Dendrobium phalaenopsis plants have matured their leaves and now are blooming in my garden. These are the dendrobiums with flowers that resemble flowers in the genus Phalaenopsis, but they are not related. These dendrobiums have tall canes, and predominant color is purple, but they can be any color. We have purple, striped, deep maroon with yellow undersides to the flowers and white dendrobiums in bloom now. Shorter days are a signal for ...

Learn More


Friday, August 31, 2012

Beautiful big leaves of the white elephant palm. One of the attractions of Kerriodoxa elegans, the white elephant palm, is its huge round leaves. They are green above and whitish-silver below and can stretch across several feet. They are held up on dark brown/black petioles that arise straight from the ground. Originating in the understory of Thai rainforests in and near Phuket, this palm loves shade and protection from wind. My anxiety over hurricanes increases at this time every year, and ...

Learn More

Mimosa as a groundcover

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mimosa strigillosa's puffball flower. Just before the rain Friday morning, few butterflies were on the wing in the butterfly garden, but the gray skies evened out the light so the flowers looked wonderful. The small Mimosa strigillosa flowers were perfectly beautiful. This is a mat-forming legume that is a great groundcover candidate, and it may be a host for the Little Yellow butterfly, Eurema lisa. I've planted some in a sunny part of our yard, with the hope that it will creep across ...

Learn More