For The Love of mangos - Africa

Thursday, January 21, 2010

By Noris Ledesma

I had long dreamed of visiting southern Africa and the opportunity came to "seize the moment" and travel half-way around the world to observe another country's horticultural production. I was game to go and full of enthusiasm to learn about mango production in this part of the world. Thanks to our relationship with Westfalia and their kind invite I was now going to see their operations. My flight started from Miami to Johannesburg, stopping in Madrid for transit. In Madrid I was stuck for 2 ...

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And the effects of cold keep on coming

Sunday, January 17, 2010

After three days of dropping leaves, the black olive looks like this. Among the damaged: Pithecellobium, Pseudobombax, Pritchardia, Podocarpus...are all the P-plants doomed? Naw. Ficus, gumbo-limbo (some), African tulip trees, some coconut palms, royal poincianas, the list goes on. The damage likely will continue to appear. I called Steve Nock, aroid hybridizer and expert who owns Borneo giant shows how itdisliked the cold. Ree Gardens with his wife Marie, to ask about my damaged and...

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Reaping the windfall benefits of cold

Friday, January 15, 2010

The black olive felt outside its hardiness zone this weekand is complaining about it. Ragtag and bitter winds played hopscotch during last week's cold spell and now we can watch mulch being made right in our own backyards! Several months' supply is being dropped on the patio by the West Indian black olive tree. The bougainvillea, sacred bamboo of Bali and, alas, many of the Vanda and Bulbophyllum orchids also are donating to the cause. This is really lemonade from lemons,...

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We have lots of birds in Fairchild!

Friday, January 15, 2010

We've had very cold temperatures from January 7 through January 12. This meant that the temperature of our lakes has also cooled. Certain exotic (bad) species of fish, such as tilapia, have been killed by the cold water. Well, wading birds such as Ibis, Egrets, and a very special visitor, a Wood Stork, are feeding on the fish! Come to our lowlands and see the birds taking advantage of a "buffet" of tilapia. Wood Stork grooming himself (or herself) in front of a bench...

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The weekend that was and what lies ahead

Sunday, January 10, 2010

For plants, pets and plant lovers, it was a weekend of stress. Trying to get the floodlights and heaters set up in cold drizzle was a challenge. Now comes the next event: helping the garden recover, if we're lucky. If palm fronds turn brown, remove them. However, if only part of the frond is brown, remove that part and allow the green to stay in place. All available green is needed for photosynthesis. The same is true for fronds with brown spots of cold damage. Get out the copper ...

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What to do with your plants in this cold weather

Monday, January 4, 2010

This week is bringing the coldest weather we've experienced in nine years. To help prevent cold damage to your plants, cover tender plants, either with old sheets, paper or boxes. Do not use plastic, as any plastic touching leaves will carry heat into the atmosphere away from the plants. At night, a floodlight beams heat into the covered sealing wax palms. I have covered the tender palms, such as the sealing wax and Pelagodoxa henryana, with sheets and put floodlights beneath the sheets ...

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Holiday flowers are really tropical bulbs, so plant them

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This year's amaryllis (Hippeastrum cultivars) have produced spectacular flowers for the holidays. What to do with them when the flowers fade? Plant them in the garden This amaryllis, a Hippeastrum cultivar, is called Papilio. I have always loved these flowers, and now have them in beds throughout my garden. They don't bloom at Christmas, but in the spring. Last year, some of mine began to open in February. Others waited for a couple of months. So the show is on-going. All you need is...

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Colors of the season

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maybe it's just me, but I keep noticing red and white flowers this month that resonate with the holiday season. White candles. Just beyond the visitors Center in Plot 50 is a shrub that holds up charming white flowers, a Whitfieldia, or white candles. It hails from the rainforests of Africa but makes a lovely guest in South Florida. Dark green leaves set off the panicles of flowers that are held upright, resembling candles. The flowers are tubular, emerging from fuzzy white bracts....

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Garden of delights

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

These flowers bloom by dayas well as night. With Nessie rising from Center Lake and Big Foot stomping out of the rainforest, with giant polka dotted flowers and pumpkins delighting the eye, the garden is brimming over with color, life and liveliness these days. Sweet almond bush is blooming at several locations around the garden, including the butterfly garden. It is Aloysia virgata, a member of the verbena family. Its aroma is rather noticeable, as if a cloud of fragrance hovers above ...

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For the Love of Mangos-Ecuador

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Curator Noris Ledesma travels to Ecuador to delve into the world of chocolate and mango along the North coast of South America. Follow her adventure through the country of emerald greens and ocean blue. She will immerse herself into the culture and business of cacao, learning the secrets of this ancient crop of the Maya and passing on the adventure to the Fairchild family. Few crops have such a rich cultural heritage or possess such commercial potential. Cacao farming of today is ...

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