Monarch + Echeveria

I just returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon to visit my sister. The first thing I noticed when I got out of my car and was inspecting my succulent collection was this big fat monarch caterpillar forming its chrysalis on my Echeveria gigantea.

Monarch caterpillar forming its chrysalis on Echeveria gigantea.

Looks like it took its time finding the perfect spot. I do believe those are tiny monarch footprints on the leaf to the left.

 

Pelargoniums

Does anyone else like to collect plants from certain families or genera? I worked with a gardener once who said it wasn’t something that interested him because to his mind it was no different from the person that collects license plates or beer bottles. He has a point but it is something I haven’t been able to shake. I have had all sorts of collections over the years (Clematis and Geraniums were two of the biggest) and probably won’t stop any time soon.

My latest craze is Pelargoniums. I’ve always loved them and now I live in the perfect climate to grow some of the more interesting species. We are very lucky to have an excellent resource in the mail order nursery Geraniaceae with many different cultivars and species of Geraniums, Pelargoniums and other plants in the family.

Pelargonium gibbosum

Pelargonium gibbosum is one of my favorites. Chartreuse flowers over a very long period. They have a strong jasmine fragrance starting at dusk.

Pelargonium laxum

Pelargonium laxum is another cool one with lots of sweet little white and pink flowers with bright orange anthers.

I have about a dozen species now and will probably continue adding more to the collection. Until something new catches my eye.  What are you collecting these days?

 

Erica diaphana

Have I talked about Erica diaphana before? I can’t remember.  I love it because it is the first woody plant I have ever grown from seed. The seed was like dust, the seedlings so tiny that I ended up keeping them in a Ziploc baggy under lights for at least six months, so I am thrilled that I had several plants survive and even more thrilled that they lived long enough to bloom. I purchased the seed from Silverhill Seeds in South Africa and sowed them on 1/13/2012.

Erica diaphana

I have three of them in my plant ghetto which has become really overgrown. I just didn’t have the time to deal with it in spring and by summer everything had grown huge and rooted through their pots into the ground. I didn’t really want to dig things up while they were blooming so I kept putting it off. Now it is a jungle and plants are crushing each other so I already set up some new drip line and I am going to try to start salvaging plants. I hope I am able to save these Ericas and pot them up into larger pots without killing them.

Erica diaphana

I love that the flowers are sort of shiny and greasy looking. Beautiful but there is something a bit off about them too. Flowers that look like shiny plastic are neat.

 

 

Visitor

I had a little visitor today in my home office. Not something I expected to see so I pretty much jumped out of my skin. Either he got in while I had the door open for a few hours yesterday (and spent the night in my living room!) or he snuck under the front door (he is pretty tiny – about 14 inches long).

When I first moved here 3 years ago there was really no wildlife. Now that I transformed the entire yard into a garden it is full of birds, butterflies, bees, lizards, and now this little snake. Apparently he is a harmless gopher snake but I still did not want to risk getting bit so I used a box top and ruler to take him out of the house and back into the garden. I hope he gets nice and big and eats lots of gophers.

 

Muiria hortensae

Muiria hortensae

I have been very lazy about blogging lately. I’m not thrilled with the changes to WordPress and Flickr so that is part of the reason. It isn’t difficult to post a single picture though so at the very least I can do that from time to time.

I haven’t had an update on my mesembs in a while so what do you think of this adorable little Muiria hortensae? Supposedly one of the more difficult ones but I had reasonably good luck growing them from seed and still have a few little plants left. Not bad considering they are grown outdoors year round and don’t have optimal conditions or care. This is the nicest of my remaining plants and I was happy to notice that it has split into two plants. Once I buy a house I hope to have space for a small greenhouse and then perhaps my collection of succulents and other little plants will be better protected from the elements.

Be sure to click on the image to enlarge it for a more detailed close up. Muiria is even more adorable up close.