Monday, November 28, 2011

ON A REMOTE ISLAND in Papua New Guinea, scientists have uncovered the world's only known orchid to produce flowers exclusively at night that die by the next morning.

World's first night-flowering orchid discovered

A unique orchid that produced flowers only for one night has been discovered in Papua New Guinea.

ON A REMOTE ISLAND in Papua New Guinea, scientists have uncovered the world's only known orchid to produce flowers exclusively at night that die by the next morning.
Of more than 25,000 species in the orchid, only a handful flower in the evening. The new orchid, dubbed Bulbophyllum nocturnum, is the first known one whose flowers shrivel and fall off before dawn breaks.
Botanist André Schuiteman from the Royal Botanic Gardens in the UK, one of the team who described the unique flower in the recent issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, hailed it as "another reminder that surprising discoveries can still be made."
"The discovery of Bulbophyllum nocturnum is important for various reasons," André says. "It demonstrates that there are still gaps in our knowledge of tropical orchids and poses interesting biological questions: Why did night flowering evolve in this particular species and not in other orchid groups? Why does this species flower at night?"

Nocturnal orchid relies on moth pollinators

Orchids typically flower during the day because they rely on pollination by insects that are active throughout daylight hours.
Night-time orchids get over this hurdle by turning to moths as pollinators. Since their flowers remain open during the day, they can attract insects at any time, simply coordinating their fragrance emissions when a pollinator is present.
Unlike its night-time orchid cousins, though, Bulbophyllum nocturnum can only attract insects that are active during the evening.
The scientists are still unsure as to why the plant has adopted this nocturnal habit, but André thinks the species takes advantage of an ecological niche, attracting nocturnal midges as pollinators.

Discovery of rare orchid

Orchid specialist Dr Ed de Vogel from Hortus Botanicus in the Netherlands, discovered the specimen in a logging area on the PNG island of New Britain during a research trip. 
After careful examination, he figured it to be part of the genus Bulbophyllum, which contains many unusual and rare species. Ed said he eagerly awaited the opening of its buds, but once they reached the size at which they should have opened, they withered.
He took the plant home to figure out what was happening and found the buds actually opened up after nightfall.

Orchid could mimic slime mould

Many other orchids employ a strategy of 'deceptive pollination', luring insects by seemingly offering something attractive to them. Some orchids mimic the female insects, or the smell of rotting meat.
Due to the short space of time in which Bulbophyllum nocturnum flowers, it "might be offering something to pollinators," says Peter Weston, of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, "unlike deceptively pollinated orchids, which don't offer tangible rewards."
In order to flower only for one night, the Bulbophyllum nocturnum "must have a good attraction" for its pollinators, he says.
André suspects the orchid has adapted some of its features to resemble midges' favourite food source: slime moulds.
André and Ed are planning a trip to Papua New Guinea, to look for more rare or undescribed orchid species. They are writing a book about the orchids of New Guinea, which will be published next year. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Get your garden and landscape ready for the holidays

By Laurie Garretson

Here we are all ready in the first week of November. How does this month seem to get here so fast each year? Believe me, when I was a child, the months really didn't go by as fast as they do now. It took forever for my birthday, which is around Thanksgiving, and Christmas to get here. But anyway, here we are quickly getting into the busy holiday season.
This can also be a busy time of the year for gardeners. Getting lawns, vegetable gardens, house plants and flowerbeds ready for cold weather can keep us busy.
Fall is a great time to grow vegetables. How nice it would be to have your own fresh, homegrown veggies served during the holidays. Now is the time to plant lettuces, spinach, radishes, mustard and other greens. Don't forget about planting some of your favorite herbs. Cilantro, fennel, chives, parsley, dill and many other herbs can all be planted during the fall.
For many, the holidays are the time of year when seldom seen friends and relatives come to visit. This means we really like to spruce up our landscapes. There are many colorful annuals that can be planted to brighten up your flowerbeds, containers and window boxes. One of the most colorful and hardiest cold-weather annuals has to be pansies. Pansies come in many different colors. Ornamental cabbage and kale, dusty miller, snapdragons, marigolds, nasturtiums and Johnny jump ups are just some of the other cool-season plants you could also plant now.
If your lawn looks less than healthy after this past summer now is the time to feed it some of your organic fertilizer. This is also a good time to spread compost on the lawn. Rye grass seed can be broadcast over the lawn area to provide you with a green lawn through the cool season. Having a cool-weather rye grass lawn will also help to discourage weeds from that area. Rye grass dies off as the weather warms up in spring.
This is the time of year to divide and replant or give away your spring blooming perennials. This includes Shasta daisies, daylilies, cannas and iris.
To help with cold protection, and to also feed all types of things that grow in the soil, remember to regularly fertilize with liquid seaweed. Since temperatures are cooling down, it would be best to apply the seaweed on a weekly basis. Used regularly, seaweed actually toughens foliage. Tougher foliage is better able to handle cold temperatures, and it also deters all sucking types of insect pests. Seaweed is good stuff.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.


Friday, September 30, 2011

The Butchart Gardens

Benvenuto, Italian for 'welcome', is the name the Butcharts used for their original estate, now a National Historic Site of Canada, and still privately owned by family descendants. The Butchart Gardens offers 55 acres of wonderful floral display located in Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island. The family's commitment to horticulture and hospitality continues to this day.

Community gardens are targets for thieves

Community gardens are targets for thieves

With everything from cucumbers to watermelons ripening in the open, the gardens are like a supermarket without doors, effectively free for the picking.

By David Abel, The Boston Globe
community gardenFREE FOOD: Theft from urban gardens peaks at this time of year, as the fruit and vegetables reach their final stages, sizable prizes waiting to be harvested before the first frost. (Photo: vicki moore/flickr)
William Anderson, like a growing number of urban farmers in Boston, doted on his small plot near Codman Square over the summer, sowing seeds, watering regularly, clearing weeds, and watching with pride as the sprouts slowly blossomed into turnips, bell peppers and other hearty vegetables.

Then, as he prepared to harvest the broad leaves of his collard greens, he was dismayed to discover about 15 of his plants decapitated, all the tasty leaves pilfered.
"It was just depressing to see,'' said Anderson, 69, who planned to share the fruits of his labor with friends. "I was hurt. I had nursed them, watched them grow, and someone took advantage.''
It is an increasingly familiar lament across the city, where there are some 3,500 plots in about 150 community gardens. With everything from cucumbers to watermelons ripening in the open, the gardens are something like a supermarket without doors, effectively free for the picking.
"It's a problem that has worsened with the economy,'' said Paul Sutton, coordinator for open space and director of urban wilds at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees five community gardens. "I hear about people picking "tomatoes and squash in the middle of the night. It happens all the time.''
Theft from urban gardens peaks at this time of year, as the fruit and vegetables reach their final stages, sizable prizes waiting to be harvested before the first frost.
Veteran urban gardeners learn what not to plant and how to veil what they do grow. Valerie Burns — president of the Boston Natural Areas Network, a nonprofit that oversees more community gardens than any other organization in the city — has found that the bounty of mature eggplants and butternut squash are like bait for vegetable thieves.
After hers were swiped at a garden along the Southwest Corridor, she stopped planting them.
"You have to be philosophical about it if you garden in the city,'' she said, noting that a fellow urban farmer found six cabbages for sale at a bodega that he suspected were stolen from his plot. "You just have to hope that it's going to be food for someone who might really need it.''
Betsy Johnson, president of the South End/Lower Roxbury Open Space Land Trust and a board member of the American Community Gardening Association, said the bigger the fruit or vegetable, the more likely it is to be stolen. She said pumpkins and beefy tomatoes are more enticing than spinach or Swiss chard.
Her organization issues tips to urban gardeners that include avoiding growing the more tempting vegetables and fruits at the edge of gardens and veiling them in the thicker foliage of less popular plants. She and others counsel gardeners to harvest as soon as possible.
"It's a fact of life, but if it was so serious a problem, community gardens would have died out a long time ago,'' Johnson said. "Instead, they are thriving.''
The battered economy, the trend of growing food locally, and increased efforts by the city to turn foreclosed land into gardens have translated into a boom for city produce. This year, there are about 200 new community plots across the city, and urban gardeners now produce an estimated 500,000 pounds of food a year, including 100,000 pounds of zucchini and summer squash, 14,000 pounds of green beans, and 11,000 pounds of tomatoes, according to the Boston Natural Areas Network.
Johnson and others said some city residents do not understand that a community garden does not mean that anyone can partake. Others see them for their economic value.
Annie Anderson, coordinator of the 35 plots at the Savin & Maywood Streets Community Garden in Roxbury, said the locks and fences around her garden are no defense against those committed to poaching. She thinks much of the filching is done by fellow gardeners, some of whom see ripened fruit that they assume will die on the vine as theirs to take.
Then there are the more common culprits: the squirrels and raccoons. But they cannot be blamed for the larger thefts.
"We just look at the losses as if we're giving it away, which we would do anyway,'' Anderson said.
At the Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester, which was refurbished and significantly expanded this year with more than 130 plots, Elnora Thompson said thefts had not been a problem until the group built a new gazebo, new beds, a shed, and cut trees and removed lots of weeds, making the garden more visible and more of a target.
Besides William Anderson's plot, she said, thieves hit three others this summer under the cover of night, and rather than helping themselves to a few tomatoes or collard green leaves, they essentially took or destroyed the entire plants.
"It was depressing,'' she said. "But what can you do to protect a community garden?''
She plans to install solar lights.


Hawaiian Flower

Explosion of Garden Color
Add caption

A Garden Path

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fields of Purple

Autum in Texas

New species of genuflecting plant buries its own seeds

A newly discovered plant species, appropriately named Spigelia genuflexa (Image: Alex Popovkin) Spigelia genuflexa bends over to release its seeds to the ground
A new plant that "bends down" to deposit its seeds has been discovered in the Atlantic forest in the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil.
The new species has been named Spigelia genuflexa after its unusual adaptation.
After fruits are formed, the fruiting branches bend down, depositing the capsules of seeds on the ground and sometimes burying them in the soft cover of moss
The discovery is reported in the journal PhytoKeys.
S. genuflexa was described by Alex Popovkin, an amateur botanist who has catalogued and photographed over 800 species in his property in Bahia.
A friend of Mr Popovkin's noticed the unusual plant, and brought it to his attention.
In his efforts to identify it, Popovkin contacted experts in several countries. Finally, a botanist named Lena Struwe from Rutgers University in New Jersey, US, offered to help Popovkin study the new species.
'Short-lived' Dr Struwe told the BBC that the the plant could have evolved its remarkable seed-planting ability for several reasons.

New species are discovered every day, but so many more are not yet known.”
End Quote Lena Struwe Rutgers University
"In this species, it is most likely that because it is so short-lived (just a few months) and lives in small fragments of suitable environments, the mother plant is most successful if she deposits her seeds right next to herself, [rather than] spreading them around far into less suitable environments," Dr Struwe told the BBC.
"Since the plant only survives for one season, the mother plant will not compete with her daughter plants either, which can be a problem for more long-lived plants."
Dr Struwe explained that other plants have evolved this same ability in order to survive on cliff walls - to deposit their seeds safely into cracks - or to avoid seed predators.
Mr Popovkin, a Russian emigre who lived in the US before moving to Brazil, said the discovery was a dream come true.
"I went to Salvador, Bahia, for the first time on a vacation," he recalled.
"At that time, in 1985, I was living in New York, [but] I fell in love with the place, climate and nature, and started thinking of one day moving there to live."
He finally made the move in 1991, settling in a rural area of northeastern Bahia, 130 km from Salvador.
"I started serious collecting and photographing at about five years ago," he said.
"I have collected over 900 [specimens] so far, of about 800 different species, including some rare ones that have not been collected in Brazil for over 60 years.
"It's taken me 30 years, from my days as a volunteer at the greenhouses of the botanic garden of the University of St Petersburg, Russia, to realise my dream of living in the tropics and studying its plants up close."
Endangered forest Dr Struwe said: "This story shows that scientists need amateurs, naturalists, and citizen scientists to help discover and describe the amazing biodiversity that has evolved on Earth.
"New species are discovered every day, but so many more are not yet known."
The discovery also highlights the urgent need to protect the Atlantic Forest, which is under threat from deforestation.
"The Atlantic Forest has among the highest biodiversity in the world, with many species that are found only there," said Dr Struwe
"It is also one of the most endangered areas."
"Large areas have already been cut down and changed into agricultural land by humans, so the small remnants that are left need to be protected and preserved."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Exclusive Gardens of Kyoto

A Southern Plantation

The first plantations were usually built along a river. The river was used as a highway to transport crops to market, and goods to the plantation. Plantations on a river had their own dock for loading and unloading boats. Plantations that were not on a river were connected by roads to another plantation.

The main building of the plantation was the planter's house. Servants and
slaves lived near by in small buildings. Kitchens were usually in a separate building because of the danger of fire. Crops were stored in sheds, and the livestock were kept in barns. Plantations were self-sufficient. Each plantation had its own blacksmith's shop, and laundry.

Money was rarely used in the Southern Colonies. Instead, crops were traded. Crop buyers traveled up and down southern waterways with their boats filled with British made goods. Planters would trade their tobacco, rice and indigo for shoes, lace, thread, farm tools and dishes.

Very large plantations did not sell their own crops. Planters of very large
plantations sold their crops through a broker in Britain. A broker is a person who is paid to buy and sell for someone else. Planters sent their crops to Britain with a list of things they wanted the broker to buy for them. The broker sold the crops, bought what the planter wanted, and then sent the goods back to the colonies.


A Living Wall

A green wall is a wall, either free-standing or part of a building, that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and, in some cases, soil or an inorganic growing medium. The creator of a large green walls concept (vertical gardens) is the French botanist Patrick Blanc. The vegetation for a green façade is always attached on outside walls; with living walls this is also usually the case, although some living walls can also be green walls for interior use. For living walls there are many methods including attaching to the air return of the building to help with air filtration. They are also referred to as living walls, biowalls, vertical gardens or more scientifically VCWV Vertical Vegetated Complex Walls).

Green walls are found most often in urban environments where the plants reduce overall temperatures of the building. "The primary cause of heat build-up in cities is insolation, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and buildings in the city and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Plant surfaces however, as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than 4–5 °C above the ambient and are sometimes cooler."

Living walls may also be a means for water reuse. The plants may purify slightly polluted water (such as greywater) by absorbing the dissolved nutrients. Bacteria mineralize the organic components to make them available to the plants.

Living walls are particularly suitable for cities, as they allow good use of available vertical surface areas. They are also suitable in arid areas, as the circulating water on a vertical wall is less likely to evaporate than in horizontal gardens.

The living wall could also function for urban agriculture, urban gardening, or for its beauty as art. It is sometimes built indoors to help alleviate sick building syndrome.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Unemployed carpenter goes to pick broccoli from garden and finds $150k in cash instead

Wayne Sabaj found $150,000 on Monday in his garden, and the McHenry County Sheriff's Office left behind a card to communicate with whoever left it there. 

Garden sprouts $150K surprise


JOHNSBURG – Wayne Sabaj said he had a roast on the grill that took all day to cook when he decided he wanted some broccoli to go with dinner.
He went to his backyard vegetable garden to pick some and saw a bag in his peppers.
Inside that bag was another bag. And inside that bag were stacks of cash, all $20 bills.
“I walked in, showed my dad and said, ‘Now we’re in trouble,’ ” Sabaj said.
After he found the bag about 3:30 p.m. Monday at his home on Oakleaf Ave. in an unincorporated area near Johnsburg, Sabaj called police. They found a second bag with more money.
An unemployed carpenter who moved in with his father, there’s no doubt that Sabaj could have used the cash.
“I went and spent my last $10 on cigarettes yesterday, but I turned in $150,000,” he said.
But he also didn’t know what kind of people would be back to collect it.
“What if it’s from a bank robbery?” he said.
There currently are no suspects, but there is concern that the money may be the result of a residential or commercial burglary that has not yet been reported to police, McHenry County Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said.
The bags are being processed for fingerprints and other evidence, and there was distinguishing packaging that an owner could identify.
Saturday night, Sabaj’s son had a bonfire until about 4 a.m., so whoever left the bag had to have done it sometime after then, Sabaj said.
Many of the yards in the neighborhood are fenced in, but his is not, so he said kids frequently cut through.
But it didn’t make much sense where the bags were left, Sabaj said. Had they been left by the Brussels sprouts or other areas with more weeds, they wouldn’t have been visible.
In the bags’ place Tuesday afternoon was a business card left by investigators with a phone number and “please call” written on it.
If the owner is not identified, sheriff’s police will assist Sabaj in determining whether he can claim the money, Zinke said. Sabaj did contact an attorney, he said.
Anyone with information about the money is encouraged to call the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office at 815-338-2144 or their local police department.


A life-sized orange garden elephant

Why would she take a photo of the ass-end of the elephant you ask?
Because of the little kitty on top

Tips on Installing a Pond in Your Garden

Tips on Installing a Pond in Your Garden
by garden39centre

Saves me from the struggle of having to drive from place to place only to be disappointed when the rocks I were searching for weren't actually there.

So How Exactly Do I Use Them?

Landscaping Stones can probably be used in as many ways as there are people on Earth. One popular choice is to use them to create a pathway leading to, say, your porch. You can even spice up the pathways themselves by creating patterns such as a checker pattern and achieve a very unique look.

Artificial landscaping stones can be used to hide things. Say you have a nasty septic tank riser in your garden that you'd like to get rid of, but really can't. Instead of ripping it off (Don't do this!), you can put a fake stone on top of it and hide it for good. You can then use that stone as a center piece and create something unique around it.

Fake Landscaping Stones

Using fake stones has recently become more and more popular thanks to constantly improving materials. These fake stones can make your garden look great, and well artificial stones are nearly impossible to distinguish from real ones. They can even be used to hide any unwanted objects in your garden such as septic tank risers.


Whichever way you prefer, the stones or real landscaping stones, you can't really go wrong just as long as you design your plan well, and remember that it isn't all that important to try to come up with the perfect plan. Just go with the flow and give your design your own unique look. It's better to make a small mistake and end up with a unique landscape, than to tinker around trying to perfect your design and never finishing it.

Some property owners will consider adding a pond or some form of electric waterfall feature to increase the value of their property. Some keen fish lovers may also do this to extend their hobbies into the outside air.

For any of these choices the pre-cast plastic is probably the most popular option and also the lowest cost solution. Other forms of ponds can be created using liners or even concrete but of course the price increases dramatically, so that it is always best to consult a landscape gardener if undertaking a multi level project.

Some fish enthusiasts will take a lot of time planning a home for their pet hobbies, some will even undertake to install plants which may in turn attract other wildlife. But this does not change the fact that the positioning is vital.

This is where the landscape gardeners experience is so valuable as the pond does require an element of shade and the last thing you want is the water to be covered by leaves of fallen twigs. Trellis fencing or purpose grown trees may a way of creating this shade.

Fish enthusiasts will have to consider the depth and temperature of the pond as well as filtration of some sort, the size of which will be determined by the amount of fish and plants you decide on so expert help at this point is vital.


Yellow Jackets in My Garden: The Big Payback

Carrots that seem to really like each other.

They look as though they are in love but alas, they really don't carrot all.