Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recovering from vacation

Coconut palm

What can I say, I'm one of those people who needs a day or two to recover from a vacation!  I also need a bit of time to sort through several hundred photos, upload them to Flickr, and get labels and captions on them.  So for now, just a few quick photos from our recent vacation in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  More photos and a bit of commentary coming later!

Frozen Washington
Good-bye, frozen Washington, DC!

Ft. Lauderdale 2015
Hello, sunny and warm Ft. Lauderdale!

Sunset palms
Okay, so the first couple of days were a bit chilly and windy but c'mon, palms!

Ft. Lauderdale 2015
Sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway

More to come!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Screw the weather, let's talk soup

A night for soup
Exactly what I needed today

I spent some time today working on another blog post about the weather, OMG it's snowing, hoo-boy it's getting cold later this week, isn't it great to have another good winter for testing hardiness, yada yada yada.  Screw it, I'd rather talk about soup.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hope springs eternal - or - another good winter for testing hardiness

Begonia purchases
New begonias

I came back from Behnke Nurseries, a great local garden center just outside DC, with a few new plants in the back seat today.  How could I pass up these beautiful rex begonias from Foliera?  Especially at 20% off!  Call me an optimist, because I'm pretty sure I'll have room to put these new begonias somewhere in my garden this spring.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Needle palms: big, bigger, biggest

Needle palm, early January
Needle palm, January 2015

Something smells a bit funky in my garden this time of year.  The fruits of needle palms (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) ripen in late fall in dense clusters at the base of the plant and look--and smell--like some wild animal came along and pooped out a big pile of scat.  I suppose this must be attractive to some animal that disperses the seeds, but I don't think anybody has figured out for sure what animal that might be.  The flowers it produces in late spring are about as appealing, looking like some strange fungus attacking the plant.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A new hardy begonia?

Begonia hybrid
Unnamed begonia hybrid (August 2014)

I'm leading with a photo from last summer because that's what this blog post is ultimately about.  And hoo-boy, could I use some warm weather right now!  This has been a slow winter for me, with MANTS being an isolated bright spot of horticulture in the middle of January (see Beating the winter blahs at MANTS).  This hasn't been a bad winter for Washington, DC but I'm just back from an extended visit to Buffalo to help out with my dad, who is in a nursing home following a major stroke and was in the hospital for the last 6 days of my latest visit.  This was an exhausting visit, and to add insult to injury the weather was awful but for once it worked in my favor: there was a weather advisory on the day of my scheduled departure and I was able to extend my stay for an extra 3 days without any additional fee.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

MANTS, part 2

Plantworks Nursery

[Second of two parts.  For part one see: Beating the winter blahs at MANTS.]

After the morning media reception, I braced myself to go out on the show floor.  Have I used the word "overwhelming" too many times already?  "Intense" might be more accurate: it's a lot to take in all at once but how often do I find myself surrounded by an entire convention center full of plants, plant-related stuff, and best of all, people who can (and will) talk about plants all day long?  But I was only in Baltimore for the day, so I had to see everything.  Everything.  Where to start?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Beating the winter blahs at MANTS

Coconut palm
Coconut palm, MANTS show floor

[For my coverage of MANTS 2014, see "The Masterpiece of Trade Shows™"]

[Update: In response to my comment about an apparent lack of recycling bins, I received this comment from Kelly Finney, Event Manager for MANTS: "The Baltimore Convention Center has a single stream trash program, so they have a combination of containers for mixed use and also for separating.  At the end of the show on Friday, I actually met a couple of the guys who sort the trash... talk about a thankless job.  The convention center has compactor, baler, compost program, pallet recycling and the disposable utensils are primarily corn plastic.  Here is more from their website about their green initiatives: Green Matters"  Many thanks to Kelly for the additional information!]

"Overwhelming" was the word I found myself using more than once to describe MANTS, the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show held last week in Baltimore, Maryland.   Now in its 45th year, MANTS occupies the Baltimore Convention Center for 3 days every January.  Drawing nearly 1,000 exhibitors and more than 10,000 attendees, and filling the entire convention center floor, this is one of the biggest trade shows of its kind, attended by a huge cross-section of the horticulture industry, and a major event on the horticultural calendar.  I spent all day Thursday at MANTS and was only able to scratch the surface.  By the end of the day I was exhausted, but in the best possible way.  This was exactly what I needed in mid-winter: coming just when my gardening spirits are at their lowest, the event was like a euphoric and exhilarating drug that really helped pull me out of the winter blahs!