Archive for April, 2014

April Blooms

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Well, BFF Island Girl gave me a spectacular birthday gift earlier this month, a gift certificate to my favorite nursery, Nu Turf.  So I splurged on the BIG sizes of thyme and rosemary, augmented my parsley by two plants, and got some dill, oregano, and mint.  And I was so inspired, I bought myself a birthday gift.

Angel Wing Begonia "Dragon"

Angel Wing Begonia, “Dragon”

 

One of my favorite orchids is the Psychopsis papilio (cool name, too), which is very unsual.  I bought it in bloom two years ago, and it has been in bloom ever since.  It only ever has one bloom on the very end of its bloom spike, and after the flower drops, it pushes a new bud through the same bud end, so one should never cut the bloom spike off this plant, until the entire spike dies.  It is an extremely slow growing orchid, and in the two years I’ve had it, it has only produced one new pseudo-bulb (new plant growth), but that, too, has pushed a spike, and this picture is the first bloom on the new spike (you can see the “old” spike to the left of the bloom).  I hope to be able to catch it when both spikes are in bloom, although the new spike is about six inches shorter than the older one (pushing a bud now).

Psychophsis papilio, April 2014

Psychophsis papilio, April 2014

 

Look at the Face on that Flower!

Look at the Face on that Flower!

Also in bloom is one of my Paphiopedilums, Paph. Hilo Jewel #4 x Paph fairrieanum ‘Green Horn’.  I had hoped it would have a double bloom this year, alas not.  This is the picture from last year, as my camera is having hiccups, and I must send it in to have the zoom and focus adjusted *sigh*.  (Second Panasonic Lumix to crap out on me, I love it, but they seem to die after about 2 1/2 years).

Paph. Hilo Jewel #4 x Paph fairrieanum 'Green Horn'

Paph. Hilo Jewel #4 x Paph fairrieanum ‘Green Horn’

Also blooming, now is my Cattleytonia “Why Not”, which I’ve had for at least 20 years, which was given to me by my old friend Dianne, who moved to Cali and whom I miss very much.  I’ve divided this orchid countless times, and given away all of them, this plant makes a great gift.  Alas, the picture I took earlier was out of focus, but I’ll try again in a bit and update this post.  This Why Not is a bloomer, and grows like mad.  A plant I would highly recommend for anyone who wants to start growing orchids, it’s a disease resistant, happy grower.  A Cattleytonia is a cross between a Cattleya (the corsage orchid) and a Broughtonia, which looks like a tiny little Cattleya, but which has multiple red blooms on a spike.  The plant is compact, maybe 8″ tall, as opposed to the regular Catts, which can be well over 2′ tall.

 

Cattleytonia "Why Not"

Cattleytonia “Why Not”

Happy Gardening this spring!

~ Blonde Gator

 

 

 

A Happy Easter Was Had By All

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

My BFF & I, the Island Girl, decided to do up Easter by making several dozen sugar cookies, flooded with Royal Icing, as well as making up some fancy baskets for Mason & Blonde Mom.  Island Girl is an expert baker (I was the pan holder, and I learned a lot from her about the difference between baking and cooking….precision is the key!).

The Sunday before Easter, I gathered up my stuff, I’d gone on a preparation safari to JoAnn’s fabrics, where I purchased baskets, ribbon, some cool cookie cutters, egg dye, Bunny Pez, Peeps, a Transformer Egg, “straw”, etc., as well as the (recommended by Island Girl) Gel dyes for the icing and some other stuff at another store.  AND I found some really spectacular Easter Egg dye….instead of the usual same-old with cups, vinegar, water, and dipping….these had pastel metallic dyes in little ketchup-like packets, and baggies for each of the five colors.  So we sat on IG’s patio (whilst visiting the Tea Trolley), in between making batches of cookies, and dropped beautiful colors on our hard boiled eggs, (drying was a problem, as it was raining, a beautiful spring tropical misty rain, 100% humidity)…and then dropping them in another color.  We were super pleased with the results.  After a leisurely day of baking cookies, and just having fun, we had 40 big cookies.

Wonderful New Egg Dye ~ Love These!

Wonderful New Egg Dye ~ Love These!

We spent three more days, about 3 hours each time, decorating the cookies.  Island Girl had never done the “flooding” with the Royal Icing before…and of course, not being a baker, neither had I.  But before we started out, I did a fairly thorough search of internet pictures for ideas (we had a bunny and a big egg cookie cutter), and printed out some ideas.  And we also watched about 25 minutes of YouTube videos.  Let me tell you….it’s NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS.

Cookies in the Early Stages

Cookies in the Early Stages

On our last day, we finally got the correct techniques down (both the consistency of the icing….and the piping) and got pretty speedy at it.  We were very pleased with the results.  Here they are, all wrapped up (fortunately the expert baker, IG, had the appropriate “treat bags”, the only ones I could find were all decorated…what’s the point of that w/beautiful cookies?).  I took this at night, most of the “orange” is actually bright pink…alas color saturation was off.

Some of the Finished Cookies

Some of the Finished Cookies

And then, we put the whole shebang together.  Kudos to the Iguana Man (*cough* chocoholic *cough) for the wonderful treats.  Super happy with the results of the basket adventure.  Did I mention there are now 1 lb. solid Reese’s bunnies?  Who knew?

A Basket for a Reese's Fiend (1 lb. Chocolate Reese's Bunny)

A Basket for a Reese’s Fiend (1 lb. Chocolate Reese’s Bunny)

 

Blonde Mom's Easter Basket

Blonde Mom’s Easter Basket

A Huge Basket Any Six Year Old Would Love

A Huge Basket Any Six Year Old Would Love

Sugar highs all around.

~ Blonde Gator