I found this vintage black-and-white photograph years ago at a flea market and it’s always intrigued me. It’s obviously a float in a parade with the theme of “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary” and if you look closely you can see a sundial and a lattice trellis covered in flowering vines. I can spy angel wing begonia leaves around the perimeter and if you could look real close you could see that some of the flowers beneath Mary have creepy doll faces. I’ve never heard of a May Day parade. Perhaps an Easter parade? Maybe this isn’t even in the United States. What do you think?
The Tropical Plant Industry Expo is the place to go to see what’s hot in indoor gardening. The fact that it’s held in southern Florida in mid-January, is another incentive to attend! Trends that I saw this year include a resurgence in the popularity of terrariums and dish gardens. But these aren’t simply a return to mass-produced fad gardens from the 1970s. Modern mini-landscapes have more style and individuality. Often they’re displayed in unique containers or feature sculptural plants. The emphasis is on tough, easy-care plants such as succulents and bromeliads. Here are some examples that I saw at this year’s Expo.
On a recent press tour of the Mobile Bay area as a guest of the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, I had the opportunity to visit Mobile Botanical Gardens, a 100-acre site with collections of hollies, rhododendrons, magnolias, and perennials. One of the highlights at this time of year is the camellia winter garden honoring horticulturist and plant breeder, Kosaku Sawada. He developed numerous varieties of camellias adapted to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Here are images of some of the color I spotted on my tour.
The garden is also known for its work in longleaf pine forest restoration. Much of the site is devoted to this important Lower South habitat, home to dozens of species of wildlife and wildflowers.
Other sites nearby to experience nature include the 5 Rivers Delta Center, an educational center and starting point for nature tours in the delta, The Estuarium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, with its boardwalk, aquariums and exhibits, and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary part of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. The latter two are located on Dauphin Island, a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
Who knew that January 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day? I certainly didn’t until I came across it in an obscure reference. But it makes sense to celebrate the beauty and health benefits that plants bring to indoor living and working spaces during the depths of winter. (Okay, not so much THIS winter when we’ve been enjoying springlike temperatures for weeks on end here in Iowa.)
If you’ve shied away from houseplants because you’re afraid of killing them, it’s time to bring in the heavy artillery with Plants of Steel. This is a term coined by Costa Farms, one of the largest suppliers of houseplants in the world. Among their Plants of Steel, they list four foolproof plants: Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), snake plant (Sansevieria), and Zeezee plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). I don’t know how they could have missed cast-iron plant (Aspidistra) and the ubiquitous pothos (Epipremnum), often mistakenly called “philodendron”, so I’ve added them to my short list pictured below.
Plants | Tags:
aglaonema, aspidistra, beaucarnea, cast-iron plant, Chinese evergreen, epipremnum, houseplant, Indoor Plants, ponytail palm, pothos, sansevieria, snake plant, zamioculcas, zeezee plant
Asking a hortiholic to list his or her favorite plant is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. It’s impossible to choose just one! So when I was asked to select top picks of recent plant introductions that I have grown, I came up with a “short list” of 25. You can see them all here on the bhg.com gardening website. To pique your interest, see the garden combinations below which contain some of my favorites from the 2011 garden season.
What were your favorite plants this last year?