Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stepelia Swelling

Things are starting to change

 The upper bud is swelling
 As is the lower one.
 But notice that all the rest are shrinking away.
I wonder why.  Did it need more water? More light? or does the plant just pict the biggest and strongest?
The last time it bloomed there was only one flower but the plant was about half the size.  It only consisted of the part that you see inside the smaller blue planter that sits in the middle of the larger  terra cotta one.
To read the beginning of this series click HERE.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dangerous Calm

This past week I traveled down the lower New River to where it merged with the Gauley to become the Kanawha River. Well, to be more specific, I was traveling by car beside the river. Above me, to the south, (yes you read that right)  the New River is a boisterous galloping waterway throwing itself over rocks and boulders as it hurls water toward the Ohio  Valley.  In contrast, the Kanawha is quiet, tamed by locks and dams as well as a much  more gradual grade. 
Such tranquility is obvious in the photo below.

Or is it?

Something seems odd about the shore line on the opposite side but I'm not sure what.

And what about those red balls floating across the river?

We should probably look a little closer

Hmm.m.m. . . ? that shore line does look strangely out of perspective - especially toward the right shore.
The trees seem to be cut off at the bottom.
Oh my!
That's quite a drop off.
That looks man-made, but why? 
to the right of the small dam, above, the water appears smooth but something is definitely out of kilter.
Maybe that building by the road is a clue.  

Back in my car, I drove down the river, past the buildings, to investigate  a little deeper.
The white trimmed, three-story building is the Glenn Ferris Inn.  Just beyond that is a park with public access to the river. 
The building is an old power plant.  The dam we saw above funnels water toward the plant turbines.   Recently the plant has been under renovation.  I pulled in and parked beside the a couple pick-up trucks whose recent occupants had were now hoisting fishing poles over head as they took turns casting into the water below the building we saw in the photo above.
Or watching others fish.  I'm not sure just what is in that basket at the end of that woman's pole.
But we came to look at the water, not people fishing, didn't we?
So what happened to that calm, serene plane of water we viewed upstream?

What happened is that the ground below the river cracked and fell eons ago, forming Kanawha Falls. 

If you weren't cautious about scouting the river, that sudden drop would be quite a  surprise after quietly floating downstream thinking that the excitement of the wild Gauley and New rivers was  behind you.

Such a beautiful day. Seems like a nice place to swim rather than fish.
Well,  maybe not.  Let's just enjoy the rough, tumbling beauty a moment more before we head on down the river toward home.
To go with me as I visit the Sandstone Falls on the New River you may click HERE  or to join me to pay a visit to the New River National River visitor center click HERE.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stepelia - post 2

Not much change yet in our Stepelia

The two buds, the one far right and the one far left, each look a bit more swollen. What do you think?
 Hopefully there is more to come. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stepelia gigantea
Facebook is fine for short, "live in the moment" conversations but I'm asking you to stick with me while we see what happens to this Starfish cactus. Watch with me as, over the next few weeks, our Star cactus or Stepelia gigantea is transformed.  At least that's the plan. I am hoping that these buds don't shrivel up as others have in the past. 

Other common plant names are South African star flower or Carrion flower (for reasons we'll understand later). It is even called a Giant toad plant. It is native to the dry arid parts South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe though may be found in some surrounding areas as well.

Today as I sit here on a humid, hazy day in the Ohio Valley, a day that feels more like August than September, I think that Stepelia is out of place here on my porch. Yes, I think that . . . but I know so little . . . for here it thrives as long as I don't water it too often and I take it inside before frost.

Like several of my garden's residents, this plant came to me from Maxine Plum. Maxine & Jean. While visiting her one evening, she said, "Here, I want you to have this." She then, promptly, cut off a "leg" with a little dirt, wrapped it in plastic and sent me home with s tiny plant. the one above is a baby from my original gift.

Here is its mother.
See how the limbs swoop down, grazing the ground? Those "legs" will put out roots and form a new plant.
So, come back next week and see what has happened to our Stepelia.