Sunday, November 4, 2007

Yesterday today and tomorrow

In the deep of my memory there is the sweet scent of these flowers... they bring me back my mother's hands cutting off some flowers, and the vase at the living room plenty of yesterday-today and tomorrow.

Nowadays it couldn't be missing in my garden. Although this winter was the coolest since 1951, the plant blissfully stayed alive.

Brunfelsia uniflora is the cientific name of the plant, it's on the Solanaceae family (nightshade family), coming from tropical areas of Brazil, grows a bit slowly but has early flowering, it tends to be taller than its wide.

Flowering in spring time with two inches tubular scented flowers, which change their colour as fading from purple to white.

The more sun hours a day it has, the more flowers will give.

It's deciduous or partially deciduous in coolest areas of its range.

Prefer slightly acidic soil, rich with very good drainage, and regular waterings.

Indigenous people from its natural habitat used it as hallucinogens.
It has a long story of indigenous uses for both medicine and magic, mainly in iniciation ceremonies.

Adequate to fight against chills, rheumatism, ulcers, arthirtis, bronquitis, veneral disease and even snakebites.
It could be used in poultice or in decotion mixed with other medicinal herbs.

Roots are considered to be abortive, but are indicated for siphilis, as limph blood cleanser, as diuretic, and as laxative.

Main actions: sedative, analgesic (central nervous system depressant), antiinflammatory and blood cleanser.

Main uses: arthritis, reumathism, general painful and inflamatory conditions, cleanse and estimulate the limphatic system, to relieve menstrual pain and cramps, colds, flu and fever, veneral diseases.

Warning: use with caution in combination with (mono amino oxidasa) MAO inhibitors, sedatives and blood thinners.
Avoid if allergenic to aspirine/salicylates.
Do not exceed recommended dosages.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Little white soldiers

Here you are a little plant that a lot of people grows up but not everybody really look after it.
In fact it is so generous and need so scanty care, that many people thinks it has no value at all.
How wrong they are!

A couple of years ago a friend of mine told me: “Listen, I give you this bulbs, I have so many that I dont’t know what to do with them. Just sow them any place... spotted leaves and little flowers. If you don’t like them, just throw them out.”

When leaves start appearing I saw them tender, brilliants, spotted as a frog.

And then, still with a few leaves, springs up a flower stalk!

Flowers themselves are inconsiderable, but in the total plant context, are irreplaceable.

Nowadays those tree bulbs have become sixteen; I must repoted them twice, and I’m grateful of having them home.

Their real name is Drimiopsis maculata or Ledebouria petiolata or Scilla schlechteri, on Hyacinthaceae family. Comming from semi-arids africans areas, they tolerates drough.
Ideal temperature: between 60 to 85º F, but tolerates 20 or 25º F. Stand well in zones 7 to 10.
As they are deciduous plants, you can grow them in colder areas, taking care of mulching and don’t watering them during the coldest months; will re sprout successfully on next spring.

Accept morning sun, semi-shade or shade locations. Are ideal as shade growncovers, and accept gladly to be situated indoors, where probably they won’t loose their leaves in winter.
Giving them good soil conditions (sand and humus in equal parts, a moderate watering and a very good drainage), will prosperate quickly dealing to a great clump in a few years, but they can be separated each year if you want so.
They are also sayd to be resistant to pest and desease, and in my experience, it's true.

See you soon, bye bye!
Mama Flora

Monday, September 24, 2007

Beautiful shade

“Ombú” is a very typical tree in Uruguay: poets and singers have made it a symbol of our countryside life.

Under the shade of this magnificent pattern was made our mother country; under its wide treetop shade our gauchos took a rest while harnessing cattle.

It’s a very high performer on our nationality.

Nowadays, those who has espacious gardens, feel delighted on setting up a beautiful shade on it.

And here’s mine.

Just awaking from winter dormancy.

Still very young, but grows quickly... perhaps very soon ovenbirds will choose it to build their nest on. It would be just perfect !

A lot of tender baby-leaves; the younger still reddish.

Named Phytolacca dioica, is relative of the pokeweed.

Has a massive trunk very winding sometimes and many broad branches, some of them emerging from the base of the trunk. That’s why some cientifics say it’s a shrub.

In late spring appears pendulous cluster of little not showy cream-coloured flowers, that fructify during summer-time.

Likes full sun and tolerates parcial shade, but do not tolerates long frosts; withstands temperatures such as 25 or 26º F, deals well on zone 9b, but better on 10b.
Could be perennial or deciduous depending on the climate where it is.

Is drought tolerant because it keeps water in trunks and branches; also tolerant with soil, only need to be deep enough.

All parts of this tree are poisonous, thereby resistant to deers.

See you soon, bye bye !
Mama Flora

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cockspur coral tree: uruguayan national flower

Beautiful, isn't it?

There is a legend over here, and also a song, that tells about an indigenous princess of a singular beauty.

In defense of her people while fighting against the conquerors she was made prisioner and sentenced to die in blaze.

While princess dying, the night came over; the morning after people found instead of the dead princess a tree with amazing flowers: so red as the fire and so lovely as the princess.

This tree, named "ceibo" in our language, lives in river's banks, and it's latin name is Erythrina cristagalli.
In spring time it becomes completely red until the first month of fall, in several floral waves.
Longs spikes of pea-liked flowers of about 2 inches long.

Then, in fall, it starts loosing the foliage and go dormant in the coldest month. Personally I prune it down just to 2 inches up from the soil.
Next season I get a low plant of long and arched branches ending in marvellous red.

Pitifuly it's very agressed by spider-mite, aphs, scars and some fungus. Need continuous checking for premature detection and quick solving.
See you soon, bye bye !
Mama Flora

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ovenbird: uruguayan national bird

Today I would like to introduce to you this bird we all love and respect in my country: Furnarius rufus, “hornero” for us, ovenbird in English.

It has around 18 cms long, brownish coloured, with chest and throat in beige.
It flyes in straight line for shorts distances, and uses to live around the same place all year round.

They really don’t have a sweet song, but we feel so much respect and affection for them that we enjoy their intense clatter.

Very laborious, they build up their oven shaped nests with mud mixed with dryed herbs or straw, setting it on branches, fenders, or even posts of telephone. When the mix is wet, it becomes extremely hard so as to protect the family against rain and wind.

Hornero is monogamous: the couple lives happily together all the way, and each season they build up a new home for their new brood. Other birds make good use of the old one.

Everyday they come into my backyard looking for insects or worms in the ground, and sometimes a bit of rice or some crumbs I sparse for them.

See you soon, bye bye !
Mama Flora

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Growing Grape hyacinths

Hello everybody:

Today is the 27th August 2007.

We are in mid winter, gardens has been very damaged this year by frequent deep frosts, unusual in this area.

Every year during fall I like to sow bulbs, it's allways a challenge (should I did it right?), and when the first leaf start appearing, its a real pleasure!

Each day I take a look over them as if so they will grow up faster....

Daffodils, tulips, gladiolus, wand flower, and this year I increase the group with blue grape hyacinths.

I was a bit afraid because of frosts, I wonder if my bulbs will survive so much cold. And then, on the end of August, the youngest and smaller of them... appears!

Here's all I know about them:

Their real name is Muscari armeniacum, from Hyacinthaceae family.

Their natural habitat is around the Mediterranean Sea.

Prefering neutral to alkaline soil although tolerates a bit acidic one.

Need a very good drainage, and likes a semi-shaded spot but accept sunny.

In colder areas should be dig slightly deep ( 3 or 4 inches), but resists cold winters.

Usually blooms in mid spring. Needs 6 hours of sun daily minimum. The more hours a day, the best blooming.

They self seed and spreads.

See you soon, bye bye !!

Mama Flora

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Where I live

Uruguay, the very little country where I was born, is on the almost South of South America; heart-shaped, it has a lot of streams and rivers that thrives in green landscapes with a very gorgeous indegenous flora usually not as well ponderated for us as it should be.

My home is in a little seaside village, 40 km far from the main city thorow the East. Very peaceful, in summer-time hundred of tourist are over here up and down and a lot of children in their bikes fill on the air with shouts and laughs. ¡Welcome life!

We have a wood near by where we get sticks for the oven in winter, pick up mushrooms in fall and blueberries in spring. Also some medical herbs.

Our folklore says that flowers of Achycroline satureoides (for us "marcela") should be harvested on Friday's Eastern, so it would be blessed by God and it's curative effect will be the best.

Dunes along the coast, each year winds from the sea and winter storms change their heigh and shape, but they never desappear at all...

A pound in the wood looks so beautiful every spring...!

It's a real pleasure to live here all year round.
Mama Flora