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