Sunday, November 24, 2013

FALL 2013

Fall is here and the days are short and cold. Daylight Savings time is gone, the garden has frozen back and it is time to slow down and get ready for winter. Before the fall rains came we harvested our Bhut Jalocia and Scorpion chiles and made hot sauce. The chiles are some of the hottest in the world and are many times hotter then habaneros. The sauce is so hot, one drop is enough. One bottle is a lifetime supply. It is bottled sunburn. NOT for the faint of heart. In the greenhouse, we have been able to propagate more of the popular Tree Dahlia and hope to have enough this year for anyone who wants one. We ran out in mid spring this year. The plants grow to 12' high and are huge.We are also propagating some more South African bulbs and are surprised at how hardy many of them are.

We have gotten a lot done at Rare Plant Research this summer and fall. We terraced the west slope above the middle pond to better serve our wedding rental guests and are building a large grape arbor. All of our greenhouses needed to be recovered this fall and we got the monumental task done before the fall rains set in. We also put in  a new driveway and parking lot for our developing winery, Villa Catalana Cellars. We hope to be open in late spring. This year we made Pinto Gris, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Grenache Rose and of course Pinto Noir. We will be developing a separate winery web page that will be linked to our nursery page. We hope to have a few winery related events this summer in our gardens.

After a busy summer and fall, now is the time to go to bed early, sleep late and catch up on much needed rest. Before you know it, the Yard Garden and Patio Show will be here and spring will be right behind. Some serious fireside time is called for along with a glass of the exceptional 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Huge Bromeliad Blooms!

Alcanterea imperialis is blooming at Rare Plant Research. This is one of the world's largest bromeliads outside of the genus Puya. It is native to the hills near Rio de Janiero and grows 4-6 feet wide and the bloom stalk grows up to ten feet high. It grows on rocky cliffs and the roots attach to the rock face which holds the rosette up-right. The roots do not absorb nutrients like most plants, but serve simply to anchor the plants. Water and nutrients fill the cupped leaves and can hold many gallons of water. Mosquito larva hatch in the water and frogs inhabit the plant and eat the larva. If there are no frogs, mosquitoes can be a problem. It takes about 20 years for the plant to mature and flower and after flowering, it dies. The blooming process lasts 3-4 months before the plant finally dies. It is spectacular for many months and if pollinated, produces large quantities of seed.     

This plant is very rare in the USA and is rare in Southern California, but is slightly more common in Southern Florida. It is most common in Hawaii, where it is used in the landscape, yet it is still not often encountered. A number of years ago, plants began to be collected from the wild for the tropical landscape industry. Large areas were stripped  and now it is less plentiful in habitat and most plants that remain grow on steep inaccessible cliffs. There are several nurseries in Hawaii and Florida that propagate the plant, including Rare Plant Research, but plants can be expensive because they take so long to reach a large size. The plant can be viewed at Rare Plant Research during our annual open nursery and garden May 18th and 19th.