Mesmerized by Mimosa

DSCN2527My backyard includes Mimosa trees, bursts of color more glorious than last year. No doubt the moisture has added to the vivid pinks giving me pause to focus and get in tune to my muse.

My back yard includes the species usually called “silk tree” or “mimosa” in the United States, This is misleading – the former name can refer to any species of Albizia which is most common in any one locale. And, although once included in Mimosa, neither is it very close to the Mimoseae. To add to the confusion, several species of Acacia, notably Acacia baileyana and Acacia dealbata, are also known as “mimosa” (especially in floristry), and many Fabaceae trees with highly divided leaves are called this in horticulture.

Its leaves slowly close during the night and during periods of rain, the leaflets bow downward; its modern Persian name is shabkhosb  which means “night sleeper” (from shab — “night” and -khosb — “sleeper”). In Japan its common names are nemunoki, nemurinoki and nenenoki which all mean “sleeping tree”. Nemu tree is a partial translation of nemunoki.

The typical variety, which I am sure I have, is a small deciduous tree growing to 5–12 m tall, with a broad crown of level or arching branches. The bark is dark greenish grey in color and striped vertically as it gets older. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–45 cm long and 12–25 cm broad, divided into 6–12 pairs of pinnae, each with 20–30 pairs of leaflets; the leaflets are oblong, 1–1.5 cm long and 2–4 mm broad. The flowers are produced throughout the summer in dense inflorescences, the individual flowers with no petals but a tight cluster of stamens 2–3 cm long, white or pink with a white base, looking like silky threads. They have been observed to be attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The fruit is a flat brown pod 10–20 cm long and 2–2.5 cm broad, containing several seeds inside.

It is called a  julibrissin  and is widely planted as an ornamental plant in parks and gardens, grown for its leaf texture and flowers. The broad crown of a mature tree makes it useful for providing dappled shade. The flower color varies from white to rich red-tipped flowers. Variants with cream or pale yellow flowers are also plentiful.  ‘Summer Chocolate’ has red foliage ageing to dark bronze, with pale pink flowers; ‘Ishii Weeping’ (or ‘Pendula’) has a drooping growth habit.

In the wild, the tree tends to grow in dry plains, sandy valleys, and uplands. It has become an invasive species in Japan; and in the United States it has spread from southern New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, west to Missouri and Illinois, and south to Florida and Texas. It is cultivated in California and Oregon, but is not invasive there. Breeding work is currently under way in the United States to produce ornamental plants which will not set seed and can therefore be planted without risk.

Personally, I enjoy the bursts of color and the visits of hummingbirds, butterflys, and even the bees as they carry tales. My muse allows me time  to gaze and deeply reflect.  I have yet to suffer from invasiveness.

Seeing is Believing!

Bromeliad in Bloom

Bromeliad in Bloom

Seeing is Believing

Remember back in March I posted about the focus I was going to give my Bromeliad. It is not a plant I purchased while it was in bloom and I did not expect re-bloom. It has reached toddler stage (referred to as a “pup”) and it has never bloomed so I did some research.

If it were an old plant, it would not bloom again on the same rosette of leaves. But since it is a new “pup” just a few steps of care should bring me the bloomin’ results I seek.

I recently watered the “pup” and placed the suggested sliced apple (halfed) on each side of the potted specimen. I covered it with a plastic bag as my investigation of information revealed I should do. The bag needs to be air-tight so I could either tie it at the top with a twisty or tuck it under the heavy pot very securely. I have followed the instructions to the letter.

Then it was time to wait again, exercise the laid-back persona, which is not easy for some of us – keep an eye on the apple – talk and sing to the plant persuasively. The apple turned very brown and shriveled. I‘m not sure if it was the sound of my voice or the cold, silent stare.

It is now June, and it is not just an estimate, i’s right on target, and I am astonished. I have watched this centrally located bloom grow over the last ten days, and I think it is photo worthy now. I fear waiting, as it may vanish or fall over or get water logged. Some catastrophic event may take away all my patience, pampering, and green-thumb power production.

I owe it all, really, to my friends. One treasured friend, Mary, gave me the plant in the first place. She reported recently that her Bromeliad died. Equally as near and dear is Janet, she sent me the link, furnishing me the instructions which made my pup produce.

I’ve always enjoyed plants and flowers, but I’m not sure when I have felt such personal satisfaction. It is difficult to identify where the credit to success lies. A major success, in my humble opinion… my homemade greenhouse, the gentle persuasion of my vocals, or simply the steady focus, each may have played a key role.

I’ll probably never know.

The Kat Tale Chronicles

Kat IIComplete[1]Kat Tales II is now complete with eighteen stories plus photos and available on Kindle and Amazon.com. the link to follow is: http://amzn.to/Zf6VWC  I hope all will read, enjoy, and review. Thank you, Carole

Frozen Blossoms on the Clematis

images[2] (2)  Totally out of control last fall, I cut the clematis, in my garden, back nearly ground level. They must have been nearly five feet tall and the new growth somewhat hid the dead beneath. Major pruning took place before the first frost.

I wondered if the plants would recover. I thought my vines might return to a sleep…first year sleep…second year creep and third year leap…you know what I mean. Instead they skipped over the first two stages of growth and took more than a giant leap. All three vines returned with a flourish and have made such a showing this spring.

Hundreds of years ago, Clematis flourished in Europe and was often referred to as Travelers Joy. Since the early 1800s it has been cultivated in the United States and has made a special statement in many gardens.

I sit in the warmth of the family room near a blaze in the fireplace and stare out the window at an unseasonably cold winter day in May.  It hasn’t snowed in May during my lifetime. News broadcasts tells me the last time was 1907 and I laughingly tell my family, “none of us saw that snow except Dad, he was twelve.”

At that age he probably enjoyed it. On the other hand, I’m not particularly happy to see the Christmas scene outdoors but, I must admit, it is pretty.

It must be wishful thinking or my imagination has run wild. I walk to the window in need of a closer look; my eyes are playing tricks, no doubt.

Snowflakes have gathered on the vines larger than white clematis rosettes. They are spaced similar to the blossoms I gaze at and gather all summer. They seem to insist snowfall in May is tolerable.

There, indeed, perfectly situated on the vine are six or eight clusters of flakes pretending to be blossoms.

I often talk to plants but today they speak to me. Could it be nature wanted to send a message? Like the frozen rosettes hanging on the vines they seem to say, “hang in there because spring is not far off.”

Henbit

HenbitSpring wants to hide but the garden shows signs of growth. Not necessarily all imposing beauty. With a little bit here and a little bit there, here a bit, there a bit, everywhere a Henbit;   Carole’s Garden has the woes, ee I ee I oh!

Note heart-shaped scalloped leaves that grasp   the stem.

The henbit is a member of the mint family. All mints that smell like a mint and look like a mint are edible, but they must do both. There are a lot of mints that only smell minty, some of them are edible and some of them are not. In fact, some of the mints can make you ill.

Henbit does not smell minty, but it is an edible mint. By the way, there are no poisonous look alikes. As for toxicity, we’re safe but it has causes “staggers” in sheep, horses, and cattle.

Its botanical name, Lamium amplexicaule (LAM-ee-um am-plex-i-kaw-lee) causes much confusion. As usual, there isn’t much problem with the species name, amplexicaule, which means “clasping” or in this case how the leaves grab the stem. It’s the genus name, Lamium, that causes problems. Most writers say it is Greek through Latin then define it to mean a thin layer, plate or scale, or in this case the corolla tube between two lips. Unfortunately, that is not correct. And at this point remember that another common name for Henbit is Giraffe Head.

The plant dislikes the sun, which is a delightful thought. If you don’t care to crawl around on your knees in spring, the hot summer sun will kill it out. It has a very shallow root system, however, so if it is not a major invasion, a firm but gentle tug will produce good results. Growth between sidewalk seams, of course, can be attacked with a week killer, but better to yank in the garden if you wish to protect your neighboring plants.

Not everyone is bothered by the sight of Henbit. I know people who have written poetry and verse on the topic. It is quite eye-pleasing in an open field, particularly once it flourishes with purple blossoms.

With Henbit here and Henbit there, here a bit, there a bit, everywhere a Henbit, I, for now, shall continue my song of ee I ee I, woe.

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Kat Tales Volume II

near completion

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Love this! Happy Easter!