Sunday, February 23, 2014

Visiting Tierra del Fuego -- the end of the Pan American Highway

spring wildflower, perhaps Caltha sagittata
spring wildflower, perhaps
Caltha sagittata
buttercup family, Ranunculaceae
On a sunny day in November, 2008, I visited Tierra del Fuego National Park, near Ushuaia in southernmost Argentina. Although we arrived in Ushuaia to cold snowy conditions, it was spring and in the open areas weeds and spring wildflowers were flowering.

Spring wildflowers. Tierra del Fuego
spring flowers, Tierra del Fuego

dandelions, Taraxacum officinale in Tierra del Fuego
dandelions, Taraxacum officinale
Tierra del Fuego

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Visiting Tierra del Fuego - forests at the end of the Americas

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Everyone has different places on their “must see” lists. One of mine was the Southern Hemisphere. I wanted to see strange constellations in the night sky and have the water in the toilet turn clockwise. So one of my first trips in retirement was a National Geographic trip to southernmost Argentina and Chile. 

My husband and I left snow in Colorado and flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buenos Aires was sunny and hot. After two days we flew to  Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina. (We pronounced it oo schy a, which is not too far off.) November is spring in Tierra del Fuego, but when we arrived it was just above freezing and a mix of rain and snow was falling. Shivering, I dug in my hand luggage for every layer I could put on.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Growing a Happy Christmas Cactus -- Lessons from Junior

Christmas cactus flower
Christmas cactus flower
I've been growing a plant of Schlumbergera xbuckleyi "Rollinsonii", a Christmas cactus, since 1961. I named it "Junior." Last week I talked of Junior's history (link). Here I am going to describe what I learned from Junior about growing Christmas cacti and getting them to flower.

Christmas cacti like Junior are quite tolerant of not being watered but will rot easily if too moist. They never have much of a root system. In nature they perch on a tree as an epiphyte. You don’t need well-developed roots up on a tree branch. 

They root easily if you bury a joint between the segments in soil. That too probably harks back to life in the trees. If a piece that broke off can root, it helps maintain the plant in a dangerous world. Many other cacti easily root at the joints as well.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

First Anniversary of A Wandering Botanist Blog

It was a year ago that I started this blog.

It has been great fun and I've learned a LOT!

dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, from Hagi, Japan
dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, from Hagi, Japan
It encouraged me to build a website A Wandering Botanist 

And then to create videos for the website. Link

Both blogs and videos need pictures. There's always the picture that you don't have that would be nice as an illustration. I had been taking pictures of dandelions when I saw them on trips, because they were familiar plants in a strange place and I've always liked tough cosmopolitan weeds. (Dandelion blog). So for that and a variety of other posts I had the pictures. (Stored somewhere--no matter which way I organize things, I always end up searching many files for something I remember.)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Plant Story — a Christmas Cactus Named Junior

Flower of Christmas cactus "Junior"
Flower of Christmas cactus "Junior"
I have grown the same Christmas cactus for over 50 years. Here's how it happened:

As we packed to move to Ohio from upstate New York in 1961, my mother had her Christmas cactus plant sitting on the windowsill, to be left behind. I protested. I couldn’t remember when we hadn’t had a Christmas cactus in the house. Mom shrugged and gave it to me. 

In 1965 I took a single rooted branch from that plant to college with me in a 2" pot.  The plant was small, and I, an inveterate namer of things, called it “Junior”. 

The only place in an old-time college dorm room for a house plant was on the window sill. Which was fine--until the wind blew the curtains! Junior was thrown onto the floor. The first time the pot broke I replaced it with another like it. But after the loss of several pots, my replacements got flimsier and flimsier. When I moved out of Markley Hall at the end of my Sophomore year, Junior was growing in a waxed paper cup from the dorm’s snack bar. When one cup started to come apart, I had another coke and replaced it.
Christmas cactus "Junior' in 1974
Christmas cactus "Junior' in 1974