Archive for the ‘bud watch’ Category

It doesn’t always work out…   Leave a comment

We’d been through the drill countless times now: the daily observation, noting time, temperature, bud length as well as diameter. We’d have a bloom tonight, for sure, we thought. We’d taken measurements, called a few friends,  planned the drinks and the snacks. We were excited. A twelve-inch blossom was ready to go. We looked forward to a quiet evening of quiet beauty. The previous two nights of open-house were fun and festive and full. Newcomers this year, neighbors and friends who’d never laid eyes on such a creature before, were amazed. It was gratifying, but maybe a bit tiring especially in the heat.

Mid-afternoon the call came: “Something’s wrong,” K. said. ” It looks odd; the bud drooped.” Collapsed in the heat? Who knows?It was hanging, wilted.  Had I not watered enough, I wondered. Earlier,  a friend had asked, did we ever have a flop? “No,” I said. “Even if no one shows up, we always have the flower.”  This night, no one showed up.  And we didn’t have the flower. Just the questions, and the sad fact of a failed bud.

Blanca sets the terms. We cannot out guess her. We cannot know for sure, most things. The observer must remain open and neutral. Luckily, we had  only called those nearby, and they happened to be away. We had not set in gear any long distance travel to see this non-blooming, non-event. Yet it was an event, in humility.

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Posted August 7, 2012 by Canio's in bud watch, summer

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Impossible Abundance, 18 and counting…   Leave a comment

The seven-year-old plant, is that young or old for an epiphyte?, has spilled a record eighteen buds. They now measure at least three inches and have clearly differentiated bud-head from throat. I spell out the numbers so you know it’s no typo: eighteen buds. One already weakening, not all of these will bloom. But for now, they each hold that promise. Blanca bejeweled as she is in a necklace of fecundity, continues to entrance. The days and nights have been exceptionally warm and humid with only a brief respite this morning. Bud growth, and bud drop will continue as we begin the countdown, and try to predict which night she’ll send out her signal flares.

To what do we attribute this burst of buds: a sudden rain shower? nutrients from the compost filtering through her roots? some perfection of productivity after the first smaller bloom cycle in July? Blanca surprises. Her buds hang like a shower of tears one day, like alluring tassels another. She intrigues; she beckons. We follow blindly…

Posted August 7, 2012 by Canio's in bud watch, summer, Uncategorized

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Caught under the Mistletoe …cactus   1 comment

Well, that’s the best I have to offer from the flowering plant department these days,but perhaps it will suffice.  Tiny simple buds are forming on what I’ve always referred to as a pencil cactus, which I thought was a type of  Rhipsalis. But since “looking it up,” I discover the plant is known by another name: mistletoe cactus. The pencil cactus is actually a type of Euphorbia, and my plant doesn’t exactly match those accompanying photos. The “pencil” cacti pictured show finer “leaf” growths than the tubular appendages mine develops that look like miniature sausage links. Somewhere along the way, I may have been misinformed and now I’m not actually sure  what’s what especially since I’ve never seen the translucent berries the “mistletoe” variety is said to produce after the pale yellow flowers. Hence its name.

Whew! I’ve always enjoyed these flighty little yellow petals flaring like tiny stars, a little pick-me-up in the dark days of winter.  The Rhipsalis is another native of the rain forest, and perhaps a distant cousin to Blanca. Why is it we’re always trying to grow rain forest plants in the arid suburbs of the North East? Will these small house plants be all that’s  left of the rain forests in ten or twenty years? Meanwhile, I look forward to mistletoe’s “insignificant” flowers blooming soon. And I’ll look hard for any sign of berries. How sweet this eve of Christmas Eve to see the plant in a whole new light. A rose is not just a rose after all.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Posted December 23, 2010 by Canio's in botany, bud watch, winter

Degree Days   Leave a comment

We learned about degree days this summer. We didn’t have enough of them, even though it was so hot for most of the season.  A sudden dip in temperatures late August from the mid to high 80s down to the 70s  likely delayed Blanca’s blooming.  But it was a shift I wasn’t entirely aware of. I thought I’d been pretty clever predicting almost infallibly which night Blanca would bloom.  I’d put out the word to friends to come for a party, but by 7 :30 p.m. when bud opening  should have begun, nothing had happened. The buds remained sealed shut.  I tried again the next night. And the next. Then I had to admit those buds really weren’t large enough to open.

Bill, our tree expert friend reminded us how important degree days are to a  plant’s growth. Those accumulated days of heat, a certain minimum that must be maintained for plant development are essential. Farmers watch these measurements carefully as degree days  also signal when certain insect pests may become mature enough to damage  crops. Then out come the pesticides. No such action here. Just the waiting and watching,  and the lesson, once again: stay alert; don’t get too far ahead of yourself.  Don’t assume ahead of where the plant actually is.

We’d had a furiously busy events schedule the weekend I thought Blanca would bloom. Anticipating her blooming each night was what got me through each day. Then each night she remained closed actually became something of a reprise.  Friday, Saturday, Sunday passed with more inquiring phone calls, and more postponements. “Is she blooming, yet?” friends would ask. “Not yet, ” I’d reply sheepishly. “Maybe tomorrow; tomorrow, for sure,” I’d say attempting to regain my footing.  But I didn’t really know what was going on. So we waded through the weekend like this wondering when they’d open. Meanwhile,  my credibility and certainty seemed to fade.

Once Monday rolled around, the shop events over, we were rested and ready. And so was Blanca, apparently.  She rewarded us and a group of new comers with eight glorious blossoms in one night. We lost track counting in the dazzling display. It was a perfect evening to sit out around the beloved Queen of the Night and enjoy each other’s company. On Tuesday one more bud  opened, a quiet coda,  just in time for cousin Frank’s visit. Another opportunity to  sit at the foot of beauty and realize no matter how frenzied I get, there are moments of calm in the storm. Slow down; be observant; don’t assume, she reminds us. The temperatures had cooled, and Blanca’s blooming held off until I could really appreciate it, in a new way, with new friends. All over again, but still learning something new.

Posted September 19, 2010 by Canio's in about time, bud watch, Uncategorized

Dress Rehersal   Leave a comment

Blanca looked ready to bloom, the first and largest bud had indeed reached the 12-inch benchmark…but as we later realized, she needs not only length but mass. Hey, ain’t it the truth? All buds remained closed this evening, skirts twirled tightly around legs, so to speak. Maybe tomorrow. Likely tomorrow, she will fling her skirts open and dance. Some tepals have begun to unfurl. Still the buds must engorge, swell like a tiny balloon  filling with air, hope, expectation. Preparing a place. “Who will come to my party?” she asks.

Posted August 28, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch

Prioritizing   Leave a comment

The weaklings have been let go. Their color changed suddenly, losing  that vital deep green seemingly overnight. Then they stopped growing. What’s happening within the plant at the vascular level? Why is sustenance no longer being drawn up that particular vein?

Ten buds remain, but further prioritizing is taking place as we move toward “birthday.” One of a pair of twin buds hanging from the same side of a single leaf has lost its green. It’s slipping.  We know this happens often in the womb. Fertilized eggs don’t always take, are sloughed off. Nature’s own design.

Meanwhile, those  showing promise continue toward the future. The healthy twin sharing a leaf continues on verdant, elongating.  Some buds now measure over five inches. One even reached six. We’re looking ahead, always looking ahead.

First summer’s rains this afternoon have cooled temperatures and may slow bud growth.  Our birthday count may be off. So many variables. Nights are shorter now. We sense September around the corner.

Posted August 23, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch

Who gets in the boat?   1 comment

In high school English classes we spent time working out what I thought were torturous  ethical questions which I later learned came from a book called Values Clarification. It was the late ’70s and Murphy was a progressive teacher who helped many kids find their talents. But the ethical problems seemed impossible to me then. If there were ten survivors, but the life boat could hold only seven, who would earn a place of safety? Who would be left behind?

Blanca uses her own economy to determine how many buds she can sustain. This morning it looks like at least three may be let go. Three of thirteen are not thriving. The others have progressed to four inches, while these appear stalled, yellowing and a bit limp. I suspect they will be jettisoned. Nature creates, abundantly, and also destroys indifferently.  Remarkably, one of the recent cuttings boasts a 4-inch bud. Last bloom cycle we lost the cutting buds at 3″. We’re going for a record. But it’s it all ready an achievement, a flourishing, no matter what happens tomorrow? We’ve come this far.

Posted August 20, 2010 by Canio's in bud watch