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winter garden

I accumulated so many tropical plants this year that I couldn’t fit them all next to the big front window, which is north-facing anyway. Plus the tot and his adventuresomeness. So I bought a 1000-watt metal-halide grow light and fixed up the closet in the basement, and stuffed as many pots in there as would fit. Dreamy.

sorry toots, me and cornus kousa got a little thing going.

Mercy child, the geometry of these fruits has got me all sortsa intuned to a spilling-seed-into-the-soil, last-month-of-the-summer last-ditch effort at monoecious reproduction. So hot and yet so smart: so warm and curved and beckoning and still so cold and sharp and hard. Gracious y’all, the intensity of the ambiguity that this fruit pops and locks has got me more than just a little bit flustered.

cornus kousa fruit
cornus kousa fruit in varying states of undress

Dogwood, you have been inaptly named. You are a harder-to-hold pretty, meticulous, and remote kitty than a dirty sloppy hairy best friend. A change is in order, if I may be so bold. May you roll henceforth: Kittywood.

the impossible mangosteen (garcinia mangostana)

My two new mangosteen trees arrived from Hawaii today, looking wonderful. I had pretty low expectations for the size and health of the plants after all my searching and researching. Not only are they nigh-impossible to grow in the US, it seems they’re also pretty hard to come by.

Most of the tropical fruit tree nurseries I’ve been dealing with don’t carry it. And I was nearly tempted by an ebay seller who ships them from Hawaii bare-root, but I bought a rambutan from him a couple weeks ago, and it now looks like death warmed over — I’m not even sure it’s alive — so I figured there was a better route and kept looking.

I finally found another grower, Hula Brothers in Hawaii, selling them for $100/ea. or two for $150, shipping included. I figured what the heck, I’ll most likely lose one, might as well get two, improve my odds. I kept checking the door all day today, and they finally came at five pm. They were the best-looking plants I’ve gotten in the mail yet.

mangosteen treeThat’s probably a five-year-old tree there. Which means just five or six more years until I have a chance at some fruit.

It takes ten years for a mangosteen tree to fruit in favorable conditions, favorable being ultra-tropical always moist and never-lower-than-eighty-degrees kinda weather, preferably on a riverbank. There’s only one known instance of anyone getting one to fruit above the 200th parallel. Some feller in S. Florida got lucky. But I’m going to mimic Thailand/Puerto Rico in a greenhouse, and I’m going to get it to fruit. Mark my words. Check back in six years re: deliciousness.

The fruit is a beaut is the reason for my mania. I have never seen anything so pretty that tastes so good.

mangosteen fruit


More flagrant than ever before, the garden this spring has been one raucous and debauched carnival of lawless bacchanalian flower sex. Someone asked me how the yard was doing a couple of weeks ago, and the only adjective I could think of to describe it was pay-per-view.

That the bees are back doesn’t hurt: there are more wanton workers barnstorming the sepals, looting the pistils and bracing the stamens than I’ve seen in years. I blush yet at the thought of the countless bodies¬† clumsily adjusting their undergarments, stumbling out of the garden dizzy with the perfume of sex, telltale pollen smeared on their collars.

Of course, that’s nature’s nature every spring. I’m just tuned in to it more acutely this year than any other in memory. I’ve been sublimating pretty hard in 2010, thanks to an especially lusty curiosity and cunning, and an abundance of free time, botanical variety, and midday mead. It all came to a climax today when I realized just how oh-so very badly I want to lay down with this one:

Can that be so bad? Can this particularly innocent instance of polymorphous perversion really have a price? Will Courtney be jealous?

Persnaps, but let this be her consolation: my botanical tryst is short-lived. Alas, this beauty is exceedingly ephemeral: try as I might, I can not preserve these petals. Vivid colors fade, perfect posture wilts, ardor will languish.

And yet!

For whiners like me, there’s always Autumn. The fruit borne this fall will be just another form of the same biological ecstasy, though more visceral and less hysterical, more nourishing and more sustaining, and far more enduring.

Thank you, pesto, for making winter worth living through.

braggart proclaims “no need to smack your mothers,” puts foot in mouth

Remember last fall when I promised the 500 bulbs I planted on either side of my walk would make you want to smack you mama? Well, in honor of our mothers on this very special day, I am happy to report that there will be no call for smacking, no call whatsoever.

For what was to be my bright shining glory, my “suck it, monkeys” moment of gloating, has passed with a nary a taunt. Because in my infinite foolhardiness, I failed to take into account the fact that the sun would move so damned north for the winter, so that the peak of the roof would shade varying northfacing sections of the bed as the sun passed from east to west. So in addition to the black parrots blooming a beat later than the rococo, the rococo opened progressively from one corner to its opposite over the course of a week. The net effect was that the first to open dropped petals many days before the last opened theirs.

A whimper moreso than a bang.

Even so, it would take a cold hard profligate motherscratcher to complain about how 500 tulips happen to decide to open. That’s me. Sheesh. Scratch scratch mom. Happy mother’s day.

foxy fritillaria michailovskyi

Someone told me yesterday that they say that fritillaria michailovskyi smells foxy. I got what he meant. He wanted to make sure. You know, like sex.

First of all, major props to a working man for recognizing the flower, knowing its pain in the arse name, and for retaining this erotic bit of esoterica (or esoteric bit of erotica I suppose, depending on which team you happen to be batting for).

Secondly. As a euphemism for sexy, foxy is first rate. Sure, gents have been calling good-lookin’ ladies foxy for ages immemorial, but to have it connote not a look but a smell is to put a novel twist on the word that resonates with darker meaning when it’s used in relation to fox behavior. Think feral, think sweaty, think animal.

But. I clipped a few and stuck my nose deep up in them and… meh. They have a smell, but it’s not a musk or a funk. It smells like rot. I mean, I’m all for dirty girls, but pretty or not, this is beyond the pale. Turns out it’s a single compound to blame for the stank, a certain 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, which they say has a smoke-roast stink but I sez no way unless your smoke-roast has been sitting in the sun way too long.

fritillaria michailovskyi

by the by, everything worthwhile to learn about fritillarias can be learned here.

the only narcissus worth half a hoot

I can’t even bring myself to say daffodil, the word too much like a contraction of daffy and dildo .

The great majority of narcissus you find in civilians’ yards right now are yellow. We all know how yellow makes you crazy, not to mention nauseous. It’s a crappy color: the color of pus; of rot; of an old bruise; the color we have all been trained to recognize as a warning.

But even the white, orange, and yellow combos have too much going against them to ever win them favor within modern connoisseurship: gross proportions coupled with a palette of primary colors unrelieved by barely a drop of shade.

They do not move fluidly through space,¬† slouching there on their stems, that out-of-proportion probiscus gaping like a yokel’s jaw under the smarter flowers in the garden. Narcissus are simple, and for that reason ought to be culled from the pool. Literally.

Metaphorically neither do they stand in for a pure innocence nor a deep debasement, they are only a sign for mild pleasantness. They are a mild sedative, numbness in a non-opioid, mediocrity on a stem.

But! This one. Oh yes (mon)sirs and ma'(d)ams, this one is very different. For your consideration:

narcissus poeticus recurvus
Narcissus poeticus recurvus.

Gaze upon that complicated little trumpet with its hard red corona, caress with your eyes those elegantly backstretching pure white petals.

This is the only narcissus that would be allowed to survive on my personal planet. That and maybe this one, though I have yet to see it in person and so cannot vouchsafe its perpetuity.

Nine Out of Ten Banana Analysts Agree

Musa ‘Ice Cream’ and Musa ‘Brazilian’ are the top two best-tasting banana plants on the banana analysts’ top five best-tasting banana plants list.

Speaking of ‘naners, I am so finsta hop the recent ravenolocavoracious mania and lassoo it to the ever-so-avante carbon-zero steamy hot wet planetism to make the first ever carbon-neutral neighborhhood greenhouse grocer growing a grossly abundant variety of effing awesome coffees, bananas, vanillas, mangoes, et al steamy hot wet tropical jungular fruit and flowers straight outta USDA hardiness zone 5 (crazy motherbleeper named Steve-cube).

Bananas, my friends, are the next heirloom mania.

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