Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Scenes From the Garage

What a terrible time of year this is. So warm out (71, 80, and 87 F on Sun/Mon/Tue, which is 22, 27 and 31 C, for those of you in civilized countries) that I feel stupid if I don't have the plants outside, because obviously they'd enjoy themselves, but too cold at night to leave them there, so I have to haul them all back in the house or into the garage or something, then drag them back out again in the morning. Except last night I did leave them outside (forecast was for a low of 62F/17C), so they were probably all destroyed by a freak hail storm or something. (I'll add that to the end of the post, if the hail thing happened.)

Starting tonight, it's going to turn cold again, so all the plants that I've been carefully moving around every hour so they don't sunburn are going to have to come back inside and live in their old spots again for four or five days. There are obviously worse things than having to move lots of plants around, but I can't remember what any of them are, because I'm exhausted from moving lots of plants around.

About 75% of that last sentence isn't even a joke.

Therefore, today's post will be a lazy and poorly-photographed assemblage of things I've seen when transporting the plants from place to place.

First up is the big Coffea, which is . . . big.

Also a Coffea.

It's spent a long time in the corner of the plant room. This is because that's pretty much the only place in the house where it would fit, and it's done nicely there. But I decided I wanted to give it a chance to spend a summer outside for the first time since I bought it in December 2006, so I wrestled it out of the corner and brought it outside and stood it up, and, well:

This is an inaccurate picture in two ways. One, the top tier or two of branches got whacked by the ceiling fan or bent against the ceiling or otherwise broken, at some point a day or two after this picture was taken, so the plant is now slightly shorter than this.

The second way the picture is inaccurate is because the plant is more or less upright. That's not unheard of, but it's not been typical lately. Because it's been grown indoors for so long, the stem is weak, and any little breeze will tip it over 60 degrees. For the moment, the precarious-looking wobble is sort of serving a purpose. I don't have any good spots for keeping a plant this tall in total shade, but it's always waving around, so none of the leaves wind up staying in direct sun long enough to burn.

That, or Coffeas are just naturally sunburn-resistant, 'cause it's been fine. I prefer to think that it's the waving around, not natural sunburn resistance, because then that means the waving and bending is a good thing. In any case, I'm hoping that the plant takes this as a sign that it needs to invest in a thicker, sturdier trunk before the summer's over.

Next up, the Aloe harlana, or whatever it is, had started to produce some flower buds before it got moved outside, but they're getting bigger and starting to color up now.

The above picture was taken on Monday; by Tuesday morning, when I got the plant out of the garage, the inflorescence was nearly horizontal. It didn't seem to be creased or broken, so the flowers might still open, but I don't have an explanation for the sudden change, so I'm a little concerned. If the flowers open regardless, I'll be pleased.

If they open and I get to see a hummingbird, I'll be more pleased, but so far since we moved, I've gotten an average of one hummingbird sighting per year, and I'd just as soon not use mine up so early and then have nothing to look forward to.

Next. Have I told you lately how much I love my Araucaria bidwillii? 'Cause I do. It's been around long enough now that I'm actually starting to think of it as a friend. Even by normal plant-personification standards (or, you know, "normal" plant-personification standards), that's a bit much. I guess it's true, what Bob Dylan said: the plants are my friends; they're blowing in the wind.

Puns aside, the A. bidwillii is putting on a bunch of new growth all of a sudden. Some combination, no doubt, of the longer days, brighter light, better air circulation, and increased root room -- I repotted it on 11 April.

Not all of the news is good. The goddamned fungus on the Euphorbias is not getting any better, despite pretty liberal application of chlorothalonil, and I'm alternating between rage and despair about that whole situation. (I suppose it's probably too early to give up just yet, though.) Also I was throwing the tennis ball for Sheba on Monday and mis-aimed it into the plants. Blew some leaves off of the big Agave victoriae-reginae, as well as partly pulping some of the weaker Aloes, which was a bummer. But these things will happen. And I've learned some sort of valuable lesson, I'm almost certain.


Paul VA said...

my A. bidwillii just started putting on a bunch of new growth too, except mine hasnt had any of the changes that yours has. Mine is still doing very well, but is about half the size of yours

Paul said...

Considering where you live, the only times you are likely to see hummers is early spring and fall as they migrate. So having your aloe strutting its stuff now may be a plus.