Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Warning: Squirmy Bug Alert

Today we took delivery of 1,000 superworms, 300 phoenix worms, 250 waxworms, and 25 hornworms.  It's way cheaper to buy in bulk online than in the pet store, especially considering the closest pet store is an hour and a half away.  Even with shipping, it was significantly cheaper, like less than a quarter of what I would have paid in the store for this amount.  Plus, now there's no need to worry about running out any time soon...

1000 superworms for Critter

The waxworms, phoenix worms, and hornworms (yes, the same hornworms that decimate tomato plants... ah, revenge...) came in tidy little tubs.  The superworms came in a bag, and we provide the container, which is just a shoebox-size plastic container with a couple inches of oatmeal in the bottom.

I've got to say, 1000 superworms is really a lot.

1000 superworms for Critter

Really, really, a lot.  Good thing they keep a long time.

Yeah, I think we should be set for a while.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lepanthes calodictyon

The first Lepanthes calodictyon flower opened today!

First Lepanthes calodictyon flower to open!

These are teeny!  The whole leaf is about an inch across, and the flower is less than 1/4".  They're so delicate and intricate, and I love the ruffled pie-crust edge on the leaves.

First Lepanthes calodictyon flower!

Actually, they kind of look like a tiny insect!

First Lepanthes calodictyon flower!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Non-amaryllis, non-orchid

I have a couple other houseplants besides the amaryllis and orchids that are blooming.  This first one is fun.

Pinguicula moranensis

This is Pinguicula moranensis, a tropical butterwort.  It's a carnivorous plant!

In addition to looking cool, this plant helps with the fungus gnats that take up residence in some of my houseplants every year.  The leaves and stems are sticky and trap the gnats beautifully - you can see some in the picture.

The flowers were the main reason I got this plant.  They look almost like violet flowers, so pretty! I've had the plant almost two months, but it was semi-dormant when I got it and this is the first flower it's produced for me.  I noticed today that there are two more flowers forming. Yay!

Pinguicula moranensis flower

The next plant is an anthurium, and is the second of two plants that I bought myself for Valentine's Day this year.  The only part of Valentine's Day I like is the day-after 50% off sales!  The yellow orchid I posted yesterday was $4, and this big anthurium in an 8" pot was only $3.


Last picture for today is this.  I planted this turmeric rhizome last April, and it did exactly nothing, nothing, and more nothing for 13 months.  No shoots, no roots, nothing.  I kept peeking at it, and the rhizome wasn't shriveled or rotted, so I left it alone.  When it started to get cold in the fall, I brought the pot inside and put it on the heat mat with my orchids, and it continued to do nothing.

But this month, a shoot appeared!  And now there are leaves! So exciting!

Turmeric shoot in the front, Purple Rain amaryllis offset at the back left, Parodia werneri cactus at the back right

And oops, I guess this isn't a completely amaryllis-free post.  That plant in the purple pot to the left of the turmeric is an offset bulb from my Purple Rain amaryllis that broke off during shipping.  I am very pleased that it has rooted and sprouted leaves.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Blooming orchids

In addition to the amaryllis, I also have a couple orchids in bloom right now.  This first one is a plant that I've had since 2008, called Phalaenopsis Golden Light.  I still find this name hilarious, because there's nothing gold about it.  The flowers are a deep, rich, mulberry red; very waxy and substantial.  Beautiful.

Phalaenopsis Golden Light

I got this next plant for myself for Valentine's Day this year, and it's still blooming away.  It's called Phal. Sogo Twinkle Golden. It's lightly fragrant, which is a nice bonus.

Phalaenopsis Sogo Twinkle Golden

The next plant is from the Portland orchid show in April.  It came in bud, and the flower finally opened this week.  This is Paphiopedilum Oriental Spring.

Paphiopedilum Oriental Spring

I really like the green and white paphs; they look so elegant.  This one is very pleasingly shaped and striped.  The pretty mottled foliage is a nice bonus for when the plant isn't in bloom.

Paphiopedilum Oriental Spring

Next up is the Oncidium Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance' that I also got at the Portland orchid show.  It was in bud and bloom when I got it, and is still going strong.  This is quite a large plant, and will get larger.  I knew this when I bought it, and I'm not sure what I was thinking.  I don't really have room for it, but I expect I'll manage.  I've wanted one of these for years.

Oncidium Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance'

Each individual flower is about an inch and a half high, and beautifully ruffled. All three spikes are blooming now, and it smells heavenly.  It smells like chocolate!

Oncidium Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance'

Lastly, here's a teaser for one that's not open yet. This is the Haraella retrocalla that's in my glass globe terrarium.  It's doing fantastically well, and has sent roots all the way down past the end of its stick, through the sphagnum, and into the expanded clay pellet substrate.  It's very happy.

Haraella retrocalla in bud!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A multitude of blooms

Amaryllis numbers ten and eleven have opened, and they are the same variety.

This is Gervase #1. Gervase is an interesting variety, because while the base flower color is pink with dark pink streaks, there are solid red stripes that show up in random areas and in random widths on each individual flower.

Gervase amaryllis #1

This bulb has two scapes completely open right now, with four flowers per scape. The scapes are slightly different heights, so it makes a really nice display.  And there's a third scape coming along!

Gervase amaryllis #1

This is Gervase #2.  This bulb has a darker pink base color, and more prominent and numerous red stripes.

Gervase amaryllis #2

It also has two scapes open at the same time, but they are nearly the same height and the flowers are really crowded together, to the point that some of them couldn't even open fully.  It's still really pretty, though.

Gervase amaryllis #2

Hopefully next year the scapes will be staggered so they don't all open at once.  Not only does it make a better presentation, it extends the bloom season!

So those are the two new ones to open.  I also have a couple others in full bloom at the moment.  This is the second scape on the Red Pearl, with four gorgeous big flowers.  A third scape is still waiting in the wings.

Red Pearl amaryllis second scape in full bloom

And this is Temptation.  I love this variety!  Two scapes, nine flowers.  This is definitely a favorite.

Temptation amaryllis

Temptation amaryllis closeup

Friday, May 20, 2016

Another orchid in bud!

The Lepanthes calodictyon I got last month is in bud! In bud times five!

Lepanthes calodictyon in bud

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Amaryllis Eight and Nine

The eighth and ninth amaryllis of the year have opened, yay!

This one is Purple Rain.  I'm not sure what the breeder was thinking when they named it. It should have been called Fuchsia Rain or Rose Rain.  This is definitely not purple, but whatever.  It's really pretty.

Purple Rain amaryllis

And this one is Temptation.  I love it.  It looks like it's been painted,with all that feathery shading.  I also like the more pointed petals.  It's quite distinctive looking.

Temptation amaryllis

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ladd Marsh Bird Festival 2016

Today was a special day- the 11th Annual Ladd Marsh Bird Festival!  And not only is this one of my favorite days of the year, it's extra-special to me this year because it's the tenth time I have participated.  I work as a volunteer at one of the birding stations, helping people find and identify birds.

I have been doing this for a decade.  When I realized that, I almost couldn't believe it.  I had to count the years on my fingers, but yes, it really is true.  I started going to the Bird Festival in 2007, so this is the tenth year.

The corollary to that, of course, is that I have been living in La Grande for a decade as well.  Yikes.  A lot has happened, not least of which is that Emma, who had just turned three when we moved here in the fall of 2006, is now as tall as me.

But I digress.  This weekend was the Bird Festival! And you know, sometimes the Universe Provides.

New-to-me spotting scope!

I have wanted a spotting scope for years and years and years, ever since I took Ornithology in college in 1993.  Off and on, of course, as my birding activities waxed and waned depending on where I was in life.  But spotting scopes are pricey, good ones anyway, and there were always other things that were higher priority.  Two years ago I made room in my budget for a good pair of binoculars, and that was enough.  But still, the lure of a spotting scope was there.

This past Wednesday, a friend at work said that she was clearing out unused things from her house as she prepared for retirement, and could she give me this spotting scope she found?  She said she didn't know anything about it other than it was at least 20 years old, and didn't know what condition it was in.  But if I wanted it, I could have it.

Ummmm....YES THANK YOU!!

New-to-me spotting scope!

It's a Bushnell Spacemaster II, and it's in great condition. It's nothing fancy, but the optics are fairly good and everything is still in alignment.  It came with a tabletop tripod, but that doesn't really work for birding in the marsh, so I got a full size tripod with a pivoting head on Friday.

Sweet!  I have a spotting scope!

I put it to good use this morning at the festival.  I was at my station from 6am to 12 noon, and in that six-hour stretch I saw 77 species of birds.  That's the same number of species as I saw last year, but this year I saw everything so much more clearly!  A lot of the time at my station is spent scanning out across a pond to identify distant ducks and shorebirds, so having a scope with higher magnification than just handheld binoculars makes a big difference. And beyond just ticking species off a list, being able to see the birds more clearly really adds to the enjoyment.  You get to see the feather patterns, the eye colors, the behaviors, the whole package.

I also tried taking pictures through the scope.  This is a killdeer, which is a roughly robin-sized bird, photographed from about 80 feet away.  Considering this was taken with an iPhone just held up to the eyepiece (I don't have one of those brackets that attaches the phone to the scope...yet...), and the picture cropped after uploading, this is pretty amazing.  It's not perfect, but you can see the raindrops on her back.


I love birds.  I love the Bird Festival.  I love Ladd Marsh.

Ladd Marsh Bird Festival 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Terrarium update 5.11.16

It's time for a terrarium update, because it's been a while, I've added some stuff, and things are growing.

I'm particularly pleased with how the non-orchid plants in the tank are growing.  This is Peperomia caespitosa, and when I put it in the tank it was one little spindly little stringy stem about three inches long,with twelve pallid leaves and no patterning.  Now it's sending out exploratory runners everywhere and the leaves are coloring up beautifully.  You can also see that the moss on the background is starting to spread.


This is Peperomia tovariana, and while this started with a bit bigger piece than the caespitosa so it looked fuller from the beginning, it has also doubled in size and started sending out runners.


The third peperomia in the tank is Peperomia reptans, and while it isn't spreading as fast as the others, it's starting to trail and has doubled in length.  Then again, the leaves on this one are about five times the size of the other two so it's good that it's growing slower.  You can see the Peperomia caespitosa leaves there on the left.


There's a fourth peperomia in the tank that I added about a month ago, Peperomia Banos Ecuador, but it's behind the log and I couldn't get a picture.  It has larger leaves like the reptans, but round and with nice dark and light green mottling.  I'll have to get a picture of that some other time.

Last close up for today.  This is a Selaginella, a club moss, and it came with three fronds: the tallest, the one that is turning brown on the tips, and the mid-sized one on the left.  It now has at least four new shoots starting at the bottom.  The patch of Schistochila (a liverwort) around the base of the Selaginella has also grown a bit.


So now a comparison!  This is the tank when I first planted it on February 14, 2016.

My 12x12x18 terrarium planted with miniature orchids, miniature peperomias, miniature ferns, mosses, liverworts, and selaginella.

And this is the tank today!  Can you spot all the differences?

Terrarium update 5.11.16

And in case you were wondering which plant is what, here's a labeled picture.

terrarium update 5.11

I am very much enjoying this terrarium.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Masdevallia strobelii

One of the orchids I got at the Portland orchid show a couple weeks ago is blooming!  I can't take credit for the flowers, since it came in bud, but I can take credit for keeping the plant happy enough that it kept the buds going!

Masdevallia strobelii

This is Masdevallia strobelii, native to Ecuador. It's a miniature species, with the leaves only standing about 3 inches tall.

Masdevallia strobelii

The flowers are carried slightly above the leaves, and are beautiful.  The triangular tubular body of the flower (formed by the sepals) is about an inch long, with three "tails" that span three inches.

Masdevallia strobelii

The interior faces of the sepals are covered with glistening hairs, which are sparkly in the sun.  And as a bonus, it's very sweetly fragrant!

Masdevallia strobelii

It came with four buds, of which two are now open.  It seems very happy on my kitchen windowsill, and I look forward to watching this one grow.