At that this time of the month for the last few years I have always travelled to the state of Arizona. This year will be an exception as the current situation with the pandemic has literally ended all my travel intention. I thought therefore I will reflect via some photos on the areas I have visited in the last few years.
Sierra Ancha is a mountain range in Gila county in central Arizona. It now has improved roads which makes it easier to penetrate, and visit the many archaeological remains which exist.
Arizona for me is still the land of Agaves with many other succulents thrown in to the characteristic xeric landscape.
I love the succulents and I love them when the flowers are in bloom.
And it is important to remember this is the state of wonderful saguaros.
Plant Nurseries are numerous which means that if you are looking for seedlings and young specimens, you will find lots of them in Tucson and in Phoenix.
The Aripo Valley is like a guardian of the northern range in Trinidad, and in many ways is a significant stop on your way to the main mountain peak, El Cerro del Aripo. Any time I visit the island, I make an effort to do some exploration within the area. These photos demonstrate my love affair with nature especially as described in these tropical habitats.
Trees are always fascinating, and become much more so when you encounter and experience the intricate going ons of the tropical jungle. Lianas which are very prevalent are more than a curious surprise. Trying to work out where vines start or end is quite difficult. Also interesting, at this level, is the way most other plants manage to survive without being intimidated by the numerous vines.
The ginger flowers and heliconias are always conspicuous in this setting, as the climate and humidity makes it easy for them to flourish. It is not a valley that orchids and bromeliads show off their bloom in great abundance, but the species are there to be observed. Of course, the birds are everywhere, and without compromise make their music for us to hear. Sometimes I feel ashamed that I am not able to identify the species as they flutter around. But, I do know the humming birds, and that’s a start. Below, two photos from the Asa Wright Centre, which is great introduction to the Aripo Valley.
Sometimes a plant becomes an obsession. That is the way I feel about Agave parryi. It is definitely one of the few Agaves which always present a great show whenever they are encountered. There are variations in the species exhibiting many forms. I love them all. I love the truncatas, the couesis, and even the distant cousin neomexicana. In habitat they are even more attractive, and are definitely worth the sometimes perilous journey to observe. They are exceedingly tough plants which can handle unpredictable wintry conditions very well. Therefore, if you are that way inclined. and would like to try your hand at growing, seeds are the easiest route to take. Careful nurturing will ensure their survival. And that way you can never have too much of them.
It has been a while since I have visited a museum. Recently I corrected this by paying a visit to the British museum in London. I wanted to see if the horrors of the pandemic had impacted on the crowd who normally visit these places. I was so right, as considering how well known the museum was, the building was almost completely empty. The intention also was to have a look around and decide what was the draw of the people visiting.Below are some of the photos that were taken,a mixture of the image which you would expect from the British Museum .
Yes, I was pleased to say that I enjoyed seeing much of the old favorites. There were no real surprises as far as the collection is concerned. Most of these items are much too heavy to move around, therefore I did not expectt to see any major changes. The scant crowd was helped by the fact that I chose a day when the rain was falling quite heavily. But it will be interesting to see how the crowd moves as the pandemic slowly retreats.
It is summertime, which means splashes of warm weather every now and then, after all this the UK. I am busy tending to my plant collection with an eye on my present Ebay sales which is going better than I expected. I have decided since my last foreign trip to avoid travel because of the confusion which now takes place for anybody who heads abroad. Since I am occupied with Greenhouse activity, I will share with you some of my plant images.
A photo above gives the a good expression of how I keep my plants in the greenhouse. with limited space, the intention is to keep the plants growing, especially as the intention is to prepare them for my Ebay sale catalogue. Considering this is a temperate climate, the greenhouse is my only ‘hot house’ and I have to make the most of it.
If you grow succulents like I do in a temperate climate, you will soon learn the difficulty of growing plants outdoors. It is not that you can cannot grow them reasonably well, it is just that there is never enough heat and sunlight to fulfil the complete cycle, and fruiting and flowering becomes quite difficult. For those of us who are quite ambitious, a greenhouse is the only alternative.
Tree cactus I love growing. Most fit into the Epiphyllum range with names like Selenicereus Disocactus, Cryptocereus, Lepismium, Rhipsalis, Aporocactus and many others. The beauty of these is that you can hang them using the greenhouse in a different way. They need more watering and less sunlight, and can always be accommodated in selected corners.
With all the talk of war in Ukraine, I expected may be some problems, but i was quite wrong. Three days in Helsinki was without any issues and quite enjoyable. I stayed at one of the Radisson Hotels which was more than adequate for what I wanted. The city was pleasant and much more tranquil than the last time I was there. But in many ways it was easier to enjoy the short trip with little issues .
I flew there with Finnair, an airline which I had never used before and I was impressed with their style, and since they connected to the One World Alliance, I was able collect airmiles for the effort.
I did a lot of of walking around as I hoped to remember and compare this visit with the last time I was here. In spite of the proximity to war with the media constantly dramatizing all the worst scenarios, most people appear to be living a normal existence.
I thought this park was very curious even though it was quite empty. The weather was quite cool though nor freezing, and there was quite a bit of sun. This suggested most people were happy to stay indoors, or simply visit the malls.
Trams are still used throughout the city and this fascinated me. For some people trams belong to yesterday, and in London where I live are rarely seen. But here they appear to ease the traffic dependency of cars and work very well. They are assisted by buses which appear to be less in need. But I was surprised by the presence of the latest trend of scooters which were everywhere.
Aloe karasbergensis is still for some heavily linked to the regular Aloe striata, and is still referred in publication as Aloe striata subsp. karasbergensis. For me it is quite different from the regular ‘striata’, and I have joined with the progressives to give it its only name. It is a plant that is native to Southern Africa and Namibia; and the ‘Karasberg’ refers to the Karas Mountain region, and in the Gariep Valley of the Richtersveld. I have noticed that ths plant is far rarer than I thought, and while visiting Gran Canaria I came across these specimens and was happy to enjoy.Have a look at the video.
It is almost the end of October. The pandemic is still very much with us, and in spite of the expected anxieties, life must go on. The last three months have been unsettling as the rules of the UK pandemic has been eased with mixed results, some fearful and yet others manageable. Even now, well organized trips to the continent has offered a very difficult way of travelling. And yet it was very necessary to fulfil these journeys to remind us of how our need to survive fits in to the current landscape. I think after these two three day break in Europe, first to France and then to Spain worked well; now I am ready for the international trip. That should be challenging and yet very well worth the experience. In the meantime let us enjoy the rest of the autumn, and hope the winter is bearable.
The arrival of the vaccine and the ultimate debate of its significance took me by surprise. Even though I expected a few refuseniks ( people who were convinced that the jab was no use to them for numerous reasons), I was more than surprised by the number of people who objected.. For the rest of us it was seen as a much needed strike against Covid virus, which was definitely need urgently. Its impact has already been felt across the world, and yet the debate continues by some on why it is needed. Some of it leaves me quite sad as I see that events to follow will eventually be accompanied by lost of life.
The obvious conflict of the pandemic appear to be how best to prevent the spread of the dreaded virus, and in many instaces how to utilise our resources to keep people alive. The many lockdowns caused not only anxieties, but also demonstrations expressing surprising emotions and intent. Although most developed ccountries have had some of their double dose, poorer countries are still struggling to get even the first dose. This reminds you that whatever the so-called intentions of wealthier world, they are still fallling short. And lots of people are still suffering. The big question is when will it all end. That is difficult to decipher at the moment, as each day appear to introduce a new set of problemsand you are left wondering when. The only joy of the last year is that I have had no contact with the Covid-19 virus whatsoever, and that has made my life free of fears and anxieties.
Summer 21 is here, and let us be honesst it is a poor representation as far as the weather is concerned. But we have to manage with what we have, and as the pandemic is still around I will concentrate on the elements which enhance my thought processes. Here, I will offer you some photos from my greenhouse experience, and visits to the local UK based gardens.
THE GREENHOUSE: Having a greenhouse is very necessary as it facilitates easier growing of plants, especially tropical plans. It can be absolutely useful in the winter when temperatures fall below what we need, and the plants are affected negatively.
GARDEN IMAGES. This is RHS Wisley, and the photo firstly illustrate plants under cover. The second set of photos remind you that there are lots of things to see outdoors.
Aeoniums were not always some of my favourites, as it took some time for me to understand that they were easy to grow in our temperate weather. now I grow quite a few species some of which are illustrated below.
Winston James on a sombre grey evenng in the middle of summer.This is the UK.
Making YouTube videos should make you conscious about the image you project, but sometimes you casually come up with a topic and resist the temptation to take the ideas much more seriously. Recently I had a look at the thumbnails I produce for my videos and thought they are not very good as they rarely encourage subscribers to run to my videos. Here are a few.
The general problem they look too similar and do not carry much individual characteristics I believe that distinguish them enough to to immediately attract. I should work on some new ideas. Winston