All posts by kaowinston

About kaowinston

Use to be a school teacher, but that was years ago. Born in Trinidad, I moved to the UK to study Fine Arts. It was a thriling and fruitful experience, only soured by the new winter limitations. Today, it is the garden that challenges me, as you cans see from the post.

Museum Visit

British Museum Entrance

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, the Egyptian relics were still the crowds favorite

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.

Winston James

LONDON: My Greenhouse

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.

Aloe ‘Hellskloof Bells’
Aloe erinacea
Aeonium ‘Mardi Gras’
Agave chazaroi

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.

Plants on EBAY: ebay.co.uk/usr/kaowinston

Winston James Manor Park LONDON

Helsinki

Helsinki Main Station

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.

This is the entrance to what is one of the largest Mall in Finland.

ALOE karasbergensis

AN ALOE YOU CAN GROW


Family: Asphodelaceae

Common names: Karasberg Aloe

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.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/T91FU1qiKrY

Aloe striata

I thought I will end with a photo of the traditional Aloe Striata for comparison, but for me the two plants are very different.

Winston James

Covid Autumn 2021

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 problems and 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.

Winston James

A Park in Nice in the south of France.

Summer 21

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.

What’s 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.

Swartkop in Bloom

Winston James on a sombre grey evenng in the middle of summer. This is the UK.

Introducing YouTube

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

http://www.youtube.com.kaowinston/playlists

Arizona in Photos

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.

And there are the cities with active people.

Winston James in a cold wet London

Greenhouse Flowers

The last three months have been not surprisingly being very tense, and full with drama. Wherever we are, few of us could escape the events fueled by Covid 19, and yet for me the only activity that I managed to pursue with some kind of vengeance during that time, was gardening. This way, I organised to keep the bad news in check, and often was able many times to smugly admit I was having a great time. The failure of our government to test, track and trace successfully, did depress me, but I soon accepted this scenario had become commonplace among quite a few other leaders in Europe.

Gardening for me comes in three parts; the regular gardening which most people do … placing plants in the ground only happens in a very small scale as my back yard has to accommodate my three greenhouses in which I grow my pseudo tropical plants. Therefore a lot of my time is spent juggling pots in and out of the greenhouses, often dictated by the daily changes of the weather. The third part of my plant existence is to facilitate the selling of my succulents on my Ebay account . This is not always easy to manage, but since I do make a kind of living from it I believe I should not complain. Plant activity was far more evident around London, in spite of the emotional stress caused by the lock down and social distancing, and I am sure it went a long way to ease some of the pain. For me it was the perfect therapy for my survival for the last few months.

Here is a combination of flowers which appeared in my greenhouse in the last three months. Almost all of these plants are grown in pots, making the task quite easy to swap and change.

Epicactus(Epiphyllum) is a must in a greenhouse
Opuntia flowers appear in many shades
Parodia magnifica
Parodia species
Aporocactus species
Oroya peruviana
Opuntia flower
Euphorbia flanaganii
Sarracenia flava
Aporocactus flagelliformis
Echinicereus species
Pereskia grandifolia
the Greenhouse

Cylindropuntia spinosior
the Greenhouse