Pitching in

Back in 2015, when the limery was first built, getting some carnivorous plants seemed like a really great way to control the burgeoning fly population, and so it proved (much more pleasant than fly paper). One of the carnivores that I bought, however, was purchased mainly because it was a type of plant that I had always wanted to own – a tropical pitcher plant, otherwise known as a monkey cup or Nepenthes. I knew virtually nothing about these amazing plants other than that I had always admired the collection in the botany gardens at the university in Aberystwyth – a collection put together by an amazing gardener called Don Parker, who had trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh amongst other places. Don collected all sorts of species and was very proud of them and I used to admire his new acquisitions whenever they arrived. Don is no longer with us, but his collection lives on in the tropical house at the university botany gardens (I’ll go and take some photos one day)… and his inspiration lives on in the one specimen that I own.

nepenthes ventxtala

Then: Nepenthes ventricosa x talangensis when I first bought it

I just wish I’d taken the time to learn more from Don about these amazing plants; as it is I’ve had to read up about them as I don’t know another expert. The specimen that I bought in 2015 is, it turns out, a hybrid of two relatively compact upland species of tropical pitcher: Nepenthes ventricosa and Nepenthes talangensis. This upland origin is fortunate because it means it is more suited to surviving cooler conditions than its lowland relatives. It has, however, taken me a while to discover a location for it over the winter that allows it to thrive. But I have now discovered that it loves our bathroom – bouts of high humidity, dispersed light and (it appears) just the right temperature. As a result it has started to produce new pitchers and, for the first time, a flower. Nepenthes plants are either male or female and you don’t know which until they flower, so this event will allow me to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl – probably the former as they are more common (70:30 ratio in the wild, apparently). Here it is now:

Many of the plants I grow have a real practical purpose, but the job of this one is mainly to bring me joy… and it does.

Three Things Thursday: 8 June 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with the happy*

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes. Anyway, here are my three things this week…

First, letter-writing. I mentioned in my  recent post Small Calm Things, that I had made a start on some letter-writing and over the past few days I’ve written quite a few. Sitting in the limery as the rain hammers down in our British summer, it’s rather nice to put pen to paper and know that I will be raising some smiles as a result of my efforts.

Second, new inks. I have a project in mind that involves alcohol inks in muted colours. Until now I only had bright colours, but this morning’s post brought me the earth tones I need, so I’m now all set for getting arty.

a new art project is on the horizon

Third, pitchers. The pitcher plants and the monkey cup in the limery are growing like mad and it does make me very happy to see them doing their job and looking so fabulous.

And if you want to see lovely pictures of some of these plants in their native habitat, check out this post from Nerd in the Brain, who recently went to visit the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden.

So, those are three things making me smile and that I am grateful for this week. What is making you happy?

Three Things Thursday: 23 March 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday.

First, a new vaark for a new friend. I made this little creature on Sunday and on Monday it went in the post to make a new friend smile:

A new vaark ready for the world

Second, seed saving. Last year I saved seeds from the melons that I grew. The variety, Green Nutmeg, came from the Heritage Seed Library and so it’s particularly pleasing to have a new generation germinating this year. I have loads of these seeds, so if anyone in the UK would like some, just let me know and I’ll put a few in the post.

Green Nutmeg melon seedlings

Third, a rare carnivore. I have lots of sundews and pitcher plants in the limery, and whilst they present some challenges, they generally seem to be doing ok. The Venus Fly Traps are a bit more of a challenge, but I have three small ones. My favourite carnivore, though, is much more tricky to care for. The Monkey Cup can’t stay in the limery over winter as it’s too cold – it has to come and live in my office on the window sill. I’m very happy, therefore, to be able to return it to the limery this week and to note that it’s getting bigger and looks really rather healthy:

Monkey Cup (Nepenthes ventricosa x talangensis)

So, those are three things making me smile and for which I am grateful this week – what about you?

Danger! Carnivores!

Because glazing of the limery is not complete, if has turned into a trap for flies – despite the huge hole in the door, the flies only seem to be able to get in and not to get out. On the other hand, butterflies and damselflies seem able to exit without a problem. One of the builders noticed the current fly infestation and asked whether I might get some carnivorous plants. It wasn’t something I had planned to do, but I thought it was a good idea. So, without further ado I searched the internet, placed an order and today the limery has seven new occupants:

Dionaea muscipula - Venus flytrap

Dionaea muscipula – Venus flytrap

Dionaea muscipula 'Akai Ryu' - Venus flytrap 'Red Dragon'

Dionaea muscipula ‘Akai Ryu’ – Venus flytrap ‘Red Dragon’

Drosera capensis - Cape sundew and Drosera capensis alba - white Cape sundew

Drosera capensis – Cape sundew and Drosera capensis alba – white Cape sundew

Utricularia bisquamata 'Betty's Bay'

Utricularia bisquamata ‘Betty’s Bay’

Sarracenia purpurea venosa

Sarracenia purpurea venosa

Nepenthes ventricosa x talangensis

Nepenthes ventricosa x talangensis

One of the sundews has already caught a fly (look closely at the one on the right and you’ll see it), but they have a long way to go yet…

We have glass in the roof (but not the door) and lots and lots of flies

We have glass in the roof (but not the door) and lots and lots of flies

I’m so excited at the prospect of growing these (and other) unusual plants.

 

 

 

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