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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Got a HUGE Queen Palm

Palm trees were selling at a local nursery for 90% off since it's nearly September so I had to stop by and get myself a palm!
This palm was for sale for $180 (which by the way is a ridiculous price for a queen palm even this size) so at 90% off it would only be $18! I ended up getting the plant for $30. I wanted to argue for lower since they did specify that "all palms are 90% off", but $30 was a very fair price for the palm and I buy palms because I enjoy it so why ruin that by negotiating?

Anyway here it is in all of its glory. As for where it will be this winter, it's going inside but I haven't quite figured out how to work that out. All the more reason to stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2016

August color and beauty

This post is all photos and minimal text. Just an appreciation for what brings August color to a tropical yard in in New York City!


Crotons and tibochina

Ensete bananas

Croton and Caladiums

Mekong Giant Bananas and Banana cannas

More banans!

Two australian Natives, livistona and cordyline! 

Wider shot during the daytime

Cucuzza blooms only open at night

Tibochina flowers lose their petals at night.

Tibochina and palms

A wide shot of hardy hibiscus, yuccas, palms, and plumeria! 

Hardy Hibiscus "Robert Fleming"

Crape Myrtle "Zuni"

Crape Myrtle Tuscarora

Hibiscus and plumeria

A sun scorched hibiscus


Canna Robert Kemp (hummers love these!)

Cassia adds a nice fern texture to this corner

Bromeliads and succulents

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What a Difference 2 weeks make (and a comparison to this time last year!)

This weekend was the hottest in a long time in my yard. While the air temperature "only" maxed out at 97F (which is pretty typical for the hottest August days in NYC),  the dew point temperatures have been brutal. For those of you who aren't too familiar with dew points, I'm going to put my meteorology degree to use and explain it very briefly.

Slight Tangent: 

      The dew point temperature is a way of measuring how much moisture is in the air. Cold air is denser than warm air so there is less room for water in colder air than there is in warmer air. That's why it doesn't feel muggy even when it's wet outside in the winter - the air can only hold so much water when it is cold outside. When dew points are above 70F, it's means it's very humid -- because if the air temperature were to drop to 70F, the water vapor would begin to fall out (as dew) simply because it couldn't hold any more water. Any object below 70F would fog up.

      The past 4 days have had dew points in the 80s in my yard! That's about as high as it gets in the US. The windows around the house are dripping wet every morning and my plants are growing right before my eyes.

Ok back to the plants! Basically to summarize, it's been very hot and very humid and my plants are very happy. So I figured I'd try and compare some photos from earlier this month (and from August 2015) to now and see what's improving and what's not!

2 weeks ago

Now - the banana canna grew the most and the basjoo is growing modestly. Nothing too impressive in this planter bed this year but still some more time left for good growth!

Last year - the front yard definitely looked a bit nicer last year with the ensete, but I don't have to dig much up this year so this new look is lower maintenance! And I think that the front yard holds its on this year!


Watch the way the castor beans shoot up. The cannas also got huge. All of these tower over me now. Remember I didn't even plant these castor beans!

2 weeks ago

Now - (slightly different angle). 

Last year  - the cannas are MUCH bigger this year! 


Look at how the Mekong Giant Bananas and banana canna filled out in just 2 weeks time. The Mekong Giant, which died to the ground and did not sprout until nearly June looks bigger and better than last year at this time!

less than 2 weeks ago


Last year


Not much growth but I love the cordyline in this spot.

2 weeks ago



Not much has changed in a year for the pool plants. 

Early August 2016

Early August 2015

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Cordyline Australis has a GREAT year!

Two weeks ago you would not be able to find this plant in my yard as it was hidden behind a forest of castor beans and cannas. Now it's one of the centerpieces of my yard because while it was in that corner it was getting huge and beautiful! 

Cordyline Australis is a pretty hardy plant. Sold as "spikes" at local nurseries, they are possibly the most common annual to see year from year coming in green and purple. The green form is actually pretty cold tolerant and during mild winters they survive in their pots and are reused by people for another year or 2. Rarely do people make an effort to save these plants long term in NYC, but three years ago I had an unusually vigorous plant so I kept it in the garage when it got below 20F outside.

It was pretty big this past winter, here's a photo of it "enjoying" a very wet snow storm...

Now it's really massive! Here it is as of now, about 6 months after that previous photo. It has literally doubled in size! Hopefully the 8 foot tall light pole and the planter serves as a useful scale. 

Thanks for looking!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Blooming This Week: Brugmansia "Ember Yellow"

Angel Trumpets add beautiful color and interest to a tropical yard. The fragrance is out of this world especially in the evening. This cultivar smells exactly like laundry detergent! Unfortunately I'll be getting fewer blooms this year than usual because the plant is suffering from insect damage and recovering from rot in the garage last winter. My double flowering Brugmansia is so stubborn and is now working on it's 3rd summer without any blooms. Really frustrated with that one. It made a few buds but they all fell off!

If you have a brugmansia and you want to know if it's at blooming age, there's a really easy way to know! Look at the branches. If the branches naturally form a "Y" shape, it's blooming age and you should be getting buds soon! The more "Y"'s, the more blooms!

Friday, August 5, 2016

In Bloom This Week: Cannas

It seems like Late July/ Early August is the time of the year where cannas really take off. My banana cannas have no blooms yet but are reaching massive heights of 8 to 10 feet (I'll have to write up a post about those sometime soon!). My other cannas are all blooming non-stop. I unfortunately do not have the names of many of these cultivars, so all I can say is enjoy!