Monday, July 30, 2012

Ficus Religiosa Bonsai

Ficus Religiosa it is known also as  “bo-tree fig” “sacred fig” “aswattha fig” or “peepul fig" and  is renowned worldwide as the "The Tree of Enlightenment (Bodhi tree)" .

Ficus Religiosa  (Boo tree)  Bonsai started from seed
Ficus Religiosa  (Boo tree)  Bonsai

One of our projects, started almost two years ago, is to have our own "Ficus Religiosa Bonsai". This experiment (you may read more in our previous blog post: Ficus Religiosa Seedlings) convinced us once more that the best way to grow your own bonsai is to start it from seeds.

Ficus Religiosa seedling
You may shape easy your young ficus bonsai  when the stem is not woodified yet and to develop a nice root system accordingly with the pot's shape. We've kept couple of the seedlings at home and re-potted them gradually in larger pots at every half of year, now having one with dimensions: 2 cm high, 20 cm long and 12 cm wide.  The stems and branches became woody after first year of life and once the days have passed, the sapling became bigger, wider  and stronger.

Each  of them, like any other plant, told its own story, but today will feature just the best of them, in whose shadow is meditating a beautiful ceramic Buddha statue.

Buddha meditating under Ficus Religiosa  (Boo tree)  Bonsai

At one point we almost lost it due to an unexpected invasion of white flies in our room after we bought a new ficus retusa from a store. Indeed, was our mistake to bring home a plant and to put it in our room together with other plants without check it carefully against pests - another tough lesson to pay attention when you buy a plant ;(   Anyhow, we resolved quickly the problem spraying the plants with a diluted solution of insecticidal soap and monitored the plants in next couple of weeks, to be sure that we really rid off them.

 Ficus Religiosa  (Boo tree)  huge leaf heart shaped
Ficus religiosa heart-shaped leaf

Now, it is really healthy and I noticed an accelerated growth rhythm after the days become longer and warmer. My only concern is that we will have a long way until the tree will reduce its leaves. Believe me, the heart shaped leaves are really huge: most of them are between 10-15 cm long and 5-10 cm wide. But this will be another story - Ficus Religiosa Bonsai in progress.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Honda Celebration of Light 2012 - first show

Did you miss fireworks?

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, 1

I've  missed them so much, but tonight we enjoyed again the magic beauty of fireworks  lightening Vancouver's sky.  The weather was so generous with us, and we were really excited to see the pallete of  dancing lights amidst the waters.

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, 2

 2012's Vancouver's Light Fireworks Festival features 3 countries: this evening was Vietnam's Show, on August 1st will be Brazil's show and on August 4th Italy's show.

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, first nightHonda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, Vietnam night

The name of this year's festival is Honda celebration of Light because of the main sponsor of the competition: Honda. Of course, Province of BC, City of Vancouver, Tourism Vancouver, Vancouver Airport, Seaspan, Vancouver Sun, Telus, ICBC and many others partners bring their valuable contribution to make happen again this amazing festival, too.

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, Vietnam show

The Vietnam's light show started a little bit latter than 10p.m. (as per my watch), but like every year, the English Bay, Kitsilano Point and Jericho Beach were really packed with people waiting with patience for their favorite show.

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, Vietnam night 1

You may see,  in my previous post , pictures of 2010's  Vancouver's celebration of light  ' first night ,  and why not, to compare them with  2012's Vancouver's Light Fireworks Festival first show ;-)

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks Vancouver, Vietnam show1

I am always amazed to see the sky enlightened by dancing  fireworks among the moon and how the water is reflecting the rainbow of colors, don't you?

Honda Celebration of light 2012, fireworks among the moon on Vancouver's sky, Vietnam night

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ as Bonsai

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ is a very touchable looking plant, with silvery-grey deep-cut leaves with bitter taste and a mild camphor-spice fragrance. It is derived from Artemisia Absinthium (wormwood), one of the renowned "bitter herbs" mentioned in the Bible and Shakespeare's works Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet, used over the years to flavor Absinthe and other notorious liqueurs, wines and vermouth.

Artemisia Powis Castle bonsai (dwarf wormwood)

We like it because it is a dwarf variety of wormwood, and as you already know, we like to keep them in containers and bonsai pots. This plant was re-potted and  cut back to 20 centimeters in spring ( it is not recommended to cut it back in the fall).  

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ has an upright shrubby growing habit and its slender stems with downy whitish hairs become woody when aging. Last year it had a display of tiny yellow florets rising from its lace silvery foliage till late autumn, whose beauty is still unseen this summer, perhaps due the capricious and cold weather, although  it is a very suitable plant to be grown in Vancouver's mild climate (it is drought tolerant in sunny summer days and may be overwintered outside (USDA zone 6-9).

Artemisia Powis Castle silvery foliage (dwarf wormwood)

It really looks great in herb containers, and makes a beautiful Bonsai too.  We 've chosen this pot with greyish waves to match its foliage. How do you like it?

Artemisia Powis Castle bonsai in pot with greyish waves

Artemisia is a genus of plants from Asteraceae family, with many usages all over the world  in herbal medicine, essential oils, liqueurs and food industries.

Artemisia wormwood and Pelargonium southernwood foliage
Artemisia wormwood and Pelargonium southernwood foliage

Most popular are: Artemisia Dracunculus aka "Tarragon",  Artemisia tridentata aka "Sagebrush", Artemisia vulgaris  aka "Mugwort", Artemisia Abrotanum aka "Southernwood" (scent/foliage similar with  Pelargonium Abrotanifolium) , and, of course, Artemisia Absinthium  aka Wormwood .


Their leaves make always an impressive array of textures, colors and shapes and their fragrances and flavors have been  appreciated in any scented garden since ancient times.   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pelargoniums x Fragrans

Pelargonium x fragrans has an attractive foliage with spicy-nutmeg fragrance. There are many x fragrans varieties derived from the wild pelargonium fragrans, all of them prolific bloomers (a real delight for the foraging bees), drought resistant plants with soft, lobed, slightly undulated leaves.

Pelargonium xFragrans: tutti-fruity (left) and white-nutmeg (right)
Pelargonium x fragrans: Tutti-Fruity (left) and White-Nutmeg (right)

There are  many traits inherited from their parent, the true pelargonium fragrans, the most important being the smell of the leaves: a powerful nutmeg spicy scent having various fruity, chocolate, cloves undertones. Below are just some characteristics of the cultivars from our collection:

- Pink Nutmeg:
     * large rounded fan-shaped leaves with nutmeg-spicy flavor and a slightly chocolate undertone beneath the nutmeg fragrance.
     * short stems with greenish color when young which became woody when aging, having bushy growing habit with clusters of leaves starting freely almost from the same spot of  the stem
     * blooming from spring to autumn with clusters of pink flowers with dark red veins on the upper petals

Pelargonium xfragrans pink-nutmeg variety
Pelargonium x fragrans:  pink - nutmeg variety

- White Nutmeg:
     * large fan- shaped leaves with nutmeg-spicy  fragrance and a cloves undertone beneath the nutmeg fragrance,
     * stems with greenish color when young and became woody when aging, having a compact growing habit, columnar  (more than 50 cm high) with many branches.
     * prolific bloomer with umbels of white flowers with pink lines on the upper petals

Pelargonium xfragrans white-nutmeg variety
Pelargonium x fragrans on driftwood: White-Nutmeg variety

- Tutti - fruity :
     * green leaves with small, soft and crinkled undulated lobes exulting fruity-spicy  fragrance, with some cider undertones.
     *  dwarf cultivar with short stems with greenish- redish color when young and became woody when aging, having bushy growing habit with many branches
     * prolific bloomer with clusters of white flowers with pink lines on the upper petals

Pelargonium xFragrans: Tutti-Fruity  cultivar
Pelargonium x fragrans: Tutti-Fruity  cultivar

 - " Old Spicy" 
     * light green lobed leaves, larger than " Tutti-Fruity" cultivar but with similar fruity- spicy smell with cider undertones (is said that "Tutti-Fruity" is derived from it and inherited various traits from "Old Spicy" variety).
     * stems with greenish- redish color when young and became woody when aging, with freely columnar growing habit with many branches
     * prolific bloomer with clusters of white flowers ( larger than flowers of "Tutti-Fruity" cultivar, too)  with pink lines on the upper petals

Pelargonium x fragrans Old-spice cultivar

- " Apple - Nutmeg" 
     * a cross between pelargonium fragrans and pelargonium odoratissimum,
      * green leaves with small, soft and crinkled undulated lobes exulting  a sweet apple-nutmeg  fragrance,
     * bushy plant growing freely, making many short stems when young which became woody when aging,
     * prolific bloomer covered all the summer with clusters of small white flowers, flower buds and seed pods

Pelargonium x fragrans:  Apple - Nutmeg cultivar

Indeed, they come all shapes and sizes, all with fine undulated leaves and plenty of flowers.  Their smell has been fascinating me since first day when I've discovered them.  I can never define it exactly, and I always have fun discovering new perfume notes from the greater world of scented pelargonium  fragrances.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Peppermint Scented Pelargonium

Pelargonium Tomentosum  aka peppermint pelargonium / peppermint geranium is the best variety of mint-scented pelargonium from our collection. Even when raining (that seems to happen almost everyday in Vancouver), its velvety huge leaves are freeing a powerful warm-spicy fragrance of peppermint.

Pelargonium tomentosum - peppermint scented pelargonium
Pelargonium tomentosum  aka  peppermint scented pelargonium

I've promised to do a blog post about Pelargonium Tomentosum (peppermint geranium) when the plants will grow enough to try myself its foliage in my dishes. We started our plants from seeds ordered in South Africa last year and the plants are at maturity, so there is lots of trimmings to be used in cooking, potpourri or ointments.

The leaves are lobed, showy, with an angora-like texture, having a deep green color with gray hairy surface. They have some similarities to balsam scented pelargoniums: require water to encourage a healthy grow and  a neutral to alkaline well drained soil. They prefer a mid-day shade spot but enjoy also to capturing sunlight energy.  Believe me, their leaves are releasing a heavenly aroma in mint liqueur (creme de menthe) ,  pies, herbal teas or herb butter.

Pelargonium Tomentosum leaves capturing sunlight energy

Peppermint Pelargonium hairy leaves
Peppermint Pelargonium hairy leaves

Pelargonium Tomentosum is a rambling plant with vigorous growing habit, which may grow several feet height/ width, whose straggling shoots are spreading out in different directions, including horizontally. So... it is really difficult to decide how to shape them ;-)

Pelargonium tomentosum - peppermint geranium with rambling growing habit
Pelargonium tomentosum - peppermint geranium with rambling growing habit

I had to admit that peppermint pelargonium is a great ground-cover in garden landscape, or a leaf addition in hanging baskets and bedding plants. Their delicate fluffy white blossoms in summer are just a bonus, this plant remaining an exceptional useful and showy foliage-plant throughout the year.

Peppermint Pelargonium (tomentosum) fluffy flower buds and leaves
Peppermint Pelargonium  fluffy flower buds and leaves

Until we'll decide which is the most appropriate " bonsai style" to molding  our plants .. we are just considering them a delightfully fragrant herb with an amazing growing habit,  which has to have it at your fingertips year round.


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