Monday, October 8, 2012

Putting Down a Few Roots- A First Post

     Greetings, denizens of the internet. This is my first post, so bear with me; I'm new here. As this is a sort of introductory post, it may be a bit picture heavy, so I do apologize for that. Unless of course, you like picture heavy posts, in which case I won't be apologizing for myself at all.

     I've really only gotten into plants and gardening in the last 6 months, so my experience and expertise are both limited. I am also away at school, where I have very little opportunity to indulge in growing plants due to living constraints associated with living in a cave dorm room. However, I did recently visit home, which means I was able to check up on all my plants that I left behind in the very capable hands of my family. What follows is a bit of a recap on the plants that I've acquired over the past months and how they're doing, complete with shiny photos! Several photos were, however, taken with my phone, so I do apologize for quality or possible lack thereof. Enjoy!

     The first plant I bought, the plant responsible for the madness that has followed, was a small tray of hens and chicks (Sempivervum Tectorum) that I picked up on a whim while at Home Depot one day. The tight little rosettes of these curious little plants just seemed to catch my eye, so I took them home with me and potted them up! 
I also have an unhealthy obsession with mosses, but that is a topic best left for another post!
     My original planting looked pretty, but did not last long. Remember, I was new to this whole plant thing, so planting succulents with moss didn't seem to be that far-fetched of an idea. The moss unfortunately did not last long, and I was unable to rescue it. The hens and chicks took root almost immediately, although, and they're still doing ridiculously great.
Yeah, I'd say they're hangin' in there.
      These crazy plants took off like wild fire around mid-April, and have only just started slowing down here in early October. I replaced the moss with an assortment of Crassula Perforata which you can see in the background, and that has done fantastically as well. Semps, as well as succulents in general have become one of my favorite kinds of plants, and I will always have them in my garden. Also, the Semps multiply like rabbits, so they'll be there whether I want them to or not, it's just a happy coincidence that I like them so much.  
The good ol' Bucket O' Succulents!
     Just a quick mention about the pot- it's made of spun bamboo! I got it, as well as another, at Lowes, and they make a welcome break from the standard terra-cotta. They're also biodegradable and made from renewable sources, so that's great as well!

     And onto the next plant!

     Probably tied with the hens and chicks for my favorite plant so far is my little Haworthia Fasciata. I was given one by a co-worker and fellow plant-nut who worked at a local greenhouse, however, the poor, innocent little thing succumbed to the summer heat. After an appropriate period of mourning, I went out and got another, which I have been lovingly taking care of.

It's so cool.
     If I'm being honest I really didn't rush out to get another one after the first Haworthia croaked, but after seeing this stunning blog post, I was inspired to give it another try. Here's the picture that got me all excited for Haworthia again.
Photo courtesy of And don't worry, there'll be lots of posts on bonsai and kusamono. I'm into that, too.
     Mine isn't quite that beautiful yet, but the one above has been in that pot for four years, and is itself over four years old (the blog, which is excellent, is in Spanish, so I can't be sure.) One more pic of mine, though!
Dayum, lookit those tubercles! Got me all hot and bothered.
     Speaking of bonsai. . .
     I love it. Just the idea of little trees growing in pots is cool, and when you actually see them for yourself, you realize what works of art these beautiful plants are. I have been fascinated with bonsai for quite a while, but only got around to getting myself a tree this past spring. And yes it is a tree, but it is not yet a bonsai. It probably won't be for another fifteen years or so. That's the only down side to the art. It takes. . . forever. Also, to all you bonsai experts out there, I know I am not exactly doing things by the books, but I'm just an amateur, so I make do with what I have. To any experienced bonsai enthusiast, I'm sure my little stick-in-a-pot looks like some kind of franken-bonsai, risen from the depths of their darkest nightmares, but I'm quite fond of it myself. Oh, and by the way, it's a Ficus Benjamina, which means I should probably take it inside sometime soon. But, anyways, here you go!
The stone and avocado pit were both aesthetic additions made to composition by my little brother while I've been away. I figured that they're not really causing any harm, so there they remain.  
     Over the summer I experimented with wiring and defoliating and the like, and the poor little plant has taken it all. I really hope that I can keep this little guy going, because, although I know it's ugly as all get out, and will still be even once it grows into a mature bonsai, I'm really, really fond of it. It's weird. Kind of like a child so ugly only its mother can love it. And I do, oh so much. More pictures!
More moss! You will see that the little green stuff shows up in all sorts of places in my gardening adventures. 

Gnarly, yes?
     You might be thinking, "Aidan, those roots are hideous!" You are correct! But, know this: I have a plan. I have spread the roots over the rock so that they grow out and then down. Once the time comes to re-pot this sucker, I can plant it so that it is raised up out of the ground by its roots, sort of like a mangrove tree. It's actually a kind of bonsai growing style, I believe. So there. I'm not crazy.

     Moving onward!

     Also sort of on the topic of bonsai is my little pot of Portulacaria Afra, or elephant bush. Another succulent, I'm hoping to one day turn a few of these guys into bonsai as well.
Purty neat. 
      I've seen some pretty amazing examples of Portulacaria bonsai, and a quick search shows you just how versatile it is as a material for bonsai. A bit untraditional, but that's part of why it's so cool, in my opinion. I love how people can take something you wouldn't expect to make a good bonsai and turn it into a beautiful little tree.

     If we're speaking about bonsai, we must speak of kusamono as well. The literal translation of kusamono is "grass-thing", and traditionally they are exhibited alongside of bonsai trees in a formal display known as a tokonoma (although, when displayed next to a bonsai, it is referred to as a shitakusa; kusamono are meant for individual display only). I am not an expert, however, so all the above information may possibly be incorrect. It may be best to just look it up.
     Essentially, kusamono are just plants in pots. Or special arrangements of plants in pots. It's just the Japanese way of saying it, which it makes it sound much more fancy and complicated than it really is. The point is, I wanted to try my hand at kusamono, and so I looked around for a plant/plants that I thought I could make into an aesthetically pleasing piece, as I am told is the goal of the art of kusamono. Well, I found these skimpy little guys (Asparagus Plumosus) languishing in a dank little corner of the tropical plants section of Lowes, and brought them home.

They look so sad. . .
Also, the pot on the right is another one of those nifty bamboo pots. 
     Well, with proper feeding and watering and a nice shady spot on the deck, they grew into a monster that now weighs a bajillion pounds and is well over two feet across, and getting bigger. I planted them (now it) in a large, brown earthenware pot, and I couldn't be happier with how it has turned out. My little monstrous asparagus fern is now one of my favorite plants.
The photo (taken with my phone, unfortunately) really does not do the plant justice. 
     Now, I know it has been a long post, but I have just one more plant to show you! For my birthday this past August, I was given a HUGE trumpet jade that has been styled as a bonsai. I've done a bit of research on it, and apparently it is some sort of Crassula Ovata hybrid. I think the name that I've seen associated with it most is Crassula Ovata Gollum, or Crassula Ovata Convoluta Gollum, or just Gollum Jade, or Trumpet Gollum Jade. I simply like to refer to it as my big ass Crassula.
I'm a lucky guy. 
        Because I miss my plants so much while I'm off at college, I'm thinking about taking a cutting from the jade and bringing it with me when I go back, just to see how it does. I don't want to risk the whole thing dying because the conditions in my dorm room are not exactly ideal for growing plants. However, I have heard that this particular jade is extremely hardy and can survive deep shade, which would be perfect for my lair dorm. If it does well, I may bring the whole thing with me.

     But wait! One more picture! Here's a few of the chicks from my Semps that I snipped off and potted up.
Also starring, mystery succulent! (a variety of Crassula Perforata, snatched from the big bucket O' succulents.)

     Well, that's it. A brief recap of my plant mania up to the present day. Keep one eye open while you sleep. . . . you never know when I'll post next.

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