Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dog's Day Out

 Brants, Branta bernicula, down from Alaska for the Winter.

 Enjoying the sun and the company.

 Quite the social pair!

 Western Grebe

Western Meadowlark

A bright sunny day after all that rain.  The parking lot was a muddy mess but the doggies were having a great time at the dog park as were the humans!  The migratory birds are down from Alaska and Canada for the Winter.  What's not to like.  Looks like more rain on Tuesday but clear sailing until then!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

SoNo Fest and Chili Cook-off

The  SoNo Fest and Chili Cook-off could not have chosen nicer weather for their chili-loving fans.  Thorn Street was a mass of people trying out just about every sort of chili you could imagine.  Some of them were really amazing including my favorite, the entry from Soda and Swine made of short ribs, milk stout, guajillo peppers and 70% dark chocolate chili!  There were vegan entries, chicken entries, a kahlua pig-Hawaiian entry, a shrimp chili, a prime rib chili, a short rib chili, a venison chili, a green chili chicken version from Urban Solace (my #2 choice.  yum!) and more other varieties than you could imagine.

Of course, this being North Park, the pets were out in force, also enjoying the fine weather and festive mood.  $20 got you a hand made ceramic sampler bowl from the local pottery school/shop and a wrist band which allowed you to go up and down the booths sampling chili until you pretty much rolled out of there.  I truly doubt that anyone left there hungry and it was a great way to survey some of the local restaurants, most of whom had booths on the street and their own variety of chili.


A huge turnout of hungry patrons.


One happy dog, keeping a keen eye on her human's chili!


The Grinch rocking out the North Park crowd


Thursday, December 04, 2014

San Diego AOS Judging Center Awards for December 2014

 Ctsm expansum 'SVO Midori' AM/AOS

 Fdk Enter Dark 'SVO Red Burgundy' AM/AOS

 Lepanthes telipogoniflora 'DMH' HCC/AOS

 Mormodes Virgin del Valle 'SVO Dark Horse' AM/AOS

 Phal Chiada Stacy 'Sweetheart' HCC/AOS

 Phal Sun Jye Diamond 'Peacock' JC/AOS

Telepogon intis 'DMH' AM/AOS

Monday, December 01, 2014

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, waiting for a spot at the feeder

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, waiting for a spot at the feeder.  This is the longest the Allen's Hummingbirds have ever stayed, going well into the Winter.  Normally, they've headed down to Mexico and warmer climates by now.  It could be those two huge feeders I have out back...

Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Have Blooming Orchids Every Day of the Year???

Orchids are generally seasonal, blooming at the same time each year (roughly).  The exception is those Phalaenopsis that you find blooming in the grocery store, hardware store, etc. which are forced into bloom through chilling and are therefore available in bloom all year round.  If not forced, most Phalaenopsis would bloom in the Spring through Summer time frame (March-June) [a story for another day].  In any case, if you buy your orchids in bloom and you space your purchases throughout the year, assuming they bloom at the same time the next year, you will typically have something in bloom pretty much all the time!  Of course, buying orchids like Phalaenopsis or Cymbidiums with flowers that last a month or more helps as well.  

One last tidbit.  People complain that they cannot get their Phalaenopsis to re-bloom in the home.  Phalaenopsis benefit from a 10 degree drop in the Fall time frame (or really whenever you're trying to force them to bloom).  Once the new flower spike starts to emerge, you can return the temperature to something more people friendly.  When I lived in "cold country" I used a programmable setback thermostat to drop the temperature by 10 degrees during the day (while I was at work) and raised the temperature back up to the 70's when people were around.  The Phalaenopsis would bloom en masse in the Spring.  In theory, you could do this at any time of year.  However, I did it in the Fall/Winter when I could just turn down the heat during the day.  If you wanted to force them into spike when it is warmer, just pop them in front of a swamp cooler or an air conditioning vent for a week or two.

Here are the Fall bloomers from the greenhouse.

Bulbophyllum rothschildianum 'Red Chimney' FCC/AOS 

Dendrobium victoria-regina 

Dendrochilum cobbianum album 

Dendrichilum cobbianum (this one with a nice orange lip!) 

Laelia anceps 'Mendenhall' X L. anceps 'Newberry Princess' 

 Pleurothallis cardiothallis

Stanhopea impressa 

Stanhopea occulata (this one smells like Andes Mints!)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sweet Gum or Liquid Amber Tree


The Neighbor's Liquid Amber Tree had one deep red branch of leaves in a sea of yellow leaves. Perhaps that was a younger branch, or otherwise in a different stage of development when the cooler weather rolled in?  In any case, there's something strangely uplifting about taking in the bright fall colors, similar that feeling of excitement when you look at a really cool flower or animal or an amazing piece of art!  You can, for an instant, forget about all your worries and cares and just revel in the beauty of nature.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A nice afternoon at the San Diego Safari Park

Yes, it's freezing in much of the continental U.S. (the Polar Vortex strikes again!) at the moment, but it's still sunshine and warm afternoons here in sunny San Diego.  The animals at the Safari Park tend to enjoy the cooler weather and are more active (less of the curled up in a hidden corner of the exhibit type of thing...).  As an added bonus, the park tends to be a bit slower, as most people are home gearing up for the holidays, not to mention the afternoon Charger's game, so the lines tend to be short or non-existent and the crowds at the exhibit are a little smaller.  As an added bonus, the migratory waterfowl are starting to arrive from Canada and Alaska, some of them settling into the large lake at the Safari Park, including some pintails and ruddy ducks.  Most of them have figured out how to beg for duck food along with their captive cousins, so there's quite the commotion down at the lake.  Throw in some of the cutest baby cheetahs and the new tiger exhibit, and it made for a fun afternoon!  For all of you in the cold North, stay warm and stay safe.  Our thoughts are with you.

 Baby Cheetahs!  There were two separate groups of baby cheetahs.  The larger group is shown here, having a meal with Mom.

 Common Galinule


 Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec, a tiny mammal from Southwestern Madagascar.  While it looks similar, it is not related to the true hedgehog.


Sumatran tiger, enjoying the afternoon sun.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Aztec Fireworks over Qualcomm Stadium

Some amazing Aztec fireworks last night at Qualcomm Stadium, just visible over Kensington, from the back yard. They put on quite a spectacular show!  You can see the palm trees of Kensington in the bottom of the photo. It's a weird effect, as it looks like they were launching fireworks at ground level when really, they're being launched way down in Mission Valley. I can only imagine the view some of the people in Kensington must have!

American Orchid Society San Diego Judging Center November 2014 Awards

Encyclia dichroma 'Arnie' AM/AOS.  A nice, flat specimen of a somewhat uncommon species.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit, called Pitahaya or Pitaya in Asia, is the fruit of the Hylocereus cactus.  This one still shows the remnants of the glorious white flower which typically lasts only a day, to be replaced by the bright red fruit.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Blooms Around The House

 Cattleya bowringiana variety coerulea 'Blue Angel' HCC/AOS.  This is a "blue" variety of the normally lavender species (see below), caused by a rare genetic mutation.


 Cattleya guttata variety coerulea


 Cattleya bowringiana (tipo)


 Hoya australis.  This one is super fragrant at night!


 Laelia pumila (sib cross)


Paphiopedilum henryanum 


 Paphiopedilum sukhakulii variety album.  The is an albino variety of this normally black spotted species!


Phalaenopsis Ox Happy Girl 'Sweetheart'

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hummingbird Wars!

Allen's and Anna's Hummingbirds fighting over a prime perch.  The Allen's hummingbirds are a little smaller than the Anna's Hummingbirds but make up for it by being extra feisty!

 Allen's hummingbird rushing off to chase another hummingbird, while defending it's perch.


 Allen's hummingbird chasing an Anna's hummingbird.


Anna's hummingbird defending itself from the little Allen's hummingbird (see the talons up above).