Sunday, 28 October 2018

Yucca Gloriosa in flower ....

We have three variegated 'Spanish Dagger' plants (Yucca Gloriosa) in the garden, two of which we bought quite small and planted in the ground five or so years ago, and a third that self-spawned from one of those two originals. 

This third plant just appeared above ground one day next to its parent, around three years ago, and after a while we lifted it and potted it on (where it's doing well, and it actually seems to be giving birth to a fourth plant judging from a small side shoot forming at the edge of its pot).

From the growth rate of this third plant, and the size it is now compared to the originals at the time we bought them, I'd say the big two must be around 8 years old.   

The mature plants issue many new leaves from their centres each year, and as the lower leaves fold outwards and trail below the horizontal I usually first cut them with a sharp knife and then pull them off the plant completely, which forms an ever increasing height of 'trunk' on the plant as it grows into a more tree-like form.  

The broad leaf edges are very sharp, and there's also a needle point on the end, so their common name is very apt - they can be quite dangerous to be near and to handle, so they're maybe not suitable plants if you've young children. 

Anyway, this year, and obviously spurred on by a warmer summer, one of them has flowered !

We've seen it's quite a slow process for the yucca to come into flower.  We first noticed a spike rising from the centre around the beginning of August, which gradually lengthened and thickened while developing large red buds which remained tightly folded against the stem.

25-Aug-18, flower spike clearly visible

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Madeira ...

We've just returned from a holiday on the island of Madeira, which is a place we'd never visited before. 

As keen gardeners, we'd heard about its ideal conditions for growing just about anything, and so we came here to see for ourselves and also maybe to identify another potential location for our longer winter breaks in the future.

Madeira's quite upmarket compared to some of the holiday destinations we've visited.  There's not much in the way of sandy beaches, and access to the sea can be difficult to find since there are high cliffs around much of the coastline.  And there's a lot of steep hills to negotiate if you're on foot, so some form of motorised transport is a must if you want to explore places off the beaten track.

There's an extensive modern road system linking the major settlements via dual-carriageways with long tunnels and bridges to cut through the mountains and cross the deep valleys between, although we generally travelled more leisurely on the older roads which wind around the mountains with spectacular views but greatly extended journey times.

the Via Rapide from the Funchal botanical gardens

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Investment Review - September 2018

The year marches on - we're already past the equinox and heading into the gloom of winter, but I'm drafting this post from a ninth-floor hotel balcony overlooking the sea so it still feels very much like summer at the moment.
Here's the combined portfolio update as of the last working day In September :-