Thursday, May 14, 2009

You can't be right every time.

No, you can't be right every time and this has been proved to us twice this week. The first time was with our little cat Paco. Thinking wrongly that a kitten opens its eyes at around four weeks, (I should know, having had many litters pass through my hands over the years) I had worked out with the lady who found him that Paco was five to six weeks old when I got him last weekend. So I took him along to the vet yesterday to have his first set of injections so he can go outside, only to be told that in fact kittens open their eyes at two weeks old, making him only a bare five weeks now. He is very tiny still as you can see here. He huddles up in one little corner of his bed and it's hard to believe he will ever fill it. But being orphaned (abandoned) so very young he has learned very quickly to be independent, and he makes us laugh when he rolls around playing with anything and everything. Anyway, the vet decided he was too small for his injections just yet so we have to take him back at the end of next week, and poor Paco will have to stay indoors for bit longer yet. Which is probably just as well. He is so nosy and he would probably end up in the pool if I let him out there now!
Our second mistake was in the garden. We have a large plant in a pot that looks just like a banana tree. It has the same oval leaves that get dried by the wind and quickly shred into separate fronds, and it is about the right size too. We have been watching with interest two fat buds that appeared in the centre some time ago. These started to swell this week and as they opened they dripped large amounts of clear gel onto the stones below. I couldn't see how they were going to produce a 'banana flower' and when they finally opened on Tuesday I realised that it wasn't a banana plant at all! At first it sent out three pointed white 'petals' with a pale lilac blue separate tongue that had stamens at its base. The next day there were three more white petals and today more are trying to get out. I didn't know what it was, but searching the net I have identified it as a 'strelitzia alba, or strleitzia nicolai' or white bird of paradise flower. Now I know that's what it is, I can see that it is exactly like the more common orange bird of paradise flower that is in pots and tubs everywhere here, and is also sold as an exotic plant for conservatories etc in England, except the white one is bigger. I found the information about it on a page about banana plants, so perhaps they are related. Anyway I have enjoyed watching it develop over the past few weeks.
I haven't a lot of news this week so I will finish with a couple more shots of the garden. Our hibiscus had nine flowers on it today. That's the most so far and it looked so lovely. The flowers will have died by tomorrow but I am sure more will be out to take their place.
Another plant we have been watching for ages is this pink one which is on our land but just beyond the fence. I think I have told you before that it is an Oleander, and therefore very poisonous. But it is also very beautiful and I only want to look at it, not eat it! The buds are very slow to open but there are quite a few flowers out now and they remind me rather of a double bizzie-lizzie. As you can see, there are loads of buds on it, so it will go on looking beautiful for a long time yet. This is one of the more ornamental varieties, and it also has variegated leaves. The more usual one has dark green leaves and single flowers in shades of white, through pink to deep red. It is very common here and is often planted down the central reservation of the motorways. Apparently this is to discourage wild animals such a deer from wandering onto the main roads, as they know it is poisonous so they won't eat it. So right now there is a lovely show of colour as you drive along. The ones on our bit of motorway are nearly all the same pink as ours, and they are just coming into bloom.

P.S. Since posting this blog I have been looking up more information on my exotic garden plant, and I have learnt that whereas the common orange bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) grows to around 3 feet in height, the white one can reach 20 feet! Hence it is often referred to as the giant strelitzia. Of course ours will never be that big as it is confined to a pot. It also has much broader, rounder leaves than the orange variety. And it did say that strelitzia are close relations of the banana family, so my first idea wasn't so far off the mark after all. Isn't the internet wonderful!

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