Propeller Plant

Courageous, unconventional, beautiful:

Not a proper lady.

In 1928, she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic – as a passenger.

She piloted a Lockheed Vega5B – solo – across the pond in 1932.

Her final voyage took her 22,000 miles to New Guinea. And we never heard from her again.

Amelia Earhart famously said, “There is more to life than being a passenger.”

Crassula falcata, Propeller plant;
We imagine the aviatrix would have had this in her garden, had she spent more time on the ground.


A Delicious Mutton Stew

After a full day of exploring the lighthouse, I accepted his invitation. Wonderful aromas wafted from the kitchen as I stole a glance in his direction.
He plucked some fuzzy leaves from a pot on the windowsill and breathed deeply.   Then he offered them to me.
After a moment’s hesitation, I obliged.
“Mmmmmm…. Smells wonderful, what is it?”
He chopped the leaves and dropped them in the mutton stew simmering over an open flame
“Plectranthus amboinicus” he replied.
Plectranthus amboinicus is native to South and East Africa. Also known as Cuban Oregano, Mexican Mint, or Spanish Thyme,  It can be found growing in coastal bush, rocky slopes, or sandy flats at low elevations.
It also thrives in containers and should be protected from frost in winter.

In Barcelona – in your honor!



The little pot was on her balcony in Barcelona; the plant grown from a tiny cutting she smuggled in her purse on the day they met.

Park Güell is the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude, which belongs to his naturalist phase” the guide had said.

But Cory wasn’t paying attention.

“Dedos” a man with very dark eyes whispered in English, “That’s what we call the plant you are stealing,” She felt her face flush. He smiled, “And the tips turn red in the sun — just like you.


Sedum pachyphyllum: also called Dedos, Many Fingers, Jelly Bean Plant. It’s a reliable rock garden or potted plant that grows to a maximum height of 9” to 12” and can take cold to 20F.

And yes, the sun brings out it’s red blush!

Talavera Pottery

It is impossible to visit Guanajuato without falling in love with Talavera, and when you’ve seen the real thing, you will not accept an imitation.

The pottery is made from a sifted earth that is mixed and molded and sanded and fired twice — once to harden the clay, and once to develop the vibrant patterns. The technique has been refined over generations — the first Talavera was brought to Mexico from Spain in the early 1600’s.

She laughed when she saw me sketching her work —it was a generous laugh.

I watched a woman, famous for her craft, deftly outline an intricate pattern that she filled with colored glazes. The shades of blue and gold, green and red were muted; the real colors would be revealed after the piece had been fired for ten hours.

My attempts at copying her art were laughable. She made a gift of a beautiful traditional planter. Each year I display my favorite blooming cactus in it.


Aloe Vera

It’s cultivated across much of the world for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Its origins are mysterious. It has been transplanted so widely, its ancestral home is a matter of debate: Sudan or the Arabian peninsula? These regions have been suggested because they host similar native Aloes. Locations further afield have also been considered — perhaps the Canary Islands?

An international coalition of scientists from the UK, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Ethiopia and South Africa, led by Olwen Grace of London’s Kew Gardens and Nina Rønsted of the University of Copenhagen, attempted to solve the mystery by assembling a comprehensive genetic sampling of members of the Aloe genus.


“Tell me professor” he was holding a vigorous specimen, “what do you think?”

He smiled, amused by my curiosity, “We’ll never know for sure, but we believe Aloe vera originated on the Arabian peninsula — the northernmost extreme of the Aloe’s natural range.

It’s ancient popularity,” he explained, “is apparent in it’s spread along trade routes.”

I nodded. I’ve seen it’s fleshy leaves sold in Manhattan’s best markets. I’ve sold it to San Francisco cooks to sooth burns. It thrives in my coastal garden.