Many gardeners lead elemental lives, working as we do with Earth (soil), Water (rain), Air (fresh or otherwise) and Fire (sun). These each in their own way figure into the prosperity (or difficulties) in our gardens. Today, it is Water and Air that are on my mind. No question what the Water element refers to, as those of us in the Bay Area are being inundated with rain. Today the Air element refers to Air plants, better known as Tillandsias. We have been selling a lot of them at our Grand Lake Ace nursery, I've been using them in XMas gift terrariums and my own collection continues to grow. So to celebrate this versatile bromeliad, here are photos of a variety of species, some taken of individual plants and a few shown in artistic creations. These photos are all from the web.
T. butzii. One of the easier air plants to find, this simple but beguiling species makes a great upright plant for a terrarium
T. fuchsii. I'm not familiar with this one but I love the look and the way it was photographed here. It reminds me a bit of my T. tectorum (see below) because of its wispy 'branches.'
T. funkiana. This colorful little guy is indeed bringing the funk! Love its delicate foliage then the bright, bright flowers.
T. oaxacana. As the species name implies, this beauty hails from Oaxaca Mexico. I love the silver and pink combination.
Tillandsia recurvata. Here's an interesting way to use tillandsias. They've simply been attached to what looks like a fence-like structure and are growing there. Lovely.
T. ionantha rubra. Again, the variety name is self explanatory. This specimen has almost finished blooming (can you spot the tubular purple flowers?). It's always a nice bonus when the foliage on a particular tillandsia adds a bit of color.
T. acostae. This hardy, stiff-leaved species is found from Mexico south to El Salvador. Here we see the 'spears,' which have yet to open their flowers.
T. stricta hard form. Tillandsia stricta is one of the most popular of all tillandsias. This picture illustrates why. It's easy to grow and a prolific bloomer. Many mature tillandsias form these large masses, which when they eventually bloom, put on quite a show.
Oops, wrong picture. No, just kidding. This is T. usneoides, sometimes call the goat's beard tillandsia for its cascading lichen-like structure. Easy to grow, it's a great way to add texture to one's garden or art display.
T. utricularia. I couldn't find out much about this fabulous species, except that it may grow in the Florida everglades. Anyone know more?
Tillandsia wreath. Here's one way to express one's creativity. Whether displayed during the holidays or at any other time of the year, this kind of wreath is fun and easy to make.
T. xerographica. One of the most unique, and largest, of the tillandsias, Xerographicas make an immediate statement with their silvery, wide, recurved leaves. The larger ones can get immense, up to two feet across.
Here's another artistic creation using tillandsias. This was fashioned using a branch of grapewood. Air plants may be safely fixed to various surfaces using Liquid Nails or Wood glue.
T. bergii. One of the easiest air plants to grow, Tillandsia bergii will eventually form a long chain. There is no end to the ways you can secure air plants to surfaces, as this photo demonstrates.
Here's another clump of Tillandsia ionantha. This clump looks to have been started on (secured to) a chain link fence.
Tillandsia art installation, Bardessono Hotel, Napa Valley CA. Designed by Flora Grubb and Seth Boor and constructed by SmithBuilt, this wall sculpture makes a fabulous artistic statement.
T. stricta making itself at home in a sea urchin. Simple but elegant!
T. tectorum. One of my favorite tillandsias and one that is fabulous to gaze upon even when not in bloom, this silver spidery tillandsia is too fabulous for words.