Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) is a fir native to the mountains south and east of the Black Sea, in Turkey, Georgia, Russian Caucasus and northern parts of Armenia. It occurs at altitudes of 900-2,200 m on mountains with a rainfall of over 1,000 mm. It is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 60 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 2 m. In the Western Caucasus Reserve, some specimens have been reported to be 78 m and even 85 m tall, the tallest trees in Europe. The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 1.8-3.5 cm long and 2 mm wide by 0.5 mm thick, glossy dark green above, and with two blue-white bands of stomata below. The tip of the leaf is usually blunt, often slightly notched at the tip, but can be pointed, particularly on strong-growing shoots on young trees. The cones are 10-20 cm long and 4-5 cm broad, with about 150-200 scales, each scale with an exserted bract and two winged seeds; they disintegrate when mature to release the seeds. Nordmann Fir is one of the most important species grown for Christmas trees, being favoured for its attractive foliage, with needles that are not sharp, and do not drop readily when the tree dries out.
Achillea millefolium or yarrow is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. Nice deep reddish-pink flowers in flat 2 – 6″ clusters in June to September. Yarrow has seen historical use as a medicine, often because of its astringent effects. Decoctions have been used to treat inflammations, such as hemorrhoids, and headaches. Confusingly, it has been said to both stop bleeding and promote it. Infusions of yarrow, taken either internally or externally, are said to speed recovery from severe bruising. The most medicinally active part of the plant is the flowering tops. They also have a mild stimulant effect, and have been used as a snuff. Today, yarrow is valued mainly for its action in colds and influenza, and also for its effect on the circulatory, digestive, excretory, and urinary systems. In the nineteenth century, yarrow was said to have a greater number of indications than any other herb.
Alpinia zerumbet variegata also named, Alpinia speciosa, Alpinia nutans, Costus zerumbet, Zerumbet speciosum, Shell Ginger, is in the Ginger family and is native tropical China, Japan, India, Indo-China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Shell-flower was first botanically referred to as Alpinia speciosa but has been standardized Alpinia zerumbet. This plant is an evergreen tropical perennial. Typically, variegated shell ginger grows to about 6 feet tall in the greenhouse and 3-4’ tall as a houseplant, which is not as large as the non-variegated species, Alpinia zerumbet, which can grow to as much as 12 feet tall; and therefore more suitable as a container plant. This beautiful tropical plant is becoming a popular tropical house plant as well as a landscape plant in warmer climates. Alpinia zerumbet variegata flowers are similar to Alpinia malaccensis but are distinguished from other members of the Ginger family by the fact that its flowers droop from the ends of leafy stems rather than rise directly from plant rhizomes. The fragrant flowers are waxy; light pink flower buds open to tubular flowers with yellow inside lips and red throats. It is commonly called Shell Ginger or Shell Flower because its individual shell pink flowers, particularly when in bud, ressemble sea shells. The plant produces lance-shaped green leaves to 2 feet long and 5 inches wide. The leaves are strikingly variegated with irregular stripes of green and yellow. The habit is upright and does not require staking as do some other members of the family. It produces fleshy rhizomes that have a ginger-like aroma. Prune as needed to control plant size. Hardiness zones 8-11, (5ºC/40ºF, -10ºC/15ºF) in Winter. It won’t flower if its gets frost. The plant will die back with freezing temperatures. In cold climates, rhizomes can be dug up and stored indoors for the Winter in vermiculite. As a houseplant, it must have bright light and humid conditions. They do well in any good garden soil that is rich in organic matter, and regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer will keep this plant healthy. This plant usually has few pest problems but the leaves will brown on the edges if the soil is not kept moist or if touched by frost. Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings. Part shade is ideal for this plant, it appreciates some afternoon shade in hot summer climates.
Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catnip, catswort, or catmint, is a species native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia, and parts of China. It is also widely naturalized in northern Europe, New Zealand, North America, etc.
Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) is a North American species of flowering plant in the sunflower family. It is native to eastern North America and present to some extent in the wild in much of the eastern, southeastern and midwestern United States as well as in the Canadian Province of Ontario. Depending on the climate, it blooms throughout spring to late summer.
The Ficus retusa, also known as Ficus microcarpa nitida and Taiwan Ficus, is among the most tolerant, versatile and trouble-free bonsai trees for indoor use. It is a native of Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries. Ficus retusa grows to about 30-60 feet in the wild, but it is easily trained as a bonsai. It is an ideal tree to use for beginners.
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