I know from comments on my own blog and catching up with many of yours, that I'm not alone in being mad on plants!
It struck me when I was making miniature versions, that plants really can surprise us - often in the beauty of an individual flower that appears from the most modest or mundane looking bunch of leaves, or the weirdest floral offering imaginable.
I took a look at my own conservatory....far too wet to be poking about outside at the moment......and realised that my first surprising plant was in flower. Billbergia Nutans (or its offspring) has been in our family for so long that we call it 'Bill'. 'Bill' is a bromeliad and for about 11 1/2 months of the years a pretty boring clump of spikey green leaves that thankfully thrives on neglect. But once a year it bursts into mad and exhuberant flower - striped in navy blue, pink and bright green with long anthas that shed bright pollen everywhere.
And along comes the snapdragon. As far as I was concerned snapdragons were a favourite cottage garden plant that grew just about anywhere and boasted a huge variety of colours. Then years ago a friend gave me seeds of a climbing snapdragon.
It is the same family but is more accurately a Maurandia. She can out-climb just about anything and is currently doing her best to choke the Strelitzia (2nd and 3rd flowers now out and two more to come) and take over the conservatory. Not frost hardy I shall have to disentagle her take her outside with her support for the summer.
By then big fat seed capsules will have sprayed seeds everywhere and there will be lots of seedlings nestling in other pots. Some will be planted outside to climb away for the summer.
This somewhat ordinary pot of fern seedlings is surprising because when I repotted several orchids last autumn some of the old and decomposing bark towards the bottom of the translucent plant pots appeared to be growing juvenile ferns. Very odd, especially as I'd assumed the commercial orchid compost - i.e. the bark - was sterilised. Anyway, long story short, I potted up some bits of the bark and they're growing away very happily. They look like native ferns to me so hopefully can be moved to the garden in the spring.
If you've been popping in for a few weeks you'll have see my miniature greenhouse - the structure of which was made by my very clever husband using a brass and glass terrarium purchased back in the day from a charity shop as pattern/inspiration. I was going to give it to a charity shop, but hesitated - I am a hoarder!!
I knew that even a small plant in there would soon outstrip its confines but an airplant might not. I last had one as a teenager and finally covered in dust my mother consigned it to the bin. I suppose I never realised then that the poor thing did at least need a little water now and again.
Anyway a visit to a local garden centre having a sale provided, for next to nothing, just what I needed. And of course I have bits old wood and fungus (all sterilised) lurking about so I had just the bits to mount it on. Apart from the fact that it is really difficult to photograph because the backing is a mirror - it works brilliantly.
And finally....yes this is a shadow.
I was given a super Christmas present of orchids and promised to send a picture as they flowered. Took the photo as the light was fading and my husband spotted this fabulous shadow on the wall............a little bird ( I like to think it's a robin) appears to be sitting in the branches. Magic.
However, perhaps the most surprising plants of all are the incredible miniatures that our finest artisans create using nothing more than paper, polymer clay and wires. I am in awe of you all.
Thanks for looking