andre’s on vacation, but my clivia isn’t

orange clivia 2OUR BELOVED ANDRE THE DOODLER IS OFF this week, muttering something as he trudged out about summer “holiday” with “the Missus,” but my oldest orange Clivia, which normally blooms in April, is present and accounted for (above). So are a pair of gray foxes, who decided to spend last weekend with me eating apples off my trees. True. I have a photo to prove it (not great, but hey, they were way across the yard; at least I tried).

gray fox
Yes, the gray fox is some special animal. At first, when I looked up from my book-writing, I thought it was a young coyote, or a very big red fox, but the proportions and even the coloring were all wrong, I realized, though my binoculars. (Too bad I have no lens as long for my camera; the photo is a tiny spot cropped out of a big shot taken with a 300mm, all I could manage and not miss the chance, hence the graininess.)

What makes the gray fox special? Not rarity–though you don’t see them much, since they are neither nocturnal nor diurnal but crepuscular (meaning most active in the twilight of dawn and dusk). It’s their unusual claws. Thanks to hook-style claws that other dog relatives don’t possess, gray fox are one of only two canids who can climb trees. As in fruit trees, for instance, because these guys apparently like a fruit course with a summer meal of garden-fresh chipmunk. Amazing.

I got so excited I quickly emailed Jennifer Rae Atkins out in New Mexico, who draws a lot of mammals (and has challenged herself to draw every one on earth, all 5,000ish mammals on the planet, which even at one a day means she’s got 14-plus years of her own version of doodling ahead of her). But Jennifer quickly researched and drew the gray fox, which you can see here. I love the little extra touch she added in the foreground, and also that she said “this apple sniffer” is for me. Thank you!

As for the Clivia, you may recall I had divided it (about three years late, mea culpa), and each resulting plant is thriving on my back porch. So is my yellow one, but no blooms on it; it did its thing in more normal time, and is on a proper summer vacation of its own.

Andre will be back next Thursday; meantime you can see all his work here from the first nine months of our collaboration, or some of it in this slideshow from our six-month garden-doodle anniversary.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jayme. This is the easiest houseplant there is; my orange one has been with me more than 20 years (much more). Don’t fear it; start with an orange one and you will have a partner for life. See you soon!

  1. rose says:

    Lovely fox!

    I have had a clivia (a gift from a friend) since 1991. It never ever has bloomed inside, though I often see clivia blooming in other people’s windows in the spring. Mine only started to bloom when I moved to a house a few years ago and put it outside for the summer. Now it blooms every July.

  2. Tammy says:

    Wow, how exciting to see a gray fox AND get a picture!
    The orange clivia is beautiful, but I too have trouble with houseplants. However, that orange color is enticing me to change my mind. Love, love, orange.

  3. Orchidhunter says:

    I love foxes of all kinds. These are particularly cool.

    And being from South Africa, I naturally have a soft spot for clivias. Attending a full-on hardcore clivia show is an absolute must. There is so much more variation than just orange and yellow Clivia miniata.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I’m curious … how did the fox get onto your property? I thought you had deer fencing. Would that not keep a fox out?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Elizabeth. Under the fence. There’s no a lot of room, but in some uneven spots there is a little, and I think they can probably dig a bit, too. I have to go inspect the exact spot, but have been enjoying their visit so haven’t wanted tp send them packing quite yet (and there are plenty of fallen apples!).

  5. Heidih says:

    Oon the orange clivia- unless I I have the plants mixed up, this is a no-brainer underappreciated plant in Southern California. Once they are happy they just keep on providing lovely green foliage and then their brilliant blooms, with no gardening effort at all.

    Yes- the fox is way cool.

  6. Nancy says:

    Beautiful clivia, but wow – the fox is exciting indeed! Love that pointy nose! What does Jack the Cat think of gray foxes?

  7. Fred from Loudonville, NY says:

    The ORANGE clivia, the POOR relative of the YELLOW “Society” Clivia. Margaret’s phot makes me think of “Society Plants”. When I think of Society plants I think of forced paperwhite narcissus, orchids, amaryllis, allium, hellebores, espalied fruit trees, and the YELLOW clivia. All used TOO often in “High End” garden plantings. Photographed every season in “UP MARKET” shelter magazines. Some of the plants that I have just listed, I have enjoyed myself!

  8. rose says:

    For Jayme: I have to say that my clivia (a regular orange one) has been easy as pie. Not so willing to bloom inside, mind you, but lovely all the same. I am good with outdoor plants (except for the ones that die, of course) but I’m terrible with house plants. The clivia and I get along fine. Outside in the summer, it blooms. Inside in the winter, it leaf-s. And its leaves are lovely. It’s had numerous children, which I have cruelly separated from the mother plant with a bread knife, against all advice. They have all gone on to productive lives. I’ve even produced an offspring (not yet at blooming size, but soon) from a seed. I highly recommend the clivia as a trouble free, easy, and very well-behaved house plant. And if you know someone with one, they will soon want to give you one. I’ve got a new baby coming on, should you be in the Toronto area!!

    1. Margaret says:

      Hello, Andre. Hope that you the The Missus and Pickle are having a great week. Yes, foxes are beautiful…such expressive faces. They came back yesterday late day for more apples, just after I finished mowing, and brought…yes…Baby.

      The day had begun with a woodchuck falling in the frogpond, so all in all Animal Planet nonstop. Will save the swimming groundhog/groundhog relocation photos for another week, in case you need another vacation. :)

  9. poochiemac says:

    Ahh, Margaret, just yesterday I was wondering if you took “swimming furry pig” photos…. Wow, your place is just one big documentary. Never a dull moment in Cupcake Falls!

  10. Marie says:

    My mom, in Cape Town, has masses of clivia growing in the shady parts of her garden. They are positively stunning when in bloom in the Southern Hemisphere’s September spring.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Marie. I have seen whole stand of Hippeastrum, or Amaryllis, in Southern gardens, too, and Clivia in California, and been wowed, being a Northern girl. That kind of September sounds beautiful as you describe it. Thanks for visiting, and do come again soon.

  11. Carol says:

    My clivia bloomed about a month ago. It was very potbound (is it one of those plants that prefer that?) I went ahead and divided it and all the divisions are happy, except for some yellow leaves. The clivia has endured some neglect and many of the older leaves are yellowed, with green veins. I’m assuming some fertilizer is in order, but would like to know if those leaves don’t “green up” should I cut them off at the base?

  12. graes says:

    Wow. I am a latecomer to your site just starting to really enjoy your blogs and gradually going through your archives. When we were living in Canada, I had this as a houseplant and enjoyed the blooms for weeks, not really knowing its name. I had to give it to friends since we were not allowed to bring plants across the border and I miss it. Hope I will be able to find another one soon. :-)

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