Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fleur de Lys Before and After - You've Come A Long Way Baby

October first is just around the corner so we are finishing up the last few villa preparations for her new residents.  It's been fun to revisit some of the early photos to appreciate just how far she's come:

Courtyard before and after

Front of house before and after

Driveway before and after

Back of house before and after

All images by pepperkeystacie

Sunday, September 26, 2010

TCI Environmental Club Native Vegetation Rescue

Saturday was a very busy day on the islands "thinking green" front.  As well as being International Coastal Clean-up Day, the TCI Environmental Club had our first native vegetation rescue mission.  The group of approximately 15 people met at 8am at the NEC where we saw the nursery and took a peak at many of the young plants there.  Brian Naqqi, the groups founder and a walking encyclopedia book of knowledge and information, took the time to show us around and answer questions.

All images by pepperkeystacie

After arriving on site, Naqqi demonstrated how to properly remove orchids and pointed out a few species to be on the look out for, poisonwood included!  The group got started by spreading out into the bush, then someone would find something notable and we would gather around to see it and hear Naqqi explain that particular plants characteristics.  The morning was a delight; I learned a great deal and had so much fun while helping save some of the Turks and Caicos Islands treasured plantlife.  Here is Naqqi's own detailed summary of the day's events:

We had a great morning today, 25 September, collecting native plants from a development area. Many of these plants are globally threatened or endangered, or endemic to the TCI and Bahamas, so have a restricted worldwide range. Plants that were too big to relocate and bearing ripe fruit (two species) were rescued by seed collecting. Collecting largely focused on epiphytes, particularly Encyclia orchids and Tillandsia air plants.
The morning was great fun and I'm certain everyone learned a lot, I know I did! I think we all shared our experiences, knowledge, and familiarity with the bush and a passion for TCI's plants.

During collection, plants were tagged with their botanical name, collection date, and area of provenance. After the collection, we moved the plants to DECR's Endangered and Endemic Plant Rescue Nursery at the National Environmental Centre, where they were potted, counted, tagged, and catalogued.
Our rescue saved the following numbers and species of plants from likely destruction:

Air plants:

Dog-drink-water, Tillandsia utriculata: 25 plants

Flexuous wild pine, Tillandsia flexuosa: 2 plants

Cuttlefish airplant, Tillandsia balbisiana: 2 plants

Silvery wild pine, Tillandsia circinnata: 3 plants

Tall Encyclia, Encyclia altissima (CITES Appendix II Endangered; TCI & Hispaniola endemic): 32 plants!!

Inagua Encyclia, Encyclia inaguensis (CITES Appendix II Endangered; TCI and Inagua endemic): 1 plant

Encyclia (what we think are natural hybrids, likely E. altissima x E. caicensis), (CITES Appendix II Endangered; TCI endemic, rare): 5 plants

Frogwood, Guettarda krugii: 1 plant

Pigeon plum, Coccoloba diversifolia: 1 plant

Buffalo top, Thrinax morrisii (experimental move): 1 plant

Dildo cactus, Pilosocereus royenii (CITES Appendix II Endangered): 7 plants

Lignum vitae, Guaiacum sanctum (CITES Appendix II Endangered, Caribbean basin endemic): over 200 plants

Wild frangipani, Plumeria obtusa: 7 plants

Millspaugh's century plant: Agave millspaughii (TCI and Bahamas endemic): 3 plants

Havana star vine, Jacquemontia havanensis: 2 plants

Seed collections:

White ebony, Hypelate trifoliata (Caribbean basin endemic)

Whitewood, Drypetes diversifolia (TCI, Bahamas, and Florida endemic)
Also collected was the important find of a reproductive body (mushroom) of the mycorrhizal fungus associated with Encyclia orchids. This might now be identified to further our understanding of TCI's botanical ecology.
Thanks to everyone who attended and helped out:

Jessica Hall, Tamara Hall, Brenda Clare, Stacie Steensland, Beth Ann Neis, Phil Neis, Denise Elmerich, Sonya Grant, Magali LeChavallier, Samuel Fenelus, Marlon Hibbert, and Eric Salamanca.

Special thanks to Denise Elmerich for willing to let your truck get dirty to carry lots of plants, and to Brenda Clare for showing us all a great example of preserving existing native vegetation for use in home landscaping.
We hope to have more activities coming up soon, and thanks for your participation!
B Naqqi Manco


Saturday, September 25, 2010

International Coastal Clean Up Day

Image from here

 "In partnership with organizations and individuals across the globe, Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Clean-Up engages people to remove trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways, identify the sources of debris, and change the behaviors that cause marine debris in the first place. Join us this September 25: Sign up for a Cleanup near you and get involved today!"

  Unfortunately TCI is not listed in the options menu under country locations but regardless, please visit your local beach and lift the litter!  If you pick-up litter on a consistent basis, or would like to, please contact me to join a new club I am captaining; TCI RUBBISH RUNNERS!  Most of us living in the Turks and Caicos are on a weekly basis out to take the dogs for a walk, enjoy a play day with kids on the beach, going for a morning run, or a sunset stroll.  I encourage everyone to bring a litter bag and fill it up when you go.  I have been removing 1-2 IGA sized bags of litter from Leewards beaches and streets 4-5 times per week for the last five years.  I know I am not alone and that there are many others out there who make lifting litter part of their daily life.  Please join me to run off rubbish and keep TCI beautiful by nature !

Friday, September 24, 2010

National Youth Day

Last year I was fortunate enough to be a judge at the Youth Day celebration for the banner and talent competitions held at the Gustavus Lightbourne Center downtown.  There was so much bright, young talent in the room it was a very difficult duty to choose the winners.   Every banner was thoughtful, creative, and had an amazing message to share.  Every act on the floor was entertaining and fun to watch. I was very honored to have been asked for such an important role; my best wishes to this years particpants and best of luck to the judges in their challenging decision making!
  Please visit here if you would like to learn how you can help the youth of the Turks and Caicos Islands build a better tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Equinox

 Today the sun is at zenith over the equator.  The term "equinox" is derived from the latin words "aequus" (equal) and "nox" night, meaning our length of day is nearly as equal as the length of night on this date .  Autumnal equinox occurs yearly around Sept 22-23rd and the vernal equinox on March 20-21st.  Doing some gardening this afternoon I pulled a dying branch off one of the Christmas Palms and noticed how pretty the amber colors of the leaf were turning.  I looped it into the shape of a circle and fastened it with a couple of garbage ties.  Easiest wreath ever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fleur de Lys Before and After

  Readers please pardon that it has been, again, over ten days since my last posting.  Fleur de Lys is undergoing many changes this month.  One laborious task was all the hardwood walkways, as well as the upstairs balcony, have been completely refinished.

Here is the upstairs balcony before. The "lifetime guarantee" topcoat was peeling and cracking within one year of application. Images by Brilliant

Back to the original vibrant and rich color.  *If you live here in the Turks and Caicos Islands or elsewhere in the Caribbean and are thinking to varnish your hardwoods, please check with US before applying.

A minor but fun project was recovering the dining room chairs.  Anyone can do this with a few tools and some fabric.

Here is the dining room in the early days, before the exterior rendor, before the louvered doors and windows, with the chairs still in their plastic wrap before I had recovered them the first time.

Before:  Pictured in the fall of 2008.  This was a vintage fabric I picked up in New York which was a lovely satiny shade of green but did not weather well.


 I found beautiful, grey-blue and sand colored damask print curtains and re-upholstered all
the chairs with just two panels.

Image by PepperKeyStacie

Many more dramatic before and after photos to come (sometime before the end of September!)

Friday, September 10, 2010


  The letter S is a very appropriate starter for the month of September; Sticky, Smoldering hot, and Stuck to Stormpulse.  Hey, they don't call this Silly Season in the Turks and Caicos Islands for nothing!  This month is known for being the yearly breather.  You will see many businesses and restaurants close for the month, traffic slows, and many islanders take extended holidays.  So I have surprised even myself that this has been the busiest time for me yet in 2010 (hence the 10 days with no postings).  At the tail end of August we received very big news regarding Fleur de Lys.  A professional islander wanted to view the house for the purpose of a year long rental, which we had considered in the past but didn't pursue with much vigor.  After an amazing first impression and mutual instant liking of one to the other, the deal has been sealed and the lease has been signed!  All parties are extremely excited for this monumental change, and the villa is getting a facelift in preparation.  One of the major changes:


Here is one of the guest bedrooms in 2005.  Originally it was intended to be an office/media room/spare bedroom but as time marched on it had less need as a multi function room as the home theatre was moved to the living room and the upstairs patio was converted to an office.


The guest wing of the house was the only portion that had not been insulated, and especially come September, one could feel the dramatic temperature difference between the rooms that were and were not.  We spent a week laying the insulation, and another week installing a beadboard ceiling with a final brushed coat of white paint.  Now not only does the room look  brighter and airier, it feels much cooler and will be far more efficient to run A/C the few times out of the year when it's necessary.   Many more villa before and after photos to come in future postings.