Saturday, March 30, 2013

Field Guide Friday - Big Sage Lantana

Image via wildernessarena 

In honor of Easter, Lantana Camara, Big Sage, or West Indian Sage, the only species to date that reminds me of candy.  The clustered flowers come in a kaleidoscope of colors, some varieties all on the same bloom, from white to purple, yellow, red, pink, orange, even blue.  I love the strong fragrance of this plant; the flowers, the leaves, the stems, everything is highly aromatic.  But though you may be tempted to a little taste of this lovely, be aware, the entire plant is highly toxic!  The green berries are the most poisonous and can actually be fatal to humans or animals. 

Image via b. Naqqi Manco

This species, part of the Verbenaceae (Verbena family), is a small tropical perennial shrub that may grow up to ten feet.  The stem and leaves are hairy and the species is known for it's hardy nature, even considered invasive in some parts of the world.  It likes full sun and well drained sandy soil, has some salt tolerance, and is known to revive after you may think it dead (another reason it is appropriate for Easter).  It requires little water, is mostly immune to pests or disease, and has extreme heat tolerance, to the fact of being called fire resistant.  It will grow and quickly colonize burnt areas. The flowers bloom all year long and will attract butterflies to the garden to pollinate, or as you see below, hummingbirds.

Above and below images via one of our Fleur de Lys Villa guests, Mathew, in the courtyard last February.

Based on the coloring I would guess this is a male Bahama Woodstar hummingbird. 

Our current guests, also bird watching enthusiasts, we bid farewell to today as the head back home to British Columbia.  This family has been a real treat to host at the villa, they really enjoyed all the nature surrounding Fleur de Lys and Turks and Caicos.  Much gratitude to the Radley's, bon voyage and we hope to welcome you back to Turks and Caicos in the future.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Progress and Impediments to TCI Marine Environment

Image via wildoceans
Last June I was interviewed by Amdeep Sanghera as part of a Marine Conservation Society funded study to determine key marine conservation issues affecting the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Last evening a small group of individuals and I attended a meeting at DEMA to hear about the results of those findings and enter into discussion on possible solutions.  The largest concerns of the overall study were 1.Decline in conch, lobster, and reef fish 2.Damaging development and water activities 3.Lack of enforcement of existing laws and legislation. Our group came up with several great ideas; an adopt a dive or snorkel mooring initiative, an artificial reef initiative, increased signage within the national parks, a fish certification scheme coordinated between local restaurants and fishermen, workshops on eco-minded fishing and lobster catching practices, a DEMA officer of the month rewards program, a volunteer warden program, an incentive program for local businesses to be DEMA certified operators, and an awareness campaign via a list of top ten tips for conservation practices here in the Turks and Caicos that would be published and broadcast throughout the country for all visitors and residents alike.  We are looking for YOUR ideas!  What do you think can be done to conserve our environment?  What would be on your top ten list of tips? 

The Thursday Night Fish Fry is a superb example of how connected our marine environment is connected to our vital tourism industry here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  CNN has just published a fantastic article, Fish Fry Bridges Tourist-Local Gap in Turks and Caicos, but as importantly, it forms an alliance between the environmental community and the tourism community.  This allegiance needs to be strengthened and solidified so these co-dependent sectors can sustain one another.   We need to keep our oceans healthy, to keep our marine species thriving and their habitats safe and a new threat has just surfaced. 

 Image via sustainablesushi

From the thepetitionsite:

"The Turks and Caicos Islands, known throughout the world for their pristine beaches and diverse marine wildlife, is being threatened by a project which seeks to determine the viability of a commercial pelagic fishery in their waters. This exercise will open Turks and Caicos waters to long-line commercial fishing vessels. This indiscriminate method causes depleted fish stocks and excessive incidental catch, including sea turtles and billfish . Pelagic long-line commercial fishing is incompatible with the Turks and Caicos Islands’ unique marine waters that provide healthy ecosystems for marine species and our “Beautiful by Nature” mantra.  Good conservation and responsible use of our marine resources are the true “sustainable” methods; ours is more than a label, it is a way of life."

 Furthermore, local resident and expert Delphine Hartshorn, writes, "Whether this is just a study or not, we must not allow longlines to enter our waters. Incidental, or unwanted, catch will threaten our billfish, turtle, shark and marine mammal populations as well as seabirds. 97% of blue marlin and 93% or white marlin are overfished as a direct result of pelagic longline commercial fishing. Those supporting longlining will argue that bycatch is released live, however, the majority will not survive after the stress and injuries caused from being hooked and dragged for 8 hours or more before release. The particular firm involved here will also argue that they hold MSC certification as a sustainable fishery. More than one quarter of MSC certified fisheries have been deemed unsustainable and out of 71 that were examined, 31% were concluded to be overfished and subject to continued overfishing. If this certification is so stringent in it's guidelines then why were 189 out of 200 applicants granted certificates? It is merely a marketing tool that allows uninformed consumers to feel they are making sustainable choices when buying fish and for fisheries that are not sustainable to make the claim. A viable solution would be to review the existing fisheries ordinance and allow charter boats, which use rod and reel, to sell their catch - keeping the fish, jobs and money in TCI. Not to mention these commercial vessels are US owned and operated, meaning minimal jobs for Turks Islanders, and if any, strictly minimum wage. Let's preserve our diverse marine environment and ban this ridiculous idea. And for those who believe that the impact of this proposed study for a pelagic longline fishery will only extend to the charter and recreational sportfishing community, you are very wrong. The impact will affect all industries including tourism, other water based activities, real estate, and the Turks and Caicos Islands' 'Beautiful by Nature' brand as a whole. Please support the cause and help us stop this before it starts. Once those lines are in the water it will be hard to get them out."

 Please click here to take a moment to sign this very important petition.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Birthdays!

My dad Larry (above right) turned 67 years young yesterday.  Today, the baby of his brood (below right), turns 21 YEARS!  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree as they say . . . 

 Sterling, wishing you the best birthday yet! In between partying your faces off in Vegas and having a few moments like this . . . .

Above and below images via facebook

May you, your father, and your older brother bond at the bar, and may they impart a little wisdom on reaching adulthood.  Here's mine:

I believe much of what is stated above is already inherently in you.  At this age it can be the best of times and the worst of times.  Always remember this beautiful Cherokee legend:

Image via haartandsoul

Go out there and feed the right wolf bro!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick and Pinterest!

 Images via pinterest

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I have always loved the color green in all her many shades; emerald, moss, mint, jade, malachite, . . .   Any of these and many more, are easy to find, and then get lusciously lost in, through pinterest.  I have caught the addiction in a bad way, see for yourself & follow me here

To my dear friend Kelly, only fitting as it really is your day!  Wishing you a wonderful and whisk birth.  We are rooting for you and can't wait to find out if Kaelyn gets a brother or sister!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Brilliant's New Brilliant Website

Image via brilliant

You must head on over to Brilliant's new website, it's full of color, creativity, and Caribbean cool and I'm not just talking about the imagery!  I have the pleasure of styling for this team frequently so I am thrilled to share the showcase of their incredible talent.  Bravo to Brilliant and kudos to the awesome design duo behind redmetyellow whose delightful web wonder work makes the internet such an inspiring place to visit!  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Field Guide Friday - Brahmi Herb

 Images via B Naqqi Manco

This pretty little bell shaped flower comes from the Brahmi herb, Bacopa monnieri.  These images were taken from North Wells, Grand Turk, a perfect location for this wetland inhabiting species.  They can tolerate brackish waters or muddy shores, mostly residing in the east in Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and China.  It has been used for over 3,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine, please read an interesting recent study on it's effect on human memory here. Some of the southern states, and we here in the Turks and Caicos, are lucky this lovely lives here!  Besides medicinal, common uses for the species are for aquariums and ponds.  If you happen upon one, many have reported success with propagation from cuttings.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wedding Shoot Inspiration Boards

Well Read Rustic Concept Wedding Inspiration

 Here are a few lovely little inspiration boards I created for an upcoming project I will be collaborating with brilliant on.  Last November Brilliant welcomed two new members to their team of talented photographers; South African born Chanelle and Craig of Segerius-Bruce Photography.  This couple, who clearly have a penchant for travel, have spent the last dozen years perfecting their craft in the UK and beyond.  Chanelle comes from a freelance retouching and graphic design background, working for such clients as the renowned  Mario Testino.  Their skills speak for themselves when you see their work.  I am thrilled they have packed their bags and moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands and am delighted that we will be working together on upcoming photo shoots, both real and  . . . . well, wonderfully realized until some adoring couple breathes life of their own into them!

Caribbean Boheme Concept Wedding Inspiration
 We hope that these shoots will inspire our clients to let their imaginations run wild when it comes to individualizing their weddings.  The Turks and Caicos Islands have so much more beauty and enchantment to offer couples than our stunning beaches and blue water.  We will be highlighting some of these lesser known gems in terms of locations, local flora and fruits, themes and ideas that reveal the many facets of these islands.

Row to Romance Concept Wedding Inspiration