Sunday, January 27, 2008

Picture contest- week 12- January 27

So here we are at Week 12- we are at the end of the preliminary rounds of the contest. January is almost done. February will be a short month. And then it will be spring- well, it will be close to being spring.
Winter does continue in Iowa. While we were only down to minus 15 this past week in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids reported minus 23 and Waterloo had minus 29. That is real cold. I remember once 10-15 years ago it got down to minus 30 here in Iowa City. We were able to take a pan of water outside, throw it into the air and it vaporized. When I told this to my two nieces from the Washington DC area, they immediately wanted to come visit in the winter. I did have to explain that is was not always so glamorous.
But this weekend it is sunny and it is time to think about what to plant this year. I started my first seeds yesterday, some red lupines and some columbine. It is so satisfying to put your hands in the dirt.
By the way it is not too early to think about what to do in the weeks after the contest ends in 6 weeks. Someone suggested that I do an invitational week. For that week you could send me your flower pictures and I would post them. I am willing to try that. You can look over what you have and send me a few. You should send a short commentary with each picture. The pictures can be posted either with your names or without. (your individual choice) We’ll see how that works.

This last week was a spirited contest with strong support, 12 votes, for the 4th place finisher, the pink daylily.
The winner by a nose was the close-up of the yellow waterlily
So here was the voting:
1- Yellow water Lilly 24+3=27 for 33.3%
2- Toad lily 17+5=22 for 27.2%
3- Red tulip 13+7=20 for 24.7%
4- Pink Daylily 9+3=12 for 14.8%
The first number in the addition is the electronic vote, the second the email vote.
The second place finisher, the toad lily, by one percentage point does not qualify as a wildcard. Sometimes voting just doesn’t seem fair. The toad lily was sort of penalized by having strong competition from the 3rd and 4th place competitors. Sometimes you just make the rules and it plays out.

So here is how the standings work out at the moment
The winners from the 11 weeks in order of the winning percentage, follow with the week in parenthesis.
Blue Siberian Iris (4) 69.3%
Blue Fall Crocus (6) 57.1
Pink Waterlily (3) 55.4
Frog (5) 54.1
Blue Japanese Iris (10) 51.2
Pink Peony (2) 38.2
Forget me nots (7) 38.1
Yellow Orchid Cactus (8) 37.5
Emerging Poppy (1) 35.5
Coneflower (9) 34.8
Waterlily close-up(11) 33.3

Here are the 4 wildcards so far
Blue Anemone (8) 32.5%
Calla lily (1) 28.57% (77/22)
Daylily close-up- (7) 28.57% (63/18)
Poppy Seed head (9) 28.2%

Once again for those of you who missed it last week, I should say something about the next round, which will start in one week, and last for 4 weeks. I will give the pictures you have chosen seedings. (As oppose to seedlings- plant joke) Seedings are based on highest winning percentages for the particular week.
Each week in the next round you will pick from 4 contestants, all of which were winners in the first 12 rounds plus 4 wildcard winners. In the first week seedings 1,8,9 and 16 will compete.
So here are the contestants for this last week of the opening round. If there is a theme this week, it is flowers that bloom in the second half of the garden year.

1- Here is another type of fall crocus, which brightens up the month of September. The picture was taken on September 3. I planted theses crocuses about 4 years ago and then forgot I had planted them. I was completely puzzled in April when this strange foliage came up in this one area of the garden. Before I pulled it up as some strange weed, I remembered it was the fall crocuses. They grow leaves in the early spring, which die back rather quickly. Then in September, surprise. The flowers pop up.

2- Here is another caladium shot, this one taken on August 12. As with some other pictures it is taken early in the morning with the sun coming from behind. What a way to brighten up a hot August day.

3- Then there is this hosta picture, also taken on August 12. Hosta is the backbone of my garden. I have been growing it for so many years that, at times, other splashier plants get more attention. In a picture contest it is hard for hosta to compete. Hosta are not known for their flowers but the flowers can still be wonderful at times.

4- Finally there is Casa Blanca- the Oriental lily. This one was taken on July 21. White flowers can be so….white. White lilies are just about the best. I got an internet special of about a dozen of these Casa Blancas last year. (This picture was from an established bulb.) I am a sucker for plant “specials.” You can plant lilies in the spring and they will bloom that summer. They will not be as big as you expect from later years. So this year…just you wait.

So now for the bonus section:
This week I want to talk a little about hosta, a plant that I mentioned is the backbone of the garden. There are so many hosta in commerce that they do sometimes all begin to look alike. At times they can be planted too close together. After they get big you can’t see them that well. I have been growing hosta for 20 years at this point, just about as long as I have had the garden. (We moved into the house 26 years ago.) At first I concentrated on numbers of hosta. I wanted more and more varieties and kept careful track. About 6-7 years ago I started separating them, moving them apart, or at least thinning them out. (I have a backyard hosta sale in the spring, which is necessary when you grow hosta.) Not only did this mean that the hosta showed better, but it left room for all those wonderful companion plants, like hellebores, pulmonaria, epimedium, trillium, and the list keeps growing all the time.
But the hosta are still there. Here are two overviews of the garden that you may have seen before. The pictures are several years old.

Then there are some of the individual plants.
There is Sagae, which is big and just beautiful just when the bluebells are blooming in late April.

There is Montana Aureo-Marginata. It is another big one with splashy yellow margins, hence the name.

This is June, just about the prettiest of all the hosta, with more or less gold depending on how much sun it gets.

Finally there is El Nino, a blue hosta with white margin, a wonderful combination.

This time of year I do start some seeds. It is also the season when inside orchids are blooming. I am getting the feel for growing orchids after killing many of them for ten years. These are phalanopsis pictures. They do well inside in front of a window that gets some sun. Mine are in a south window. I hang them in the trees with the orchid cactus during the summer. They like that.

That’s it for this week. Stay warm.


IBOY said...

All I've got to say after looking at your aerial shot, is that I'm glad you're restraining yourself on the number of hostas you've bought :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, but they are such glorious hostas! :) Philip usually has hosta that most people don't have until several years out. It is an addiction, and I don't want to be cured.


Anonymous said...

Philip, It is an honor to scroll down the beautiful photography encompassed in your blog. One may be stuck in winter but we can still think spring.

Still, while breaking up the ice yesterday, I paused to catch my breath and looked up at the majestic flow of snow piles and undulating drifts. There was beauty even if not as nice as your flowers. Peace

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