Sunday, December 21, 2008

Picture contest- Week 6- December 21

It is the darkest of times. The garden lies under a blanket of snow again. As the temperature heads for double digits below zero, one tries to avoid the outside. But the sunshine comes. The days will be longer tomorrow. Not much longer, but somewhat longer. Well maybe longer just in theory. Well maybe longer by Wednesday.
It is travel time again. We are staying home, but our daughter Katie is coming from New Orleans for a week. What a shock she will have when she encounters the outside.

So what does the gardener do when it is dark and cold? The gardener stays inside to start with. You start being fascinated by the patterns made by the ice crystals on the windows. Then you get out the catalogue and order some seeds.
And you fire up that imagination. Close your eyes and think about one place in the garden in June. I divide the garden into individual garden beds. It is too difficult to think about something as big as the back yard or the front yard. Instead there is the lupine bed and the raised bed and the under-the-walnut-tree bed.
In certain beds there are big hosta. Some of them have gotten so big that they practically take over the entire bed. There is this one hosta named Guardian Angel that is like that. It does not share with others. So much for companion planting.
But gardening is all about sequences. It is not enough to have a great garden bed on July 1. You have to think about what will it look like on May 1? That would be an entirely different garden. In that bed dominated by Guardian Angel there should be lots of spring bulbs. There should be snowdrops and trillium and Thalia daffodils. Just imagine all those bulbs.

Then there are pictures.

In last week’s contest the winner was the Iris Jeweled Crown. Shirley was a strong second and stands a good chance of advancing as a wild card entry. Here were the totals. The second number was the email vote.

Shirley the tulip 16+6=22 for 32.4%
Shooting Stars 4 for 5.9%
Delmar the daylily 12+2=14 for 20.6%
Iris Jeweled Crown 23+5=28 for 41.2%
Total 55+13=68


Here are this week’s pictures.

1- In this May 3 picture, you have a pulmonaria, probably raspberry splash. Pulmonaria are also known as lungwort. At some point they must have been known for their medicinal value. Pulmonaria are one of the mainstays of the spring garden. They come in many colors- red, blue, pink and white. The foliage is mostly speckled, and holds up until December.
I hit the point of critical mass with pulmonaria about 10 years ago. That is the point when they start appearing everywhere, crossing indiscriminately. Several varieties are now so prolific that you begin to think of them as flowing across parts of the garden.

2- Here is the heavyweight flower from the last two picture contests. (July 12) The waterlily has few peers for grandeur. Delicate is not an adjective that gets used a lot with waterlilies. We have a little pond in the backyard, which has many waterlily plants. They are hearty lilies- they stay out there all winter. Waterlilies are carefree. Think about it. You don’t have to weed a pond. You do have to clean it several times a year. You can also worry about the occasional duck or, Irish setter that decides to take a belly flop into the middle. That really has only happened about twice in 15 years. But the flowers are magnificent. The centers are magical.

3- This next picture, taken on July 26, has got to be about the warmest flower picture of the year. I really need this flower this weekend. This is Belamcanda Chinensis, the Blackberry lily. This “lily” resembles an iris in foliage, can grow in part shade and blooms in late summer.

4- The last picture, from June 29, is Tinos, the Asiatic lily. Asiatic lilies bloom in June, often painting the garden with wonderful colors. This is appreciated as it is before the total color explosion that takes place in July with the daylilies and the Oriental lilies. Asiatic lilies are quite sturdy, creating clumps, unlike the Orientals. They are shorter, and mostly do not need staking.


For your bonus pictures this week I have a collection of pulmonaria pictures. Please note the fourth and fifth pictures. I am not sure who is this narrow leaved blue pulmonaria. The next picture has the heuchera from the front of the other picture. You can see the perfectly formed little seedlings with their perfect flowers.

I have to put in a plug for orchids. This is another way that this gardener survives the winter. Orchids bloom a lot in the fall and winter and bloom for a long time. The first picture was from October 18. Even at that point it had been blooming since we brought it home from the orchid store in late August. This next picture is from this weekend. That same orchid has lost some flowers, but it is mostly intact. You can see that the outside has changed considerably between October and this weekend.

Finally the pumpkins are back. If you hang plants from hooks in the trees like I do, the hooks may be empty in the winter. So I decided last winter to put pumpkins on the hooks. They blow in the wind and slowly evolve over the winter. We just put these pumpkins out this last weekend. More will follow. I have noticed that so far we are the only garden in the neighborhood with handing pumpkins. Perfect.

Stay warm.

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