Sunday, December 28, 2008

Week 7- December 28

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and welcome to Week 7 of the Mears Garden picture contest. It is a time to celebrate, enjoy family, and in our house, bake cookies. We make a ton of cookies and peanut brittle and then pass it out, mostly in the neighborhood. We do this between Christmas and New Year’s day, as we find that people are just about ready to eat something else by then.

In the garden world my seeds are picked out and I will try to start some seeds right after the first of the year. The particular plant that made an impression on me this year in the seed catalogues, was the morning glory. My goodness, have they advanced while you were not watching. There are the usual ones, such as Heavenly Blue. But I was most impressed with this one that looked almost tie-dyed. It was a variety called purpurea “Carnevale di Venezia.” I am not a big one for annuals but I think that I can find some lilacs that might just get some morning glories this summer. And how about morning glories growing on Oriental lilies. Maybe Heavenly Blue with Stargazer lilies?
But let’s talk pictures.

In last week’s contest the winner was the Waterlily. The pulmonaria finished second with a strong showing of 33%. That takes the lead for the wild card entry into the finals in 6 weeks.
Here are the details. The second number is the email or non-poll vote.

Pulmonaria 16+6=22 for 33.8%
Waterlily 27+3=30 for 46.2%
Blackberry Lily 6+1=7 for 10.8%
Tinos, the Asiatic lily 4+3=7 for 10.8%
Total 53+12=65

Here are your pictures this week.

First up is the ever photogenic Oriental Poppy. It is always magical with its tissue paper petals, the treasure box seed pod in the middle and then all those stamens dancing around.
These Oriental poppies bloom in late May, early June and then disappear by July. This picture was taken on June 2. I plant them in between the daylilies and over time they spread. I have colonies of these orange ones, along with a group of pink ones, and a few white ones (in a few weeks you will see one). Then there is that wonderful deep red one called Beauty of Livermore. One of these years I will be able to capture the color of that one in a photograph, but not so far. I find it interesting how certain colors are just difficult to film.

The next picture, taken on March 15, needs little introduction. It is the snowdrop, the first flower to bloom in the spring. These early pictures always present a nice contrast between the colors of the plant and the brown background.

The third picture is a pink orchid cactus. I grow orchid cactus, whose fancy name is epiphyllum. They are neither orchids nor cactus; hence the name. The orchid part of the name comes from the fact that they originally grew in trees like many orchids. I guess they might look like cactus, and indeed some have spines like cactus. They are cousins of the Christmas cactus most of us know about. But these great plants grow in the shade and bloom in the late spring, into the summer. This picture was taken on July 6. They do have to come inside and if you have just a few that is manageable. I have 25 so space gets to be a premium. I do have a friend who has some space in her basement that gets light but does not freeze. Those are perfect conditions for many plants like the orchid catus, that like to go dormant for the winter.
My five year goal is to have a many different varieties. I took a good step toward that this year, getting quite a few new starts. I expect it will take maybe 2-3 years for the different blooms to show up.
Please look at the bonus pictures to see the size of these plants and the wonders of a close-up of this pink one. When I pick pictures for the contest I have to decide which ones to select. I sometime think I should have a contest just between plants and have many pictures of each one. Some other time perhaps.

The last picture this week is this trumpet lilium that I think is called African Queen. It is about 5 feet tall and is really orange. If this is orange, what color is the poppy? This picture was also taken on July 6, the same day as the orchid cactus picture, apparently a good day for garden pictures.

Vote away.

For your bonus pictures first there are orchid cactus pictures. Did I mention that they hang in the trees? They do. They are therefore an idea companion plant for the shade garden.

Then there are several early garden pictures. The snowdrops are so wonderful. The last few pictures are eranthus, or winter aconite.

Have a good and quiet week, and lets all look forward to a hopeful new year.

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