Sunday, February 14, 2010

picture Contest- Week 12- February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day everyone.

I find myself in need of just about the most color that I can find. So here it is, right at the top of the post. This is not one of this week’s contestants. It is actually a picture from May of 2008. The crab apple trees were at their height. The hosta were completely full and some of the late daffodils were still out. It doesn’t get much better than this.

My observation of this time of year is that it is always the same. There is snow on the ground. There is no green anywhere. Sometimes there is sun and that helps. But it is the same as last week and last month and tomorrow and next week. It is, in a word, February.

But I can announce that the first sprouts of the year are up. They are Iceland poppies, coming to give you all those wonderful pictures in next year’s contest. They are absolutely the tiniest sprouts imaginable. But they are enough to keep a person going. Today I planted some pansies and some impatiens and some columbine.

The other thing to do is read garden books or magazines. You have to be desperate to pull old garden magazines off the shelf. I have to tell you about this article in Fine Gardening. This was actually the current issue. Apparently there is an old folk tale that a little alcohol can make plants grow better. This article was about people testing the theory. First they gave plants three types of beer, including a nonalcoholic beer. All the plants wound up being stunted or dead, even though the plants that got the non-alcoholic beer were only somewhat stunted. OK. Alcohol stunts growth.
Apparently some scientists also decided to see if some mixture of alcohol could in a healthy way, keep plants small. I have always thought about the fact that sometimes you have a plant that gets too big for its space in the garden. What if you could give it neutral or negative fertilizer to make sure it would not get any bigger. Well the scientists tried just that. They used gin, vodka, tequila, rum and peppermint schnapps as additives for growing paper-whites. (I do not know if they tried mixtures of these substances or just individual shots.) After all paper-whites do get leggy. I guess the hard stuff worked, even if beer and wine did not. The plants
Were not as large as those with just water, and apparently were healthy.
So now you know what to do with that overly aggressive plant that needs some taming in the garden. Give it some hard liquor. Save the beer for the slugs.

I really should tell you about the contest.
In last week’s voting the winner was the White Oriental Poppy.
The final vote tally was:
White Poppy 27
Lupine 17
Iris 13
Rudbeckia 10
Total voting 67

In this week’s contest you will fill out the brackets for the finals that will begin in one week. At that time the 12 winners and 4 runner-ups will be divided into four groups for the next round. After 4 weeks we will have one final week to pick the picture of the year.

The first picture, taken on July 19, is this orange lily called Elise, a newcomer to my garden in 2009. It is an Aurelian lily, as oppose to an Oriental or Asiatic or trumpet. I am not sure what makes a lily Aurelian. Maybe by the time this one blooms again I will learn. In catalogues it seems to be put in with the Trumpets, which bloom after the Asiatics, are tall and very fragrant.

The next picture form May 3, is Hosta Montana, in with the bluebells. Montana is the showgirl of hosta, often coming up too early and getting nipped by a late freeze. Some growers won’t even sell the plant for that reason. That really has only happened once for me, when we had that very hard freeze in early May 2005. On the other hand there were lots of hosta that were frozen by that point.
Montana is tall enough so that it can grow right along with a bed of bluebells.

The third picture is of course a pansy. While this picture, by itself and without explanation, would not normally go in a picture contest, this picture was taken on November 23, 2009. This flower made it through numerous frosts and freezes to brighten the very beginnings of winter. And with some good luck it will over-winter and come back in the spring. Stay tuned.

The last picture is one of the early fall crocuses. This one bloomed on September 7. Fall crocuses pop up where you forgot you planted them, giving you one of those surprise opportunities that I normally associate with early springtime.

There you have it- the last regular season picture contest. Next week will be the playoffs.

Katie update-
Katie was in Port au Prince again all week. She called us from Santo Domingo this afternoon. Weekend rest for her is having to work only a 8 hour day. I can’t imagine how tired a person would get.
On the picture selling front (as a fundraiser) I have good pictures picked out and a copy printed. Now I am working on the delivery system. I really do hope to have this project started by next Sunday.
Mears Garden Fundraiser

Instead of a bonus section this week there is a special post right below this one, that will have the pictures that didn’t make the contest.

Have a good week.

1 comment:

Catherine Woods said...

I love the hosta with bluebells and initially voted for it, but as winter drags on, that deeply colorful and hardy pansy won me over. Thank heaven I live in Colorado where we get a lot of sun as well as regular rises in temperature that give relief to the worst of February winter days. I'm so glad for the steadily increasing hours of sunlight as well. Last but right up there in importance, thank you for what I experience as a weekly tonic -- your blog -- which is one of the things which helps me keep perspective on wintry days!