Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week 3 and 4 December 18,2011- Pansies?

Welcome to week 4 of the Sixth Annual Mears Garden Picture contest.

Time marches on. It is already the second half of December. Here is the upper Midwest, where it is suppose to be cold, WE STILL HAVE PANSIES. Remember this next September, when you are thinking about closing down the garden. There can be little bits of color at least until Thanksgiving, if not beyond. We are now in that beyond.

In the voting this last week, the winner by a write-in nose was the baptista that looks like a mouse. What I mean by a write-in nose is that there was a tie in the electronic voting on the blog, but there are still a few email write-in votes, which made the difference.
The full voting was
The baptista that looks like a mouse 22
Shirley, the tulip 21
The slipper orchid 13
Dog tooth violet 3

As I mentioned last week, there are wildcard pictures that do advance to the next round. I will get the sliderule out at the end of the 12 weeks and see which second place winners also advance. Do you know that the auto spell program on this computer does not recognize the work “sliderule”? We sometimes think about words that are added to the vocabulary over time. Sometimes there will be an announcement that some dictionary has added certain words this year. Don’t you just wonder about which words drop out? Here is a parenthetical to the parenthetical. It may be that the reason that the auto spell program does not recognize sliderule is because that was never such a word. Wikipedia seems to say that the mechanical device I am referring to is a “slide rule”. Two words? Who would have known?
Let us go on to week four.

The first picture this week is what I call “Monsella rising.” Another favorite tulip in the garden is Monsella. It has appeared several times in the contest before. Sometime after the contest is over I might just post all the winners from all the contests just to have them in one place. Monsella has a wonderful combination of yellow and red, that is particularly pleasing when set in with the bluebells. Remember bluebells? Monsella is one of those tulips that really does completely break down after about 2 years. You have to get new ones to get this color in the spring garden. This picture was taken on May 7.

This second picture is banned in Boston. Actually the daylily is named “Banned in Boston.” It also is one of the most photogenic flowers in the garden. Daylilies can have that color in the throat that sometimes is in nice contrast to the color in the rest of the flower. The picture was taken on July 9. Fill your screen with this picture and the flower really stands out.

The next picture is another group of crocuses. (croci?) Do you realize that crocuses are not that far away? In 2011 the first crocus bloomed in the garden on March 16. That is just about 90 days away. This picture was taken on April 2. Crocuses are the third bulb to come up in the spring. First there are snowdrops. Then there are the aconite. Then crocuses. As I think about it I will put a bunch of pictures from mid March in the bonus section. Use that new slideshow feature (click on a picture on the blog) to run through all those early bulbs.

This fourth picture, taken on April 9, is a blue anemone blanda. Isn’t that funny? Blanda means white. We all know that. Yet anemone blanda is a group of spring flowers, also called Grecian windflowers, that comes in all colors, including…white. These anemomes do clump up over time, and like many little spring bulbs, they don’t cost much.

That’s it for this week. Vote away. Comment away.

In this bonus section enjoy the first flowers of the spring. These pictures start with March 6 and go to March 20, 2011.

This first picture is an early snowdrop. The little sprouting things under the snowdrops are squill seeds (see the little blue flower down aways) that are everywhere. Some of them are actually starting to sprout right now as the temperatures get back to the 40 and the sun makes that feel even warmer.

This is the emerging aconite.

These are the winter aconite, or eranthis, in full bloom.

This is the first squill or silla in the spring. In a matter of weeks after this there was a carpet of blue in part of the yard.

Have a peaceful week.

Welcome to week 3 of the Sixth Annual Mears Garden Picture contest.

The first plant catalogue arrived this week. It was from Bluestone Perennials, one of my favorite plant companies. As I think about it there was the hosta catalogue for 2012 that came in early October. Maybe that was the first. But there was the bulb catalogue in September, to entice fall planting. I will now pronounce that catalogues are a year round business. Somebody, in addition to organizations asking for money, needs to support the poor postal service.

I can read plant catalogues over and over. I go through the catalogue and identify what I would like to buy if I had an unlimited budget. I wait a week and do it again. I compare that list with the first one. If a plant made it to both lists it goes on the third list.
But I don’t have an unlimited budget. For that reason I can then put the list in some kind of order, depending on how much I could spend at the time. If I can only buy one plant, which one would it be?
Only about that time do I start to think about where I would plant them and whether there really is room to put the plants I want. I really like the red phlox on the cover of the Bluestone catalogue. Where would I plant any phlox I were to buy? How much sun do they need? (Is phlox singular or plural)? How many would I need to get?

If I have 3-4 catalogues I can spend unlimited amounts of time in this fashion. It’s a good thing there is nothing to watch on TV.

But let me get to the contest.

Last week the winner was the pink poppy. I had already told you what I thought about this picture. I have ordered a big print of this picture to see how it looks. I will let you know whether it is as good as I imagine it will be. As the votes first came in I thought the poppy would win in a landslide. By late Monday the hairy pasque flower had pulled within one vote of the poppy. In the end the poppy prevailed with a narrow win. I would remind you that there are wild card places for some second place finishers. (That means that in the contest I pick the 12 weekly winners and 4 wild cards, to advance to a round of 16 in February.) I expect that you will see the pasque flower again.

The full voting was
Poppy 28
Pasque flower 23
Yellow iris 8
Trillium 4

This week there are more spring pictures.

The first picture, taken on May 22, is perhaps the most antic picture this year in the contest this year. It is a single baptista flower. Baptista, sometimes called “false indigo”, is an interesting plant. It comes in several colors, including blue, purple, yellow, and there are several native prairie plants that are white. One of those plants with branching white flowers is on my wish list. I wish I could have it in the garden. I wish it would not die after I plant it, which is what happened with the first attempt.

The second flower is the tulip called Shirley. The picture was taken on May 7. I like flowers with single word names. It is kind of like sports figures. At the point when a sports figure achieves some level of success, you the person begins to be know by the single first name. I think the best examples in the sports world is Michael Jordan who was /is still, known as “Michael.” I just planted a daffodil this fall named Rick. I would like to get the peony named Bob, but it was too expensive at the one place I could find it this fall.
Shirley is one of Julia’s favorite flowers. Tulips are mostly short lived. In most cases the hybrids are good for maybe 2 years. There are some that do come back every year. Certain varieties are known for that feature. I think the more a plant is hybridized, that is developed away from the original species (meaning grows in the wild), the more the hybrid will not last. On the other hand some individual tulip bulbs seem to have the capacity to come back. I have several Shirley bulbs that do come back. This of course is one of them. This flower is always good for great photographs. Think about it. It is pink and white and you can then get blue or black backgrounds.

The third picture this week, taken on April 13, is a little spring flower called a dog toothed violet. Its botanical name is Erythronian. I like this picture since it has a bluebell and some scilla (squill) in the background, giving you a good sense of the size of the plant. We have the native white one in the woods in Iowa. I have a patch of those white ones in the garden, which does spread over time. There are pictures in the bonus section. The plant comes up in early spring, blooms, and then disappears, along with most other spring bulbs. We’re talking tiny plants and flowers here. Photography can be a challenge.
With Erythronian the plant developers have been busy. I am not sure of the name of this yellow one. There is a yellow one called Pagoda. It clumps up with plain leaves, while the plant in this picture has mottled leaves similar to the native. Suffice to say you can get many different varieties in several different colors, including red and purple. If you are thinking about trying a different spring bulb, I nominate the dog toothed violet. I do mean to try some more in the future. (Caution- some of the hybrids are a little more expensive than just crocuses or daffodils. You should be prepared to try one or two at the $6/builb.)

The last picture, taken on May 15, is an orchid that grows in our cold country. It is Gisella and it is a cypripedium. That’s one of those plant words that you need to say about 200 times to imprint it in your brain. I got this plant about 4 years ago and it has come back reliably each year. I get 2-3 flowers. I am waiting to see about further clumping. There are several varieties of cypripediums (cypripedia?). I have the small and large yellow ones. The pink and white one is the state flower of Minnesota, I think. It is. Google told me so. It became the state flower in 1902. There is a google contest question for you. Which state has the oldest state flower?
These cypripedium plants are quite expensive ($40 is about the least expensive I can find) and they do die on me. They are worth the occasional effort when your budget has some discretionary flexibility. That gets you back to rank ordering your plant wish list. You can get a lot of red phlox for $40.
Maybe a cypripedium plant is a good gift idea for that reason.

That’s it for this week’s contest. Vote away and get me those comments. Take some time and think about plants and flowers and catalogues.

By the way there is a new feature on the blog. If you click once on a picture you sort of get a slide show. I thought about this feature a month ago and tried to set it up. I guess it worked. It gives you a slideshow of all the pictures for that post. I wish I had more control over what pictures would be in the slideshow. If I understood or could work easily with this technology, I would be somebody else.

Here in the bonus section are more dog tooth violets. (Should the plural be dog teeth violets?)

Here are more pictures of cyripedium orchids.

Have a safe and quiet week? (Have you noticed that you never would wish that someone have a loud week? Maybe you would if they were going to a rock concert.)


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