Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week 7 January 8, 2012- Planning ahead

Welcome to week 7 of the Sixth Annual Mears Garden Picture contest.
The hanging pumpkins enjoyed the new year.

Sometimes the words just don’t want to stop. I have several things to talk about today. I should mention seed planting. I have a few things to say about the extraordinary warm winter so far. Then again there is the picture contest.

It is seed starting time. I started some lupine seeds this weekend. I am not sure whether they need to be started this early. At the same time there is something about having seeds planted that gives a good prospective on the fact that it is still so dark in the morning. I also placed an order for more seeds yesterday. I ordered mostly annuals. Each year I think about California poppies. They are a poppy that continues to bloom throughout the summer. This is in contrast with the Oriental poppies that I grow and get featured in the contest. They bloom for only a few days at most.(There is one again this week.) Poppies do require much sun, which is always a premium in our yard. So I will try them again this year.

A few comments on the weather. Thursday and Friday this past week were sunny and the temperatures were 57 and 60. I think at least the 60 was a record high. Tuesday morning the low was 9. This did make for a hard week for the pansies. It was also hard on the hanging pumpkins. In fact I see this morning that one fell apart and hangs no more. I still have 3 uncut pumpkins. I will wait a little longer, watching the ten-day forecast for a time when the temperatures will stay below freezing.

While there is some cold air coming midweek, it is suppose to get back to 40 next weekend. You do have to wonder when we will get winter.

The average high and low temperatures in Iowa for this time of year are 32/14.

It is getting dry in the garden. For several minutes yesterday I gave some thoughts of getting out the hose and watering.

The average temperatures begin to inch upwards as of January 25.

I found this neat website that had historical information about the weather in Iowa City. Here is a chart I prepared looking back at 2011. As you know, “mean temperature” is the half way point between the high and the low. It is worth remembering that the temperatures in Iowa City were below normal for most of the first half of the year. I should add that I tried to do this in a table for the blog but couldn't.

Month 2011 mean temp +/-from ave
January..............18.2........ -3.5
February............23.6........ -4.3
March................38.3........ -1.3
April..................49.2........ -2.9
May.................. 61.3........ -2.1
June...................70.2........ -2.6
July....................79.4........ +2.5
August...............74.2........ +1.5
September..........61.6........ -2.6
October..............53.8........ +1.8
November...........41.2....... +2.2
December ...........32.5....... +7.3

On to the contest.
The contest this past week was one of the closest on record. At one point early this week there was a 3 way tie on the poll on the blog, with 17 votes each.
In the end, once the email voting was counted, there was tie. The Bloodroot caught the Cactus with the write in votes. Both will advance to the final 16.
Here was the final voting.
Cactus 21
Double Bloodroot 21
Gazinia 17
Hibiscus 10
I should also say that I really appreciated all the responsive emails this last week.

Here are this week’s contestants.

First up is just about the reddest flower in the garden. It is the Oriental Poppy Beauty of Livermore. I have found over the years that deep red is a really hard color to capture on film (or wherever it is captured on a digital image.) Check out the bonus pictures for more of this red flower. This picture was taken on May 30.

Next up is one of the double hellebores. Hellebores are a backbone plant in the spring garden. The are very hearty and can take very low temperature. They had better take those temperatures as some of them are emerging right now. This picture was taken on April 9. They do tend to hang down, requiring a non photogenic assist from fingers. You could pick the flower and display it in water. The bonus pictures this week give you an idea of the color range available.

This next picture is San Ignacio, the daylily. While I think of Banned in Boston, from Week 4, as flamboyant, this daylily is smooth. It is tall too. The picture was taken on July 9.

The last picture is a yellow tulip that is just about the perfect tulip. I think its name is Ms. John Sheepers. I would like to see the one on one match with Shirley the tulip, from week 3. I suppose the name gives you some idea about how long the flower has been around. The picture was taken on April 23. I planted this bulb 5—10 years ago, so it has naturalized and comes back every year.

Have fun voting. Tell me what you like about your choice this week.

For your bonus viewing here are more red poppies.

To appreciate red you should contrast it with orange.

Here are more hellebores.

Perhaps the most interesting picture is the following.

I close with pictures of a snowdrop. The first picture was taken on New Year’s Day. I was not sure the bud would open. It opened on Thursday, when it got to 60 degrees. I will keep you informed as to how long the flower lasts.

Have a safe week.


Judith C said...

I have really got to get some hellebores.
The red poppy is just stunning. I perhaps like the second photo of it in the bonus pictures even better; kind of flashing us, kind of peeking out.

Catherine Woods said...

Beautiful flower pictures this week! I love the series of hellebores as well as the poppies. As for the appearance of the snowdrop in January -- a bit alarming really, even in light of how lovely it is. We haven't had much cool weather here in CO either and even more importantly, not much snow. Is this the effect of global warming I wonder . . . ?

philip Mears said...

Judith- What I have done for a few years is just get 2-3 hellebores each year. This is a manageable number and starts you down the hellebore path.
I sometimes have a difficult time deciding which picture to put into the contest. I liked the second photo of the poppy a lot. Sometime I would like to take a real sequence of a poppy opening. I would probably need a tripod. They do open fast enough so just having a couple hours would be enough time.

philip Mears said...

We have had snowdrops before in January. That has usually been when there was a two week warmup in January.
What has been different about this year is that it never got cold.
But we have five inches of snow and it was in the single digits this morning. For the moment I am comforted. Then I am cold.
I try not to think about global warming much. Sometimes I am glad I am 62 and will not be around in 2050.