Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9- week 8- Something really spectacular- and different

It seems like we have had this pattern of winter for a long time.First it snows. The it gets cold. Then it snows. I think you get the picture.
Maybe, just maybe, the end is in sight. We have snow yesterday. The temperature is forecast to get down in the double digits below zero for a few nights. But starting on Wednesday all the highs are in at least the 20’s and 5 days are over 30.
One year ago yesterday February 8, 2013, I took these pictures in the backyard.

Two years ago, on January 31, 2012, I took these picture.

That year went on to become the earliest spring I can remember. Everything was a month early, all the way through the summer.

This year I cannot see anything ground. It is all snow, even though we do not have anywhere the snow they have had for example in Chicago. We have maybe 6-8 inches on the ground, after 3 “shovelable" snow events this week. That is a new weather term for me, but one that certainly works.

It is interesting to think about when there will be the first snowdrop. March 1? We will see.
For now indoors is what we have.
On to the show.

In this last week’s voting the trillium was the narrow winner. It bested some very good competition, in my opinion. I voted for the bloodroot.
Here is a picture of that winner you picked.

The full voting was:
Trillium 20

Double Bloodroot 18

Crown Imperial Fritillaria 12
Slipper orchid 8

This week’s contest features the orchid cactus. You saw a closeup of the night bloom cereus several weeks ago. You actually chose it as your winner that week. I very carefully did not give you any other pictures, either of that flower or its cousins. Now is the time.
I started growing orchid cactus about 10-12 years ago. We saw one blooming in Virginia one summer while we were on vacation and brought several back to Iowa, under the seats in the plane. I then ordered another 6-8 from the same nursery when I got home.
I got several colors at that time. I managed to find a few more colors, including some from mail order places. They will ship you pieces of the plant, with or without roots, for $5-6. Compared to the price of a slipper orchid, that is really not much money. However. it is up to you to grow the plant, which will take several years to get to a decent size.
Let me tell you a few things about orchid cactus, or epiphyllum. The are neither cactus or orchids. They are related to the Christmas cactus. They all are or were epiphytes, meaning the grew in trees, like many orchids, in the air. For that reason they like the shade. I have found them a wonderful companion plant to hosta and all the other shade plants I grow. Wait-you say. Where do they grow? Up in the air, silly. I hang them from tree branches, with long ropes if necessary.
One problem is they do get big. They get heavy. Imagine having to transplant one of these to a bigger pot. In fact I actually have a problem finding hanging baskets that are sturdy enough for the mature plants. On the other hand if they fall and break off a part, you just plant the broken piece in another pot. Soon you will have way too many-the gardener’s goal.

The first picture is the red/purple one. What is wonderful about this one is that it seems to bloom late in the summer. This past year it bloomed in August, both early in the month, and then again on August 31. Late summer is always a time when anything really colorful is welcome. What is appreciated that time of year is anything to really anticipate.
There are many such plants from April to July. There are not so many after that.
I really had a hard time finding the one picture of this flower for the contest. I picked this one because it accents the purple. The other pictures are in the bonus section.

The next picture is this wonderful yellow one. I wish I had names. Mostly I do not.
This picture was from late June, 2012. (Remember that was a really early year.)
Actually the last several years with heat and drought have not been good years for these plants. I have had the occasional flower. The major flushes of flowers I had 5-6 years ago did not occur. See the bonus pictures. Pampering and more attention to fertilizer may also help. Sometimes I do not have the time to pamper.
Actually one of these yellow ones has been blooming in our living room for the last 3 weeks. See the bonus pictures below.

This third picture has about the most color contrast of all my orchid cactus plants so far. The pink and white are really wonderful. I once had a big plant of a flower that was close to this. Once again see the bonus section.There is also a very pronounced inner cup, that is different from the first two.

The last picture is the entire flower for the night blooming cereus. This picture was taken at 7am, after it opened the evening before. This picture was taken on August 21. Once again having excitement in late summer is particularly appreciated.
Actually, as I will mention in the bonus section, we had the yellow flowered plant bloom 3 times the last few weeks in our living room. It also opened in the evening. The one in the living room lasted for several days, unlike this flower, which was fading by afternoon.
I am really excited about this night blooming cereus this coming year. It has continued to grow over the winter. I will pamper it when the time comes. I am interested in just how many flowers it will produce.

There you have it. Vote away. Come see them in the garden this summer.


So now for one of my favorite parts of the weekly post. Here are the bonus or extra pictures.

I mentioned that since it is so winter at the moment we have to enjoy the inside flowers. As a nice way of introducing this weeks wonderful group I can share these pictures from our living room, this last week.

I told you I had trouble with the red/purple flower that bloomed in August. Here are other pictures.

Let me show you these night blooming cereus pictures giving you an idea of what you see as time goes by

Is this link works or will come through on the blog here is a wonderful utube of a night blooming cactus with many flowers

Here is another color from 2012-13.

Here are other colors from previous years.The red plant has had some difficulties the last few years.

Here is a wonderful pink plant that adorned the garden in 2008. It was just about the only plant in 30 years that has ever been taken from my garden. About a month after it had finished blooming I woke up one morning and it was gone. There was a cigarette butt on the street near where it was hanging. I never heard anything ever again about the plant.
Just look at this closeup taken at the time.

I did go right out and bought 6-8 new branches of other pink ones. I look forward to having another one with this many flowers. It will again be out there for everyone to see and admire.

I close these pictures with these two other wonderful plants, full of flowers. This is what I want from all 25 of my plants.

That’s it for this week. February will be a short month. Warmer weather is coming.

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