Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week 8- One big step backwards- February 8, 2014

Wow. Who knew what was coming? When I left you last week we were about to embark upon a driving trip back to Iowa City from Chicago. Seven hours later we got home. What foolishness!
Iowa City received ten inches of snow. I think Chicago got almost twice that. We went between those points. There are lots of adjectives to describe our trip. "Stupid" is right up there in the top ten. But so was "remarkable" and "all's well that end that ends well", but I know that is not an adjective.

I can remember the little bulbs that were starting to show themselves, two weekends ago. They are all covered with this blanket of snow. Then it got cold. I don't think it got to the minus 14 that was predicted for Wednesday night. It got close.

It was a wet snow that stuck to all the trees. After the storm was over there was not much wind. For that reason we had a wonderland for several days, with blue skys and picture opportunities at every turn.

But it is winter in the Midwest. I should not expect anything less. All that is certain is that there will be many more twists and turns before we can put away the winter coats.

The trip to Chicago did allow us to visit the orchid store. What wonderful places, particularly in winter. Acres and acres of all sorts of orchids, of every color.

Let me get to the contest.
In last weeks appropriately themed contest (they were all white) the winner was the double bloodroot.

Double Bloodroot
Here was the final vote tally:
Double Bloodroot 25
Hoya  17
Lupine  12
Iris   5

This week, to balance all those white pictures I give you

                                     The Red Group from 2014

Orchid cactus
Scarlet Pansy daylily

This is one of many orchid cactus I have. They get hung in the trees in the summer. They are cousins of the Christmas cactus that most people recognize.
The get big and then they all have to come inside in the winter. I want to throw them all outside as soon as the danger of frost is over. I have to be careful because they can only go under trees where the leaves have all come out. Direct early sun will sun burn them just like people.

Beauty of Livermore Oriental Poppy

I went through a daylily phase back in the 90's. I keep adding 10-20 each year as the garden grew. Then I ran out of space. They do need at least have day sun, and that is rather limited.
At the height of my fascination with this family I recorded the date of first flower and the number of flowers per plant.
I still have most of the plants, including some that I crossed myself. That is a time delayed garden plan. It would take maybe 3-4 years for a plant to first bloom. There would be an exciting moment when you found out how a plant turned out.

This is Beauty of Livermore. This photograph  has almost captured the color. It is a deep red. This plant is an oriental poppy and bloomed on June 1. Poppies have been a frequent participant in the contest over the years. The centers are really amazing.

This of course is the old favorite, the  amaryllis. I have a bunch. They can go dormant over the winter, which can be just right. I like to keep them dormant until April. I can then take them outside and have them bloom in the garden. This was from May 30.

The myth is that you can make them wake up on command. Just give the bulb some water and fertilizer in January and you can have wonderful color a month later.

It doesn't always work that way. Sometimes they just wake up without any water or any light. Maybe the temperature just changed. If that happens you can have some white foliage amaryllis when you peek in the closet in February. That just happened to me. I was about to call the plant abuse police. I put them under lights and the green has come back. I resolve to look in that closet once every two weeks next winter.

That's it for the contest this week. I hope you are warmed up by the red pictures.

Now let's get the to bonus pictures.

Here are more pictures of that amazing orchid cactus.

Here is what was even more amazing. One of these flowers made a seed pod. Here is the pod.

This picture was taken on September 13. At that point the seed pod was rock hard. I had read that you waited to harvest the seed, so I just left it on the plant. By the time it got to be about the end of October the pod was starting to soften. I brought the whole plant in and put it in the upstairs room with lot of windows and no heat.
By the end of November I was ready for the next step.

Mr. Internet told me that when I cut them open they would be like a kiwi.

 That was rather accurate. I then had to separate the seeds from the pulp. The pulp was sticky. I should have had them dry on something like wax paper.

I used a paper towel and that was not the best. They stuck to the towel. But since there were about 500 seeds I was able to get several hundred into an appropriate mixture.
          The seeds are now in a closed container in the basement waiting the several months for possible germination. It was a good first try.

There are 3 sprouts at this point, that may be the orchid cactus.

There is something magical about seeds coming up. I have one cactus that hasn't bloomed for maybe 5 years that I grew from seed that I ordered on eBay from Germany. It makes me tired to think about that much energy.

Here are other red flowers.

This is a hibiscus, which put on a display in March of last year.

This is a corydalis. It is an early spring bloomer. It blooms at the same time as the little blue scilla or squill. It makes a good combination. You wish you had another 50.
Look at these other pictures of corydalis from the Internet, not my garden.
link to pictures

Here are several other amaryllis pictures.

Finally I close with other pictures of the poppy.

The snow has now started to melt. The sound of melting snow is one of the best sounds I can imagine. The sound brings to mind the portion of the novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,  by C.S. Lewis, where the forever winter is starting to end. I also think about Colorado and flowers that emerge from the snowbanks.

Have a safe week and enjoy the red.

1 comment:

Philip said...

I would like to know if the comment feature still works.