Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week 11- March 1, 2015- Looking for inspiration

Welcome to March. Welcome to Week 11 of the Mears Garden Picture Contest.  We made it through a bunch of cold months. Spring is around the corner. Really?
It seems I spend much too much time looking at the ten day forecast and wondering when those warmer temperatures will arrive.

But it is March. February is in our rear view window. While warmer weather is not quite here,  there are lots of plant catalogues in the mail these days. I do enjoy looking through the catalogues and filling out a wish list. This is of course all theoretical, as I really do not have much room and my new acquisition budget is limited. That does not prevent me from enjoying the  thoughts.
Let me share some thoughts and wishes.
A common penstemon grows like a weed in the garden. It is mostly white. There are some varieties coming out now that are brighter colors. One series is called Polaris. It comes in red and purple.

 I just discovered a variety of coneflower called Julia. It looks bright red in the pictures. I really like the new colored coneflowers. I am yet to find ones that are as vigorous as the old solid purple.

Then there are the fancy elephant ears. I have always been a fan of caladium. Elephant ears are great too, particularly when they get really big. There are new cousins that are black or bicolored that certainly make my wish list. I saw a colocasis called Blue Hawaii that had green leaves with purple veins.

But let us go back to the picture contest.
In that contest we have finished 10 weeks.


Here was your winner last week, the jack in the pulpit seedpod.

Here was the final vote:
Seedpod    19
Primrose   16
Crocus  10
Iris   9

 I did put up a second poll last week. I wondered about which primrose picture you liked best. About half of you confirmed that I had picked out the best primrose picture for the contest.That did mean that the other half liked a different picture. Your selections for the other pictures were about equally divided.

The playoffs in the picture contest have arrived.
There would have been 10 winning pictures to advance to this next round, except for the dramatic tie in week 9. To even things up and to make for 4 weeks of 4 pictures each I have selected five second place wild card pictures to this final round.
In 4 weeks time there will be a final four, and you will decide which picture will be the picture of the year.

So here is week one.

The first contestant  is the pink tommasinianius crocus. It was the winner in Week 1, way back just before Christmas. This picture was taken on April 5, 2014. I wonder if we will see these cheerful flowers by April 5 of this year. That is really not that far away.

Here you have that yellow dog tooth violet from week 2. It is another April picture, this one from April 19. These flowers really really are just around the corner. Did I mention that as I write this on Saturday morning, in the dark at 5:30, the thermometer tells me it is -8 degrees outside?

Ah, the Iceland poppy. I have all these seedlings at the moment. This weekend I started to divide the clumps where I have 20 seeds coming up in one square inch. Imagine having hundreds of these flowers. That is what the Chicago Botanical garden does almost every year.
This picture is from May 31.
Update- I started dividing yesterday. I now have 33 individual plants. I have just gotten started.

Your final entry this week is the pink waterlily. The plant is outside in all that ice. I wonder how far down the ice goes. The pond is maybe 30 inches deep. The pots of waterlilies are at the bottom. They are called hardy waterlilies and they earn that description. But I guess that the temperature of most plants/bulbs/roots in the winter goes below freezing. Just like those arctic squirrels in the National Geographic. What Arctic squirrels you ask?
Here is the piece from wikopedia, so it must be true.
"The diurnal Arctic ground squirrel lives on the tundra and is prey to the Arctic Fox, the Red Fox,  wolverine, lynx, the Grizzly Bear and eagles. It is one of the few Arctic animals, along with their close relatives the marmots and the un-related little brown bat, that hibernate. In the summer it forages for tundra plants, seeds and fruit, to increase  body fat for its winter hibernation. By late summer the male arctic ground squirrel begins to store food in its burrow so that in the spring. it will have edible food until the new vegetation has grown. The burrows are lined with lichens, leaves, and muskox hair.
During hibernation, its brain drops to just above freezing, its core body temperature reaches temperatures down to -2.9°C and its heart rate drops to ~1BPM. Peripheral, colonic, and blood temperatures become subzero."

That is it for the contest this week. You can now pick one of the four pictures to include in the final finals in a month.

As for your Bonus pictures this week

I have just gone back and looked for pictures that make me warmer. There are really a lot of great hosta in the garden. This first picture is hosta Liberty.

I hope you enjoy the pictures this week.

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