Sunday, December 20, 2015

Magical moment- Week 3- December 20, 2015

           Welcome to week 3 of the contest, brought to you from balmy Iowa. The holidays are almost here. Tomorrow will be the winter solstice. The big dark will reach its peak. Slowly, but surely, the light will increase.
          We had one day this week when it was almost winter. On Friday the high temperature was about 30. Saturday morning was down to 15 degrees. With a strong wind, it was awful. My how we are spoiled so far this year. There will likely be times in a month when 30 will feel tropical. Last weekend record highs were set. It was 60 degrees in Iowa City.
As a result of this weather lots of bulbs are stirring. There is this one little snowdrop in the front yard that reliably comes up early, every year. Here it is this weekend. I will keep you informed as to its progress.

Is this warm weather a little scary? Well maybe. We took a drive in the country yesterday afternoon, down towards North English. The farm fields that have cover crops planted are greening up. Some of the grass around the farmyards have never lost the green.
3 years ago we had a winter that mostly wasn't. I had winter aconite (a little yellow flower that blooms very early) in late January. Maybe this will be like that.  But what can you do? I guess you can enjoy the lower heating bills. You can be glad that cities are not paying for snow removal.

So let us think about flowers and pictures and the garden picture contest.

Your last week's winner was the very colorful Lantana. Here it is again for your memory books. It was really a very close and exciting contest all week. Ruby Spider got within one vote several times. They say athletic conferences like to achieve parity. I try to make the pictures each week somewhat competitive. With the fourth place picture last week getting 18% I guess that happened.

The full voting was as follows:
Lantana 20
Ruby Spider 18
double bloodroot 15
chionodoxa 12

But let us get on to this week's contest.
This week the contest will feature the color pink. Sometimes I try to have a theme.


This first contestant is the pink primrose. This perennial has such great colors. The color contrast within the flower is what is so striking. When I think about this plant there is only one word that comes to mind. That word is "more." I must get more of them. Unfortunately that word occurs frequently in my garden vocabulary. I must also get more crocuses, and snowdrops, and fancy daffodils.  I am barely out of April.
Did I mention that the garden catalogs have begun to arrive. There were some great primroses. But my, have the prices gotten high. You have to pay $15 for a single perennial. And that is from a company that is not from Connecticut. We found a wonderful new greenhouse this past year, down by Kalona. You take a little ride (it is about 15 miles away) and then find inexpensive plants. That is a pretty good combination. They had primroses for way less money that $15 apiece.
I think I will set aside that money I am not spending on heating. It will be a primrose fund.


This is the hoya. This little cluster of flowers is amazing. Each little flower has five little parts within the five points of the outer star. The color is subtle. The flowers are almost fuzzy but gleam. I love it. They bloom on a hanging plant that comes inside for the winter. The bigger of the two plants has been blooming regularly for the last few years. Sometime when there is only bad TV you could look up hoyas on the Internet. Do a Google image search for hoya plants. OK OK. I will just give you the link. We will see if this works.

They really are amazing. Looking at those pictures just gives me good shivers. My mother has one variety hanging over her kitchen sink. For those of you in warmer areas you can even grow them outside.

This particular variety is called the Hindu rope plant. That is because the foliage is twisted, perhaps like a rope. The botanical name is Hoya carnosa. I am told that it is also known as Krinkle Kurl, or wax flower. It does grow like a vine. This fall I clipped off some of the ends and put them in water. They are starting to root. Who knows? Maybe I will wind up with 4 plants, rather than 2. That is what sometimes gets me in trouble.

I thought the flower cluster looked a little like the milkweed flower. Indeed the hoya is in that family. Don't you just feel smarter now. This is educational.


It was a good year for waterlilies. Here is the pink one. I have a little pond in the backyard. Katie dug it when she was about 10. She thought we needed a water feature. There are about 6 waterlily plants and about that many fish. And there are frogs. They come by mail order. Did I mention raccoons? They come later in the year and try to get the fish. They really mess up the the waterlilies, which up until then have tried to cover the pond. But these are hearty waterlilies. They come back.
They also make wonderful pictures. This one was taken on July 12. Picking the pink waterlily contestant each year is hard. In the bonus section this week you will understand that difficulty. Sometimes you can get a frog shot. There is one of those in the bonus section.

Pink Zazzle

This little flower was new in the garden this year. New stuff is good. This is a variety of globe amaranth called, wait for it, Pink Zazzle. It is fancy enough that it is patented. It is an annual here in Iowa. Mostly that means it is now dead. But I want you to look at the bonus pictures. This picture here was taken on October 18. Remember that annuals can give you color, right up to frost. In the bonus section there are pictures of this particular flower taken on November 18 and then again on November 27. There had not only been a killing freeze by then, but we had that snowstorm on November 20. How the color just stuck around was beyond me. There is something about the molecular structure of the parts of the flower that hold the shape and the color. (Botany was never my strong suit.)
If you look closely you can just see that there are almost flowers within a flower. Those are those little almost yellow things that stick out from all that pink.

There you have it for this Week 3. I hope you enjoy the pictures.  And do let me hear from you, either by email or comment. Tell me why you liked a particular picture. Tell me anything.

It is Bonus time

Here are those Zazzle pictures I mentioned.

November 18

November 27
Here are the other pink waterlily pictures. Can you find the frog? I really like the contrast you get with the colors of the water and the leaves.

Here are more hoya shots.

That's it for the week.

It is a special time of the year. It is special for many reasons.
There is dark and cold out there. There is a little fear.
There are also crazy people who want to take advantage of that fear.
We will hear them a lot in Iowa for the next month.

But there is light coming.
There will be colors and flowers. and frogs.
Go away fear, dark, and cold.
You are not wanted here.


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