Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week 6- January 10, 2016. Let's have some color

Welcome to Week 6.
It is the 10th of January. Can we really be that far along in the picture contest? Can we really be that far along with winter?  If you measure winter as starting November 1, then we are almost half done with it.

Let me say a few positive things about winter.
       Sometimes there are sunny days. One such recent Saturday the temperature rose to 31 degrees. There was no wind. It was so very very crisp out. First thing that morning the birds were singing as if it were early April. They were quite loud. It wasn't really cold at all. If I were a bird, I would have been singing.
       For a gardener who has been raking garden debris for what seems like months, now that there is a snow cover, there is nothing to do outside in the garden. With all that extra time, I can spend more time perusing iris pictures from the past.
        Several plant catalogues have arrived.  There are so many wonderful coral bells these days. They come in so many great colors.

How is that for positive?

In last week's contest the winner, by a wide margin, was the Louisiana Iris. What a gem it was. It is not too early to begin thinking about the playoffs down the road. How will this iris do in a four way match with the white Iceland poppy or the lantana from week 2?

The full voting was
Louisiana Iris  28 which was 45%
Orchid Cactus  13
Crown Imperial Fritillaria  12
Pasque flower  9

On to this week's contest.
For this week the theme is color. We need color in the winter. It is either gray or brown or the dreaded white. Every day when you look out the window, when it is light enough to see anything, there is this blanket of no color.
So I give you these 4 great pictures of color.

Contestant #1 is this tulip. The solitary tulip.
Sometimes a picture just flows in a particular way. This picture of a tulip, with that long stem, reaches for the sky.
I like tulips. I do not plant tulips in quantity. I have never had the undedicated space for that. Sometimes I think I should tear out a sunny strip and just use it for tulips. That space could later be followed by zinnias or even hot peppers.
For now I have the isolated tulips that come back every year, defying that hybridizing flaw that breaks these plants down after a few shows.
But isolated tulips can be wonderful.
Thinking of tulips I thought about tulip mania. I hope that everyone knows about the historical Dutch tulip mania. I was reminded of that mania when I saw an article about Ken Griffey, Junior and his rookie baseball card. How is that for an obscure connection? Griffey was just elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a rookie in 1989. That year his rookie baseball card skyrocketed in value. It was part of a speculative bubble, a term we all unfortunately know at this point. Here is the link to an article about the speculative bubble in baseball cards in the early 90's.
Here is the wikipedia article on the tulip bubble. The tulip bubble was in 1637. There will be a test next week. Well maybe not. You should learn however how a virus played an important role in the mania at the time.

Red Primrose
Contestant #2 is the red primrose, with a background of white petals.
Background is a theme with me. Early spring flowers have a wonderful brown background. It sets out the early spring color so well. (It also makes it so much easier for the rabbits to find anything with color, which is another story.) Later in the year for a background you get bluebells, which always go well with everything.
There is another background in my garden. For 2-3 days in the spring the blossoms from the white crab apple trees descend on the backyard, often like a shaken snow globe. The resulting white petal background makes for some great photographs.

Contestant #3 is a close up of the blooming clivia.
Clivia are wonderful plants that have this great cluster of flowers when they bloom. They live in pots in my garden as they are not hardy in the north. We once saw an entire hillside of orange clivia in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. They are hardy there.
Rain does set off a picture, much the way background can be important. This rain was on July 10. The rain for the next contestant was on July 11. It was that kind of summer.
There are more clivia pictures in the bonus section.

Scarlet Pansy Daylily
Contestant #4 is Scarlet Pansy, the daylily.
I suppose there could be an entire group of flowers where the name includes a different flower. I will have to think. Help me out on this one, if you can remember any such odd combinations. I just found a hosta called "Abiqua elephant ears". That would seem to work. I also found another hosta called "Gypsy rose." Of course that may not be named for the flower, but rather the person.

Daylilies are a central part of the sunnier parts of my garden. I go through plant obsessions over time. Hosta was probably the first. Then daylilies. I went through an epimedium phase 7-8 years ago. In my daylily stage I tried to get 10 new daylilies each year. Then I ran out of space. Daylilies give the obsessive gardener so many opportunities. I would log the date of first bloom, for each variety. I would count the number of buds for each plant. A daylily flower only lasts one day. There can be 150 flowers on a mature plant. That can last two weeks. The season stretches even more as some are very early and some are...wait for it....very late. The daylily season in fact can last for as much as two months. This picture was taken on July 11. Last year the first daylily picture was taken on June 22. The last picture was taken on August 8.

That's it for this week's contest. Vote away. Send in your comments or your emails.

Bonus section time:
Here are other single tulips.

They do bloom about the time that bluebells bloom. As you may already know, everything goes well with bluebells. Well, maybe not really tiny plants. Bluebells might keep you from seeing them.

I thought I would search my archives for the opposite of the isolated tulip. I found you pictures from professional gardens.
To get to mass blooming, of course you have to mass plant. That means lots of tulips. We timed our trip to Longwood Gardens this fall just right. I believe the big bulbs in with the tulips on the right are crown imperial fritillarias.

Here are Chicago Botanical Garden pictures from May 2014.

Let me show you more primroses.

Now for some clivia pictures.
This first picture gives you an idea how big these plants can get. This yellow blooming plant is probably 6-8 years old. One can divide them whenever they put up a side shoot. If you do that you will have 20 plants before you know it. They all have to come inside for the winter.
This potted yellow one makes quite the statement from some distance                                                                             away.

Now you are closer to the plant. You can see there are several different stalks with many flowers on each.

This is a closeup of that same plant. I actually find the yellow ones to be easier to care for. That is garden talk for the plant doesn't get bugs as easily.

Here is one of the larger orange clivia, maybe the one with the contestant. Notice the seed pods on the stem at the right. The spent flowers make seed pods. The seed pods, like the orchid cactus seed pods, are very hard right after they have formed. They begin by being green. As they ripen the turn orange and soften. This might take as much as a full year. The seeds will                                                                           stay on the

stalk until they actually split open, having sprouted in the pod. You then have a little miniature plant, or ten, or twenty. I started some from sprouts 4-5 years ago. They  have begun to bloom.

You bring clivia inside in the winter. With proper care and attention they will bloom inside. They can also get those winter bugs that drive you crazy. White fly and mealy bugs. Yuck. It can be quite difficult to get rid of them even when the plants go outside in the spring.
Isn't gardening fun?
I found these two last clivia pictures in the archives. This first one has the seed pods in various degrees of ripeness. Some are green and some have begun to turn red.

This was a little pot of seedlings from 2010. If I remember correctly within each seedpod there might be 2-3 individual seeds, which actually start to open, inside the pod. Plant them in pot and come back in 3-4 months. Bingo. Many little plants.

I thought I would share this one picture from this last week.

As you may know Julia knits. Each fall she makes mittens. They mostly go to the schools in Iowa City for kids who need mittens. She had sent off 18 pair earlier this year.
In this picture each mitten you see has one underneath it. These were mailed to Iowa City schools this week.

I am going to close with one last shot of the garden from May 2, 2015. The white crab apple blossoms have just descended, most clearly on the paths.

Be warm. Drive carefully.

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