Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week 8- January 24, 2016- How about pink?

Welcome to week 8 of my little effort to shorten and brighten your winter. 
I send a special thought to those of you in the Washington DC/Baltimore/NYC area where you are getting the winter we all hope to avoid.
I particularly want to thank all of you who sent me responsive emails to last week's contest. The emails really helped me get through a stressful week that culminated with my arguing a case to the Iowa Supreme Court on Thursday. I do find balance between my law practice and my flowers.
Did I mention that the sun is out? And there is so much more light these days. Sunset passed 5 o'clock in the afternoon the other day, going in the right direction. That was a good step. A full 10 hours of sunshine will be coming in about ten days.

In Week 7 the winner by a narrow margin was the the little iris with bluebells. I have to admit that this picture may get put with my all time favorites.

The full voting was
Little Iris  25  36%
Lupine   23    33%
Hosta  11
Lily   9

This week's contest

For this week the theme is pink. One week, maybe last year, I had a team contest. I gave you a team of flowers with the same color. Think about the possibilities. There can be team yellow or team pink or team red. Here are possible members of team pink for a 2016 contest.

Contestant #1- Amaryllis Apple Blossom
Amaryllis fit my gardening habits just fine. Mostly. They have a wonderful flower. They can bloom in the winter. They come back the next year with some care. In theory you can control when they bloom by manipulating their growing cycle. What?
I started writing about this and realized it was too much. I have moved that discussion to the bonus section further down the page.
For now I tell you that this picture was taken on May 19. The flower was blooming outside. It had company, as you can see from the bonus pictures.
Like so many plants of mine, before you know it you will have 20. But unlike orchid cacti and bougainvillea and even hibiscus, Amaryllis do not take up much room inside in the winter. Maybe I could get some more. Have you heard that before? They come in so many great colors. Some are really fancy. Apple Blossom is an old favorite.

                                                                   Contestant #2 Daylily San Ignacio
Daylilies have a special place in my garden. They have such a great color range. This is Daylily San Ignacio. The picture is from July 4. Close up pictures of daylilies have also been special for me over the years. Here the focal point is those stamen, the part of the plant that carries the pollen. Every once in a while I get to show kids how to cross pollinate a daylily. It is so easy, since each flower is only open for one day. You just use your finger to collect the pollen from the stamen from one plant and rub it on the pistil of another. That's it. You can tell within 2 weeks if you have seeds coming. (You do have to remember not to deadhead what you have pollinated.) You then save the seed and start them when you have time and space.

#3 Really pink orchid cactus

This orchid cactus flower is from perhaps my best plant. The flower from Week 5 is a little prettier in my opinion. This picture is great in almost a neon kind of way.
The plant however makes you understand what these plants can do.
The individual flowers are wonderful. The you get 20-30 flowers which bloom in the summer. They are a great companion to the shade garden. (Real Orchids work as well.) You hang them from your shade trees. They do not take up any ground space. (I garden  to the curb in all directions. I tell people that once you have filled up 2 dimensions in your garden there is only one direction. That is up.) Orchid cacti easily propagate from cuttings. Then of course there is growing them from seed.
The full plant appears in the bonus pictures down below.

                                                                       #4 Pink Oriental Poppy
I have 4 basic colors of Oriental poppies. The colors are white, red, orange, and this wonderful pink. It is the first one to bloom in the garden.
From their crepe paper petals to that jewel box in the center they make great pictures. This one bloomed on May 25.

Bonus Picture Time
First you get some Amaryllis garden talk and some pictures.
Let me give you my explanation of the yearly cycle of the amaryllis.
They are bulbs, sometimes quite big.  After they bloom in the winter, mostly, you limp them along until they can go outside for the summer. They will keep their leaves all summer, storing up that energy into the bulb . They go dormant, with or without some help in the fall. (You stop watering and maybe even cut off leggy foliage.)You put them away in that cool dark place that stays about 50 degrees and does not freeze. At our house it is the dark room under the stairs to the basement.
       When you are ready, you bring them out and give them some fresh dirt. I like the concept of old tired dirt. You also give them some fertilizer and wait for a few weeks. Then along come the bud(s). There is a picture further down in the bonus section. The bud becomes a great stalk. Sometimes you may not even know what color it will be. Then it blooms giving you color. It lasts for a few weeks, as there may be 4 flowers on a stalk.
          After it is finished you put it in a window sill. You take it outside in the spring. The foliage soaks up that sun and regenerates the bulb.

      Here's the neat part. You can start this cycle (bring them out of dormancy) whenever you want. They need to be dormant for at a minimum, maybe 6 weeks. If you want them to bloom in January you bring them out of dormancy in December. Sometimes I want to keep them dormant all winter. This limits the crowd on the window sills. It also allows me to have them bloom in the garden. They really can make a statement. More then one can stop cars.

That neat part does not always work. Sometimes they break dormancy without any help. They just start growing, without any water or or any light for months. It is just their time. The embarrassing part is that this can happen in that dark room and you don't notice it for a while or longer. Then you have some serious plant abuse. Those white leaves, caused by no light, really are ugly.

Here is a picture just taken yesterday showing a pot mostly doing what you want it to do. What is first emerging are buds, not leaves. This should be gorgeous in maybe a month. I will give you updates.
I will say that this pot, along a few other pots which are now just growing leaves, broke dormancy without any help. This pot had no water or light for 2 months. The bulbs just started to grow. Maybe it needed to be colder. Who knows. What is frustrating is when a plant does start waking up inside, way before it can go outside. What can do? You can't show it the snow and ask it to rethink becoming active. You can't just cut off the new leaves and pretend they weren't there.

Let's move on.
Here are pictures of the particular orchid cactus plant that had the flower in this week's contest. The pictures appear in the order they were taken. (Within a row they go from left to right.) The first picture was July 3. The last one was July 15. I left the old flowers on the plant. This of course gave me the seed pods I talked about in week 5.
I hang the plant in the walnut tree in the front yard. It is 15 feet from Fairview Street. I try to make it so that people will be able to enjoy the garden even as they drive by. There is of course a point system gardeners maintain (for and by themselves). You get points for how many people stop by or make comments. Extra points are awarded for attracting children. (Sometimes they just like the frogs.) Points are off the chart if you can ever get comments from high school kids, walking to school.
In one picture you can see that the back of the flower which is interesting. I cannot think of many flowers where I have taken pictures of the back.
I cannot overstate the excitement that can come with all those buds (unless they show up in April when the plant is still inside.)

Here are some of the contestants over the years from the Oriental Poppy group.

Finally here are some of my daylily closeups pictures, also from over the years. This is the special treat for the week. Fill up your screen with any one of these. Are you ready to go out and get a daylily plant? How about just taking closeup photographs of flowers?
By the way in these pictures the pistil is easier to see than in the picture in the contest. The pistil is the long thing that sticks up that doesn't have a black end. There is one per flower.
The pink picture is from my all time favorite set of pictures.

That's it for the week. I will try to get this posted early Sunday morning. Keep sending those emails. Find some other people to vote. Let's get that total over 70 this week.
Stay warm and try to avoid being in a hurry.


Judith said...

I have an unremarkable "Christmas cactus" which lives indoors and blooms any time from Thanksgiving on--sometimes twice in one year (or I'm old and not keeping track of time well, take your pick). yes, a shower of buds is spectacular.

Catherine Woods said...

It was tough choosing my favorite this week. It was a tie between the amaryllis and the pink poppy. I love them both! I wish I could have split my vote, but since I could not, I selected the pink poppy. The way the light shown on it and the bright green foliage in the background tipped the balance.

Thank you so much for shortening and brightening my winter!