Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week 11, February 14,2016- Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day everyone- February is just about half done.
There is still no poll.
Update- Wednesday 6am- The poll is back. I have posted polls for this week and last. You can get to last week's post by going to the bottom and clicking on the place where it says older "posts."
 Some people have emailed me with what I will call write in votes. I will count those votes. I will also count votes on the poll. If you want to vote twice that's fine. You deserve it for your persistence.

      What a frustrating week. How can I have a contest if there is no voting? The first year of the contest, ten years ago, it was all done by email. I attached the 4 pictures each week to emails. People voted by email. When the polling function arrived as a feature it was so much easier. People could vote on the site.
      This week my emotions have ranged widely. At first I was frustrated and annoyed with myself.  I thought that I had done something wrong or just did not understand the technology. (This can become a theme in my life. Why for example does my printer at work suddenly refuse to print beyond the first 2 pages of some documents?)  Then I was relieved that it was the "system" and not me. I found solidarity with the other bloggers who also lost their polls. As the week closes, I am annoyed, close to irritated, both steps along the way to being angry. I try not to go there. But every organization has trained, and I hope decently paid, fixers. They should fix this. Right?

But it is just a poll. I can still show you pictures. I continue to believe that everything will be fixed, in time. This becomes just one in many opportunities to learn patience, and balance, and perspective. When the feature does become available I will put up polls for all weeks that have been missed.What fun that will be for all of us.
Let's talk flowers.

We got to the orchid greenhouse in Chicago last weekend. I got some lovely little orchids, some of which will appear in the bonus section. The lupine seeds have sprouted. My Iceland poppy seedlings survive, but I have higher expectations than that.
Cold persists but the sun shone today, and this coming week is supposed to bring warmer temperatures.

In the voting last week- well there was no voting. When the poll is fixed I will put up a poll for last week too. Two people emailed me with their preference. One liked the bluebells. One liked the phlox. I appreciated those emails.

Without further ado I present this week's pictures, again featuring the color white. It is after all very much still winter. Actually with all the wind this week it has not been very "still".

#1-Cattleya orchid

This is the corsage orchid. The picture was taken on July 26, 2015, out in the garden. I hang my orchids from crabapple trees in the backyard. I also use this great metal "tree" I was given for a father's day present a few years ago. I hang orchids in the summer and ornaments (weather-proof) in the winter.
I have grown orchids for about 25 years. I got my first one, a phalaenopsis. It lived for a while and then died. The next one not only lived but re-bloomed. I was hooked. I then went through the cycle I have been through with so many types of flowers. First I just got lots of them. I then ran out of space and/or turned my attention to a different flower. Now I try to keep the number of orchids at a manageable level. That is about 25. I try to keep it a low enough number that I can pay attention to each one.
Several things about orchids:
1) They are not that expensive, unless you get them at the HyVee. You can purchase many for around $10/each. Some places, including the local hardware store, occasionally sell tiny phalaenopsis for $7-8. If you think about it, you would spend much more than that for a bunch of cut flowers from a florist.
The flowers last a long time. They can last more than a month. A blooming spike of phalaenopsis (with lots of buds) can bloom for 3-4 months.
2) Many will do fine on a windowsill. You water them on a schedule. People without much plant experience can grow them, if they have a good window, and follow a schedule. Julia's mother grew 3-4 orchids on her east bay window, starting when she was about 80. One year one of her orchids had over 30 flowers at one time.
3) Perhaps what I like the most is that they mostly bloom in the winter.

                                                                    #2  Pink daffodil
It is time for this majestic daffodil. I so look forward to daffodils. I keep telling myself that it will only be 6 weeks. It will be less than that for people who live further south.
Did you know that daffodils are hard to grow in places like New Orleans? (So I have been told.) That is because the plants need that period of dormancy, that period of cold. I think you can buy daffodils for planting there which have been already been cold.

#3 Fall crocus
This picture was taken on October 7, 2015. It is a fall blooming crocus. I wish I could tell you the name. I bet alba would be part of it. My brother-in-law showed me an app on his phone that is a flower identifier. You take a picture of a flower and it tells you the name. Magic. Sort of facial recognition software for the garden. I wonder if it will identify flowers from pictures.
Fall crocuses the fall. Some put up foliage in the spring, which may seem like disappointing daffodils. The first ones start in early September, blooms and stems but no leaves. There are then ones that just pop up much later. Assuming they are not under a pile of leaves, they are certainly "smile" flowers if not all the way to "exclamation" flowers.

                                                             #4 Night blooming cereus-
This picture was taken about 10 o'clock at night on September 23, 2015. It is the night blooming cereus. It is probably "Epiphyllum oxypetalum". This plant is a cousin of the orchid cactus. Unlike the other orchid cacti I grow, it not only blooms at night, but it is really pretty much done by mid morning. I have been waiting for this week to arrive so I can show you its pictures. There were actually two flushes of bloom this year. The first was in mid July. There were about 6 flowers on the bigger plant, which bloomed over two nights. The next flush was with this flower, and there were six flowers all blooming at the same time. Remember these flowers are on a plant with stalks or branches or tentacles reaching out almost 5 feet in several directions.

A few other comments about this plant. It does have to come inside for the winter. It could tolerate a frost, but not a freeze. It sort of vines, which is different from the other orchid cacti. That means it sends out a 4-5 foot long branch, giving it a much bigger wing span. I hang the plants in the trees.
It blooms in bunches. Whatever triggers the formation of buds happens all over the plant at exactly the same time. Actually I have had one plant in the front yard and one in the back. They tend to bloom on the exact same night. It is kind of magic. The bud grows for over a month.
They can grow from cuttings. I trimmed the bigger plant this fall when it came inside. Every cutting grew roots quickly. I now have a new plant, probably looking for a good home at the spring sale.
Many pictures appear in the bonus section.

If there ever is a poll you should vote for one of these pictures.

Bonus time

Let me show you more of the night blooming cereus. It really was the gem in the garden for me in 2015.
This first picture shows the early bud, that tiny reddish bump on the edge of the leaf. This was taken on July 16. It might have been the one that bloomed in late September.

Here are more buds, later on. They initially hang straight down. When they are going to bloom they curve up, then out, and then they bloom. In the third picture you can see the spent bloom on the left.

                           Here are pictures from the nights it bloomed.
There were two sets of blooms this year. The first was July 16. The second was September 23. I thinking about pictures I remember that sunset was much earlier in late September. The flash on my camera was more needed for the second set of pictures.
This particular picture almost made the contest.

In these pictures you can get a feel for the size of the plant. Imagine what it would be like in a conservatory or even a greenhouse. That's Maggie looking at the plant about 10 p.m.  It really was the "call-the-neighbors" time. But I didn't. I should really have a party when it blooms. It is that old contradiction of being proud of something and not wanting to be showing off. It is important that you really can pretty much tell when this is going to bloom. At least when the buds turn outward and start to open a little you can say this is the evening.
        This of course is all reminiscent of the anticipation and excitement for the regular cactus as discussed in Week 9. One difference is that the regular cactus continued to bloom through out the next day. The cereus was pretty much done by morning. You either saw it at night or did not see it.

I actually have a second plant, that has its place in the backyard. It blooms on the same day, but it is not the same plant. It is a more complex flower and actually does not entirely open. I know where I bought it. It has a variety name of Mark Twain. This was also from July 15.

Let me give you this photo lineup of orchid cactus from my garden. You can see the night blooming cereus in the context of of the other orchid cactus flowers. I would add that all of these pictures, except for the cereus, were taken during the daytime.

What do you think about a spectacular flower that blooms for such a short time? I am reminded of those desert plants that bloom once a decade or more. I remember there was one this summer at the Denver Botanical Gardens that drew thousands of people to see it over several days. Apparently it even smelled really bad. (I googled Denver Botanical Gardens smelly plant)

Let me show you more pictures of my orchids.
These pictures are with one strange orchid I got 2 years ago. It has grown and this year had four spikes, with all these little flowers. It blooms about Christmas time. It is called a Stenorrhynchos. I found that if you repeated the name of the orchid 300 times over one year it stuck in your brain. That number might be larger now that I am older.

These next pictures are phalaenopsis. (I am not sure about the plural word.) The first one was hanging in the garden during the summer. They will bloom then, even though most bloom in the winter. I am told that is because they are from South America when they bloom in their summer. The last two pictures were taken this weekend of plants on the window sill over the sink in the kitchen.

This a little cattleya.
It hangs in the trees in the summer and starts to make its buds. The plant has now regularly bloomed for me each of the last 3 years. This picture was taken November 28.

This is the tiniest orchid flower I have. I have had the plant for 4-5 years. I have lost the label. I should see if my brother-in-law's app will work. It has these little tiny yellow flowers that do look like an orchid if you look closely. It blooms all year round. It has several flowers today. I repotted it this summer so it is getting even bigger. In the winter I keep it on my kitchen window sill, over the sink. I can check to see if it is too dry when I do dishes.The picture was taken August 8, 2015.

This is a paphiopedilum orchid. It has been blooming since the beginning of December. I just got it then. Actually it had two buds. One or the other has been blooming all that time. I find these hard to grow. Sometimes I am more adventuresome than other times.

I am so pleased. I was able to find this picture of my mother-in-law's east window. The picture was from 2003. She started growing orchids, because I gave her one, at about age 80, when this picture was taken. She really had little gardening experience at that point. She had a good location and a good routine, and she sang Tony Bennett songs to them. That was enough. I really encourage you to just try one.

So what about fall crocuses. The first thing to know is that some are related to spring crocuses and some are not. The ones that are not are mostly colchicums. Colchicums make lots of foliage in the spring, sort of like surprise lilies. Guess what? They are related to lilies. The foliage dies back and you wait for just the flower in the fall.
Another thing to know about them is that you can buy them during the summer and they will bloom right away. That is sort of an immediate reward, which is not like bulbs.

These are colchicums.
Here is what you first see in late August.

Here is full bloom.

I have quite a few at this point in one area of the garden. I would transplant some but I do not know when. Do you do that after the foliage dies back? I suspect you do it after the flower blooms.
I tried to look it up-when do you plant fall crocuses. I mostly got the helpful information that you should plant them after they arrive. Duh.
One minor problem is that when they bloom there are all these other plants growing. This clump above is in an area where there are hosta plants. They should really be in a place where they can be seen better. Oh well. I should just try to dig up a few when they just come up in the spring and see what happens.

This is a double colchicum, called 'Waterlily'.

It is pretty neat, but is expensive. You could expect to pay $5/bulb. Once again this plant required planning so you do not plant something on top of it, or dig it up by mistake.

This is a saffron fall crocus. It is a real crocus. Those orange things get you the spice. You have to collect a whole lot of them to make even a tiny amount.

Here are more pictures of fall crocuses.

Once again in the very late fall you get that brown background I like so much with spring bulbs.

I am about done. I could keep going. It was a wonderfully sunny day, on Saturday as I wrote most of this. But is was cold. 15 degrees or so. But the days are longer and that counts for something. Be safe. Enjoy the pictures. I hope to have the voting restarted soon.


Scott Rahner said...

Nice post, Philip. I am still frustrated with the polls. I posted on the same forum as you with Blogger help (under 'GSNNADMIN' representing

I do not understand why Blogger is taking so long to fix this simple issue and why it even happened in the first place.

Garden Fancy said...

Just have people leave a comment with their vote. I vote for the night-blooming Cereus of the four flower photos, although I liked the crocus too. Blogger can be very frustrating, I know, but so many millions of people use the free service that they are probably inundated with problems and questions all the time. And we do get what we pay for, after all. -Beth

Judith said...

I like the daffodil with the hint of blue in the background. well, I like all, but this not being Cook County, vote once for one.
almost you make me want to try an orchid, but I think I will be doing marigolds with Peter this summer.

Catherine Woods said...

I like the daffodil best.

Anonymous said...

I was *very excited* about the corpse flower blooms in Denver and Chicago last year!! also those crocus are so cheerful but the night-blooming cactus is SO COOL

philip Mears said...

You should look at the google images for the cereus. There are a few where there are just so many flowers.
But they are so fleeting and then they are gone.