Monday, February 05, 2007

Curmudgeonly Flower

Here ya go Olivia ... a curmudgeonly flower I came up with from the archives. Ok, so I brazenly swiped Olivia's idea as mentioned in her comments today, and I hope she doesn't mind too much! Though this clump of Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum) may look intimidating and downright prickly, it's really a pretty friendly (and as those who know me always hear me say) and absolutely unique and dazzling perennial for the front of the border. And with the blazing sun of late June captured here, it gives one of the best depictions of ephemeral blue haze of these masses of "flowers" (they're actually bracts). The best approximation we've come up with for the hazy blue is something akin to "gunmetal blue," though even that doesn't truly cover the range you see in these ... it's all dependent on how the light catches them. And for the naïve or just plain flower ignunt folks, it's quite often mistaken for a mass of thistles, for which the analogy is apt, if incorrect.

So here's a bit of summer past to brighten up the dreary cold of our present arctic blast .... If you look closely in the first shot, you'll also see Bee Balm and Coneflowers peeking through, along with one of the later Delphiniums and the Porcupine grass planted behind "Finger Rock...."

It's making me itch for spring and summer to arrive already ... and given the volumes of seed and plant catalogues I've been receiving lately, I guess they're on other gardeners' (and suppliers') minds as well!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

One more ... with love to Janet

I know it's not pink, but believe me, if I had a pink one, her name would be Janet!

Still, red does pack a lot of punch, like you do .... and you know what people say about red and passion ...

Just an affectionate post for someone I think very highly of, who deserves a bit of pizzazz of the floral type right about now.

Hope you see this, hon.

Amaryllis, encore ...

The great Amaryllis bloom-off is still underway, and only increasing the past few days (now up to a total of 8 open blooms on 2 plants). Tonight's shots were actually done on February 1, and thanks to Fernymoss for having done the honors with the camera. I think he got some pretty cool close ups of the fabled inner bits as well as some more arty abstractions of the flower.

I did a bit more research on Amaryllis tonight and learned that they're native to areas of South Africa, which generally translates into our USDA Hardiness zones of 8-11, far beyond the reach of most of our humble gardens. (Though I wonder if Far could get by with a heavy mulch where he is, now that he told me they are now officially Zone 8, according to that Arbor Day Foundation link I used in a previous post.)

Anyway, apparently around the turn of the last century there was quite a heated debate on how to classify this species (Amaryllis belladonna) ... much hubub about nomenclature. I suppose the meta-debates can be found in any field, botany included! The upshot is that the belladonna faction won out and this is what we now call them today. (The poor hippoastrum folks got shut out.)

There is also a hardy variety of Amaryllis we have in our yard (as do many around these parts) that most people refer to as "Surprise Lilies." (I also heard them called "Naked Ladies" when I was a kid.) I'm sure most readers know these ... they put up a lot of leaves in the spring, almost resembling Daffodil leaves ... they grow vigorously for a while then die back. Then in the midst of summer, (usually around late July or early August), surprise! You'll go out one day and see a group of stalks with medium pink flowers (very similar to the belladonna species, only smaller) .... they're so determinate in their bloom phase, that you can be assured if yours are up and blooming, so are everyone else's in town. Fun while they last, which is usually only a week or so, then they disappear again, only to return in the spring and repeat the cycle.

No matter which variety you might choose to grow, they're really easy once you know the growing basics ... let them bloom, let them go dormant and rest, then repeat. I guess cold weather gets me to thinking about the life cycle of bulbs, given that we have well over 1000 of them planted outside, just waiting patiently for their right moment to occur so they can burst back into bloom. I was rather worried earlier this winter with our long stretches of relatively warm weather that some would jump the gun, but from all I can tell, they are biding their time and with this current cold snap, should stay there until their appointed time in late February or March ... there will be many brilliant spring flowers here when that happens ....