Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here Comes the Sun ...

The sun finally made a welcome return to Casa IVG today, along with a high of 65 (!), and proceeded to bring about a few minor miracles in the garden, among which was the opening of our first two Daffodils (at long last)! I can't decide whether I get more excited about seeing the first crocus or daffodils or tulips (okay, I'll fess up, the crocuses rule my world), but somehow for me Daffodils signal the true arrival of Spring and the promise of all the flowers to come over the growing season....

These are the first two blooms of many yet to come ... years ago I planted some of our first Daffodils in a "tree ring bed" in the parking of the northeast corner of our lot and though they've been faithful bloomers for us (though once they did skip a year) ever since. Until this year, that is. Where there used to be about 25-30 bulbs, there are now only two remaining. Now, whether this is due to "natural" causes or something more nefarious, I have no idea. I've mentioned in previous posts (from last year) that there was a huge Daffodil die-off in Des Moines last year, though ours appeared to be spared, so perhaps this year it was our turn to take our lumps. Fortunately the 150 or so naturalizing daffodils we planted in 2005 in the Woodland Garden are thriving and multiplying and currently budding out, so you'll be seeing those soon. In any case, these first two are the "Dutch Masters" variety I planted back in 2000 (yes, they were Martha Stewart bulbs, lol) and I think they're one of the prettiest varieties ... real classics of their kind.

Let's move in for a closer look, shall we? I took these shots in the late afternoon sun, and I love capturing the glow and shadows this particular lighting gives these blooms....

I also revisited the Chionodoxa today, hoping to get a better shot that would capture a more accurate blue hue ... well, this is definitely an improvement over the one from Sunday, but still doesn't quite render the correct shade (they should be a bit darker). I guess I'm going to have to pull out the manual and read up on setting things manually as FARfetched so helpfully suggested in the comments of my previous post. (Thanks, FAR! You're a pal!) I'll keep at it until I get a shot I'm happy with, or else resort to some tinkering with the image with my photo editor. (Of course, my preference is to get the most "natural" shots I can.) One thing I neglected to say about this particular bulb is that it also comes in shades of pink and white, for those so inclined to those colors ... we're fans of anything blue in the garden, so we only planted the blue variety ... so stay tuned for many more shades of blue to come....

This lonely white crocus appears to be one of our Van Bourgondien Snow Crocus Mix that was planted last fall, because I don't recall seeing it in this particular spot before this year, but am happy to welcome it to the party! You can see the remnants of some Snow Crocus 'Dorothy' petals at its base, but apparently Fernymoss just popped one white into this particular planting. I guess that's a sign of things to come, because as the yellow crocuses are the first to appear, they also are the first to depart the scene ... farewell, my fiery lovelies, I'll be glad to welcome you back again next Spring and make sure to bring lots of your friends and relatives along with you!

As you can see, we still have a lot of raking and clean up to do in the Woodland Garden, but weekend weather just hasn't permitted much work the past few weeks (cold, rainy and even snow) and since Saturday is supposed to be rainy (again!), we may not get to this area until Sunday at the earliest. Still, this hasn't impeded the emergence of one of our favorite Columbines, the 'Alpine Blue.' There are a couple of others still to show themselves, but I'm sure once we get the leaves cleared out, they'll show up (I suspect they're still lurking underneath). In a way, it's probably just as well we didn't get to this area back on that great sunny weekend a while back, because we have had several cold snaps since then, but those now seem less likely as April slithers to a close....

Here's another 'Pickwick' crocus planted last fall ... now I'm beginning to see what Fernymoss did that day I was sick and couldn't help plant them ... I'm seeing the lone one or two crocus popping up in all sorts of odd spots around the place! Though I would have preferred planting at least 3-4 at a time, I'm sure that given a few years, we'll have some nice little colonies developing, so I just need to temper my impatient Leo ways and be patient until that happens....

While I was out taking these shots, I left Hanna on the porch so she could at least see what I was doing and keep tabs on the neighborhood goings on while I was occupied. The next two shots were impulse photos I took as I opened the porch door to go back inside ... there was such an adorable puppy waiting for me that I just had to give her her due. I've found that since Hanna is such an energetic dog who moves all the time, the best way to capture her is to put the camera in continuous shooting mode and just snap away ... so here are two of the results.

Why can't I go out and run around out front with you Daddy? I'll be good!


That was not the answer I wanted to hear! Remember, I'll be one year old on April 20! I think I'm a big enough girl!

18 comments:

FARfetched said...

That's Hanna's "I'm not getting my way" look, isn't it?

One more thing I've learned that might help you (didn't want to overwhelm you or the comments with one huge dump-o-rama): overexpose dark subjects, underexpose light ones. There's usually an "AE" setting that runs from -2 to +2; try it with each setting and note which one looks closest to true. You'll probably find that -0.5 or -1 works pretty well with the Chionodoxa, and -1 for the white crocus.

Good to see daffs again… ours have come & gone. I noticed the azalea blooming out yesterday though.

Dog_geek said...

Ypour daffodils are just getting going, and ours are just finishing up. I need something else to start blooming soon to fill the void!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi IVG, funny the impression photos convey. Since I only see Hanna sitting or standing she seems calm and quiet to me. You say she's always in motion;)

Hoping the weekend will be nice enough to work outside a lot. Need to start getting my tomato patch ready.
Marnie

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
You nailed that one about Hanna! After so many years with a terrier in the house, you learn to recognize that attitude, lol. Part of the reason I love 'em so much ... they're not shy about expressing their opinions!

I'll give your tip a try, but will have to get the manual out to see where I can find that setting. There are so many options on the S700, that I haven't used yet, let alone the manual settings! I just discovered the manual macro and super macro just recently, lol.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Dog Geek,
Amazing what geographical distances will do with regard to bloom times, eh? We had a few more daffs open up today, so the show's just getting going!

Maybe you could try some of the later blooming tulip varieties if nothing bothers them where you are ... so many people tell me that the rabbits eat theirs!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
That's a good point! I tend to only choose the ones where she's not in motion, lol ... wonder why that is? :-) She is pretty calm and quiet when she's not in "tear around the house" or "I'm ready to play mode" ... she's really good pup for so young.

We have so much work to get done outside but they're predicting rain all day Saturday and part of the day Sunday. *Sigh* we want the clean up done so we can start getting our plots ready too! Hope your weekend gives you better weather!

FARfetched said...

Heh, yeah IVG, have the camera in your lap when you crack the manual. I tend to go through the book twice, the second time with camera in hand so I can check things out.

Seeing as I write manuals for a paycheck, you know I'd always recommend a good RTFM!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
Good advice, as usual! Whenever I need to navigate the maze of menu options on the S700 I have to do that because there are so many, and I always find out something I didn't know I could do with the camera!

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