Posts Tagged ‘blossoms’
Sunflowers have surrounded a decorative shrub in a farmer’s field… or perhaps the shrub has infiltrated sunflower territory. Either way, it looks kinda cool.
Every summer I keep watch for fields of sunflowers in full bloom. A few local farmers grow sunflowers, swapping crops from field-to-field—sunflowers one year, corn another, and soy beans in another.
This year, there had been no sunflowers in the usual places, but yesterday I drove a few hundred yards past those places and discovered a thousand yellow flower heads.
These sunflowers were different from those of past seasons: Rather than simply filling a large field, they had surrounded a decorative shrub. OK, it’s not earth-shaking or anything, but I captured a few photos and have included one here.
Without apparent relationship to sunflowers, a few weeks ago my online gardening friends started chattering about naked ladies appearing in their yards. I’m not sure I’d heard such chattering in past years, but it was immediately apparent these naked ladies are some type of plant. In fact, I’d heard them called “surprise lilies” in past seasons.
Surprise lilies grow foliage in spring, but the leaves die back so people lose track of the plants by mid summer. Then, overnight, flowers emerge on stalks that can grow 24 inches tall.
The chattering started, and three days ago I noticed a stand of naked ladies across the street from a local church. Finally, this morning, I had a chance to stop and take pictures. The flowers are gorgeous, and there’s something refreshing about flower stalks rising above the landscape without accompanying foliage.
Can’t say I’d heard of the plant “Naked Ladies” until this season. Then, after seeing so many posts about them online, I spotted a cluster across the street from a church I often pass. I stopped for a closer look and took several photos. I confess: I enjoy looking at naked ladies.
Zinnias grew in several places at Longwood Gardens. This variety was common. I captured the photo in a trial garden among many where visitors vote for their favorite plant combinations. In the right light, you can see a purple tinge on the inside ends of the petals. If I grew zinnias, I’d track down this variety; it’s eye-catching.
I’m cheating a lot this month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I’m posting flowers, but I’m not posting my flowers.
My wife and I recently spent the day at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. We toured just about every venue there, and I captured at least ten photographs (posted about the Meadow Garden here).
A whole bunch of my photos are closeups of blossoms. I didn’t take notes, so I can’t tell you much about the plants. Some are easy for a layperson to identify, others might challenge well-trained horticulturists. Seriously: I took no notes. If you see any blossoms here you like, maybe they’ll motivate you to visit Longwood Gardens.
Along the path through Longwood Gardens’ Meadow Garden, we saw several spikes of purple wispy blossoms. This one had drawn attention from a butterfly that was a bit camera shy. Everywhere in the meadow garden was alive with insects of many varieties.
A cluster of fruit, sporting a single blossom, grew in one of the “Student Gardens” at Longwood Gardens. There are four such plots, each created by a student of the institution (Longwood trains future horticulturists).
I remember enjoying a blossom along the Flower Garden Walk, leaning down to read the plant marker, and marveling that I’d been admiring a dahlia; it didn’t vaguely resemble any dahlia I’d seen. This photo might show the blossom, but if you know better please provide insight in a comment.
No doubt this is a dahlia. There was a patch of these along the Flower Garden Walk. I probably took ten photos of these alone.
Can’t imagine why I didn’t take notes about this one. The plants grew densely and the flowers were stunning. I’ll probably track down the proper ID some day… I hope they turn out to be perennial in hardiness zone 5.
The Palm House inside the Longwood Gardens conservatory offered a few exotic blossoms. Several clusters of this type peaked out from among the palms.
The name of the tree sporting these otherworldly pink blossoms (I assume they’re blossoms) was so intuitive, I knew I’d remember it later… but I don’t. There were two of these trees in the conservatory, and both displayed more pink flower snakes than they did foliage.
Dazzling hibiscus blossoms drew attention inside the conservatory. By the time we were there, light was fading so the yellow blooms especially popped against the darker, poorly lit background.
Blossoms of a particular hibiscus in the conservatory were sublime… but then I’m a sucker for purple.
Longwood Gardens has a pipe organ that plays into the ballroom of the conservatory. Just outside the ballroom, there was a stand of yellow and pink blossoms I’m quite certain were cannas. I like!
The coldest days of winter and a typical central Pennsylvania snow reaffirm the area’s USDA hardiness zone rating. Freesias would not survive this winter outdoors.
Freesias! I took a flier last spring and bought a package of freesia bulbs on closeout. I’ve never grown freesias. I couldn’t have identified them had someone led me to a freesia patch to harvest a few for a bouquet.
Knowing so little about them, I planted twelve freesia bulbs according to instructions on the package: buried many inches deep in a 12-inch container. In a few weeks, exactly two plants emerged. Eventually they blossomed and I fell in love with their fragrance; freesias smell like flowers, but not like any I’d sniffed previously.
By summer’s end, the two freesia plants were done. The temperature dropped, a few weeds sprouted in the freesia planter, and one day three new freesia sprouts appeared. This was an aha moment! Freesias, apparently, draw motivation to sprout from a mild cold spell. The package had identified freesias as annuals in my hardiness zone, so I suspect a freeze would have killed the bulbs. But they were far from dead; there had been no freeze.
Still knowing little about freesias (you’d think I could read something), I guessed that sprouting in autumn and then being put into cold storage would overtax the bulbs. Now that they’d sprouted, I figured they’d need to mature and recharge themselves to make it through a dormant period.
Being uncommitted to ornamental plants, the most I was willing to offer was a place on the sill of a south-facing window. The freesias have persevered! Seven bulbs sprouted and have grown gangly leaves that hardly hold themselves upright.
I’ve watered occasionally and broken off a dandelion whose tap root has a death grip in the soil. Other than that, I paid no mind.
Until last week.
It’s so dark in the basement where my freesia pot sits on a windowsill that there’s barely enough light to take photographs. Still, the plants are abloom and the basement room is redolent of spring.
Freesias in Winter
Two weeks ago I brought an assortment of plants back from MANTS, a horticulture industry trade show in Baltimore. I set the plants on our ping-pong table which catches some light from the south-facing window where the freesias sit. As I was setting up electric lights for those plants about five days ago, I noticed the scent of spring! Sure enough, there was a blossom on one of the freesia plants.
My freesia planter sports two sun-starved flower stalks laden with buds. Five days after the first bud opened, a second is about to burst. It seems likely the blooms will continue until it’s safe to move the planter outside.
The lifecycles of my freesia plants, I’m sure, are severely screwed up, but that will remain their problem. I’ll move the planter outside in spring and back in autumn. If the plants eventually synch with the seasons, I’ll give them a cool, dark corner to winter over next year. Otherwise, I suppose they’re doomed each year to grow gangly and watch from my south-facing window while the snows fall.
A few planting beds at Cornell University’s Plantations hold a variety of peonies unlike any I or my dad have grown over the past 50 years.
Please forgive me for stepping away from my kitchen garden. I’m still working on my dad’s house in Ithaca, and on this trip I discovered Cornell Plantations was running a plant sale. Of course, I went, and it was hard to resist buying. There were so many plants I’d love to have taken home, and all at great prices!
I exercised self-control, and I also grabbed some photos. Cornell Plantations is a show and research garden. It hosts a huge collection of plants. Themed gardens show off plants from all over the world, and it’s easy to spend several days exploring. Along the walk from my car to the plant sale, there were several raised beds planted in peonies.
Cornell’s plant sale offered many shades of heucheras, the most dramatic of which was the particularly red-leafed plant in this photo.
When I was a kid, peonies were floofy, aromatic, gorgeous flowers at the back of the yard near the rhubarb patch. I used to watch ants crawl around on the peony buds and later I’d marvel at the giant flowers that bowed their supporting stalks to the ground. Years later I encouraged my wife to plant peonies, and we had three varieties until this past winter – one of them didn’t survive. All three varieties were just like my dad’s but in three colors: pinkish-purple, pink, and creamy white with pink inclusions.
Cornell’s peonies have peony leaves and stalks, but the flowers are barely like my dad’s peonies. I captured a whole bunch in pixels along with a few photos of the area hosting the plant sale. The photos tell the story, though the embedded slideshow at the end simply glorifies peonies!
An enormous pergola housed a huge collection of what must have been shade-loving plants adjacent to the plant sale. Unrelenting sunlight cast shadow stripes onto everything beyond a rope we were not permitted to pass.
And the peony slideshow:
There go the last crocuses of spring. The first appeared on the south side of the house on March 11 while there was still much snow about. These are in my wife’s main flower bed on the west side of the house and they usually hold on until other bulbs get into the act.
It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and I’m so happy to have a few blooms to show off. Despite the calendar and increasingly longer days, spring started only a week ago… and then it was very wet. Amazingly, while I (along with everyone else around here) felt we’ve experienced the most horrendous and permanent winter in decades, perennials in central Pennsylvania are “on schedule.”
For the past seven or more years, daffodil shoots have appeared by late February. Winter of 2012-2013, in fact, daffodils sprouted **before** winter started! The poor, young shoots stood shivering for months before spring finally turned them loose.
What impresses me about the forsythia this year is its obvious reluctance to participate in what little spring we’ve had. We have no sprigs of yellow blossoms. Rather, each “sprig” has, perhaps a blossom with many buds watching, I guess, to decide whether it’s OK to open. Still, it’s very pretty.
This year, there were no sprouts at all until late March. In diminishing cold, daffodil tips appeared and slowly stretched upward for about two weeks. Then warm happened. In just a week, 2-inch sprouts erupted to full-sized daffodils and in about three days they spat out buds to blossom just in time for my Bloom Day photo session.
In past years, April 15 in my yard has seen apple, azalea, forget-me-not, lilac, peach, pear, tulip, hyacinth, and violet blossoms. But in each of those years I’ve joked that I’ll be able to grow pineapples outdoors by 2050 if the warming trend continues.
So, this spring of 2014 is “back to normal.” There aren’t many types of blossoms in my yard, and that’s how it should be in mid April. Please enjoy the photos.
Very much as if desperate for its moment of “fame,” this daffodil in our front yard blossomed for Bloom Day. Others also blossomed, but in the back yard tucked behind the lilac bushes.
If it has been warm enough for plants to grow, there are weeds somewhere in the garden or yard putting out blooms. This mint-family member appears every spring in my main vegetable bed and in my herb garden. It’s quite pretty with or without blossoms.
Each bud here is smaller than a dime, yet in about a week these will be two large cones of lilac blossoms—or the temperature will plunge dragging us into another plant-stopping cold spell. As I type this there are traffic accidents on highways within 60 miles of me caused by several inches of accumulated new snow. So… maybe it’ll be two weeks before the blossoms emerge. Whenever it does happen, it’s going to be quite a show!