Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some Pictures

I am happy to be able to report that most of the plants on my dormitory suite windowsills are doing quite well right now, and I thought I should perhaps post some pictures. Apart from regular houseplants, I also have some seedlings coming along, quite a few of them from seeds I collected during our family vacation in Florida.

My only two seedlings of Italian Bush Basil that have made it this far...I have high hopes for them... :)

New buds unfolding on my variegated double African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)

The first African violet I bought last fall right after returning to campus, now twice as big and producing its third flush of flowers

Some of the seedlings that have sprouted forth from seeds collected in Florida; I think these might turn out to be butterfly peas (Clitoria ternata)

A live oak seedling (Quercus virginiana)

These two little seedlings have sprouted from seeds brought back from Florida as well but I have no idea what they could be; I really hope they grow up well so I can find out

Hopefully in the coming days I will also get some good pictures of all the plant life that is stirring outside.

Yet Another Article from The New York Times

I know I have been posting a lot of links to articles recently but I still thought that this article was interesting enough to deserve sharing. It is not even from the Home & Garden section of The New York Times but rather from the one entitled Fashion & Style, and it discusses the work of a newly successful floral designer in the city. While I do not particularly care how important or rich her clients are, her work sounds very interesting:

An 'Outsider' Blossom Upends the Flowerpot

I will be back soon with more extensive posts, especially now that spring will hopefully begin to come around these parts for real...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More on Heirlooms from The New York Times

It seems to me as though half the plant-related articles in The New York Times in recent times are about heirloom vegetables. This one questions some of the common assumptions about their qualities, but still ends with a list of sources for heirloom seeds:

In the Garden: Heirloom Seeds or Flinty Hybrids?

Meanwhile, though I appreciate the discussion of heirloom vegetables, I am starting to wonder why heirloom flower varieties do not elicit similar interest.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Nowruz!

Today is Nowruz (نوروز) or Persian New Year, which doubles as a celebration of spring and is celebrated in Iran and Afghanistan and some other parts of Central Asia as well as among the Persian diaspora worldwide. There are many traditions associated with this ancient holiday, including symbolic decorations involving dishes of sprouting wheat or barley and hyacinths. If you want to learn more, you can have a look at the Nowruz Wikipedia page here. Below are some spring-themed verses by Hāfez (1325/26–1389/90), one of the most revered poets of the Persian language:
ابر آذاری برآمد باد نوروزی وزید
 وجہ می میخواهم و مطرب کہ میگوید رسید

Spring winds the March rain clouds feed
Excuse for drinking wine, playing the reed.

رسید مژدہ کہ آمد بہ ار و سبزہ دمید
وظیفہ گر برسد مصرفش گل است و نبید 

Good news, spring is neigh and grass is green
Leave the trees and treat flowers like a queen.

صفیر مرغ برآمد بط شراب کجاست 
فغان فتاد بہ بلبل نقاب گل کہ کشید 

Birds whistle, singing where is loon of the wine?
The nightingale cries, who painted this flowery scene?  

نفس باد صبا مشک فشان خواهد شد 

عالم پیر دگربارہجوان خواہد شد

Morning breeze, its fragrance will exhale
The old world will once again youthfully sail.

ارغوان جام عقیقی بہسمن خواہ د داد

چشم نرگس بہ شقایق نگران خوابد شد

Redbud will bring a red cup to the meadows
Narcissus' eyes from poppy will grow pale.

The translations are from  the wonderful website Hafiz on Love, which contains the Persian text as well as English translations of the entirety of Hāfez's poetic works. Only in the translation of the last couplet did I correct "tulip" to "redbud" for the sake of botanical accuracy, since that is what the Persian text says.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Holi!

Today marks the beginning of Holi, a popular Indian spring festival most commonly celebrated by throwing brightly colored powder and spraying each other with dyed water. As with many Indian holidays, there are also various religious and regional traditions associated for the festival. If you want to learn more, you can have a look at the Holi Wikipedia page here.

To give you a visual, here is a Holi song-and-dance sequence from the famous 1975 Hindi film Sholay, starring Amitabh  Bachchan, Dharmendra, and Hema Malini:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Article on Snowdrops and the People Who Love Them

For those who can read German, here is a long article about snowdrop enthusiasm in England from the travel section of the German newspaper Die Zeit:

Ein weißes Feld

Among the people mentioned in the article is the botanist and snowdrop expert John Grimshaw, whose great blog you can find here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Flowers and (Somewhat) Exciting News

I am at home in Michigan for a few days since this week is my school's spring break, though I am still working on my senior thesis. Spring is just barely beginning here, so while the temperatures are largely above freezing and the last snow banks are slowly starting to melt, there is not really anything flowering outside as of yet. I thought, however, that I should post a few pictures of what is flowering inside...

Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - This little specimen is putting on lots and lots of buds at the moment; this is the first one to open.

Abutilon x hybridum  - This is the last surviving plant from the first batch of Abutilons that I ever grew from seed

While out grocery shopping earlier today, my mom and I also bought a beautiful, and fragrant, bouquet of stocks (Matthiola incana), in color somewhere between purple and magenta.

The bouquet of stocks (Matthiola incana) in a pale green vase from Detroit's Pewabic Pottery, which continues to make ceramics and tiles to Arts-and-Crafts designs

Finally, I used today's mild weather to check on the garden and particularly some of the somewhat tender plants that receive special, on-site winter protection, such as the Japanese fiber bananas (Musa basjoo) and crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica). Among the new plants in this category is a needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), which I picked up at a local Walmart last spring (See my post on this surprise find here). I considered it an experiment, since I do not know of any palms of any species having been successfully overwintered outside in this area. Yet when I carefully peeked inside the contraption of burlap, dry leaves, and a styrofoam cone that my parents erected to protect the little palm, I found the leaves poking out just as dark green and shiny as they had been last year. Of course, the plant might still have sustained damage to the stem or roots but the seemingly healthy leaves are nevertheless a good sign. I am therefore carefully optimistic that this relatively rarely grown palm species may become a long-term resident of the garden.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fun with Ferns

Here is an interesting recent article on ferns as ornamentals from The New York Times:

In the Garden: Send in the Fronds

I myself have become more fond of ferns in recent years, though the only kind I am currently growing inside is a small Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata). In the garden, my favorites are the Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) and the hardy native maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum); the latter in particular combines a beautiful elegance with surprising toughness. Hopefully in the future I will get to experiment with a few more species.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some Flowers from San Francisco

I just got back from a very short trip to the Bay Area, and while I did not visit any gardens proper, I did enjoy the lush greenery and spring flowers. Along the way I took a few pictures with my phone, the better ones of which I am posting below.

Courtyard of an Art Center

A white-flowered cultivar of Camellia japonica

Leptospermum scoparium

Solanum jasminoides

A pink cultivar of Camellia japonica

A species of Ceanothus

A yellow-flowered Brugmansia cultivar

I hope you enjoyed these floral snippets, and I will be back soon with more substantial posts and higher-quality pictures.