Friday, July 24, 2015

One Fancy Flower

Several years ago I grew a lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) from seeds from a seed pod sold for dried flower arrangements. It lives in a big container at my parents' place in Michigan, where it spends the summer on the terrace and the coldest part of the year in the garage. Earlier today my mom send me pictures of it blooming for the first time this year:

The entire plant, with a bit of the backyard as backdrop

A close-up of today's flower

The lotus is growing in a little less than a foot (ca. 30 cm) of clay-y soil, covered by similar depth of water during the plant's growing season. This water gets dumped out in the fall when the container is moved into the garage for the winter, and the rhizome overwinters in the moist soil until it is brought out and filled with water again in the spring; small leaves begin appearing a few weeks later. If we had a pond of sufficient depth it would probably even survive planted out. This year I fertilized the plant a couple of times in May with some regular liquid fertilizer poured directly into the water, to which it appears to respond well - the growth is definitely lusher and healthier this year.

The State of the Garden

This time of the year the garden tends to change constantly, as some plants flower and wilt rapidly in the heat, plants preferring cooler weather decline, and heat-loving tropicals begin to really take off.

The garden as seen from one side...

... and as viewed from the other

Four o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa)

A pale yellow gladiolus...

... and a pure white one

The second of the 'Hopi Dyeseed' sunflowers to bloom

A tall single stock (Matthiola incana cv.) with some sort of seedling leopard lily (Iris domestica) hybrid - maybe a Pardancanda of some sort? - beginning to bud behind it

Pale pink balsam (Impatiens balsamina)...

... and a red one

A dwarf cultivar of swamp rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

A new flush of blossoms from Rosa 'Gruß an Teplitz'

The more "utilitarian" plants in the garden - that is the vegetables, herbs, and grains - are coming along as well, and are really not any less pretty than the explicitly ornamental things in the garden.

A flower of the Kashmiri eggplant (Solanum melongena 'Kashmiri Brinjal')...

... and an incipient fruit

 The 'Poona Kheera' cucumbers are beginning to set fruit as well

A male squash blossom; hopefully female ones will follow soon

The 'Duborskian' rice is heading; the other varieties will take a while longer

There is also some cool wildlife; yesterday I encountered this little fellow on a flowering parsley plant:

A fancy caterpillar on the parsley

Based on a quick Google search, I suspect it is a caterpillar of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), one of our loveliest native butterflies. I also periodically come across the praying mantises that call our garden home, and which are slowly growing until by the end of the summer they will be by far the largest insect denizens of the yard. It makes me glad that our city garden, a bit jungle-like and organically cultivated as it is, makes a hospitable environment for these little friends.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Travels 2015 - Part 1: Seattle, Washington, USA

This post was supposed to go up almost two weeks ago, right after we got back from our weekend in Seattle. Then, however, we had a long string of house guests, and there was work, and then there just never seemed to be enough time. So here it finally is, one post to cover the various garden-related sights we visited or came across while in Seattle. Somehow I took less pictures than usual, though there are still quite a few. Perhaps the loveliest single horticultural attraction we enjoyed was the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Built in 1912, it is much like the historic conservatories in many other big American cities, and not a particularly large example of the type at that. However, I was very impressed by how immaculately maintained it was, with all the plantings not only in a perfect state of cultivation but also beautifully arranged. This was true throughout all sections of the complex - the Palm House, Fern House, Bromeliad House, Seasonal Display House, and Cactus House

The front entrance to the Volunteer Park Conservatory

One of numerous orchid displays in the Palm House

Another orchid display

A particularly lovely Vanda tessellata

 The lush, though not very ferny, planting of the Fern House

A stunning Epiphyllum hybrid in the Fern House

In the Bromeliad House

A view of the Seasonal Display House

In the Cactus House

We also visited the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the Seattle Japanese Garden contained within them. Here, in particular, I somehow failed to take as many pictures as I should have. However, I did buy some cool plants from the Pat Calvert Greenhouse by the visitor center: saplings of the tea shrub (Camellia sinensis) and Camellia 'Showa-No-Sakae', a Hesperantha coccinea, and a Jasminum parkeri. If I did not have to bring the plants back in my carry-on I would have happily bought more; they had plenty of very cool plants propagated from the arboretum and that at very reasonable prices.

An Inca lily (Alstroemeria ligtu cv.) in the Chilean section of the arboretum

Flowers of a catalpa, probably of the southern kind (Catalpa bignonioides)

In the Seattle Japanese Garden

 The lily pond in the Japanese Garden

Finally, there are many lovely plants and gardens we saw just by the wayside around town; here are just a few.

A pool and bell tower outside a chapel on the campus of Seattle University

An unusual hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla cv.)

A beautiful yellow montbretia (Crocosmia cv.)

All sorts of Crocosmia cultivars in particular were blooming perfectly all over the city, making me wish all the more that I could get some established in the garden here. The bulbs of Crocosmia crocosmiiflora that I planted in May did not come up at all, and the seedlings of Crocosmia 'Lucifer' that I raised over the winter indoors are still growing, but tiny as they are not getting much light or air in the jungle-like growth of the July garden. Maybe I will have to try again with some fully grown potted specimens next year.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Happy Eid ul-Fitr!

Wishing all those who are celebrating a happy and peaceful holiday. For some extra warm and fuzzy holiday feelings, I suggest having a look at this beautiful timeline of Eid television advertisements from Petronas, the national oil company of the best of significant others' homeland.

Masjid Kampung Kling ("Indian Village Mosque"), Malacca, Malaysia

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Bayramınız mübarek olsun
عيد مبارك

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2015

Sometimes it really is scary how time flies - not just because all of a sudden the next 15th of the month is already upon us and calling for a Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post, but also because it has been a week already since I last posted even though lots of material has been piling up. The past week has been a pleasant whirlwind of activity with visits from many friends from out of town, so the garden has hardly received much attention, let alone the garden blog. With the hot and wet weather we have been having most things have been growing and blooming like crazy, though, so there is much to show; this colorful, a tad bit chaotic picture of the middle portion of the yard is - luckily - rather representative of what things look like at the moment:

View of the central part of the garden along the side of the house

For the pictures of particular flowers, I thought this time I would try to organize them roughly by color. Maybe starting with the yellows and oranges. So here we go:

 Eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) on the balcony

The first of the 'Hopi Dyeseed' sunflowers (Helianthus annuus 'Hopi Dyeseed') to bloom

A late, butter-yellow daylily (Hemerocallis cv.)

Another unidentified daylily cultivar

Double orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva var. kwanso)

A very large and vigorous double cultivar of French marigold (Tagetes patula) which I discovered last summer in a yard one street over 

'Orange Hawaii' African marigold (Tagetes erecta 'Orange Hawaii') - by far the most intense orange of the marigolds I am growing

Large, cactus-flowered zinnias (Zinnia elegans cv.)

The first of the gladioli to bloom

Pink cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

The trusty purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana mutabilis)

One of the pots on the front steps filled with 'Old Fashioned Vining' petunias, Petunia exserta, and a seedling of the wild form of Canna indica

Double Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas cv.)
Rosa 'Old Blush'

Rosa 'Slater's Crimson China'

'Cupani' sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus 'Cupani')

Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla cv.) in the frontyard 

Agapanthus 'Hardy Blue' just beginning to bloom

A pale blue single love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)... 

... and a double white one

Abyssinian gladiolus (Gladiolus murielae) from bulbs bought on a whim at a CVS...

My mom reports that much is also blooming in the Michigan garden, including bear's breeches (Acanthus sp.), leopard lilies (Iris domestica) and the Inca lily (Alstroemeria ligtu cv.) that I planted last year. The large potted lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), which did not flower last summer and which I had fertilized heavily when I was back in Michigan in May in hopes that that would help it perform better this summer has also apparently begun to produce flower buds. Success!

To see what is currently blooming elsewhere, also have a look at all the other awesome blogs participating in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.