30 August 2015

Water Lily & Lotus

In early August i visited the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens along the Anacostia river here in Washington DC. This is one of those hometown attractions that I have never seen. You know the type of place -- the one attraction in your home town that you have never visited but everyone else in the country has. (Now if I can only get to the Washington Monument some day, my life here will be complete.)

I heard it was the lotus blossom time, and after reading the post by John at DC Tropics, I decided to stop by.

It was an extremely hot humid Sunday. As I arrived upon opening time, a large bus of tourists from China just got dropped off, each with cameras setting up to get their prized shots. I meandered through the acres of lotus blossoms, trying to get photos without tourists in them. I soon learned there is no such thing as a bad shot of a lotus bloom.

There were three types of lotus, distinguished by size and shads of color. This was a difficult day to photograph. The sun was harsh and direct at noon. Here is what caught my eye (without the tourists.)

Looking down onto a darker pink species of lotus.

The darker pink lotus seems to open up more than the other.

The lighter pink lotus blossom.

Seed pods resemble showerheads.

Beautiful red cannas near the entry. (No, those are not the Chinese tourists on the left.)

There were three small ponds with several displays of water lilies.

I admired the variegated leaves on this water lily.

22 August 2015

The Dwarfs Have No Name?

The dwarf sunflowers tested this year were picked up in a big box store. Ferry-Morse labeled the packet as Sunflower Dwarf Sunspot. I have grown a Sunspot variety [posted 08.07.2007] in the past that was a dwarf, so this extra title Dwarf made me curious. Did the company have a giant named sunspot, too?

It seems, from looking at my description and photos from 2007, that this Sunspot is the same as the first dwarf sunflower tried back in 2008. The current plants happened to be planted in the same location as in 2007, and just as in 2007, are facing away from my yard towards the neighbor to the northeast. I am sure she enjoys them.

I will remind myself that these produce some radical seeds for the seed-lovin birds in the winter, if I can get to the seeds now before they do. The seed heads are packed to the gills, but the blooms were attractive with some great looking petals. Many of the large seed head types are just that -- with few or small unattractive petals.

Where's the Elf? I planted Elf sunflowers last year, but never reviewed them! The leftover seeds were grown this year so the next post will be about these dwarfs from Burpee -- two sunflower reviews in one year to make up for last year.

Past Dwarf Sunflower Reviews & Links:
2013 - Little Dorrit
2012 - Waooh
2012 - Big BLush
2009 - Incredible
2008 - Sunny Smile
2007 - Sunspot
For The Record:
  • Rich soil
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: rudbeckia, zinnia, cleome, marigold, moonflower, canna

15 August 2015

August Bloom Day

The good news is that I have made three garden bloggers bloom days in a row. The bad news is that there is little else to show between the posts. However, I have three posts waiting in the wings, including my annual review of a dwarf sunflower variety. I will begin posting them next week.

Let sleeping bumblebees lie. The first dwarf sunflower variety is finisehd blooming, but the second one is now going full strong: Elf by Burpee.

This is Tiger Eyes marigold from Park Seed. There is something going on with this marigold that I have yet to figure out. It starts out looking bicolor like it supposed to. Then, it begins to change to a monocolor, maybe a little more yellow, then the bicolor, with larger bottom petals, then a deeper orange. I am thinking the environment affects its booms, like temperature, moisture, or fertilizer; or maybe all three. The plant is growing in three other locations, with one reseeded from last year. All exhibit different qualities at different times. (Note the red on the plant in the background.) Love these tough little guys though - sometimes so do the mites.

Rudbeckia hirti reseeds itself year after year wherever it wants to, and sometimes produces a few suprises like this one. Petals are narrower with a slight marking in the interior, and the color is slightly more orange than the others.

Leftover seeds were dumped in a corner of the front yard from this mix of zinnias. I don't remember a peach colored bloom last year.

The zinnia agustifolia love reseeding every year, popping up anywhere they please. I let them form a border. They are slow beginners, but really get going this time of year. The dead looking stuff is dill gone for the summer. I am an untidy (..lazy?) gardener in August.

Black Pearl ornamental pepper from the winter Seed Exchange forms a handsome color combination. Dark purple foliage turning green, shiny black peppers ripen to a scarlet red. Pretty enough to eat ... and incinerate your insides.

In front of the colocasia, the buddleia looks full and neat because I keep pinching it back during the spring. This also delays bloom a little.

One of the many visitors to the butterfly bush, a Great Spangled Fritillary.

For other garden bloggers bloom day photos, check out our host at blog May Dreams Gardens.

21 July 2015

High Line Impressions

While on a trip to New York City, a visit to the High Line was high on my list. This is the old elevated railroad that was preserved and turned into a park. Overgrown with weeds and plants, it was 'rehabilitated' into a walking landscape; transformed from a rusting eyesore to an urban park and walkway with views. Watering systems, soil, stairs, elevators, and of course vegetation were installed on the old structure. I imagine the steel structure had to be beefed up in some spots, too.

It is a phenomenal success story. I have a link to the High Line blog (on the right sidebar.) I read that it is inspiring similar park projects in other cities, too, like Chicago, London, and here in Washington, DC.

The plantings contain a lot of native species like echinacea, monarda, grasses and sedges.

Liatris near the edge. I believe there is a continuous light in the railing along each edge, but I was not there in the evening to verify.

There were areas where the old rails were preserved to remind us of its past purpose and use.

The paving blocks were notched at their ends to allow small slivers of planting bed to penetrate the paving edge -- blurring the edge between paving and plants. This created an appearance of the vegetation slowing creeping into the paved areas, like it does on an old paved road (or railroad.) The granite paving matches the color of the crushed stone of a railroad bed.

Benches were designed to appear as if they are a continuation of the paving -- almost like the paving was lifted up. Unfortunately, this also creates a tripping hazard.

There are movable lounge chairs. In keeping with the railroad theme, they are on wheels and roll on the rails.

This is not just a wet sidewalk. Delighting the senses, this water feature is a pool of water where one cannot drown. It is only about 1/8" deep (3 mm) and can be walked on in order to sit at the benches. (Sorry, the slight rain doesn't help the photo.) A perfect place to splash barefoot.

Artwork also delights the senses. A sculpture of graffiti is placed along the perimeter, spray-painting on the imaginary wall at the edge.

The walk also contained some shady areas where it proceeds under a grove of trees.

Success has allowed the High Line to be extended twice. This urban park is helping to spur redevelopment along the western side of Manhattan's old meat packing district. New residential condos, hotels, shops, offices, and new Whitney Museum are springing up and bringing more people (and tourists) and 'upscale' to one of the remaining industrial areas of Manhattan. I have mixed feelings about this change.

15 July 2015

July Bloom Day

It has been a month since the last post. No excuses are offered but another rush out the door after work today to snap a few photos hopefully makes up.

Echinacea is very thick and the goldfinches are probably drooling waiting for the seeds to be ready.

One flower finally opened on this particular zinnia, 'Oriole'. I was expecting more of an orange hue.

Pollinator-magnet liatris is nearing the end of its bloom. Funny, as it blooms from top down each stem.

Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes' reseeded after blooming early this year. This result grew up and bloomed already - without green eyes.

This Rudbeckia hirti plant developed some brown markings.

It's not a ditch lily, but a double-ditch lily. And, it grows in semi-shade and is thriving.

My newest daylily 'Cherokee Star' seems to bloom one blossom at a time. Its location does not allow a good angle for photos.

Monarda 'Violet Queen' looks a little sparse. It probably needs more sun than it gets now.

Echinops is in varying stages of bloom. Bumblebees love it.

I love this marigold 'Tiger Eyes', and it reseeded itself true to form. Dark green, thick, lush foliage and no problems.

Cleome seeds found their way 60-feet (18 m) down the hill into a shady spot all by themselves, and grew. I let them. Anything that makes that journey deserves to live.

For the first time, a few little sky blue Platycodons germinated from last year's seeds. I guess some like the extra shot of winter.

Only five cosmos plants came up this year after the severe winter - the least number ever - but they still look full. Zucchini makes a nearby foliage plant in my front yard.

For other garden bloggers' bloom day photos, check out our host at blog May Dreams Gardens.

15 June 2015

June 2015 Bloom Day

Lots of things are popping out of the gardens - 'Never Looked So Good' should be the theme applied to many garden inhabitants this month. Onion and green beans comprise the bounty to date, and go well together in a three bean salad. Fresh basil and oregano work wonders on a grilled pizza. More hot weather is on the way, though.

The datura is off to a great start and has never looked so large this early. This is the second time I have grown this moonflower, and hope it does better than the first which was in a more shady spot.

'Night of Passion' is what I think this daylily is called, after viewing 100,000 photos online.

The hydrangea has never looked so good. Although I wrote about my Annabelle hydreangea, a fellow master gardener believes this one is not Annabelle because the blooms are too enormous and perfect. 'Incrediball' is probably the correct name. Ignore my sorry attempt at staking.

Even the hostas are getting in on the bloom fun.

Another bloomer that has never looked so good this year. After years of care, 'Miss Lingard' phlox is now an established perennial that needs no attention. How did I end up with so many whites? They do look cool in this hot summer weather.

Lychnis coronaria has so many names I am reluctant to call it anything but its formal name. When they are planted together, they look like a fun bunch. But pulling out their thousands of seedlings (as bad as cleome) is not fun.

Tradescantia was moved last fall to a shadier location, and it loves its new digs. Never blooming into the hot weather except for this year, it is yet another one that has never looked so good.

Finally, the first photo of phase 1 of my hell strip beautification attempt. It is surprising how many neighbors see this, but don't notice the larger cottage garden in the front yard. Thanks to Scott at Rhone Street Gardens blog for the inspiration to do this.

For other garden bloggers' bloom day photos, spring over to the blog May Dreams Gardens.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: rudbeckia, phlox, poppy, geranium, datura, tradescantia, echinacea, phlox, lychnis, hydrangea, hosta,
  • Harvested: green beans (bush) 1 onion