Wednesday, April 27, 2016

46 Pots And Pails

Once again severe cold is forecast for tonight.  These Camelot lilies are spending this cold night under the cover of a plastic pail.  This protection has been necessary all too often lately but so far these plants have escaped frost or freeze injury.  We will see just what tomorrow brings.

This cluster of Cardinal Flower plants have also been protected with a plastic tub.  Their placement on the north side of a stone wall provides some stored warmth from the wall.  This native plant gets more help from us than any other plant.  Nineteen plants have been potted up and are spending yet another cold night in the basement.  Some of those plants are already growing stems while these left outside are just holding on.

There are not enough covers for all of the plants and this Cardinal Flower has been repeatedly exposed to freezing temperatures and frost.  It is only almost totally dead now but tonight will hit it hard again.

Another native plant, Jack In The Pulpit, has no frost tolerance.  Without a protective cover, its growth tips would be black mush by now.  When that happened here before, the plant survived but with almost no above ground growth.  Flowers and seeds need not form every year for the plant to survive but we do want to see flowers as often as is possible so we cover.

Becky secretly took this picture of me sitting on a wall that I built to protect the arbutus transplants from lane traffic.  My back is painful nearly constantly but two simple things really help ease the discomfort.  First, constant good posture is a must.  My head should be back over the shoulders more but I am looking down at the plants.  Walking while maintaining an upright stance also helps greatly.  These are free medications with only positive side effects.  The sweet scent of the arbutus flowers only added to the moment.

There are included here no pictures of our daylilies.  We cannot cover them and they have been hit hard by repeated severe cold.  Some are more hardy than others and should survive with flowers this year.  Others may simply be gone.  If they cannot endure our temperamental weather, they will not be replaced.  We need more plants that can survive here on their own. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Worth The Wait

One of the advantages of these no film cameras is that large numbers of images are essentially free.  Arbutus flowers present several challenges to any camera.  Tiny blossoms with a deep central cavity make finding a clear focus nearly impossible.  Some part of the image is always blurry.  White coloration is not handled well by these cameras.  These pictures do not come close to showing the colors that I saw this morning.  Light pink splashes of color were seen on nearly every flower but cannot be seen in the photos.  This morning the sun had not yet cleared the ridge when these pictures were taken.  The first image shows the promise of splendid displays yet to come.

These flowers present much more pink color to the eye.  One blossom has already been knocked from the plant.  Many of the bud clusters are under the fallen pine needles.  One must do a little staging to bring the flowers into view.  Despite working reverently and carefully, I may have dislodged the fallen flower.

Here the base of a male flower is in focus.  The tan grains will soon produce pollen.  Clear or white moist appearing hairs line the walls of the tunnel that leads to the base.  Soon the tan structures will be covered with yellow pollen.  This has only been seen in the photo of another as we have to date always missed it.  Arbutus is a plant that is built on five parts to many features.  Five petals make each flower.  There should be five of the tan pollen producing grains but that is not what the photo shows today.

This is the state of the transplants that were moved here two years ago.  I was unable to carry water to these plants last fall and feared for the condition of the bud clusters.  Many remained brown and shriveled but some managed to open flowers.  Fallen white pine needles covered the lower parts of each plant.  Light penetrates the needle cover and some insulation helped these plants survive our snow-less winter.

Here is the entire patch.  Six transplants were placed entirely too close together but each can almost be seen.  One the left edge of the picture, two plants lie between the stones.  On the right edge, three plants are in a line between the stones.  The center plant is still small as pine sap killed several leaves during its first summer here.  The single huge plant centered at the top completes the group.

This may be our best photo yet of arbutus flowers but more will follow.