Garden report

Nigella damascena

The last of the hardy annuals have finally bloomed — disappointingly, I’m afraid. The Nigella damascena flowers are pleasingly complicated and alien-looking, but nearly all of them are either white or blue. Blues are always welcome, but the package promised purples and reds as well. At least a third of them are single, and Nigella is one instance where double flowers are preferable. It’s probably time for the seed producers to re-select their stock.

Gilia capitata

Gilia capitata has small clusters of washed-out blue flowers atop tall, thin plants. The inflorescence above is about two inches across; the individual clusters are less than an inch in diameter. The package claims that it will bloom into October. We’ll see. Possibly shearing back the plants after the initial flowering will induce greater bushiness. G. capitata is a widespread plant with a number of subspecies. I suspect I have the the most common and least interesting form. If I grow it again, I’ll purchase my seeds from a different source.

The Shirley poppies, Papaver rhoeas, are pretty much done. They might have lasted longer were it not for the large mammals that obliviously walked through them or drove into them. I might be able to get another week’s worth of color from the smaller planting out of traffic in front of the house.

For those keeping score, here’s a recap. Most of these were sown at the end of February.

Phacelia campanularia was first to bloom, with flowers of intense blue starting near the end of April on plants six inches to a foot tall.

Gilia tricolor followed shortly after with flowers in shades from violet to white on plants about a foot tall. These allegedly smell like chocolate, but I never detected any fragrance.

Eschscholzia californica was next, in the middle of May. (These were sown around the middle of March.)

Centaurea cyanus followed in the last week of the month.

P. rhoeas began blooming at the end of May.

Each of these bloomed for roughly a month, the Phacelia a little longer, the poppies probably a week less. I expect that I’ll get at least another two weeks of bloom from the Centaurea, Nigella and G. capitata. After that, I’ll be relying on the Mexican and south-western annuals — Zinnia, Cosmos, Tithonia, Thymophylla — for color.

Nigella damascena

In the pink

The botanical garden finally (partly) reopened today after a two-month hiatus. I spent the afternoon there taking hundreds of pictures. It’s going to take me a while to process them all. Here’s Oenothera speciosa for now. There will be more soon.

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The close-ups I’ve posted of Gilia tricolor don’t really show what the plant looks like. This should give you a better idea of how it grows in cultivation. It’s roughly a foot tall.

Good things from California

California poppy

The incessant thunderstorms have paused for the moment, and the sun actually came out from behind the clouds, so I grabbed my camera for a few more snapshots. The focus today is on Eschscholzia californica and Gilia tricolor. (Phacelia campanularia is blooming profusely, but the flowers have been battered by the storms and aren’t presentable for closeups.)

Gilia tricolor

As always, click on a picture to see it larger and with better color. The individual Gilia blossoms are three-eighths to one-half inch in diameter.

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Early yellow

The plants I started under the lights last month are more than ready to go outside. Unfortunately, the weather keeps cycling back to March, and there danger of frost yet again through Friday. Some plants, like the Dahlberg daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba), are already in flower in my kitchen. The color is nice, but they really should be in the ground now. The flower above is not quite an inch across. As always, click on the pictures to see them larger and with proper color.

Nothing’s happening at the zoo…

… ’cause it’s closed.

We had a couple days of fine May weather this week, and I took advantage of them. Wednesday I rode my bike out northwest to the zoo. The zoo itself was closed, of course, but that didn’t matter; I was more interested to see what signs of spring were evident in the area. There was less color than I had hoped. If you like shades of brown, the unmown field east of the zoo offers a nice study in textures, but if you want wildflowers, it’s still too soon. There were a few crab apples and a lilac in the park to the west, plus a Prunus, possibly a sandhill plum (P. angustifolia), in bloom, but otherwise there was nothing much beyond dandelions and henbit.

I stayed mostly on bike paths and park roads. I was once overtaken by a cyclist wearing headphones. Most other people on bicycles and every single jogger I encountered had small white plastic objects stuck in their ears, occasionally with wires attached. This perplexes me. I don’t run, but I do ride a bicycle everywhere, and I rely on my hearing to alert me to dangers approaching from behind. I need to hear what’s happening around me. Consequently, I have never used headphones or ear buds outdoors and never will. Why so many people want to shut themselves off from a major part of the world makes no sense to me.

I don’t get the obsession with having music in one’s ears every waking hour. When I listen to music, I listen to music. It’s not a background activity.1 When I’m not actively listening, I want silence.

Blue, white, orange

The botanical garden remains closed, to my intense irritation. However, there is color elsewhere. Redbuds are at their peak, and flowering crabs are getting started. Most people have not yet begun mowing their lawns, giving the weeds a chance to shine. Henbit is past its prime, but violets are putting on an impressive show.

And there are a few things of my own.

Weblog of the plague years III

Magnolia

Wichita is under martial law lite, and the botanical garden is closed indefinitely now, right at the beginning of its prime time. I did find a little color elsewhere yesterday, such as the magnolia a couple of blocks from me, and fine display of henbit near the post office. Bradford pears are at their peak, and crab apples are showing color.

Henbit

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Looking for Dracula?

You might be able to find a Dracula orchid plant for sale at the Kansas Orchid Society’s annual show and sale, held this weekend at Botanica here in Wichita.

Maxthompsonara Bryon Rinke

You might also see Maxthompsonara Bryon Rinke, a multi-generic Zygopetalinae hybrid bred at Sunset Valley Orchids, first flowered by Bryon Rinke of the KOS and named for Max Thompson at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. You might even see Max and Bryon.

There definitely will be several tables full of blooming orchids, plus plants for sale. I’ll be there taking too many pictures, as usual.

Plastic and rust, and Japanese vanilla

Botanica, the botanical garden in Wichita, has installed a number of sculptures in the gardens. Most range from “meh” to kitschy. I rarely bother to include them in my photographs. Currently the people who run the institution are installing a bunch of figures made of Legos in awkward spots through the grounds, such as the pansy above. I hope they’re temporary. They have novelty value and might attract a few additional visitors to the gardens, but there are much more interesting things you can do with Legos.

Unfortunately not temporary are the panels at the south entrance of the not-particularly-Shakespearean garden. They’ve been there as long as I’ve visited Botanica, and they look a little worse every year. (Right-click and open in a new window to see at maximum ugliness.)

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