Red, again

The first of this year’s new orchids bloomed this week. It’s another red one; nice, but not what I was expecting. The dealer’s notes1 indicated that it would likely have flowers in the magenta-purple range, but while it does have a bluish cast in some light (but not in sunlight or with the on-camera flash), it looks red to me. The other new ones probably won’t bloom for a year or two. When they finally do, one should be white and the other spotted.

(As usual, when WordPress resizes pictures to fit the column width, it also makes the colors duller. Click on the picture to see it larger and with more accurate color.)

Just before the end

It’s snowing steadily now, and we may get six inches today if the weatherman can be trusted. During the next few nights temperatures are likely to descend into the teens. Fall is over (though, because this is Kansas, December may well be warm and dry). Despite the hard freezes earlier, a few plants were still blooming yesterday, including this salvia. At this time tomorrow, everything will be solid white.

Spotted toad

Here’s a formal portrait of the “toad lily,” Tricyrtis hirta. The flower is perhaps an inch and a half in diameter. It’s native to Japan and does not like hot sun. I’ve got mine in a spot where it gets shade almost all day, but the little bit of sun in the evening was sufficient to burn the tips of the leaves. In full shade with extra water during hot weather it’s easy to grow. While the flowers are perhaps more interesting than pretty, they do come at a time when nearly all the other perennials have finished for the year.

Notes on life offline

Some new neighbors have moved in the next street over.


Most of the plants I started this year are perennials which will take a year or two to reach blooming size. However, a number have flowered already. Currently, Helianthus mollis, the “ashy sunflower,” is putting on a good show. The plant has a more refined appearance than most sunflowers. According to what I’ve read it’s inclined to be rambunctious, so I’ve got it in the dry far corner of the yard where its aggressiveness will be a virtue.

Continue reading “Notes on life offline”

Vintage port

Congratulations to Robbo on fifteen years of The Port Stands at Your Elbow. You might want to put another bottle of fortified wine aside for November, when he will celebrate a full twenty years of blogging at TPSaYE and earlier at The LLama Butchers. A year ago I linked to a couple of his whimsical LLB pieces, well worth reading like most everything else at all his websites.

Congratulations to Robbo also with his success with the cup plant, Silphium perfoliatum, a nine-foot-plus relative of the sunflower. I’d like to grow it myself in the arid reaches of my backyard, but it prefers more water than I can conveniently give it.1

Blues, again

I planted ten Dutch iris bulbs in the fall of 2021. Finally one has bothered to bloom. Much as I like blue flowers, I doubt that I will allot space in the garden to this sort of iris again. (Other kinds of iris do fine here; my problem is specifically with Iris × hollandica.)