Pink and black

The orchid above is a form of Habenaria Jiaho Yellow Bird. Evidently the color is variable. I photographed it at the monthly orchid society meeting this week.

There were also a few Catasetinae with dark flowers. The darkest was the multigeneric hybrid Monnierara Millennium Magic “Witchcraft”, above, which is such a deep burgundy-maroon that it can be called black. The flowers were just starting to open when I took the picture, and they ought to be flatter when fully open. (It’s a recent hybrid, and probably not the source of Basil St. John’s black orchid serum. My best guess is that his orchid was an obscure Dendrobium.)

There are many more pictures from the meeting here.

Flower of a thousand names

The botanical garden requires masks only when you are inside the buildings, not when you are in the gardens themselves, so I was able to grab a few pictures there without suffocating this week. While the naked ladies (Lycoris squamigera) are past their prime, the closely-related Lycoris radiata is just getting started. L. radiata has all kinds of significance in Japanese culture (if you see it in an anime, you’re probably in a graveyard), which I’m too lazy to summarize.

There are more pictures from the expedition here.

Phrags and Catts and Vandas

Phragmipedium

After a few months’ hiatus while the botanical garden was closed, the local orchid society is meeting again. These pictures are from the show ‘n’ tell at the meeting Sunday. As usual, click on the pictures to see them larger and with better color. There are more here.

Vanda [Neofinetia] falcata “Amami Island”
Cattleya alliance hybrid

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

Hold your horses

Back in ancient times there was an amusement park in the south end of Wichita called “Joyland,” with the usual roller-coaster and rides, cotton candy, snow-cones and noise. I recall it being moderately fun when I was an eighth-grader, but over the years it deteriorated and became a place where you didn’t want to be during the day, let alone the evening. Eventually Joyland was closed, and vandalized, and dismantled.

Several years ago, the botanical garden received the remains of the carousel. Restoring the carousel to working order was the excuse for a long-term fund-raiser at the garden. It’s supposed to be open to riders very soon, but there’s a hitch:

THE KHICHA FAMILY CAROUSEL WILL BE REOPENING.
A FEW THINGS YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW:
Half of the horses will be taken out.
There will be markings on the floor – 6 feet1 apart.
There will be longer times between rides
(an operator will be wiping down each horse).

I took a few pictures during a visit to the garden earlier this week.

Like virtually every other institution in Wichita, it is partly funded by the Kochtopus.

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.

***

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.

Continue reading “Good things from California”

Empty playground

Like pretty much everything else in Kansas, playgrounds1 in Wichita are off-limits. Nobody was watching me yesterday morning, so I grabbed a few panoramas. These look best in full-screen mode.

The spaceship off to the west was part of a slide that was later closed up and partially dismantled because of liability issues.

Joan alone

I rode downtown around noon today. While it wasn’t quite the ghost town that it was on my last trip in, I still pretty much had the place to myself, as you can see by the dense crowds on Main Street, above. The statue in front of the library is of Joan of Arc — Wichita is a “sister city” of old Orleans.

View this in greater detail as an interactive panorama here.

Continue reading “Joan alone”

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.