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.)

Zipping down under

Another of the orchids I got last year is blooming. This one is a hybrid of Australian Dendrobium species, probably mostly D. kingianum. Specifically, it’s SVO9679: “Den. Purple Zip ‘SVO’ x Den. King Zip ‘Red Splash,'” from Sunset Valley Orchids. The flowers are an inch and a quarter across, much smaller than the very red Cattleya’s. In compensation, there are a lot more of them, and they have a fine spicy fragrance.

Incidentally, this orchid has nothing to do with the “Dendrobium” in a certain game featuring cute girls and bad botany. It’s not a “Lycoris,” either.

Approximately spring

Daffodil “Replete”

The temperature today got up to 88°. In about twelve hours it will be down to around 30°; it’s springtime in Kansas. It will be cold again Thursday morning, but after that it should be safe to plant this year’s batch of seedlings outside. As usual, I was over-ambitious and will have plenty to give away should anyone reading this be in the central Kansas area soon. I concentrated on drought-tolerant perennials this year. Once they’re established, most will need little care, though they all will need regular watering during their first summer. A few will bloom this year, but most will require patience.

Pictured above: Digitalis, Symphyotrichum (i.e., Aster), Dalea, Oenothera, Thermopsis, Achillea, Dianthus, Ptilotus, Callirhoe, Salvia, Lupinus, Monarda, Delosperma, Penstemon (three kinds), Rudbeckia, Helianthus, Silphium, Baptisia, Asclepias, and Liatris. (Not pictured: Talinum (or Phemeranthus), Amorpha.) The majority are from Prairie Moon Nursery.

Right now is peak bloom for bradford pears. I don’t have any in my yard, but my neighbors do. This is from my driveway:

March blues

Iris reticulata

We have a few days of spring here, though winter will return within a week. Outdoors, iris and daffodils are getting started. Indoors, the first batch of seeds are up.


I recently came across a curious website, SC Garden Guru, featuring a vast number of articles on botanical topics by one “Bonnie.” This discussion of Lupinus perennis is a typical entry. Notice anything odd about it? What might you suspect about Bonnie?

Continue reading “March blues”


Dahlberg daisy

Here are a few snapshots from the yard taken this week. The low tonight will be 25°F, according to the weatherman. It’s possible that some of the plants will survive that, thanks to the microclimate near the house. However, the 20° forecast for Friday night will probably do them all in. These are likely the last garden pictures of the year (though indoors the very red orchid has a fresh set of buds).

Continue reading “Doomed”

Dead Catt blues

Each of the very red Cattleya flowers lasted a full four weeks. Even after they finally fell off the plant, they retained their form and pigments. They look particularly colorful when illuminated from the back.

The freakish freezes earlier this week wiped out most of the morning glories before they bloomed. Not all, though: those growing on the fence under a mulberry tree survived. Apparently the canopy of leaves conserved enough heat that the vines were able to weather the 24°F temperature. Those particular plants were lagging behind the others, though, and they still might not bloom before the next hard freeze.

The afternoon before the first freeze I cut the flowering stem that was furthest along and put it in water inside the house. Today the first and probably last flower opened; my efforts were not completely in vain. Much as I like the color blue, though, I probably will grow something else next year.

(The Burpee seed packet states “75 days to bloom.” Nope.)

Potential blues

I’ve always wanted to grow morning glories. When I was young, my parents wouldn’t let me — they’d heard that the seeds were full of LSD.1 In Wichita I never had a place for them. But now I finally have fences and old stumps suitable for vines, so I planted some “Heavenly Blue” seeds in the spring. The vines grew strongly. However, they never showed any inclination to bloom until this month. Now the plants are full of buds, and soon should be masses of blue — maybe. Unfortunately, the forecast for next week includes a freeze. Perhaps the temperatures won’t be as cold as predicted, or maybe the vines can take a few degrees of frost and survive to bloom. But if the freeze does kill them prematurely, I will not be happy.

A few last snapshots from the garden:

Dahlberg daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba) is possibly the most under-appreciated of all garden annuals. It blooms profusely from late spring to frost, has attractive finely-divided foliage, stays low and makes a tidy ground cover, and tolerates hot and dry conditions very well. Despite its virtues, I’ve only once seen plants offered at a garden center. Fortunately, it’s easy from seed, which is available online.

Continue reading “Potential blues”

Unlucky Thirteen

I’ve uploaded some interactive panoramas from the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. The one above shows the command module “Odyssey” from the “successful failure” Apollo 13, flown in April 1970. You can see the rest of the additions here (click on the “recent” tab). They are best viewed in full-screen mode.