Around 7:40 this morning.
Right now it’s -7°F outside, with a wind chill of -33°. I grabbed the picture of the frosted lilac yesterday while it was merely cold. In about four months it will bloom, but it may be a long four months if this week is indicative of what is to come.
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).
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.)
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.
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.
Cenchrus longispinus, one of my least favorite grasses, is abundant in lawns and along paths. All the spines on the nutlets are quite sharp, and they are covered with microscopic barbs. They readily catch on socks and penetrate skin and are painfully hard to remove. The photo above of the vicious little plant is a crossview stereo picture, with the right-eye image on the left and vice-versa. If you cross your eyes, you can see the menacing thing in three dimensions. It’s easier to do than to explain how; this is as good a guide as any.
One of the plants I ordered in the spring from Sunset Valley Orchids bloomed this week. It’s a very red “Mini-Catt,” i.e., a miniature Cattleya. The flower is two inches wide on a plant about seven inches tall. There’s no fragrance that I can detect, but with color like that I’m not going to complain. Click on the picture to see it with better color (WordPress makes colors duller when it reformats images); right-click and open the link in a new window to see it much larger than life size.
Exactly what the plant is, is complicated. It was listed as “SVO 9263 – Pot. NEW HYBRID (Slc. Virginia Dickey ‘ Diamond Orchids’ AM/AOS x Pot. Higher Multiplier ‘Diamond Orchids’ HCC/AOS).” “Pot.” is short for “Potinara,” a multigeneric hybrid involving Brassavola, Cattleya, Laelia and Sophronitis; “Slc.” is “Sophrolaeliocattleya,” with Sophronitis, Laelia and Cattleya. However, taxonomists are always up to mischief, abruptly moving species from one genus to another, lumping some genera together and splitting others into pieces. Sophronitis has recently been placed within the Cattleya genus, and the other genera have been tampered with as well. Calling my plant a Potinara is probably inaccurate now, but it’s convenient, and I don’t know what the proper name would be.
I started some Linum perenne this spring. It’s a perennial, and I didn’t expect much from it this year. However, the seedlings grew strongly and have been blooming spasmodically all summer. The individual flowers are small, but during the main flush of bloom in early summer established plants are solid blue mounds. (I had a fine specimen years ago that in flower was a blue hemisphere with a radius of about fifteen inches. Then the family cat decided that it was a nice spot to nap.)
If you want breathtaking landscapes, Kansas is the last place in North America to look. However, there are things worth seeing. I recently spent a couple hours at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, which has an impressive collection of aerospace memorabilia, including a SR-71 Blackbird in the lobby.
Unlike California, Kansas is probably the flattest and least photogenic of the fifty states, and I live in probably the flattest and least photogenic city there. Instead of mountains and lakes, I have to make do with taking pictures of grain elevators and defunct train stations, such as this one. Like most panoramas, it’s best viewed in full-screen mode. If you find the interactive panorama too dull, right-click on it and view it as a “small planet.”1
In lieu of actual content here are snapshots of four o-clocks and dianthus from my yard.
… this time with panoramas. These look best in full-page view. (If you can’t see the panorama, try a different browser. These work for me in Vivaldi but not in Brave.)
Right-click on the image to bring up a menu with different view options. The “little planet” view is pleasantly surrealistic.
From my yard…
A few more pictures from around town.