Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus)

31 01 2011

I force paperwhite bulbs every year and always forget about their scent—when they begin to bloom and I haven’t noticed yet, I walk around the kitchen and living room and ask myself, “what is that smell?” You’d think I’d learn! I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the smell. It’s okay when you get the first whiff of it, but I made the mistake of moving them from their usual place in the kitchen (which I rarely inhabit) to a table in the living room (where you’ll find me if I’m not in my studio). And I’ve had a mild headache ever since doing so. Wonder why? I’m tempted to call it a day (or a bloom) and pitch them, but some blooms haven’t opened yet and I just can’t bring myself to interrupt the blooming process, obsessive gardener that I am.

I just read a post on Margaret Roach’s blog, awaytogarden.com, about paperwhites and the trick to keeping them from flopping over (gin, vodka or rubbing alcohol). She also mentions that adding a few drops of bleach might limit the strong scent (if you find the scent offensive, that is). Margaret was the first garden editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Go check out her blog—it’s wonderful!

I also learned something from the reader comments: Brent of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs says that the Israeli hybrids are the ones that “stink.” Most likely mine are the ‘Ziva’ hybrid that dominate the market for forced bulbs. He recommends one of the newer Israeli introductions, ‘Inbal,’ which has a nice fragrance. I’ll look for that hybrid in their catalog—but it’s still so convenient to get my $5-after-Christmas-sale-deal at Target, complete with the pot and growing mix—despite the stinkiness. I’ll just keep them in the kitchen again next year.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bleeding Hearts at Brookside Gardens

28 01 2011

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)—I photographed this plant at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD on a photo trip with my friend Jeff in April 2008. I posted it as part of a collage for my original posting but decided today that it needs its own spotlight!

Something I didn’t know—it’s a member of the poppy family! This hardy perennial grows well in Zones 2-9 and blooms from April through June. It can do well in full sun or partial shade, although I mostly see it thriving in partial shade in woodland gardens. It has been grown for centuries in Korea, China and Japan. German botanist J.G. Gmelin first brought the plant to Russia for the botanical garden where he was employed. In 1947 Robert Fortune brought the plant to Western Europe through a sponsored trip by the Royal Horticulture Society.

I also learned the “bleeding heart story,” which I hadn’t heard before. I found this excerpt on www.veseys.com:

It is said that a prince loved a princess who took no notice of him. To try to get the princess’s attention and prove his love, he brought her exquisite and amazing gifts from far and wide. One day he came across two magical pink bunnies and offered them both to the princess. At this point, the story teller pulls off the two outer pink petals and sets each on it sides to show the animals. The princess was unmoved by the rabbits so, he tried again and presented her with beautiful dangly earrings. The next two inner white petals are separated and held up next to the narrator’s ears for display. Still, the princess paid him no attention. The prince was so distraught over being spurned that he took a dagger and stabbed himself. The remaining centre of the flower is shaped like an outline of a heart with a line down the centre. The heart is held up, the dagger-like line is removed, and the story teller plunges the “knife” through the heart’s centre. The princess, realizing too late that she did love the prince, cried out, “My heart shall bleed for my prince forever more!” and her heart bleeds to this day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Name that flower!

28 01 2011

I photographed this lovely plant in August when Carmen and I visited the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I couldn’t find an identification label, so I have no idea what it is and I hadn’t seen it before. I welcome your input!

IDENTIFICATION UPDATE: Fellow blogger and landscape designer extraordinaire John Black suggested it is Clematis armandii. I took a look at various sources on the web and he’s right! (Thanks, John) John is principal of Verdance Fine Garden Design in Palo Alta, CA. His work has been featured on HGTV’s Landscape Smart and Landscaper’s Challenge series. I interviewed John back in May 2010 about what it takes to be a landscape designer. Read his insightful, witty and inspirational answers here.

Check out his wonderful blog too: http://www.averdantlife.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Repost: Photographs? Well, not technically.

28 01 2011

Originally posted 1.28.2010

A few years ago I dabbled in scanning flowers on my Epson flatbed scanner and got some pretty good results. The technique works best if you can cover the flower arrangement with a dark piece of fabric or black cardboard. While the original images were nice “record” shots of my flowers, I wanted to do something more with them. I ran the scanned images through some artsy Photoshop filters to give them a romantic, soft-focus glowy look. So there you have it…photographs without a camera!

Not long after I toyed with the process, I saw an exhibit of photographer Robert Creamer’s images at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These large-scale works were amazing! He scanned all sorts of things—dead birds, flowers, fruit, bones, and more. You can read more about his Smithsonian exhibit here and see more of his work on his website here. Watch the video here for a demonstration of his setup.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’

27 01 2011

As I write this, our backyard is covered in several inches of snow. It began about 3:00 p.m. this afternoon and didn’t stop until this evening. The snow fell fast and heavy and all the tree branches are outlined in white (a feast for the eyes, but not so good for the trees). Photographic opportunities abound tomorrow morning! Until then, I offer up some color from my garden last spring to contrast the white on white wonderland out there now. Could the Farmer’s Almanac really be correct? It is really only 52 days until spring?

This ‘Nelly Moser’ Clematis has been growing over our tiny backyard pond for more than nine years. In the spring of 2008 it had its most prolific blooming period ever. I wrote about it on this blog here.

If you like what you see on this blog, head on over to my everything-including-the-kitchen-sink blog below. Here you’ll find lots of my photography, including portraits, botanical images, travel and such….as well as entries for my new series, The Orphaned Images Project.

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

26 01 2011

Comfrey (also comphrey) is a perennial herb of the family Boraginaceae and is native to Europe. I photographed this flower at the Huntsville Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ComC





Skipper on Hyacinth Bean Vine (Dolichos lablab)

26 01 2011

I was looking through my garden photo archives and came across this little Skipper I photographed at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia this past August. I grow this pretty ornamental vine in a pot outside our front door each summer. The purple seed pods are known as lablab.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.