Lotus petals

28 06 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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In bloom today: Amaryllis

9 01 2011

My friend Karen gave me this Amaryllis plant a few months ago and it is almost completely in bloom today (three out of five blossoms have opened!). Amaryllis bulbs originated in the Andes mountains of South America. The bulbs are tender, so they can only be grown outdoors in Zones 9-11. They are one of the easiest bulbs to force indoors. The term ‘forcing’ refers to inducing a plant to grow (shoot, leaf and flower) ahead of its natural schedule and out of its natural environment.

The plant needs a well-lit and warm place to grow, but after the buds begin to open, move the plant to a cool and shady location to keep the blooms longer. When the flowers begin to wilt, cut them off at the top of the stalk. Cut the stalk just above the bulb when it begins to droop. Water and fertilize as normal until the leaves turn yellow, then cut the leaves back two inches from the top of the bulb. Remove the bulb and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. You can repot the bulb after that and begin the whole (bloomin’) process all over again!

I took advantage of Target’s after-Christmas 75% off sale and have added another Amaryllis plant to the kitchen window sill (not blooming yet) and two pots with Paper White Narcissus bulbs. I grew Paper Whites two years ago and learned quite a bit about the process. My favorite Narcissus photograph and that experience can be seen on my blog here

Paper White stalks can get quite leggy and often require staking. I just learned how alcohol (vodka, tequila, whiskey or rubbing alcohol) can keep Paper Whites from falling over here 

Isn’t it ironic that alcohol makes people fall over but plants stay upright?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





‘Zowie’ Zinnia and Giant Alliums

25 06 2010

‘Zowie’ Zinnia with alliums in the background—-I just learned from an employee that the gardeners at Green Spring Gardens spray paint the giant alliums blue after they have flowered. I should have noticed that but didn’t until now—duh. Pretty creative!

Thanks to Patty, the name is now correct. I actually called Green Spring Gardens and when they got back to me later, I was told it was the ‘Arizona Sun’ Gaillardia. I know I described it in detail so there would be no confusion. Thanks, Patty, for getting it right!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Papaver Somniferum (Opium Poppy)

25 06 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Dahlias, dahling

21 05 2009

This was one of my (many) acquisitions purchased at the big Green Spring Gardens annual plant sale this past Saturday—a very showy Karma Fuchsiana dahlia. The blooms are the most unusual intense shade of dark pink and orange—-the graduated colors of a tropical sunset—not easy to capture in a photo. In the second photo, you’ll see a little visitor—identification unknown.

I read online that Karma dahlias were bred specifically for the cut flower market because they have nice stems, hold up well in bouquets, and yield lots of flowers.

Speaking of the cut flower market, author Amy Stewart wrote the intriguing book, Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers, published in 2007. My friend Regina and I attended a Flower Confidential book lecture by Stewart at the U.S. Botanic Garden two years ago. Flower Confidential takes you inside the flower trade—from hybridizers to growers to auction houses to florists around the world. It’s a fascinating read about the path cut flowers must take from seed/bulb to vase.

Stewart Books

I’ve also read two of Amy’s other books, starting with her first one—From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Year Garden, followed by her second book—The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms. All three books are worth checking out! Learn more about Amy Stewart on her Web site here.

I was so astounded by the number of different dahlias in bloom at Butchart Gardens last fall that I spent an hour just photographing the dahlia border! You’ll find that posting and accompanying photos here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Dahlia Bug





Virginia Bluebells

6 04 2009

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are also known as Virginia Cowslip, Lungwort Oysterleaf (which, as Dave Barry might say, would make a very good name for a rock bandladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Lungwort Oysterleaf!), Roanoke Bells and Languid Ladies (again, a very good name for a rock band!).

Blooming in spring from March to May, these herbaceous woodland wildflowers can be found in upland forests, floodplain forests, wetlands and bluffs. They will grow in sun but prefer slight to full shade, and are ideal plants for rock gardens. Each inch-long blossom consists of five petals that form a tubular shape. The buds begin with a pinkish hue that changes to a violet blue color as they age. Although they can be pollinated by bumblebees, butterflies are the most common pollinators.

I’ve read that Bluebells bloom in profusion at Bull Run Regional Park in Manassas about this time of the year, so guess where I’m heading soon! If you’re in this area, there’s an annual Bull Run Bluebell Walk at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, April 12. I want to avoid the crowd, so I’ll try to break away a bit from design work later this week.

Read Joel Achenbach’s recent homage to Bluebells in a Washington Post article published last month here. I especially liked: You can buy a bluebell at a garden center, but that’s like seeing a fox in the zoo. Nothing makes me weep like the sight of a wildflower in captivity.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

bluebells11