Flowers #314A, 317A, 326A & 329A

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May 28, 2016

Bluebells, whose botanical name is Hyacinthoides, are a somewhat delicate, bulbous perennial flower in the Asparagaceae scientific family. With eleven species in the Hyacinthoide family, the two most common are the English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta) and Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides Hispanica). Bluebells, which are also commonly called Wood Hyacinths, flower around the same time of the year as Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinths, typically from April through mid May. Roots grown from the plant’s bulbs pull the bulbs down into its ideal depth, at approximately four-five inches. The plant’s ability to reproduce vegetatively is an indicator that they will spread very rapidly and may eventually be needed to be constrained, least they get out of control. A Google search of the plant shows many instances of Bluebells forming a massive carpet-like layer of blooms, which is very impressive.

English Bluebells are native to north-western Spain, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. They have been naturalized into Germany, Romania, Italy and to the Pacific Northwest and northeastern United States. Three-six linear, strap-shaped leaves grow up from each bulb, one-quarter to three-quarter inches wide. A cluster of six-twelve bell-shaped flowers sprout on each stem. Reaching a height up to a foot and a half tall, English Bluebell blooms are all on the same side of the stem, causing it to bend over at its tip. Each flower is one-half to three-quarter inches in length, with six tepals curving back at their tips. Its flowers are deep purple. The blooms have three cream-colored stamens which produce its pollen and have a very strong fragrance. English Bluebells are native to wooded areas. The thicker the canopy, the more suppressed the ground cover becomes which enables the Bluebells to take over, forming a very thick carpet of blooms. These flowers however, do like the full sun as well as partial shade.

Spanish Bluebells are native to Portugal, south-western Spain and north-western Africa. This specie is different from its English counterpart in that they mostly grow naturally in open areas, and are rarely found in wooded areas. Each bulb produces a clump of two-six strap-shaped leaves from which rises a stem up to eighteen inches tall. Each stem normally has up to sixteen hanging, bell-shaped flowers. Its larger, paler, flowers are more evenly attached to the stem, unlike that of the English Bluebells, thus not causing it to lean over. The blooms of this plant come in shades of blue, pink and white. The plant’s stamens have bluish filaments supporting cream-colored anthers. In addition to having broader leaves, its blooms have little or no fragrance. Like its English cousin, Spanish Bluebells like the full sun as well as partial shade too.

Both types of Bluebells are easily grown in medium, moist but well-drained soil, though they prefer a sandy, well-drained soil. The plants go dormant by early summer, and their leaves become somewhat unattractive. Neither specie has any serious insect or disease problems. These two species will hybridize with each other if planted too close. The type of flower in these photographs are English Bluebells.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Dahlias #218CR, 213BR, 202AR & 199BR

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May 21, 2016

Dahlias are a genus of bushy, tuberous perennial flowering plants that are native primarily to Mexico but also extending further down into Central America and Columbia. Spaniards discovered the flower in Mexico in 1525, where the indigenous population used the plant not only as a source for food, but also as medicine. With at least thirty-six known species, and thousands of different varieties, Dahlias, which is also its scientific name, are a member of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes related genera such as Cone Flowers, Daisies, Chrysanthemums, Marigolds, Sunflowers and Zinnias. Like other flowers in the Asteraceae family, Dahlias appear to be a single bloom, but in reality are made up of many individual flowers. Although this plant produces a gorgeous flower, its bloom does not generate a scent, thus it relies on its stunning colors to attract the insects required for pollination. Dahlias bloom from mid-summer up until your region’s first frost in the fall.

Dahlias should be planted around the middle of April through May, again depending on the region, when the threat of frost is no longer prevalent. The ground temperature should be at least sixty degrees. In much of the United States, these plants do not survive the winter, thus the tubers (fleshy roots similar to bulbs) need to be dug up every fall, and replanted each spring. Before the first frost of fall, these plants should be cut back to six inches. After digging up the tubers, shake off any soil, and then store in a frost-free place. Generally, forty to forty-five degrees is best suited for the tubers.

This plant requires eight to ten hours of direct or somewhat filtered sunlight each day, but especially love the morning sun. Less sun results in taller plants and less blooms. They thrive best in a cool, moist climate, while doing poorly in hot, humid weather. If your summer temperatures routinely exceed ninety degrees, these flowers should be planted in an area that receives some shade during the hottest part of the day. The flower thrives best in a rich, well-drained, slightly acidic, sandy soil. If your soil is too heavy or clayish, sand and/or peat moss can be added to lighten it. Dahlias are considered deer-resistant, though no plant is, in truth resistant to hungry deer. Dahlias are, however vulnerable to slug and snail damage.

With so many different varieties of Dahlias, the plant varies greatly not only in height, but also in the color, shape and size of the blooms. These flowers range in height from miniature six-inch plants to tree Dahlias that can grow more than fifteen feet tall. Larger plants will requiring staking. Colors range from white, yellow, orange, bronze, lavender and pink to red and purple, as well as dark red and dark purple. Blooms range in size from two inches up to twelve inches in diameter. Mature plants are as wide as they are tall. The large variety of blooms are due to the flowers being octoploid, meaning they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes, whereas most other plants have only two.

The tubers should be planted horizontally four to six inches deep, spaced roughly two feet apart. After covering with soil, the tubers should not be watered, as it can lead to rotting. Do not water until the tubers start to spout. In addition, tubers should not be mulched, as mulching does not allow the soil to warm enough for the tubers to spout. Mulch can be applied once the tubers do spout. Young plants do not require much water, again too much watering leads to rotting. Mature plants should be watered only if rainfall is less than one inch a week. If you are like me, and live in a region with freezing temperatures during the winter months, Dahlias can be grown in containers, however these plants only do well in large containers, generally they need pots at least twelve inches in diameter per tuber. Dwarf Dahlias are best suited when using containers. You should use two parts top soil along with one part of potting soil that has not been chemically treated for weeds.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #2259DR, 2263BR, 2258BR & 2262AR

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May 14, 2016

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. There are many plants that have lily in their common name; however, not all are true Lilies. Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is well-drained soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #476BR, 477BR, 472B & 478C

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May 8, 2016

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. There are many plants that have lily in their common name; however, not all are true Lilies. Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is well-drained soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Why America Needs To Implement The Draft

May 4, 2016

After watching a two-hour American Masters special last night on the life and struggles of Janis Joplin, PBS television’s Frontline investigative news program aired a one-hour program concerning America’s ongoing wars in Benghazi, Libya and in Yemen. Listening to Frontline while working on the six hundred and fifty-six photographs that I shot of two flowers I bought earlier in the day, one could not help but believe we will be involved in numerous wars throughout the entire Middle East for many decades to come. American imperialism is alive and well and running wildly amok.

Because American television has basically stopped reporting on all these wars, and especially because only one percent of Americans actually serve in our military, for the most part, the vast majority of Americans go about their daily lives as if nothing is going on. Who could also forget that President George W. Bush infamously urged all Americans to just go shopping to support his administration’s unwarranted and unfunded invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq? It is for these reasons that America desperately needs to implement the draft of both men and women.

For if more mothers saw the threat that their sons and daughters might very well come home seriously wounded or in a box (apologies to Country Joe McDonald), all these wars would soon end. Or better yet, never start.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Daffodils #27GR, 26GR, 40DR, 27IR & 25HR

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April 30, 2016

Daffodils, whose botanical name is Narcissus, are a perennial flowering plant in the Amaryllidaceae family. Native to the meadows and woods of southwestern Europe and northern Africa over through western Asia, Daffodils were introduced to the Far East by the tenth century and have since been widely naturalized. The Prophet Muhammad referenced the plant in sixth century writings and recorded history date as far back as 300 B.C. With as many as one hundred wild species (the actual number is debated), cultivated hybrids now number more than thirteen thousand varieties.

Known for its early spring bloom cycle, Daffodils are a vigorous, long-lived flower that grows to a height of twenty inches, depending on the variety, with even a miniature version growing only six inches tall. Leaf-less stems grow up in the middle of long, narrow green or bluish-green leaves, producing most often only a single bloom. The flower consists of three petals, three sepals and a central corona, which is often called the trumpet or cup, depending on its size. The flowers are predominately white or yellow, although hybrids now include orange, green and pink.

The plant likes a full or partial sun with slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Bulbs should be planted in the autumn at a depth of three times the size of the bulb. Known as an easy to grow plant requiring little maintenance, Daffodils produce lycorine, a bitter poison that makes the plant deer and rodent resistant. After the plant is finished flowering, let its leaves mature and yellow before topping them off. Cutting the foliage before it ages can reduce the plant’s vitality and longevity. Bulbs should be dug up and divided every few years to prevent overcrowding.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Tulips #26L, 76C, 45B & 44BR

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April 23, 2016

Tulips, whose botanical name is Tulipa, are a genus of flowering perennial plants in the Lily family. With approximately one hundred wild species, native Tulips range from Spain to Asia Minor, including northern Africa. First cultivated in Persia around the tenth century, there are now more than four thousand cultivated species. This plant is further classified based on plant size, flower shape and bloom time.

Introduced to the western world in 1551 by Augier Ghislain de Busbecq, the Austrian ambassador to Turkey, the word Tulip seems to have originated from the Turkish word tulbend, which translates into the English word turban. It is thought that the name came about because of a translation error concerning the wearing of Tulips in the turbans of Ottoman Empire men. Tulips were first imported to the United States in the mid 1800s.

Tulips range in height from as short as four inches up to more than two feet tall. The plant usually has two or three thick strap-shaped, bluish-green leaves sprouting up at ground level in the form of a rosette, though some species have as many as twelve leaves. Most Tulips produce a single flower per stem, although a few species do produce multiple blooms. The cup or star-shaped flower has three petals, three sepals and six stamens, although the petals and sepals are nearly identical. They come in a wide variety of colors, with the exception of pure blue. The colors range from pure white through all shades of yellow, red and brown, as well as those so dark purple they appear black. Several species have “blue” in their common name; however, their blooms have a violent hue.

Indigenous to mountainous locales with temperate climates, Tulips grow best in areas with cool winters, springs and summers. They prefer a full to partial sun, with a neutral to slightly acidic, dry or sandy soil, though they will bloom in almost any soil type with good drainage. Bulbs are usually planted in the autumn, at a depth ranging from four to eight inches, depending on your soil type. Although they will continue blooming annually for several years, the bulbs will deteriorate over time, and will need replacing. A common thought to prolong the life of the bulb is that after the plant has finished blooming and its leaves have turned yellow, is to dig up the bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place and then replant them in the fall.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth