Why Do They Hate Us?

January 21, 2018

With the news that North and South Korea will march as one nation during the opening parade of nations in the upcoming winter Olympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, along with their women’s hockey teams playing as one, a question needs to be addressed; is the U.S. a deterrent to peace in the Korean Peninsula? During 2000, in an attempt to reconcile relations between the two countries, North and South Korea announced plans to build a rail line and highway connecting the two countries, which was completed three years later.

Another question that needs to be asked is why North Korea hates us so much they are willing to risk complete nuclear annihilation. Why is it that the U.S. seems to be the only country North Korea seems hell-bent on waging war against? I’m no political scientist, nor military strategist, but the answer to both questions seems to me is that we still have thirty thousand troops stationed along the 38th parallel, sixty-five years after the Korean War ended. Making matters worse, our military conducts regular war games with South Korea, the most recent just last month. Is there any wonder why North Korean leaders fear another war with America?

In a television interview after the start of both the Afghan and Iraqi wars, Osama bin Laden stated he attacked America on September 11th because we left troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, the most sacred land in the Islam religion, after the Gulf War. Have we failed to learn any lessons from all our military engagements and foreign policy debacles over the past sixty-five years?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

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Lilies #3354BR, 3295BR, 3337BR, 3293AR & 3335BR

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January 20, 2018

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. However, there are many plants that have Lily in their common name; yet not all are true Lilies. A few examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies, Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies, Water Lilies and Lilies Of The Valley. 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.

There are a number of different sub-species of Lilies, such as Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet, Martagon, Longiflorum, Candidum and several others. The most commonly grown are the Orientals and the Asiatics, especially for gardeners in more northern regions. Both the Oriental and Asiatic sub-species are hybrids. They are possibly my most favorite flower to photograph, as their design and colors makes it so easy to do so. Friends might think I am a little nuts when I tell them that they like having their picture taken, as they are so photogenic.

Asiatic Lilies, who gets its name because they are native to central and eastern Asia, are probably the easiest to grow, reproduce effortlessly and are very winter hardy. A healthy bulb can often double in size from one season to the next, and produces many smaller bulblets near the surface of the soil. Asiatics can reach heights up to six feet tall and have long, slim, glossy leaves, all the while producing flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red. The one color in which they do not bloom is true blue. Blooming in June and July (depending on one’s region), the flowers produce no fragrance, unlike that of Orientals. Another distinguishing difference between the two is its petals. Whereas Asiatics have smooth edges, Orientals are rough.

Oriental Lilies, native to Japan, are a little harder to grow and tend to reproduce much more slowly, mainly by bulblets sprouting near the surface of the soil. They look somewhat like a football when they first surface from the soil, rather pointy, and its leaves hugging the stem tightly. Their deep green leaves are wider, further apart and less numerous than those of the Asiatics, which first come into sight similar to an artichoke in appearance. Orientals are usually taller than Asiatics, reaching a height up to eight feel tall. Because of their height, many refer to them as Tree Lilies.

Orientals tend to bloom in pastel shades of white, yellow and pink, although some such as Stargazers and Starfighters produce very deep pink blooms. One more characteristic difference between the two types is that Orientals often will be rimmed with a different color, or having two or three colors, whereas the Asiatics most often have just a single color, although there are some exceptions. This sub-specie of Lilies also blooms after Asiatics, usually in August and September, again depending on your region. Other sub-species, such as Trumpets, bloom even later, so it is possible to have Lilies blooming all summer long by planting different varieties.

Most Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is a well-draining 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

Gladiolus #71B, 75A, 102AR, 103A & 109B

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January 13, 2018

Gladiolus, which is derived from the Latin word gladius and interpreted as a sword, is so named because of the shape of the plant’s leaves. It is the largest genus in the Iridaceae family with two hundred and fifty-five species. The majority of the species are native to sub-Saharan Africa, most originating from South Africa. If not originating from Africa, the other species are native to Eurasia.

Referred to as simply “Glads” by devotees of this particular flower, Gladioli are perennial flowering plants known for its beautiful, showy flowers. Widely accepted as an easy-to-grow flower, its large blossoms grow on tall spikes, with some species growing up to six feet tall. Glads come in a wide range of forms, colors and heights. This flower typically blooms in midsummer, around July and August, although the plant has been cultivated to bloom both earlier and later in their usual growing season. The blooms of this plant range from white, pink, apricot, yellow, gold and orange to blue, burgundy and red.

Gladioli are considered a somewhat hardy plant in temperate climates. Depending on your location, the bulbs may need to be dug up in the fall for storage indoors until the following spring, or replaced annually for convenience purposes. Gladioli like the full sun, however, they should bloom if grown in the shade. Those grown in full sun will produce a larger and brighter bloom and the plants’ stalks will be sturdier. The plant does like a sandy, well-drained soil. One thing to watch out for is to keep to plant away from strong winds, as this flower does seem to be susceptible to falling over due to the weight of their top-heavy blooms. One way to help prevent the flower from tipping over is to plant the bulbs thick enough so that the foliage will support each other.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too great 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

Iris #438B, 420BR, 421BR, 433AR & 435BR

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January 6, 2018

Irises are a genus of three hundred species of flowering perennials named after the Greek goddess who was said to have rode rainbows, so named because of the rainbow of colors the plant is famous for. Irises, whose scientific name is Iris, is the largest genus of the Iridaceae family. Many of the three hundred species are natural hybrids. Once commonly called Flags, Irises are native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, especially Asia and Eurasia.

Irises like full sun and will grow in nearly every soil type, although they prefer a neutral to slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Without enough sun, typically requiring at least six hours a day, the flower will not bloom. It is said that Irises can withstand drought that would kill most all other flowers. If the soil is too sandy, or clayish, organic matter such as compost should be added. In addition to being drought-tolerant, this flower is also deer-resistant, however the plant is vulnerable to borers, which can eat its roots.

Growing to a height of one to three feet, depending on the species, the flowers of this plant sit atop long, erect stems and appears fan-shaped with symmetrical six-lobed blooms. Three sepals drop downwards, while the three petals stand upright, although some smaller species have all six lobes pointing directly outward. Most Irises bloom in early summer, although some hybrids will re-bloom again later in the growing season. Though purple is its predominate color, the blooms also come in pink, orange, yellow, blue, white and a multi-color. Besides humans, these flowers also attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

What make the Iris somewhat unusual in a typical garden in my neck of the woods, is its rhizomes, which are fleshy, root-like stems of the plant from which it roots. The rhizomes should be exposed, unlike that of bulbs, because they need some sun and air to help keep them somewhat dry. If covered by dirt, or crowded out by other plants, the rhizomes will rot. If the rhizomes appear rotten and/or diseased, let them dry out in the sun for a few days, and any healthy looking piece can be replanted.

Clusters of the plant should be divided every three or four years to keep the plant vigorous. The plant should be divided in late summer or early fall. Do not trim the leaves back during the summer, as they carry on the photosynthesis process until late fall. Brown tips should be cut off, and the stalks of the deadheads should be cut down to the rhizomes to discourage rotting. Irises should not be mulched, as mulching retains moisture and too much moisture will rot the rhizomes.

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

“Dissed”

December 30, 2017

I do not understand why more and more draft eligible players are choosing not to play in a bowl game, fearful of injuring themselves and potentially losing millions of NFL guaranteed dollars. Granted, in the past few years, a couple of players suffered from this cruel fate, but, how does a player face his teammates?

What I really do not understand is why coaches allow a player who is refusing to play to still be a part of the team, allowing them to stand along the sidelines. I’m no coach, but if one, would tell any player who refused to play, that’s fine, but you’re staying home.

Players have been complaining for several decades now about being disrespected. The complaint become so widespread it ended up with its own slang word, “dissed.” But, isn’t refusing to play the ultimate form of disrespect? Coming of age on the south side of Columbus through the ‘70s, we would have had one word for such a player, a word now days most associated with the president.

What does this say about a player? What does this say about us as a society and a nation?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Dahlias #324AR, 321BR, 336BR, 329AR & 325AR

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December 30, 2017

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

Flowers #402AR, 405AR, 394AR, 408AR & 407BR

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December 23, 2017

Christmas Cactus, whose botanical name is Schlumbergera, is a small genus of cacti having only six species of plants within its scientific family. Originally found in the tropical rain-forests of southeastern Brazil’s coastal mountains, these cacti grow on trees or rocks in shady areas with high humidity. Found in the same type of environment as Orchids, Christmas Cactus are most often found in the forks of tree limbs where they thrive in decaying leaves. Though they are considered a cactus, Schlumbergera, named after Belgian horticulturist Frederick Schlumbergera, are much different in nearly all aspects from the common desert cactus.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Bridgesii) have flattened, rounded stem segments (phylloclades) instead of leaves. As such, the plant’s photosynthesis occurs within these phylloclades. They are considered a short-day plant, in that they do not flower until nights are at least fourteen hours long. The blooms of this cactus come in a variety of colors, ranging from red, purple, orange and yellow to pink, cream and white. Each flower has between 20-30 tepals.

When grown indoors, these cacti should be placed into a well-draining container with well-draining soil. They prefer a humus-rich, somewhat acidic soil, though they usually do well in most soil types. They like a bright, but indirect light. When watering, you should thoroughly water the cactus, however for best results you should not over nor under water your plant. You should mist the leaves (i.e., stem segments) when watering the soil. During the fall and winter months, these cacti should be watered less often to encourage the plant to bloom. Schlumbergera can be fertilized monthly between April and October using one-half strength of a 20-20-20 or 20-10-20 soluble fertilizer. Plants can be pruned in early summer to encourage the stem segments to branch out and also to encourage more blooms.

Another similar plant in the Schlumbergera family is the Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera Truncata). Both plants are very popular fall and winter flowering houseplants, and are sometimes referred to as Holiday Cactus. When grown under normal, length of night conditions, Thanksgiving Cactus bloom about one month earlier than their Christmas cousin, typically around Thanksgiving. To differentiate between the two, look at the plant’s stem segments. On the Thanksgiving Cactus, each stem segment has two-four saw-toothed serrations along its edges, while the stem segments of the Christmas Cactus are more rounded. Another way to distinguish between these two species is to check the color of the plant’s pollen bearing anthers. The anthers of a Christmas Cactus are purple-brown and those of the Thanksgiving Cactus are yellow.

I am no horticulturist, and far from being very knowledgeable regarding plant life, however, though the cactus in these photographs were sold under the label of a Christmas Cactus, to me, this is a Thanksgiving Cactus. Then again, I’m no expert.

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