Dahlias #470AR, 458AR & 567BR

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February 25, 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

Black & White #33A

black-white-33afmFebruary 18, 2017

I decided to post this photograph as a change of pace with my usual posts, lest anyone wonders if all I photograph are flowers. This photo was taken sometime in 1982 while I was taking several photography courses at Ohio State, paid for by the G.I. Bill after serving four years in the Navy as a weatherman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-61).

By the time I started school, I was already married with two precious babies soon on their way. After taking a couple of black & white courses, all the advanced courses were all late in the afternoon, which interfered with my full-time, second shift job. Making the situation even worse, I was living in London, commuting forty-five miles back and forth to Columbus every day for either school or work. I would leave home and 9:00 in the morning and not arrive back home until midnight or later. Lunch and dinner were sack lunches. On good days, I would only have either school or work. Rarely did I have an entire day off in the five years it took me to earn my degree.

Instead of trying to find another job with hours that would allow me to continue in the field of photography, I did the prudent thing and switched majors, earning my bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting. That degree served me well, until a rather severe mid-life crisis derailed everything. However, after buying my first new camera in thirty-three years in June of 2013, finally going digital, photography has now consumed my entire life, as I spend at least eight hours a day either photographing flowers or working on the slightly more than one hundred thousand photographs I have taken during the past four years.

Only thirty more days until spring. But who’s counting?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #3080AR, 3091BR & 3105AR

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February 11, 2017

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

Orchids #165BR, 227AR, 166BR & 207CR

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February 4, 2017

Orchids, whose botanical name is Orchidaceae, has more than thirty-five thousand species and as many as three hundred thousand hybrids in its family, making it one of the two largest plant families along with the Asteraceae family, which includes such flowers as Asters, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Daisies, Marigolds and Zinnias. In addition to being one of the largest flowering plant families, evidence suggest that Orchids first appeared more than one hundred and twenty million years ago, making this elegant flower also one of the oldest.

Because of the exotic appearance of this flower, I always assumed that the plant had its origins in the tropical regions of the world. However, since getting my first Orchid, I have learned this assumption cannot be any further from the truth. Though many species do grow in the tropics, in locales such as Central and South America, Africa and the Indo-China region, other species are found in our planet’s temperate regions along both sides of the Equator in regions such as the United States, Europe, Russia, China and Australia. Even more interesting is the fact that Orchids are also found growing in rather cold regions of the planet, in places such as Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern Russia. In fact, there are only a few countries in the world in which Orchids do not originate, such as the desert countries of northern Africa and the Mid East, and also the continent of frigid Antarctica. In an interesting note, forty-eight species have been found in the state of Maine, while Hawaii only has three.

All Orchids are considered perennials, and grow via two different methods, monopodial and sympodial. Monopodial Orchids has a central stem, which grows upward on top of its prior growth. The plant’s roots and flower stalks all begin life from that same central stem. Sympodials, in which most Orchids are members of, new growth originates at the base of the prior year’s growing season, resulting in the plant growing laterally.

Due to the immense number of different plants in this family, the blooms of Orchids come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some Orchids produce just a single flower, while other varieties produce multiple blooms. The flowers range in size from a pinhead up to nearly twelve inches wide. They come in all colors except true black, although the most dominant colors are white, yellow, pink, lavender and red, although green and brown are very common as well. Typically, Orchids consist of three sepals, three petals. One of the petals is greatly modified, which forms the flower’s throat and lip. The plant has simple leaves with parallel veins, and they normally alternate on the stem and are often folded lengthwise. The leaves may be either ovate, lanceolate or orbiculate in shape. As far as soil types go, this to me is what makes Orchids very unique from most, if not all other flowers. Some grow in soil; some grow on trees, some on rocks, while others survive on decaying plant matter. One more interesting note is that vanilla favoring comes from the Vanilla Orchid.

The particular type of Orchid shown in these photographs is a Phalaenopsis, which are commonly referred to as a Moth Orchid. 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

Iris #103B, 104C, 106F, 106C, 105B & 106E

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January 28, 2017

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

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Government Regulations

January 26, 2017

With the boast by the president that he will cut government regulations by seventy-five percent, if not more, what could possibly go wrong if he gets his way? Regulations, like laws come about because of wrong doing. We must not forget that forty years ago, the Bald Eagle, America’s national symbol became nearly extinct because of the use of DDT. In June of 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to decades of polluted industrial waste. That was just the last time the river near Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, as it burned several times throughout the first half of the twentieth century. More recently, let’s ask the citizens of Flint, Michigan how they feel about eliminating nearly all government regulations.

Living in the Rust Belt, we like to think that our air is much cleaner than it was during this region’s steel producing heyday, and judging by photographs taken seventy-five years ago, it appears so. However, the American Lung Association deems fifty percent of all U.S. counties suffer from unhealthy air, resulting in their citizens suffering from asthma (which is becoming an epidemic, especially among our children), bronchitis, emphysema, strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths. It has been estimated that nearly five million people die every year world-wide from breathing polluted air.

Making matters worse, the president has even issued a gag order against the EPA, forbidding scientists from talking to anyone about their work. Additionally, he has frozen the agency’s funding, in effect putting an end to any future research into climate change, along with its many other services such as environmental waste cleanup and the monitoring of the quality of the air we breath. It has also been reported the agency has been ordered to begin purging its historical research data.

Ironically, the president, who bailed out son Donald, Jr.’s failed business (bankruptcy must run in the family), wants the taxpayers of South Carolina to pay for cleaning up the business site’s toxic waste. In order to do so, the president must prove he does not know the previous owner.

In what has to be the most egregious misuse of any word in the history of mankind, this president has the audacity to proclaim himself an environmentalist. This surely must be one of this administration’s alternative facts.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Muddy Waters #25A, 77A, 77B, 52A, 21C & 21B

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January 21, 2017

McKinley Morganfield (aka Muddy Waters) was born on April 4, 1913 in Jug’s Corner, Mississippi. Although he first began playing the blues on harmonica, by age 17 Muddy was playing local parties and juke joints on acoustic guitar. In 1940, Waters moved to Chicago for the first time, but soon returned home. During 1943, he returned to Chicago for good. In 1945, Muddy was given his first electric guitar from his uncle, Joe Grant, and the rest as they say is history. In 1950, Muddy recorded Rollin’ Stone, a song one decade later five young white, English lads would take as the name of the band, who would become the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones. Over the years, Waters would have as his backing band some of the most respected sidemen in blues history, including Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.

In 1977, Waters recorded Hard Again, a comeback album of sorts that featured Johnny Winters on guitar, producer and miscellaneous screaming. The first song on the album is a blistering, powerful remake of his 1955 classic, Mannish Boy. For anyone not familiar with the music of Mr. Waters, this is the album to start with. If I could only own twelve albums, and what a hardship that would be, however this would definitely be one.

These photos were shot at a very small bar on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA, and as such, the lighting was not very conducive to someone wanting to photograph arguably the greatest bluesman of all-time. As a matter of fact, of the two or three rolls of film I shot that night, only one print actually looked worthy of posting on my blog. All others came back underdeveloped. With the use of my computer, I was able to adjust both the color and contrast levels to make them presentable. The one print that looked halfway decent did not even make the final cut to this post. Instead of shooting only two or three rolls of thirty-six exposure film that night, if I had a digital camera back then, I most likely would have shot a thousand photos that night, if not more.

I have always thought the location of this show was Stache’s & Little Brothers. However, when doing some research, it seems the location was a place called High Street Brewing Company, but this might be the same locale, only under a different name. The date of the show was either Sunday February 8, 1981 or Tuesday November 3, 1981, as it seems that Waters played at this bar twice during that year.

Muddy Waters passed away in Chicago on April 30, 1983. The blues are rock and roll and Muddy Waters is the blues!

Steven H. Spring
Earth