Daylilies #175B, 165A, 167B, 168A, 163B & 162B

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December 3, 2016

Although not a true Lily, Daylilies, whose scientific name is Hemerocallis, is so named as its flower typically lasts for only twenty-four hours. There are more than thirty-five thousand named and officially registered species in its family. Native to China, Korea and Japan, Daylilies can thrive in many types of climates. Called the perfect perennial because of their stunning colors, ability to withstand drought and requiring very little if any care, Daylilies come in almost every color except pure blue and pure white.

Daylilies thrive best with a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, though darker flowering plants such as purple and red need some shade as the darker colors soak up too much heat. These plants adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions, however they do best in slightly acidic, moist but well-drained soil. Some Daylilies bloom in early spring, some in summer and some even in the fall. The blooms come in many different shapes. Depending on type, each plant should bloom for thirty to forty days.

I must admit that when I first became serious about gardening and photographing flowers about fifteen years ago (one of my earliest childhood memories was helping Grandma dig up her Canna bulbs every fall), I thought Daylilies were just those funky looking orange flowers you see growing everywhere, even along the roadside. A friend once told me that old folks referred to them as Shithouse Lilies. Since then, I have come to learn that there are many glorious Daylilies that I would just love to have growing in my gardens if not for the limited space I have outside my apartment. Over the years, I have tried eliminating these orange Daylilies from my gardens as I am still not very fond of them. One thing I do not like about them are their very long stems. My opinion has changed over the years about this specie of flowers, especially since I’ve gone digital and now have the capability to tweak the colors and tones on the computer to obtain somewhat decent photographs.

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

 

Moon #58CR, 58BR, 54AR, 57BR & 51BR

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November 26, 2016

According to Wikipedia, the Super Moon, which was to be about fifteen percent larger and thirty percent brighter than normal, was to occur on both the 13th and 14th. I know absolutely nothing about the Moon, but it would seem to me that if it were a two-night event, and if one of those nights were a full moon, then that night would be most super, which was the 14th.  The first, second and fourth photos were shot on the 14th.  The third and fifth photos were shot on the 13th.  Zooming in while taking the pictures, and digital manipulation done on the computer resulted in the Moon appearing different sizes and colors in these five photographs.

Because it seems that we have overcast skies seeming every day here in central Ohio, especially during the winter months, I went out on the 13th and shot about fifty photos. The next night, after checking the moon-rise timetable in the Columbus Dispatch, I was outside waiting on the Moon to rise up from the horizon at its scheduled time. Fifteen minutes later, and still no Moon, I headed home, knowing something wasn’t right.

After another thirty minutes passed, I headed back out to see if the Moon had indeed made its appearance, which it had. Having taken another fifty or so photos, I headed back home to sort through what I had just taken, and to check why the Moon was an hour late.

It appeared to me that the newspaper’s moon-rise forecast was off by a day, as it rose at the time the paper had for the following day. One thing I do know is that, unlike the Sun, the Moon’s rising and setting can vary an hour from one day to the next. Not to mention it can appear during the middle of the day. Or not at all.

What a strange planet, or technically a natural satellite, the Moon is!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #2671AR, 2677BR, 2704BR, 2645AR & 2649AR

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November 19, 2016

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

Clematis #77B, 83B, 85C, 81B, & 91B

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November 12, 2016

Clematis are a number of plants and climbing vines belonging to the genus Clematis, within the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. Originating from Eastern Asia, Clematis, Latin for creeping plant, is a genus of flowering plants numbering two hundred and fifty species and numerous hybrids. More hybrids are being cultivated every year. Although there are some species of the plant that grow bush-like, most Clematis are climbers, as most of the species are comprised of vigorous, woody climbing plants. Until the flower reaches several years old, the woody stems of the plant are very delicate, and can break quite easily. These plants can live for twenty-five years, if not longer.

Native to China, these climbers first made their way to Japanese gardens by the seventeenth century, and reached Europe the following century. There are a great many different varieties of the plant, regarding the formation of its flower, color of the bloom, blooming season, type of foliage and the height of the plant at maturity. Nearly every specie produces single flowers, although some species produce a double flower and some will produce a single and double combination. The bloom of the Clematis has been known to change colors during its lifetime, especially when growing in full sun. Many of the species produce a scent; however, its scent is not very strong. It can take Clematis several years for it to mature and to begin flowering.

Known as the “Queen Of The Vines,” Clematis are cherished for their capability to climb up walls, fences and other like structures. This plant does have a reputation as to being difficult to grow, however when provided the right growing conditions, this flower thrives. It loves the full sun (requiring at least six hours each day), although it will bloom in partial shade. The pastel colors of the plant do keep their color best if grown in partial shade. Clematis are considered a hardy plant (many species are rated for growing in USDA zone three), and grows best in moist, but well-drained soil, that is neutral to slightly alkaline in pH. If your soil is to acidic, you should treat it with limestone or wood ash every so often. Clematis seems to grow best in full sun, but likes cool shade down around the crown of the plant, where it spouts up from the ground. Mulching is a good way to accomplish this, however, keep the mulch a few inches away from the crown, as to prevent the plant from rotting.

Depending on the species, the flowers usually have four petal-like sepals, but no true petals. Some species have as many as eight sepals. Having as many as one hundred blooms per plant each growing season, the blooms range in color from purple, red, blue, pink, yellow and white to a multi-color. These flowers can range in size from as small as one inch up to ten inches. The plant itself can range from two to four feet up to thirty feet tall, again depending on the specie. The leaves are grown opposite each other and are composed of leaflets and leafstalks. The leaves entwine around whatever it is climbing up, wrapping its leaf stems around something as opposed to Morning Glories that climb by growing up around an object. These vigorous climbers need something to climb up when they are first transplanted.

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

A Tale Of Two Parties (Apologies To Charles Dickens)

November 10, 2016

Less than twenty-four hours after the Republican Party candidate pulled off the biggest upset this year, no, make that number two behind Penn State pulling off a huge upset in a Happy Valley white-out against the Buckeyes, President Obama invited the president-elect, who mocked Obama for years, to the White House to discuss the peaceful transfer of power come January. Whatever happened to the president-elect’s investigation into the president’s birth and religion, the results of which we were told is gonna shock us?

Eight years ago, on the day President Obama was first sworn into office, Republican Congressional leaders met at the Caucus Room restaurant to make sure the “uppity” first-term Senator from Illinois was a complete failure, in effect the most perfect example of putting party over country. Especially considering the disastrous economy he inherited. Or a world economy on the brink of a catastrophic meltdown, due to the Wall Street mess. Not to mention the two longest wars in U.S. history, both unfunded and still ongoing. Also unfunded were two massive tax cuts, benefiting mainly the wealthy elite, as well as the Medicare prescription drug program.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had the audacity to announce his number one priority was seeing Barack Obama a one-term president. He couldn’t even get that right!!!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Dahlias #602C, 601B, 601C, 604B & 602B

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November 5, 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

U.S. Elections Are Rigged, Just Not In The Way Donald Trump Whines About

November 1, 2016

How is it that America, which prides itself on being the world’s all-time greatest democracy, is becoming less and less so with each and every election? Though technically a representative democracy in which we elect local and state officials, along with members of Congress to cast our votes for us, this concluding presidential season just might prove that we are anything but one.

On the Republican side of the wall separating the two parties, businessman, blowhard and national embarrassment on the world stage Donald Trump beat a field of sixteen other mostly uninspiring candidates by out-name calling them to win his party’s nomination. Trump is such a polarizing candidate that members of his own party took an anybody-but-Trump movement right up to the moment he accept the nomination during the Republican Convention held earlier this summer in Cleveland.

Even though Trump won his party’s nomination by winning more than the 1,237 delegates needed to win, he referred to the system as rigged. As Election Day finally approaches, he has begun a full-time campaign decrying the system as rigged and massive fraud will be committed on Election Day. Trump has gone as far as stating he will contest the outcome, unless of course he miraculously wins. With election fraud virtually nonexistent, and polls indicating that Hillary Clinton just might win in a landslide, it seems that Trump is getting his excuses in order when he loses the election, so that the final result will not be a blow to his enormous ego.

Mr. Trump probably saw nothing wrong with winning his home state primary of New York with sixty percent of the vote, yet he received ninety-seven percent of the votes that really counts, the delegate vote. Making matters more complicated than this seemingly unnatural method of electing candidates are the party’s “unbound” delegates. The Republican Party cannot even give an accurate account of their highly influential number, as it ranges from plus or minus one hundred and fifty to as many as two hundred. These unbound delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose, despite the vote of the people, and comprise as much as sixteen percent of the actual vote needed to win the Republican nomination. This is democracy?

The Democratic Party, with its seven hundred and twelve unpledged “super delegates,” comprising a whopping thirty percent of the party’s total delegate count, is even more undemocratic. These super delegates, who are comprised of various Democratic leaders such as sitting governors and members of Congress, are under no obligation to vote for the candidate who won their state primary. The perfect example of democracy in action for the Democratic Party, despite the irony in its name occurred during the New Hampshire primary. Senator Bernie Sanders, who beat Clinton by twenty percentage points, walked away with a virtual tie in the delegate count.

Based on his margin of victory, Senator Sanders won the pledged delegate count fifteen – nine over Clinton, yet six of the state’s eight super delegates pledged their support for the former New York senator, with two delegates uncommitted. This resulted in fundamentally a tie between the two candidates, despite Sanders soundly beating his opponent. In an even more egregious example, Sanders won the Wyoming caucus by eleven percentage points, yet Clinton won the total delegate count eleven – seven. How is that possible?

The Democrat Party’s super delegate nominating process came about after former California governor Ronald Reagan beat President Jimmy Cater during his re-election bid in 1980. Party leaders felt to urge to correct any “mistake” made by voters during the primary season, thereby being able to nominate a candidate more their liking, despite how Americans actually voted. The vast majority of Hillary Clinton’s delegate count over Bernie Sanders was due to super delegates.

When you also consider the Republican Party is doing everything it can to restrict voter turnout, be it by reducing early voting dates or enacting new voter ID laws, America’s democratic values are being greatly undermined. In Texas, a hunting license is an acceptable form of voter ID, yet a college ID is not. We are led to believe that stricter ID laws are required because of voter fraud, yet voter fraud is basically nonexistent. From 2000 through 2014, more than one billion votes were cast with only thirty-one documented case of voter fraud, a fraction so insignificant it might very well be zero. Most cases of alleged fraud are only errors committed by citizens staffing the polling stations.

The Grand Old Party has also taken to greatly reducing the number of voting machines in historically Democratic voting districts, resulting in lengthy waits in line just to cast a vote. In this past Arizona primary, voters waited in lines for up to five hours, while during the last presidential election, voters in Ohio waited in line up to eight hours. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was sued earlier this year by the ACLU over allegations of illegally removing tens of thousands of voter names from registration rolls. In September, the Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals ruled he cannot purge the voting rolls merely because citizens do not vote regularly. Maybe it’s time for America to change its national motto from “In God We Trust” to “If You Cannot Beat Them, Restrict Them.”

Another method of restricting voter turnout are the “closed” primaries, in which Democrats are only allowed to vote Democrat and Republican the same, leaving Independents out of the process. One report indicated that more than a million New Yorkers were refused their constitutional right to vote. Who can forget that two of Trump’s children failed to properly register and left unable to vote for their father?

Making the entire process even more corrupt was the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in which the court basically ruled that the ability of corporations and unions to contribute unlimited amounts of money to candidates and issues equates to speech. Money is not free speech, and not free as money buys influence. Unlimited money buys corruption. Campaign contributions to candidates by Wall Street have tripled since 2012. It is said that members of Congress now spend most of their time begging for campaign contributions.

After voting is completed in state primaries and then finally the national election, it is not the candidate who receives the most votes that wins the election, it is the Electoral College that decides who will be the next president of the United States. Is America a democracy? Hardly.

Steven H. Spring
Earth