Chrysanthemums #267AR, 268BR, 268AR & 314BR

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February 22, 2020

Chrysanthemums, more commonly knows as Mums, are a member of the Asteraceae family of flowers. This flower is considered a hardy perennial, although many consider them only as a short-season, fall-planted annual, as they bloom in late summer and fall. There are forty known species and thousands of different varieties of Mums. Most species originally came from China, Japan, northern Africa and southern Europe, although China is thought to be the original starting point of the plant, dating there as far back as the fifteenth century, B.C., where the flowers have customarily been boiled to make a tea and also used medicinally to treat influenza. The plant has been grown in Japan since the eighth century. Over five hundred different varieties were known to exist by 1630. Chrysanthemums are considered to have been introduced in America in 1798, when Colonel John Stevens imported a variety known as Dark Purple from England. The plant is considered the death flower in Europe because of its widespread use on graves.

The word Chrysanthemum is a derivative of two Greek words, chrysos (meaning gold) and anthemon (meaning flower). This particular genus of flower at one time included many more species, but was divided into several different genera a few decades ago. The National Chrysanthemum Society recognizes thirteen different classes of flowering blooms of the plant, based on form and the shape of its petals, although there are only eight major types; anemone, cushion, decorative, pompom, single, spider, spoon and quill.

Chrysanthemums are divided into two basic groups, garden hardy and exhibition. Garden hardy are perennials capable of surviving winters in northern latitudes and produce a large quantity of small blooms. Exhibition varieties are not nearly as hardy and sturdy; usually require staking and being kept in a relatively cool, dry location over the winter, sometimes requiring the use of night-lights. In addition to its many different types of blooms, Mums come in a wide variety of colors, ranging not only of gold, but also white, yellow, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. The plant also comes in an assortment of heights as well, ranging from a height of eighteen inches up to three feet tall, depending on the particular variety, growing conditions and whether they are pinched regularly during the growing season. Pinched plants will generate a smaller, bushier plant, producing many more blooms.

These plants can be planted either in the fall or in early spring. Those planted in the spring will produce a more vigorous flower. Mums prefer fertile, highly organic, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. The plants should be spaced roughly eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, although some varieties might require spacing up to three feet. They can be fertilized once a month up through July. Mums particularly need plenty of water once they start blooming. Every two or three years, Chrysanthemums should be divided to invigorate their growth. If bought as a potted plant in the fall, as many people do, they should be planted at least six weeks if not more before the season’s first killing frost, although it seems that many who buy fall pots will throw the plant away after the frost kills the blooms, having never transplanted the flower into a garden.

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 #656CR, 654BR, 655BR & 657BR

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February 15, 2020

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

Chrysanthemums #320BR, 322BR & 371BR

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February 8, 2020

Chrysanthemums, more commonly knows as Mums, are a member of the Asteraceae family of flowers. This flower is considered a hardy perennial, although many consider them only as a short-season, fall-planted annual, as they bloom in late summer and fall. There are forty known species and thousands of different varieties of Mums. Most species originally came from China, Japan, northern Africa and southern Europe, although China is thought to be the original starting point of the plant, dating there as far back as the fifteenth century, B.C., where the flowers have customarily been boiled to make a tea and also used medicinally to treat influenza. The plant has been grown in Japan since the eighth century. Over five hundred different varieties were known to exist by 1630. Chrysanthemums are considered to have been introduced in America in 1798, when Colonel John Stevens imported a variety known as Dark Purple from England. The plant is considered the death flower in Europe because of its widespread use on graves.

The word Chrysanthemum is a derivative of two Greek words, chrysos (meaning gold) and anthemon (meaning flower). This particular genus of flower at one time included many more species, but was divided into several different genera a few decades ago. The National Chrysanthemum Society recognizes thirteen different classes of flowering blooms of the plant, based on form and the shape of its petals, although there are only eight major types; anemone, cushion, decorative, pompom, single, spider, spoon and quill.

Chrysanthemums are divided into two basic groups, garden hardy and exhibition. Garden hardy are perennials capable of surviving winters in northern latitudes and produce a large quantity of small blooms. Exhibition varieties are not nearly as hardy and sturdy; usually require staking and being kept in a relatively cool, dry location over the winter, sometimes requiring the use of night-lights. In addition to its many different types of blooms, Mums come in a wide variety of colors, ranging not only of gold, but also white, yellow, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. The plant also comes in an assortment of heights as well, ranging from a height of eighteen inches up to three feet tall, depending on the particular variety, growing conditions and whether they are pinched regularly during the growing season. Pinched plants will generate a smaller, bushier plant, producing many more blooms.

These plants can be planted either in the fall or in early spring. Those planted in the spring will produce a more vigorous flower. Mums prefer fertile, highly organic, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. The plants should be spaced roughly eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, although some varieties might require spacing up to three feet. They can be fertilized once a month up through July. Mums particularly need plenty of water once they start blooming. Every two or three years, Chrysanthemums should be divided to invigorate their growth. If bought as a potted plant in the fall, as many people do, they should be planted at least six weeks if not more before the season’s first killing frost, although it seems that many who buy fall pots will throw the plant away after the frost kills the blooms, having never transplanted the flower into a garden.

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 The Iowa Caucus Needs To Be Impeached

February 6, 2020

How is it possible, that in the biggest election in maybe this nation’s history, in a state where candidates have basically lived for the past year, all Americans rely on something called a caucus to elect their president? With its first-in-the-nation electoral contest, Iowans have a huge influence over every other state, even more so considering their rank in population and diversity (31st and 45th, respectfully). Four years ago, the candidate to whom I would have voted for, was no longer in the race by the time Ohio held its primary.

Granted, a caucus whereby citizens gather to discuss politics is probably democracy’s most romantic act of loyalty, but why does Iowa’s caucus involve what many pundits are calling a “complicated formula?” Why is there a need of a formula to count votes and issue delegates? Even more confusing was that Iowa was to release three sets of numbers, for some un-gawdly reason.

How is it possible that Iowa, after installing new software to determine each citizen’s vote, not run a complete mock caucus, testing the entire system months ago? Especially given their influential first-in-the-nation status in such a monumental election. This is the third straight caucus in which Iowa has had problems. Serious issues were raised in 2012 about the outcome of Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum, while in 2016, doubts were raised about the result between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Two straight problems explain the need for new software.

Not only does Iowa have a huge sway over who we elect as president, the complicated formula used to distribute delegates was designed to give Iowa’s rural communities an undue influence over their urban counterparts. This is exactly why the Electoral College was established. Just because you win the Iowa caucus, does not mean you will win the nomination (the odds are pretty good for Democrats, not so for Republicans), however what these formulas (as apposed to actual votes) do is to give a huge influence to the most rural parts of one of the most rural states in the country. That isn’t democracy.

It’s time for a national primary.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Daisies #79A, 78B & 111AR

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February 1, 2020

The Common Daisy, also known as an English Daisy, is a member of the Asteraceae family of plants. Daisies, whose scientific name is Bellis Perennis, are native to western, central and northern Europe. Over time, they have become widely naturalized throughout most of the world’s temperate regions, including the Americas and Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and a few other neighboring island nations). They are now found to be growing most everywhere on Earth with the possible exception of Antarctica. Daisies can become so abundant that many people throughout Europe and northeastern United States consider them a wild flower, nothing more than a weed.

The origins of the name, it is believed goes back to the old English language of “daes eag,” which is thought to translate as “day’s eye,” because of the manner in which Daisies close up at night, opening up again the following morning. Growing to a height up to two feet, Daisies are technically actually two individual flowers. The inner yellow center (which can also be pink or rose color) is a Disk Floret. The white, petal-like outer part is called the Ray Floret. The plant’s stems are smooth and leafless, with a hairy bract just below the flower heads, while supporting a single flower, up to two inches in diameter. The leaves of the plant varies in texture, are narrow at the base and becoming slightly oblong.

A long-lived, perennial plant, Common Daisies generally bloom from early spring through the middle of summer, even into autumn, depending as always on your location. Traditionally, Daisies bridge the blooming gap of Tulips and Irises. As an especially hardy plant, they love a full sun, but will do well in partial shade. As for soil type, they will thrive in most soil, the only requirement is that it is well-drained. As far as disease and insect pests, there are no known serious problems with either.

Though this particular specie of Daisy has white petals in nature, as you can see these are anything but white. The first time I bought a bouquet to photograph, I noticed that some of the stems were not green, but colored, which I thought very weird. I have since discovered that florists place the cut flowers in colored water, and as the stems soak up the water, it gives them their stunning appearance.

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

The Death Of America (God Bless Her Soul)

January 31, 2020

As a life-long political junkie, I watched probably ninety percent of both the House of Representatives impeachment hearings and the Senate’s “trial” of the president. Though I am not an attorney nor legal scholar, however this “trial” was nothing more than a kangaroo court, as Republicans prevented Democrats from subpoenaing eye-witnesses nor any documents. Trials without witnesses or documentation are what dictators conduct. To borrow a much over-used word by Republicans and especially the president, it was nothing more than a sham.

Republicans cried out numerous times over the past several weeks that Democrats produced nothing but hearsay witnesses, relying on third or fourth party testimony. However, this was due only to the president preventing nearly everyone from testifying nor complying with any subpoena for documents. In addition, the assertion is false, as European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified under oath that he had first-hand knowledge of the quid pro quo demand by the president’s merry band of shysters, hustlers, and grifters. If new claims by former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, that was reported Friday afternoon turn out to be credible, this conspiracy and cover-up goes much deeper involving high ranking officials and longer in time than anyone could ever imagine.

This administration will go down in history as the most corrupt, most inept and most untruthful in American history. Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional scholar and member of the president’s defense team opined that Trump can basically do anything he wants, if it is done in pursuit of getting re-elected. It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that this president will do anything to get re-elected and with four more years in office, anything goes. Once Senate Republicans acquit him of all charges, the president will be free to do any and every thing he chooses, legal or not.

America has been slowly dying an immoral death the past three years, and this “trial” has pounded the last few nails into its coffin. We are a laughingstock on the world stage. The only hope for her is that Democrats and Independents come out in mass on the third day of November and take back both the Senate and White House.

If not, Vladimir Putin will have defeated this nation without firing a single shot.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Dahlias #78BR, 76DR & 79CR

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January 25, 2019

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