Tulips #76C, 79DR, 26L, 78BR, 79ER & 44BR

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May 30, 2015

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

Flowers #212BR, 211BR, 216BR, 220BR, 222BR & 214C

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May 23, 2015

I do not often combine different species of flowers, but did so in this photo because I have yet to take a really good photograph of Black-Eyed Susans. And, to make matters worse, I’m not even sure these are Black-Eyed Susans. Being color-blind, these Susans might just be Brown-Eyed. Or are they actually Coneflowers or just plain Daisies? Whatever they are, they are paired with the blooms from a Hosta in these photographs.

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #139B, 138C, 138D & 137C

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May 16, 2015

Peace Lilies, whose botanical name is Spathiphyllum Cochlearispathum, is a genus of approximately 40 species of flowering plants in the Araceae family. Its botanical name translates from Greek to “leaf spathe,” and is so named for the plant’s unique bloom. The flower consists of a one to two-inch, greenish-white spadix, backed with a single white or cream-colored spathe, (a single petal), which proudly stands atop a tall stem.  These four photographs were given their bluish tint through the miracle of digital imaging.

Though not a true lily, Peace Lilies are an evergreen perennial plant that grows as a bushy clump of leaves that can grow up to a foot in length. Known as an easy to care for plant, the flower’s natural habitat is a tropical rainforest, with its origins in southern Mexico. They love shade, though will tolerate some indirect sun. This plant however, cannot survive hot, direct sunlight. Too much sun causes their leaves to singe and will stop the growth of the plant. Too much sunlight can also kill a young plant. Peace Lilies will tolerate an hour or two of morning sun, but they should never be exposed to the hot afternoon sun. In the United States, this plant is only hardy in zones 11 and 12, as they will survive outdoors year round in hot, humid areas of Hawaii and Florida.

Known for its lush foliage and unusual blossoms, for most Americans, these flowers are considered houseplants, and are one of the most common houseplants sold to gardeners. Even if grown indoors, this plant should still be kept away from direct sunlight and it should be kept a few feet back from the window. Peace Lilies like a constant temperature between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and should be protected from cold drafts and drastic changes in temperature.

When watered, Peace Lilies like to be watered a lot; however, they also need to dry out slightly between waterings. Too much drying out can cause the plant to wilt and will cause the leaves to yellow. And, as we all know all too well, too much water will kill a plant. When watering, it is very important that you use room temperature water that has sat for twenty-four to allow the chlorine to evaporate, as these plants are susceptible to chlorine damage. As they are native to tropical rainforests, Peace Lilies like to be sprayed with a mist every few days, again using water that has been allowed to sit for twenty-four hours. This plant looses a lot of water through evaporation via their leaves, especially when grown indoors.

Peace Lilies will flourish in almost any well-drained soil. Because of its natural habitat, growing in the undergrowth of decaying plant matter in a tropical rainforest, a peat-based soil is best, especially if grown in pots. Like most every potted plant, they should be re-potted every two to three years. Though it does not require fertilization, however it does best if fertilized on a regular basis using a well balance houseplant fertilizer at one-half of the recommended strength.

Over the years, this plant has been greatly hybridized and as such, there are dozens of different varieties available to flower enthusiasts. These “lilies” range in size from miniatures twelve inches tall up to six feet in height, and in clumps up to five feet wide. One of the great benefits of this plant is its air-purifying capability. Besides their very unusual flowers, Peace Lilies are great for breaking down and neutralizing toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, benzene and formaldehyde when grown indoors.

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

Day Lilies #167C, 162C, 165B, 168B & 176B

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May 9, 2015

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 of mine 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 a little about this flower this summer after tweaking the colors and tones on several photos 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

Chrysanthemums #58ER, 59BR, 62BR, 65BR & 64BR

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May 2, 2015

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, pompon, 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