Flowers #173E, 169B, 161BR, 167CR & 164BR

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December 31, 2016

Rudbeckia Toto Rustic flowers are a relatively short-lived perennial plant that gardeners sometimes grow as an annual, depending as always on location. Rudbeckia flowers are members of the sunflower family, and are one of a number of plants that are commonly called Coneflowers or Black-Eyed Susans. This genus of flowers are named in honor of Olaus Rudbeck (1630-1702), a professor of botany at the University of Uppsala, in Uppsala, Sweden, who established the first botanical garden in his country.

Toto Rustic flowers are a dwarf Rudbeckia plant in the Asteraceae family that are native to the Eastern and Central United States. The plant’s blooms are burgundy in the center, while golden yellow at the tips. The blooms develop on short, stout stems, which are lined with dark green leaves. Each plant is covered with flowers, which attracts both bees and butterflies. The typical plant grows to a height up to ten inches, with a width of twelve inches. The typical bloom time ranges from July until the first frost.

This plant grows best with six plus hours of direct sun, though it will grow with only partial sunlight. It does well in most soil types, requiring only that it be well draining. Toto Rustic flowers are considered hardy and drought tolerant, though they bloom much better with a sufficient amount of watering. It is also both deer and rabbit resistant. Rudbeckia plants were a traditional Native American medicinal herb used to treat colds, flu, inflections and snakebites. Although parts of the plant do have nutritional value, other parts are poisonous.

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 Best Christmas Present Ever

December 25, 2016

Driving home a barren country road early in the evening twenty-one years ago from the local village market, it was a cold, clear night. Rounding a sharp curve, one very bright star caught my eye. Knowing very well that this star was a planet, most likely Venus, however I could not help but be reminded of the Star of Bethlehem, lighting the way for the three Wise Men to find their way to Bethlehem, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It was Christmas Eve after all.

Two months earlier, life as I knew it ended quite suddenly, an accumulation of related events that cost me both my promising career and marriage. When you combine that with the medical crisis that nearly cost me my life, suffering still from several side effects to this day, I paid dearly for my youthful indiscretion. A payment I make every single day, and will until the day I die. Having renovated the farmhouse prior to moving in five years earlier, the first thing I did when the family moved out was to redecorate, removing any signs that a very troubled marriage once lived there.

I had spent Christmas Eve hanging new mini blinds, after recently painting the two front rooms, color coordinating both living rooms, one a light green, the other light blue. I had no problem hanging the blinds in the green room, however, when I got to the blue room, I needed a really small drill bit, but could not find one. By the time I realized I did not have the bit needed to finish the job, I knew the local hardware store (different village in the opposite direction, but the same five-mile distance away) would be closed on a normal workday, let alone Christmas Eve.

After renovating the farmhouse before moving in, and during the entire twelve years I lived there, I ended up with a small stockpile of nuts and bolts and odds and ends down in the basement, my own mini hardware store. However, being a life-long neat-freak, a perfectionist, and in the throes of becoming very obsessive-compulsive, I knew very well where all my drill bits were; in the metal case the DeWalt cordless drill came in. But knowing very well where all my bits were did not keep me from searching out that elusive bit all night long.

As the evening was nearing midnight, I’m thinking to myself, talking to God, wishing that I had just one small drill bit. I probably bought that drill when I first started working on the house, so I had owned it at least for five years. By 11:30, I’m thinking I would give anything to have one very small drill bit. Then, at 11:45, fifteen minutes before Christmas officially began, I had the bright idea of looking underneath the cardboard backing that came inside the DeWalt metal case. I owned that drill for many years, but never removed the cardboard packaging.

Underneath that cardboard, what did I found? No, it was not one very small drill bit. It was three very small drill bits, two shiny silver, and the other black. Were these newfound bits purely coincidental or someone’s present? Whenever I needed anything from the hardware store, I would buy extras. If I needed a couple of screws, I would buy a dozen or two. That’s how I built up my supply room in the basement. If I needed a small drill bit, I would buy three. I can understand how one bit might have fallen under the cardboard, but three of the same size. What are the odds on that happening?

What is somewhat peculiar about the bits were that they were two shiny silver, one black. What were the three gifts the Wise Men gave the baby Jesus? Gold, myrrh and frankincense. Myrrh is a natural gum that was used as perfume, incense and mixed as a drink, but was also as an embalming oil. John 19:38-39 tells us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea brought a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes to wrap Jesus’ body in after his crucifixion.

Two good, one bad. Two shiny, one black. Whatever the case, at that time and place in my life, when I had lost everything that meant anything to me, I could not have received a better Christmas present than those three drill bits.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Flowers #456AR, 492BR, 530BR & 479BR

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December 24, 2016

Orange Stars, whose botanical name is Ornithogalum Dubium, is a species of flowering plants in the Asparagaceae family that is native to the mountainous region of South Africa, where it grows in stony, clayish soil. Growing to a height of nearly twenty inches, the bulbous perennial spouts up to eight lance-shaped, deep green leaves and bears fifteen to twenty spherical-shaped, tangerine colored flowers per each stem. The small, six-petal blooms often have a green or brown center.

Nearly unknown in the United States, where it is hardy only in zones eight through eleven, Orange Stars are said to be a much sought after potted plant throughout Europe. The plant prefers a sandy, well-drained, neutral pH soil and a bright, indirect sun. Water your plant so it is moist, but not soggy during the growing season, as the bulbs can rot if too wet. The bulbs can also rot if they remain wet during its winter dormant season.

If grown in containers, a sporadic drying out of the potting mix can cause significant damage to the plant’s delicate root system. Spent flowers should be removed from the plant as they die, and after the plant has finished flowering, the stems should be cut back as well. Once the plant has yellowed, prune the entire foliage to the ground.

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

Evolution Of A Photograph: Zinnias #44H, 44F, 44D, 44B & 44

 

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December 17, 2016

My initial thought was to post these five photos in reverse order, showing the original first, as to show the true evolution of the photograph. However, I decided that in order to catch your eye, it would be best to post them in the order shown, resulting in a de-evolution. The leaves of the plant were green, how they appear blue in these photographs is beyond me.  The leaves most likely had a blue-green hue to them, and combined with the particular setting I had the camera set to produced some really interesting photos.

Zinnias are a genus of twenty species of flowering plants of the Asteracea family, however more than one hundred different plants have been cultivated since crossbreeding them began in the nineteenth century. Zinnias, which is also their botanical name, are native to the scrub and dry grasslands of southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Noted for their long-stemmed flowers that come in a variety of bright colors, Zinnias are named for German professor of botany Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759).

These flowers are perennial plants in frost-free climates, but are an annual everywhere else. With leaves opposite each other, their shapes range from linear to ovate, with colors from pale to middle green. The blooms come in different shapes as well, ranging from a single row of petals to a doom shape. Their colors range from purple, red, pink, orange, yellow and white to multicolored. There are many different types of Zinnias. They come in dwarf types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, ranging from six inches high with a bloom less than an inch in diameter to plants four feet tall with seven-inch blooms. This plant will grow in most soil types, but thrives in humus-rich, well-watered, well-drained soils. They like the direct sun at least six hours a day; however, they will tolerate just the afternoon sun.

If grown as an annual, they can be started early indoors around mid April. Any earlier and they just might grow too large to manage as the plant germinates in only five to seven days. However, these plants are said to dislike being transplanted. If seeding is done outdoors, they should be sown in late May, after the threat of the last frost, when the soil is above sixty degrees. They will reseed themselves each year. Plant the seeds a quarter-inch deep, covered with loose soil. For bushier plants, pinch off an inch from the tips of the main stems while the plant is still young.

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

Lilies #2679BR, 2680AR & 2681BR

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December 10, 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

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