Tulips #190BR, 193BR, 203BR, 205AR & 191BR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 28, 2018

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 violet 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

Evolution Of A Photograph; Spiderworts #125

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 21, 2018

Spiderworts, whose botanical name is Tradescantia, are a genus of approximately seventy-five species of perennial plants in the Commelinaceae plant family. Named for the English naturalist, gardener and explorer John Tradescant the elder (1570-1638) who traveled to far away lands in search of foreign flowers, the plant gets its common name because when its stems are cut or broken it secrets mucilage that hardens into web-like threads. The wort part of its name comes from the old English word for plant.

The deer resistant and drought tolerant plant forms a dense, wide-spreading clump of weakly upright leaves, growing up to a height of three feet tall and three feet wide, depending on the variety. Some of the longer stems and leaves tend to sag, giving the plant an ungraceful look. However, for me, the exotic blooms of the Spiderwort more than make up for its ungraceful appearance. The individual leaves are blade-like, long and thin growing to a length of nearly twenty inches and come in a variety of different shades of green, ranging in color from blue-green to chartreuse.

Also commonly referred to as day-flowers because their blooms are open for less than a day, the flower’s delicate petals curl up during the afternoon heat. The flowers can remain open during cloudy days until evening. Composed of three sepals, three petals and six stamens, Spiderworts’ bright yellow anthers proudly stand upright in the middle of a fuzzy looking puffball of filaments that sit atop the triangular petals. The plant blooms during late spring through early summer, and the blossoms can be either purple, violet, pink or white, but are most commonly blue.

Native to the Americas, from as far north as southern Canada down to northern Argentina, including The West Indies, these flowers have become naturalized throughout parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. In the wild, North American Spiderworts are found in dry, sandy, sunny locales where they bloom in abundance for a short period of time, and also along the edges of wet woodlands where they can bloom for months. In the early years of the Seventeenth Century, Spiderworts were among the first native plants from the Americas to be introduced to European gardeners. An individual Spiderwort plant is self-sterile, in that by itself will not produce seeds, requiring a mate to do so.

Hardy in USDA zones three through ten,, Spiderworts are considered an easy to care for plant that prefers moist, well-drained, acidic (pH 5-6) soil, though it is adaptable to many different types of soil. The plant flowers best in full sun, however in regions with really hot summer days, partial shade is required. As summer days become longer and hotter, flowering comes to a stop and the plant may even go dormant. Spiderworts can re-bloom during cooler days of late summer and early fall if you cut the plant back by two-thirds after the blooming cycle ends, and by deadheading the spent blooms. Spiderworts should be divided every three or four years for propagation, either in the spring or early fall.

The types of Spiderwort shown in these photographs are Tradescantia Andersoniana. 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

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Footballers

An open letter to Illinois state representative Carol Sente, regarding the dangers of playing tackle football, especially by children;

April 19, 2018

The Honorable Carol Sente
Illinois House of Representatives
59th House District
272-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, Illinois 62706

Dear Representative Sente,

While reading an article in today’s Columbus Dispatch regarding a proposal to ban children in your state under the age of twelve from playing tackle football, I could not believe your comment that parents “need more time to absorb the evidence” which links repeated blows to the head to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Throughout the past two decades, colleges and pros have cut back on tackling in practice because of the brutality of the game, however, studies on the effects to the brain has only centered on concussions.

During the past six or eight years, if not longer, PBS aired two programs detailing the impact of tackle football on our youth. I do not remember the person’s name or occupation, but I will never forget the comment he made regarding the effects on a child’s brain when helmets bang together. He compared what happens to the brain as to shaking a bowl of Jell-O. This banging together of helmets occurs on every single play in every game and during every practice.

I grew up playing football, however the only time I wore a helmet was when I made the high school reserves team in the tenth grade. The ironic thing about helmets is that the more safer we make them, the more dangerous they have become, turning them into death-defying weapons of destruction. The sporting world only seems to link CTE to concussions, however, to me, and I’m no doctor, but the shaking of brains comparable to shaking a bowl of Jell-O, especially in children, is the real concern.

My son (and my daughter too) got his love of the sport from me, and he played two years of peewee tackle football twenty some years ago. Knowing what I know now, I would not allow him to play tackle football at such a young age.


Steven H. Spring

Flowers #678AR, 688AR, 692B & 690B

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 14, 2018

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.

I bought these cut flowers while shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart, as I was dying to photograph something with my new camera.  Prepping them, I realized that their stems were the same color as the flowers.  I’m no horticulturist, but that seemed odd.  My first thought was these Daisies were spray-painted.  When I posted a photo on Facebook later that night, I mentioned my discovery, and was told they were painted with colored-water.  I guess you’re never too old to learn something new.

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

Lilies #4722BR, 4693AR, 4727AR, 4715BR & 4725AR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 7, 2018

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