Columbine #241BR, 247AR, 242AR, 197AR & 236BR

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November 24, 2018

Columbine, whose scientific name is Aquilegia, which is derived from the Latin word aquila which translates as eagle, is so named because the spurred shape of the plant’s sepals on many of the sixty to seventy species of the flower resemble an eagle’s talons. This easy to grow, hardy perennial blooms from late spring through early summer. Though not particularly a long-lived plant, most die off after only two or three years. However, the plant does grow easily from seed, and if seed pods are allowed to develop annually will reseed themselves. The long spurs of the flower produces a nectar that is a favored by hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Native to Asia, the plant is now found growing in the wild in meadows, woodlands and at higher altitudes throughout North America and Europe. Columbine, which come in many colors ranging from red, pink and white to purple and blue, are propagated by seed, growing to a height of fifteen to twenty inches. The plant will grow in full sun, however it prefers partial shade and a moist, rich, well-drained soil. Having a long taproot, which allows it to survive periods of drought, this same taproot does make transplanting the plant somewhat difficult.

Columbine, the state flower of Colorado (Rocky Mountain Columbine), were consumed in moderation by Native Americans as a condiment and are said to be very sweet. However, the seeds and root of the plant are very poisonous and if consumed can be fatal.

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 #5246BR, 5222BR, 5249BR, 5235BR & 5207BR

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November 17, 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 feet 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

An Open Letter To My Congressmen

November 14, 2018

The following is a copy of my letter to Senator Sherrod Brown, regarding President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General, temporarily replacing Jeff Sessions, who “resigned” just one day after last week’s mid-term elections.  Similar letters were also sent to my other senator and to my representative.  Isn’t the word processor a wonderful thing?

November 13, 2018

The Honorable Sherrod Brown
United States Senate
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Brown,

With the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions only one day after the mid-term elections, and the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting AG, I must write once again to voice my concern that the “president” (I will stop using quotation marks when he starts acting presidential) is taking steps to either fire Robert Mueller or shut down his investigation into Russia hi-jacking the 2016 presidential election. The “president” has even gone so far as to threaten war against Democrats, threatening to sic the Republican-controlled Senate on them, after they took back control of the House of Representatives, fearing numerous investigations into both his private business and presidency.

Although Sessions gave his resignation, at the request of the “president,” it doesn’t take a political scientist to know the former AG was fired because he recused himself from the Mueller investigation. Ironically, Mr. Whitaker might have even more reason to recuse himself, though we both know that will never happen. During the past two years, in television interviews and an op-ed piece, the acting AG has called Mueller’s investigation a “hoax,” a “witch-hunt” and has stated that it has “gone too far.” Whitaker has even opined he could see a scenario where a new Attorney General reduces Mueller’s budget so great that it basically shuts down the investigation.

How can America trust a man as its Attorney General who has tweeted “note to Trump’s lawyer: do no cooperate with Mueller lynch mob”? In addition to his incriminating comments, which proves he has already formed his opinion of an investigation in which he will lead, Whitaker chaired the Iowa state treasurer campaign of Sam Clovis, who had ties to the Trump presidential campaign. All of this adds up to more than enough reason for Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation due to massive conflicts of interest.

The following are a few more quotes by Whitaker, furthering documenting his bias opinion regarding the investigation, providing even more evidence for his recusal;

“It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude that investigating Donald Trump’s finances or his family’s finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian government or anyone else. That goes beyond the scope of the appointment of the special counsel.”

Regarding the infamous June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and several Russians attending, Whitaker said “You would always take that meeting.” Federal law prohibit foreign nationals from giving something of value to U.S. election campaigns. I’m no lawyer, but I have heard more than one state that giving incrimination information on an opponent constitutes something of value.

“I think what ultimately the president is going to start doing is putting pressure on Rod J. Rosenstein, who is in charge of this investigation, his acting attorney general. And really try to get Rod to maybe even cut the budget of Bob Mueller and do something a little more stage crafty than the blunt instrument of firing the attorney general and trying to replace him.”

There is even some debate as to the legality of Whitaker’s hiring, as the Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires a president to replace Senate confirmed positions with individuals who have already been confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate in 2004, when he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa in 2004. However, he resigned that position in 2009, when he and two other attorneys formed the law firm Whitaker, Hagenow & Gustoff LLP. His job as chief of staff to Sessions did not require Senate confirmation.

One more additional piece of information indicating Matthew Whitaker’s character, concerns his last job before becoming Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, where he represented World Patent Marketing as counsel and was an Advisory Board member. It seems the Miami, Florida based business scammed thousands of customers out of millions of dollars. After being fined $26 million, the company was shut down the federal government.

According to Federal Trade Commission documents, after being threatened by Whitaker, one customer, listed as A. Rudsky (an attorney) emailed back “Do not email me with your scare tactics. Stop with your bullshit emails…You are party to a scam…You will be exposed.” Although this has no bearing on his ability to objectively oversea the Mueller investigation, it does provide oversight into his qualifications as acting Attorney General.

It does not take a genius to see why Matthew Whitaker was appointed acting AG, as he is nothing but the “president’s” toady. He was appointed preciously because of his views on the Mueller investigation. Donald Trump finally got his “Roy Cohn.”

Sincerely,

Steven H. Spring

Iris #596BR, 594BR & 595BR

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November 10, 2018

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

Lilies #5201BR, 5199BR & 5202BR

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November 3, 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 feet 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