Dahlias #577AR, 595BR & 573BR

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July 15, 2017

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

Is Chris Duarte The Greatest Living Guitarist?

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July 8, 2017

I have seen in concert or have listened to the recordings of most, if not all of the greatest rock and/or blues guitarists during the past forty-five years, and without a doubt one of the best is Chris Duarte. There have been comparisons made to Stevie Ray and Jimi Hendrix and there are several Duarte songs that have that SRV sound, but I believe it’s due more to a Texas blues shuffle thing going on than sounding like the man himself.

I have seen Duarte in concert five times and every show has been amazing. As someone who is not widely known, to put it mildly, I always saw him in very small bars and every time he puts on a two to three-hour show of amazing guitar playing for less than ten bucks. The only time I paid more for a ticket, and when he played less than two hours was when he opened for Gov’t Mule at Ludlow‘s, a bar in Columbus, Ohio, which cost fifteen dollars. These seven photographs were shot at Chelsie’s, a now defunct bar that was located in the Short North artisan district in Columbus on June 18, 1999. The price of the ticket was an incredible seven dollars. Needless to say, these photos were shot with film, and then the 4×6 prints were scanned onto my computer to be adjusted, framed and matted before being uploaded online.

For those who have yet to experience the fury of Chris’ playing, I would recommend starting with his 1994 album Texas Sugar/Strat Magik. However, on his 2003 album Romp, is his incredible version of the Bob Dylan song One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below). This song in itself is worth the price of the CD. It was while listening to this CD for the first time while setting up my computer for a new high-speed internet connection that I came up with the name of my new email address, that being DoTheRomp@SBCglobal.net, borrowing the title from the first song on the CD.

Do not take it from me as to the greatness of Chris Duarte, as on the guitarist’s website is a quote from Eddie Van Halen who, when asked during a 1989 Rock One Radio interview what’s it like to be greatest guitar player in the world, Van Halen replied “I don’t know, ask Chris Duarte.”

Do The Romp? Yes, indeed!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Spiderworts #59BR, 97BR, 101AR, 62AR & 99BR

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July 1, 2017

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
Earth

Iris #393BR, 391AR, 388AR, 406AR, 407AR & 411BR

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June 24, 2017

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

U.S. – Cuban Relations (Or Lack Thereof)

June 23, 2017

The recent announcement by the president that his administration will roll back the normalization of relations with Cuba as enacted by former president Barack Obama, reeks of political pandering to the very small, yet very vocal Cuban-American community in the delegate rich state of Florida. Ironically, when President Obama announced the easement of the embargo, Cuban-Americans were outraged, yet the Cuban people rejoiced.

America’s fifty year embargo against Cuba via commercial, economic and financial sanctions did nothing but hurt the Cuban people and kept the Castro brothers in power all these years as they blamed America for all their hardship. Making matters much more dire, Russia has announced they are planning on opening a military base in the island nation located only ninety miles off the coast of Florida.

Even more ironic, just days after the announcement by the president that he is rolling back Cuban relations to Cold War status, Raul Castro has confirmed his plan to not seek another term as president when his current term expires in 2018.

What could ever possibly go wrong?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Orchids #293CR, 297AR, 302BR, 323BR, 328BR & 311BR

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June 17, 2017

Orchids, whose botanical name is Orchidaceae, has more than thirty-five thousand species and as many as three hundred thousand hybrids in its family, making it one of the two largest plant families along with the Asteraceae family, which includes such flowers as Asters, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Daisies, Marigolds and Zinnias. In addition to being one of the largest flowering plant families, evidence suggest that Orchids first appeared more than one hundred and twenty million years ago, making this elegant flower also one of the oldest.

Because of the exotic appearance of this flower, I always assumed that the plant had its origins in the tropical regions of the world. However, since getting my first Orchid, I have learned this assumption cannot be any further from the truth. Though many species do grow in the tropics, in locales such as Central and South America, Africa and the Indo-China region, other species are found in our planet’s temperate regions along both sides of the Equator in regions such as the United States, Europe, Russia, China and Australia. Even more interesting is the fact that Orchids are also found growing in rather cold regions of the planet, in places such as Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern Russia. In fact, there are only a few countries in the world in which Orchids do not originate, such as the desert countries of northern Africa and the Mid East, and also the continent of frigid Antarctica. In an interesting note, forty-eight species have been found in the state of Maine, while Hawaii only has three.

All Orchids are considered perennials, and grow via two different methods, monopodial and sympodial. Monopodial Orchids has a central stem, which grows upward on top of its prior growth. The plant’s roots and flower stalks all begin life from that same central stem. Sympodials, in which most Orchids are members of, new growth originates at the base of the prior year’s growing season, resulting in the plant growing laterally.

Due to the immense number of different plants in this family, the blooms of Orchids come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some Orchids produce just a single flower, while other varieties produce multiple blooms. The flowers range in size from a pinhead up to nearly twelve inches wide. They come in all colors except true black, although the most dominant colors are white, yellow, pink, lavender and red, although green and brown are very common as well. Typically, Orchids consist of three sepals, three petals. One of the petals is greatly modified, which forms the flower’s throat and lip. The plant has simple leaves with parallel veins, and they normally alternate on the stem and are often folded lengthwise. The leaves may be either ovate, lanceolate or orbiculate in shape. As far as soil types go, this to me is what makes Orchids very unique from most, if not all other flowers. Some grow in soil; some grow on trees, some on rocks, while others survive on decaying plant matter. One more interesting note is that vanilla favoring comes from the Vanilla Orchid.

The particular type of Orchid shown in these photographs is a Phalaenopsis, which are commonly referred to as a Moth Orchid. 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 #2568AR, 2564AR & 2567AR

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June 10, 2017

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