Lilies #407AR, 404AR, 397A, 398BR & 396A

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November 11, 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

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Chrysanthemums #188CR, 199AR, 194AR, 187AR & 195AR

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August 26, 2017

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, pompom, 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
Earth

Flowers #197B, 177A, 191AR, 187A & 178A

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July 29, 2017

The Yucca plant in these photographs is a specie of broad-leaf, flowering evergreen whose botanical name is Yucca Filamentosa. It is native to the beaches and sand dunes of southeastern United States, growing as far north as Maryland and as far west as Louisiana. It has also been naturalized to regions in France, Italy and Turkey. A member of the Asparagaceae family, it is commonly called Adam’s Needle, Spanish Bayonet, Needle Palm or just plain Yucca, which is what I know it as. Though it resembles a small palm, it is more closely related to Lilies.

Native Yuccas grow in dry, sandy or even rocky conditions, growing best in well-drained soil. They prefer the full sun, but tolerate the shade, growing even in complete shade. It is both deer and rabbit tolerate, and also handles drought well. Its rigid, sword-shaped, sharp-tipped three-inch wide green leaves (with blue overtones) grow to a length of nearly three feet long. The leaves form a foliage cluster approximately two to three feet in both height and width, and all originate from the taproot, taking the form of a rosette. The leaves are adorned with long, curly fibers that peel back as the leaf grows longer and longer.

The Yucca plant is solely pollinated by the Yucca Moth, which relies on the plant exclusively for its survival. In late spring, an erect spike of a flowering stalk grows up from the center of the rosette, though many plants will not bloom for several years. The flower cluster is called an inflorescence, and is made up of several dozen individual two-inch long, creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers growing downward. The typical stalk grows up to a height of four to six feet tall, although they can get as tall as twelve feet, depending on your region. These stalks grow taller in warmer climates, and shorter in colder regions. The bloom time, as always, depending on your region, ranges from June through August.

These stalks should be pruned after all the blooms die. However, the blossoms should be allowed to mature into pods that split open, releasing several seeds. There is some debate as to whether or not the plant dies after blooming. Some say yes, others no. Two summers ago, one of my Yuccas did die over the winter after blooming. However, the plant in these photos seems to have survived this past winter. I’m no botanist, and far from being very knowledgeable about flora, but my guess is that maybe this has more to due with the age of the plant than just the typical bloom cycle. If your Yucca does die, this plant also propagates with many seedlings growing up from the taproot and broken pieces of roots. Yuccas have deep taproots, which can be very difficult to dig up the entire root system. Young, small Yuccas can spout up from the roots in a few months or the following year.

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

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

Dahlias #548AR, 574BR & 574AR

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May 20, 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

Tulips #203BR, 197BR, 198BR, 196BR & 204AR

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March 25, 2017

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
Earth

Sunset Over USS Ranger #104B

 

March 22, 2017

My home for three and a half years, the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-61). I believe this photograph was shot in Pusan harbor, South Korea during our WestPac of 1979. The first time you hear a twenty ton aircraft land just a few feet above your head, your first thought is oh my gawd, how will I ever be able to sleep through this?

When I first reported for duty aboard the carrier, our berthing compartment was under the third or fourth arresting cable, meaning we heard every plane land. Nothing could be worse, right? Wrong. While in drydock for a year in Bremerton, Washington, OA Division (weather guessers) lost our private berthing compartment, as we were moved up to the bow of the ship, to a much larger compartment. Up front, you heard the catapults building up steam to launch each plane, which left the ship with a very loud thud.

I hated my time in the Navy, especially that year spent in drydock, however looking back now, it was probably the most exciting time of my life. Not to mention the great friendships I developed with my Navy brothers. It also gave me the opportunity to buy my first real camera, a 35mm, fully manual Canon AT-1, various lenses and filters plus a rather huge stereo while overseas.

The Navy was also indirectly responsible for my marriage as well, because after serving I had a year’s worth of free dental and met my future wife who was working at a local dentist office as a chair-side assistant. Though the marriage ended on a very sour note and in divorce, my ex-wife did give me two precious, beautiful babies.

My Naval experience also enabled me to get a free college degree from The Ohio State University via the G.I. Bill. I can honestly say that my four years of service in the mid to late ‘70s changed my life for the better.

Steven H. Spring
Earth