Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walking Iris in bloom

It was almost four years ago when I stumbled along an unusual looking plant at "The Greenhouse" - a local greenhouse that charges too much for their very nice plants.  It reminded me of an Iris, but the leaves were more glossy and thin.  Those features, along with the fact that it was potted in a hanging basket, had me guessing this was probably not a winter hardy plant.  The coolest feature of all was that towards the ends of many of the leaf blades there were new plants forming!

Baby plant forming on my Walking Iris (Neomarica gracilis) back in August 2006, when I purchased the plant.
I handed over the big bucks for this plant and quickly posted pictures of it to different forums online, looking for an ID.  I got one pretty quickly: Neomarica gracilis, commonly called Apostle Plant or Walking Iris.

I learned that the plant flowers from the ends of the leaves and then produces new plants there.  The leaves sag with the weight of the new plant and the new plants take root, hence the name Walking Iris.  Therefore, the plant that I had just bought had finished blooming.

I found an empty hanging basket and placed it next to my plant and buried each of the new plants, leaving them still attached to the mother plant.  A couple of months later I courageously cut the mother leaf free, leaving myself with two pots full of Walking Iris.  It was actually almost indistinguishable which was the "mother plant."  I was proud.

I kept my plants pretty healthy over the last couple of years, but there were a couple of rough times where my plants dried out and I would lose some of them.  Last summer I lost a whole hanging basket and a half - but some hung on!

And for the first time last week, my plants bloomed!

First bloom
I'm so glad to have these blooms, as much for their appearance as for the promise of new plants.  I can start to fill in my hanging basket again.  And hopefully I can keep them all happy until next Spring.

Closer look at the first bloom
The blooms are very attractive, but only lasted one day.  My plant produced three blooms, each a couple of days after the previous.  So conceivably, a fuller plant than mine might have a couple of blooms at a time over a period of a couple of weeks.  I have something to look forward to.  (Please forgive the ending of this post with a trailing preposition.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Asarum collection begins

One of my resolutions/goals for 2009 was to start a collection of Asarums, a plant genus that I have admired for a while.  I didn't get any Asarums during 2009, but I did place an order for 6 Asarum plants just 8 days into year 2010.  That order was delayed until the weather was permitting of shipment.

My love of Asarums began a couple of years ago when I saw a Chinese Wild Ginger (Asarum splendens) plant at a local garden center.  I think I bought one or two of them and planted them in our corner garden for the summer.  Even though they were supposed to be winter hardy in my zone, I was a little worried they would die and I would never have another opportunity to buy such a cool little plant.  So I dug mine up and kept them potted in the house over the winter.  I replanted them outside in the Spring the next year and Pippa promptly dug a hole where they were located.  To be fair to Pippa, she sometimes likes to dig nice cool depressions in our flowerbed to lay in, but I think this instance was in search of a mole that had been digging all over our backyard.  In the process, she managed to mangle my Asarums and they didn't survive.

My fears of not being able to find this plant again have been validated each Spring when I have returned to the same garden center to see that the supplier which grew the Asarums is still providing plants to this garden center, but no Asarums!

I found that Asiatica Nursery has tapped into the Asian (primarily Japanese) obsession with these little plants and has a HUGE variety of plants for sale on their website.  Their prices reflect the limited availability, so it took me a little while to save up enough to make my first order.

Here's what I got:

Asarum asperum

Asarum asperum
Detail of Asarum asperum blooms.

New leaves formed on my Asarum asperum just a couple of days after I got them.
Asarum caudigerum

Asarum caudigerum
Detail of somewhat withered Asarum caudigerum bloom.
Asarum maximum (Panda Asarum)

Asarum maximum with nice bloom
Asarum maximum bloom detail
Asarum minamitanianum

Asarum minamitanianum with bloom.
Asarum minamitanianum bloom detail
This one reminds me of the movie Tremors.  If you've seen the movie, you are likely to agree with me! :)

Asarum savatieri var. suntoh (albino form)

Asarum savatieri var. suntoh (albino form).  No blooms on this one.
Asarum takaoi

Asarum takaoi. A very small bloom is withered at the base of the stems.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Macro View of Spring

After getting a much nicer D-SLR camera, I realized a feature that had been on my more simple point-and-shoot camera.  I am very happy to have the new D-SLR, but I am also happy to know that one type of picture I was always struggling to get with my point-and-shoot is not so hard after all!

There is a macro setting that basically  instructs the camera to use a shorter focal length to focus on a nearby object in the foreground.

I like using this feature to get detailed shots of blooms or different features of plants.  So here's a look at some of the blooms from my last post - only in macro!

Saucer Magnolia Tree (Magnolia x soulangeana)
Saucer Magnolia Tree (Magnolia x soulangeana)
Flowering Almond Bush (Prunus glandulosa)
Flowering Quince Bush (Chaenomeles speciose)
Euphorbia martinii 'Tiny Tim'
Flowering Peach Tree (Prunus persica)

Flowering Peach Tree (Prunus persica)
Dwarf Rhododendron
Our "wild" violets - Wooly Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
Miniature Daffodils - thumb used for size comparison

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Signs of Spring

A little over a week ago was the first day of Spring.  This year Spring greeted central Oklahoma with another snow event.  For the first time in my life, I lost count of how many times it snowed on us this Winter!  It was a record breaking year.

The good news to come from the snow is that everything was well watered throughout the cold half of the year.  And now the trees are starting to wake from their slumber.

A blooming fruit tree near our house
Every year I notice new things in the Spring.  This year I noticed many trees in my neighborhood covered in little fuzzy red along the tips of their branches.  The trees were so thoroughly covered that it almost looked like fall colors on the trees.  I thought maybe it was the new leaves coming out of buds on the trees.  On closer inspection, I decided they weren't leaf buds emerging, but tiny blossoms.  These trees are not what I would considering flowering trees.  I'm wondering if these trees always light up red in the Spring or if this only happens after really wet Winters like the one we just had.  I'm thinking this Winter and Spring were special.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of these trees and now they have stopped their show of red.  I'll be watching for this next year.

I pass this Forsythia on my way to work every morning. I like to call it the "Glowing Orb of Gold."
Our quince bush as of a couple of days ago.
Colors that I never miss in the Spring are the yellow Forsythias and pink Quince bushes.  They are some of my favorite colors during the year.  This year our Quince bush bloomed more than a month later than it did last year!  There are many other fruit trees in bloom: cherry, plum, peach and pear.

I pass this beautiful tree on my way to work each morning, as well.  I believe it is a Cherry tree. It is old and large and gorgeous. I couldn't capture it well in the picture. The blooms sort of blend in with the sky color. I'll have to try again next year.
Christie and I spent some time on Saturday just driving around town looking at all of the blooming trees.  It was like looking at Christmas lights.   We drove slowly down the streets, looking down each side street and backtracking whenever one of us announced a good tree worth turning around for.

Our Saucer Magnolia / Tulip Tree (Magnolia x soulangeana)
We didn't realize how many large Saucer Magnolia/Tulip Trees (Magnolia x soulangeana) were in town until this weekend.  There are some surprisingly large ones in our neighborhood that must be very old, since they are relatively slow growing trees.  Many of these trees were in back yards and we only saw their tops over fences because we were looking for them as we drove around town.

My favorite Daffodil is white with a rusty orange center. We have just a couple of these blooming in our corner garden.
Daffodils and Hyacinth have been blooming all over town for a couple of weeks and Tulips are just getting started.  We are excited about the unveiling of our new tulip colors this year.  It won't be long!

Our peach tree
Our multicolored Peach tree is blooming up a storm, as well.  The dual colors of this tree amazes everyone that looks at it.  I have a lot of close up (macro) pictures I will be sharing of many of these blooms over the next week.  Stay tuned!