This is a lovely, small amaryllis, blooming on our kitchen table.
Tagged With: Red
Amaryllis ‘Ruby Meyer’
Red Honeysuckle Leaves
It was overcast and a bit colder today (upper 20s) with a light dusting of snow on the ground which stayed all day in shady spots. On days like this, little bits of color really stand out. I’m not a big fan of Japanese honeysuckle but these are pretty, I think.
As I was taking this picture, I startled (and was in turn startled by) a rabbit who took off into the grass. I was able to track him in the snow but each time I got close, he saw me before I saw him and he darted away. Anyway, I’m a sucker for any sort of berry, particularly red berries. And yes, I know rose hips aren’t berries. Strawberries and raspberries aren’t berries, either. So there.
This 1963 Thunderbird is in the parking lot next to my mechanic. He doesn’t own it. It does need new brake lines at the very least but I understand that for $3,500 it can be yours.
Rapid Oxidation of Wood
Also known as combustion. Fire, if you will. My mom went with me to the farm this afternoon and we pruned some plum trees, cutting out black-knot (see Project 365 Extras). We burned the cut branches and this is from that fire.
Shades of Hotness
Peppers — ranging from the merely hot to the scorching.
There is still a lot of green around but individual trees are starting to show a lot of color. One of the maple trees in our back yard (this one, to be precise) is bright red and beautiful.
Kapow! Fwoosh! Zingg!
Today’s photo of fall color is titled with a quote from that great philosopher Hobbes when he was walking in the woods on a fine, fall Sunday afternoon. He said that to him, “the trees are like nature’s own fireworks display!” No, not Hobbes as in “Thomas” but rather “Calvin and.”
Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)
We’ve been wanting to have one of these for a while and last year Cathy finally got one and planted it in the back garden. We’ve only had a few flowers this year and they only last a day, but today I managed to get some pictures of one. Hopefully as it gets better established we’ll have more flowers over the course of the summer. This is related to the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), which we’ve had growing for a while, as well as the tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) which has to be brought in for the winter. The flowers on the hardy hibiscus are larger than on either of the other two and quite striking, even from all the way across the yard. Definitely a good choice for the back of the garden.
As of last week I have a daily meeting in another building. I’m sure there will be days when I won’t want to walk over there (if it’s raining, for instance) but so far we’ve had good enough weather that I’ve gone each day. Some days I’ve brought my camera with me and taken a little time on the way back to get some pictures. Today was such a day. Most trees are still in their summer greens but a few have begun the process of changing to their brief autumn finery. This sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) is such a one. Because September was so dry, we’re expecting a less colorful fall this year. Pity.
Maple trees are often some of the most spectacular trees in the autumn. Not all species, of course, but quite a few. This is a red maple (Acer rubrum) and it’s one of the best. Others that can be highly recommended for their fall color are Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Of course those are very different trees. Japanese maples are great for small yards but sugar maples get very large and aren’t necessarily the best choice unless you have room to let it go. A lot of trees in our area are still mostly green. The oak trees in the front yard have barely changed at all. Some leaves are coming down from them but doing so without any real color to them. This red maple in our back yard, however, is in its full fall finery. It is especially nice against the brilliant blue of an autumn sky. We’re going to have to start picking up leaves soon.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
I’m afraid it’s going to be more fall color for today’s picture. I met Cathy and our friend Maureen outside my building early this afternoon and we took a bit of a walk. I carried my camera with me, as is my wont, and took a few pictures of the colors around and about. This is Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). This native vine is a close relative of Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) which is, somewhat surprisingly, a native of China and Japan. Both are quite lovely in the fall, turning wonderful shades of red, orange, and purple.
More Maple Leaves
Again with the maple leaves. We don’t actually have a lot of plants with significant fall color in our yard, so I have to take advantage of the few we do have. There are two maple trees in our back yard and one of them in particular has good color. I posted a picture of it against the blue sky two days ago. This time I’m looking down at leaves that have already fallen. I love the color on the leaf in the middle of this photograph. I was a little disconcerted by the way it was lying right on top of another, similar leaf, because I thought it might look like I put it there. I didn’t. I moved it and took a few more but they aren’t as good as this one, so here you are.
Maple Tree and Leaves
It’s been something of a maple-centric autumn this year. There are other trees showing good color but, as I think I mentioned previously, not a lot in our yard. This is a picture of the two maple trees behind our house. Both of them are actually double-trunks and I’m not sure if they are two trees each or single trees with two trunks. Either way, they are not particularly attractive as specimen trees. They both twist a bit and have broken and misshapen branches. This fall, though, they are doing their best to make up for it with their colors. The nearer tree in this picture, in particular, is really spectacular this year. It’s the tree that gets more direct sun and that contributes to the color.
The leaves on the ground add, I think, to the overall effect of the tree right now. It won’t be long before the leaves have all turned brown and we’ll need to get them dealt with, which we usually do by simply by mowing over them a few times, turning them into mulch in the lawn.
I started walking across campus to an 11:30 meeting this morning but got a phone call while I was on my way, saying the meeting had been cancelled. At it happened, I had brought my camera with me so I walked back the long way, going through the woods and taking a few pictures. I got some of the yellow fruit on what we call “Cathy’s Hawthorn” (because she parks next to it most days). In the woods I came across an oak tree with beautiful leaves. The oaks haven’t been as spectacular, overall, as in some years, but there are individual trees that are worth noticing. I also love the lines of veins in the leaf, which are still visible in the partially eaten bits.
Unofficially, this is my 2,500th consecutive day of taking a picture. I officially started on January 1, 2011, so the official 2,500th day will be in three days. Nevertheless, I had taken pictures on the three days prior to my official start, so today marks 2,500 days.
Fall Color In The Woods
I’m reasonably happy with my commute. On a good day it’s under 15 minutes and it’s pretty rare that it takes as long as 25 minutes. On the other hand, it isn’t the most picturesque commute you’re going to find. There’s are a few bits that are nice, though, including a stretch of woods on both sides of Rock Creek. In my homeward bound commute, that’s also the most likely stretch to have a back up. Today, I stopped part way along that stretch and was able to take a few pictures of the woods before we started moving again. The woods are quite lovely right now and I don’t mind a short stop if I have that to look at. Pretty soon it will be a lot less interesting, so enjoy it while you can.
Maple Leaves On A Rainy Day
It was an absolutely beautiful day today but I was stuck indoors for almost all of it. I’m in a class today, tomorrow, and Thursday and that’s keeping me in the classroom. Nevertheless, we took a break for lunch and I used the opportunity to go outside. It was raining. Actually, it was raining fairly hard and I wasn’t really dressed for it. I still went out and enjoyed the colors. Overcast days are often the best for fall color. Add rain and it only gets better. These maple leaves are over a set of stairs down to the building I was in today and they were so beautiful. I love a rainy day.
Red Maple Leaves
The vast majority of trees have finished dropping their leaves around here and winter is basically starting. It’s not terribly cold but our winters are not generally very bitter. A few trees, however, are clinging to their autumnal colors. There is a small line of maple trees on our company campus that are really quite amazingly red. They have lost a relatively few leaves so far and are quite stunning. I stopped on the way back to my office from a meeting today long enough to take a few pictures.
Autumn’s Last Hurrah
I’ve posted a picture of leaves on this maple tree before but it’s one of only a few in my daily rounds that still has it’s autumn finery on display. As I post this, on the Sunday after the Monday when it was taken, the tree is totally leafless. So, this was pretty much it for this year’s display. Actually, there are still leaves on many of the Bradford pears on Norbeck and there are some sweet gums that are yet to reach their peak color, so there may be one or two more leaf pictures yet this fall, but we’re getting to the end.
It was a mostly grey day today. It’s still cool but it’s supposed to warm up for a few days. It’s also supposed to rain, so we’ll finally have temperatures above 60°F but wet. On the way home, I was sitting at the light and the large American flag at the Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet car lot was blowing in the wind. The wind was coming out of the southeast, which is a little unusual so it was blowing farther behind the trees. Usually it’s blowing to the right, out from the trees.
It started raining a few days ago and it’s been raining, off and on, since. Today was the wettest so far, with fairly heavy rain coming down all day. We were back over at &@x2018;the house’ today and I took a short break from going through things to walk around outdoors with my camera. There are some Nandinas onside the kitchen window and I took some pictures of the red berries on them. They’re pretty berries but I find Nandina to be a bit too tall for the location. They replaced azaleas that got about seven feet tall and were much thicker, so at least these can be seen through. The berries are certainly pretty in the rain.
Helleborus ‘Red Racer’
One of my favorite things is the color of flower petals (or leaves, for that matter) with the sun shining through them. Even flowers that are beautiful on their own, like this Lenten rose (a Helleborus called ‘Red Racer’) are even more lovely lit from behind. At least that’s my opinion. I bought two of these from McClure & Zimmerman in the fall of 2014 but they no longer list it on their web site. I bought three others at the same time, two ‘Rose Quartz’ and one ‘Mango Magic’. We also have some white or nearly white varieties that we got from Brady when Brookside Gardens was replacing them with something else.
Yesterday I had a picture of relatively inconsequential flowers. Well, they are inconsequential to us because they aren’t all that pretty, but they are fairly consequential to the plants that have them. Also, they have a wonderful, sweet aroma. Today, we have leaves that are as pretty as (or prettier than) many flowers. They have no aroma, of course, but they are quite striking. This is a variety of Pieris japonica (Japanese andromeda), possibly ‘Mountain Fire’ or something similar. The new leaves are a bright red, visible from quite a distance against the glossy green of last years foliage. By the middle of summer these new leaves will have faded to green, as well, but for now, it’s a brilliant display.
The Anthurium genus contains about 1000 species—the largest genus in the arum family—but only two of them are grown for their bright red spathes. This is Anthurium andraeanum, a native to Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuelan Antilles, and the Windward Islands. Common names include flamingo lily and painter’s palette, although I’ve only ever known it simply as Anthurium. Like many plants in the Araceae family, Anthurium species contain calcium oxalate crystals (CaC2O4(H2O)x) and are therefore poisonous to humans. They’re pretty, though.
We had a good day with Dorothy and a few of her friends today. We went to church and then to lunch. It was nice to spend some time with Jonathan (who lived with us the summer before last) and Andrew (the other half of Kindsman), as well as Taylor and Rachel.
We hung out with Dorothy at her dorm for a while and I went out into the woods next to it to take mushroom pictures. When I got back, Dorothy called me over to get some pictures of this beautiful, red dragonfly. I haven’t had a chance to identify it yet, but I’ll probably start with red skimmer and go from there.
Black Silk Stove Polish
How often do you polish your stove? Here’s what you need. I’m pretty glad that I don’t have to cook on a wood stove or in a wood fired oven. That being said, there’s something nice about a wood oven in a large, country kitchen. I’m not sure that I’d appreciate it so much if I had to polish it, though. Note that this product has a warning on the side that says, “CAUTION: This polish contains naphtha, unsafe when exposed to heat or fire.” That’s certainly a worthwhile caution. Make sure the stove is cool before using.
Here’s an interesting exercise. Can you name three words that are pronounced differently when they are capitalized as a proper noun? One, obviously, is polish/Polish, with the capitalized version being the adjective related to or the language of Poland. I know of two other such words.
Autumn Colors, Maple Edition
The two maple trees in our back yard are both fairly misshapen and a little bit stunted. Nevertheless, they do produce some really great color each fall. They also provide some much needed shade in the summer. So I’m not planning to take them out any time soon. When we first moved here, I had my eye on them as being the first to go. I planted four California incense dedar (Calocedrus decurrens) trees as a screen so that when they got bigger, I could take the maples out and still have the view through to the yards behind mostly blocked. Those trees are a good 15 or 20 feet tall now and being pretty dense evergreens are better screens than the maples, even in the summer. Nevertheless, we’ve taken out three larger trees in the back yard (well, one of those fell down, which is a bit different) and two in the front.
More Maple Leaves
Here’s another shot of maple leaves in our back yard. I often feel like the colors in the current year are different from previous years. Not so much that they are different but that the timing is different. So I looked back at pictures of this tree the last two years to see when it was in full color. I have a picture posted on October 29 of 2017 and two pictures on October 27 and 28 in 2016. So I’d guess it really isn’t all that different this year. The leaves on the ground under the tree are just about as nice as those still on the tree. Set off by the bright green of the grass rather than the pale blue of the sky but in this case without the direct light of the afternoon sun on them.
I’ve photographed these particular Japanese maples before. They are at the other end of the neighborhood and they have just about the most beautiful fall color of any trees I know. Individually they are lively but in combination they are spectacular. The near tree, on the left in this photo, is nearly red, with orange undertones. The farther tree is more orange and lighter and brighter. There is also a third Japanese maple on the right, further away still. That one is a deep burgundy color. I think this photo is improved by the small amount of gree from the azaleas in the foreground. I took quite a few pictures this morning and I like most of them. A woman walking her dog passed me and we agreed that these trees were special.
There’s an old joke that you can easily identify dogwood by its bark but you can also spot them this time of year by the color of their leaves. The deep, burgundy color really stands out, particularly against the much more common yellow of many of our other native trees. The oaks tend to be dark orange or rusty reds. The maples range in color from bright red (as in the Japanese maples seen in yesterday’s post) to pure, electric yellow. It’s really a lovely time of year and unfortunately seems to be the shortest of the seasons. The rain last night knocked down a lot of leaves and the forecast for the coming week is for a lot more rain, so by this time next week, it may only be the oaks and beeches holding onto their drying leaves.
Just over two weeks ago (on Friday, November 02, 2018) I posted a picture of Japanese maples from the other end of our neighborhood. I mentioned a week or so later that most of the leaves were down from those trees. Not all the leaves, however. We were driving home past that yard this afternoon about about 3:00 and the light was shining through the remainder of the leaves on one of the trees (the other trees in the yard are basically bare). This one tree was still amazing and I stopped to take a few pictures. A man stopped and said, “you should have seen the trees a couple weeks ago.” I said I know, they were amazing.
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Margaret brought this poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) home from church last Sunday and it’s been brightening our dining room table since then. It’s a particularly nice specimen, although we’ve never had a lot of luck keeping them alive for any length of time. They need to be watered but not over watered and houseplants often struggle with the excessively dry air indoors in winter. Getting the leaves to turn colors again is enough trouble that it’s generally easier to simply get a new one each year and enjoy it while it can be enjoyed. By the way, contrary to what you might have heard, the poinsettia is only mildly toxic, although some people are sensitive to the sap and it’s not something you want to eat. But you don’t need to be terribly afraid of it, either.
Turkoman Style Afghan Rug
I posted a photo of the hardwood floor in our living room (see Sunday, October 28, 2018 ) after I took up most of the wall-to-wall carpet in the room. I had left carpet under a bookcase, the large, console television, and the piano. Last weekend I finally got those last pieces up and put this Persian carpet down in the room. It’s from Afghanistan and was brought from my mother-in-law’s house. It looks really good and fits the room quite nicely, with the edges just under the sofa on one side and the television and one piano leg on the other. I have a small rug over one end so that it isn’t a tripping hazard while it gets itself flattened out again after being rolled up for a few months. The pattern is called Bukhara, named for the Turkoman city of the same name.
Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)
I’m a huge fan of witch hazel (Hamamelis species). They’re small trees well suited to the suburban landscape and wonder of wonder, they bloom in mid-winter! Many years ago my father, Cathy, and I went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Regional Park in February and I remember falling in love with witch hazel at that time. Now whenever I see them in bloom, I remember my dad and remind myself that this is a tree I want to plant in my yard. Now that I have a space in the front yard that needs a small tree, this may be the spring when one gets planted. There are varieties with red, orange, and yellow flowers and I think all of them are terrific. The yellow, perhaps, stands out as being the brightest but they’re all worth the effort.
The couple that bought Margaret’s house gave her this bromeliad at closing, along with a very sweet card thanking her for choosing their offer and making their “dream of home ownership a reality.” We’re not very experienced with growing bromeliads but what I’ve read seems to indicate they aren’t all that difficult. They don’t need to be watered in the usual way and many of them don’t even have roots that take in nourishment. Instead, the cups formed by their leaves should be filled with water and that’s really all there is to it. They are not terribly long lived and often die after blooming but of course their blooms are what they are mostly grown for. They will often produce off-shoots, which can be cut off and potted up to replace the “parent” plant.
I once designed a house that has a conservatory inspired in large part by the Peirce-duPont House at Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In that, I imagined at the very least a section devoted to tropical plants, including ferns, orchids, and bromeliads. I’m very unlikely to ever build the house, of course, but I can picture it in my mind’s eye and enjoy the serenity of the indoor garden, sitting in a wicker chair with a pot of tea and a good book.
Helleborus ‘Red Racer’
This is, I think, my new favorite Lenten rose. I have two of them, bought from McClure and Zimmerman in the fall of 2014 but this is the first year the blooms have been what I might describe as fully formed. They are a variety called Red Racer but they don’t seem to be listed on the mzbulb web site any longer. Other outlets seem to have them, though. I really love flowers (and leaves) of this sort of color, especially when back lit. These aren’t in the best location it terms of the sun shining on them from behind, but it was just filtering through the shrubbery behind them this evening.
Tulip ‘Van Eijk’
In the fall of 2009 and again in 2010 I bought a pretty good number of bulbs from McClure and Zimmerman (https://www.mzbulb.com/). In each of those orders they threw in five tulip of the variety ‘Van Eijk’. There are still ten plants growing where I planted them although we only have six blooms this year. Tulips are not terribly long-lived plants, certainly not in our area, anyway, so the fact that these are still blooming after 8 or nine years is pretty good. They’re quite bright and a sea of them would be more impressive than the six I have, of course. In general, though, I’m more a fan of daffodils, which seem to live forever and form large clumps over time.
We took our annual Mother’s Day outing to the garden center today for Cathy to buy the annuals that she’ll plant around our yard and garden. After a hot and clear day yesterday it was quite cool and rainy today. When we got to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville we were the only customers there. Others came and went while we were there, though, and considering the weather, they were doing pretty good business. Much of what Cathy was shopping for is in their greenhouses, so the rain didn’t really affect us too much. I did what I usually do in these situations, wander around with my camera and take pictures of flowers. I was taking pictures of these flats of red-flowered begonias when Cathy happened to come by, so I got this picture of her in front of them.
I really like roses and I’ve posted photos of them here fairly often, trying to get each of my roses featured at least once a year. I also like to visit my friend Nick, who often opens his rose garden on Memorial Day weekend. He didn’t this year, for personal reasons, but I thought I’d post a rose photo, anyway. The rose that’s blooming that I haven’t featured yet this year is a landscape rose that our neighbor gave me a few years ago. It’s growing in a nice, sunny spot behind our garage and is quite happy there, blooming profusely (as you can see). I’m not as big a fan of these roses as I might be, mainly because they have little to no fragrance. But I can’t fault them in terms of blooming and ease of care. If you want a rose that will bloom all summer and which you can basically ignore, this is probably the rose for you. They really are quite spectacular when they really get going.
Cathy’s mom had a visit today from an old friend and her husband. They brought these flowers, which was nice, and they looked lovely in the late afternoon sun coming in through the dining room windows. I took pictures of them from a bunch of different angles. Deep reds like this are a challenge for my digital camera and they tend to overwhelm the sensor but this one turned out pretty well. No disrespect meant towards Canon. It’s a really intense color and it came out well. Our eyes are such remarkable organs with the ability to see such a huge range of color and brightness that it isn’t actually surprising that technology is still trying to get there. We’ve come a long way, though.
This red Lobelia cardinalis is growing under the cherry tree at the north end of our yard. It’s really bright and I thought it was worth getting a picture of. With my back still bothering me I wanted to be really careful getting behind it so I could get the picture without having to bend over and with the trunk of the cherry tree available for me to brace the camera against. I was very carefully watching where I was stepping so I wouldn’t trip but about half way back, all of a sudden, I whacked my head against a ceramic wren nesting box hanging from a branch of the tree. I didn’t quite fall but it did my back no favors. Still, I got the picture. Coming back out I was even more careful where I walked and I kept an eye on that nesting box.
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
I had hoped to get outside yesterday but didn’t. Today I did, walking up the road and onto the empty lot next to my building. The vernal drainage pool is nearly dry. The small areas with water are interesting because there is something in the water that’s not happy to be quite so crowded. If it rains soon, they may be saved. The fall color has only just started to be in evidence but a few things tend to turn early and they stand out. This staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is an example. They are also crowned with their bright red, annual, pyramidal fruiting clusters.
Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry)
I only took a few photos today, all in the back yard. Most of them were of the maple leaves that are starting to turn red, but really they have only just started and it’s premature to have fall-color photos. This is a wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana, also known as scarlet strawberry) growing and fruiting in the yard. This is a native herbaceous perennial and in the description on the Missouri Botanical Garden’s PlantFinder web site, it says they “spread indefinitely by runners that root as they sprawl along the ground.” They aren’t kidding. These will take over a yard. Also, “Cultivated strawberries found in stores are hybrid crosses between F. virginiana (native to North America) and F. chiloensis (native to western coastal South America including Chile) which combine the excellent taste of the former with the larger fruit size of the latter.”
The dogwood in front of our house is in full fall color. It’s not really a good place for a tree, much too close to the house. I’ve planted a camellia near it that, if it survives, will replace it. Last winter was tough on it and all but one small branch near the base died. If it makes it through this winter it will have a chance but I guess we’ll see. If I can get a replacement growing, I’ll cut the dogwood out, but until then, I enjoy the flowers in the spring and the red leaves in the autumn.
Like the dogwood from yesterday’s photo, this maple tree in our back yard is turning for fall. It’s ahead of most of the trees around, which are predominantly green still. It won’t be long before the rest have changed but it’s been so dry lately that I’m not sure the colors will be as good this year as some. We also may miss a bit of it, but we’ll be in a pretty place for a few days, so won’t mind too much. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.
There are a pair of sweet gum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) a little before I get to work and I stopped today to take pictures of their leaves. Sweet gum generally has some of the best fall color around but I think it’s just a little early so they weren’t as good as they have been in past years. I’ll probably check again in a while. Before I got back in my car and headed the rest of the way to work I took a few pictures of the crab apples nearby. I think they look pretty good against the blue of the sky.
Winter’s First Snow
We had our first snow of the winter overnight. It wasn’t anything that was going to snarl traffic, melting on roadways and not amounting to more than a thin covering on the grass, but it was snow. Early morning after a snow is often quite pretty, especially if the clouds that brought the snow have cleared and it’s sunny. That was the case today. I took a few pictures in the front yard, including this one of the holly near our driveway. The robins generally come at some point in the winter and devour all the berries from this tree. They congregated in another holly a couple days ago and have pretty much stripped that one.
I went out into the empty lot next door to my office this afternoon. It was a cool, breezy, but sunny day and it was really nice to be outside. Before going next door, I walked down to the pond between my building and the next, on the other side from the empty lot, and I took a few pictures of reflections on the water, but they aren’t really anything to speak of. In the empty lot, I took some pictures of sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) leaves with the sun shining strongly on them. They have a lovely texture and color. In the end, though, I decided to go with these bramble thorns. The genus Rubus contains the blackberries, raspberries, and all the related species. In addition to their generally wonderful fruits, they often have pretty stems, leaves, and thorns.
While she was in Alaska from July to December, Dorothy got a job at a florist shop. She’s been exposed to flowers and plants to one degree or another all her life, having been dragged to various botanical gardens and arboreta. More recently she has come to appreciate them more than she did as a child. Nevertheless, her time at the florist has served to increase her love of flowers. This is a Ranunculus asiaticus, the Persian buttercup, and Dorothy brought home a bouquet of them for the dining room table. They are quite beautiful and I love the many overlapping petals of the deep crimson blooms.
The Ranunculus that I photographed on January 17 continues to deliver. The flowers have opened up and are bright orangy-red with interesting centers. In another day or two they’ll be finished, I think, but we’ll get a little more enjoyment out of them. This time of year, flowers on the table are a nice extravagance. It’s actually getting a bit warm for this time of year and the forecast is for warmer still for a little while. I have no doubt that winter will return before long, though, and we’ll want to stay indoors.
Around here, winter colors are mostly browns and greys. The sky is often still blue, of course. Lawns and evergreen trees and shrubs are still green. But walking through the woods, which are mostly deciduous, brown and grey predominates. There is still color to be found, if you’re willing to look. We have a number of things that are various shades of burgundy right now. These epimedium leaves are lovely. They are only semi-evergreen, so some have fallen off, but those that remain are really nice. We also have a Lenten rose (Helleborus species) blooming and it has deep purple-red flowers that are wonderful. There are sedums in the front whose leaves and stems turn this color in the winter, as well. So get out there and look down. The color is there waiting to be found.
We have two amaryllis bulbs from last year that we pretty much neglected after they finished blooming. They had leaves for a while but we stopped watering them and they just sat on shelves in the kitchen after that. They normally bloom around Christmas time, which is lovely, of course, but we weren’t paying them any attention. A week ago I notice this one had sent up a shoot with a bud on top so it got a little water. It has rewarded our neglect with two lovely blooms. It now has a spot on the kitchen counter. I had to add two stakes to hold it up because the flowers are pretty heavy and the pot it’s in is not.
Dried Amaryllis Flower
This is the same amaryllis flower that I posted a photo of a week an a half ago (see Thursday, March 12, 2020). As you can see, it’s dried out but interestingly has retained some of it’s color. Since taking this photo, I’ve cut the stem so we won’t get any seeds. They are so easily available in bulb form late in the year that we buy one most years. This one came back into bloom, a little later than expected but without much of any attention having been paid to it in the meantime.
This is a daffodil called ‘Actaea’, which is in the poeticus division (division 9), which are distinguished by their large white petals and small, dainty cups in contrasting colors. I think they are fairly posh, compared to their more boisterous cousins but they are similar in their hardiness. They are a bit slower to produce large clumps, though, so if you want a lot of them in a hurry, you’ll want to plant more of them up front. The stems on these are a little less rigid than the others, as well, and they have a tendency to droop even more when it rains but in the sun, they are hard to beat.
I had a photo of dogwood leaves coming out of their buds recently (see Thursday, April 09, 2020) and they were pretty well liked on Instagram. That tree is a volunteer seedling that has been growing in a large bed in our back yard there there was once a large silver maple tree. That bed has been left pretty much to itself for quite a few years although we starting taking it back last summer and will do more this year. Along with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) there is a small maple seedling coming up. It’s close enough to the dogwood that we cannot really keep them both, but before I cut it out, I thought I’d post a photo of the new leaves coming out on it. It appears to have Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in it’s makeup. But it’s going. Sorry.
Marigold ‘Durango Red’
As mentioned on Sunday, we went to the garden center to buy plants for Cathy to put in containers and into the ground for the summer. These were mostly annuals, although we did buy a few perennials, as well, including a rosemary. This is one of the marigolds that Cathy picked out. It’s called ‘Durango Red’ and it’s a really nice, burnt orange color. It’s especially nice in the rain, which was heavy today. This is out on the driveway right now but it will probably go into the ground before too long. They are a quick and easy way to get a lot of color in your garden.
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’
One of the plants Cathy bought on our annual Mother’s Day trip to the nursery (a week early this year) was this blood flower, Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’. As you can see, the colors are pretty intense. This species of butterfly weed is native to the Caribbean and Central and South America and is only winter hardy to USDA zones 9 to 11, so we grow it as an annual here but it’s worth it. The butterflies and other insects love it and even without that, it’s just a beautiful flower. If you have a very bright indoor location (or a heated greenhouse!) then you could bring it in for the winter, but we just start new each year.
We’ve had strawflower (Xerochrysum bracteatum) each of the last few years and I really like it quite a lot. Also known as everlasting flower, it provides color over a really long period. The central part of the flower turns dark but the almost woody bracts keep their color. This year, we happened to come across this bright red variety. I have to say, it’s really a stunner. The yellow one is nice, but this one is just amazing. I think maybe next year I’ll get more than one. I don’t know that I could get tired of this color.
Spigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)
Here’s a second photo for the day. After our walk in the park, we went to the Agricultural Farm Park and walked through their demonstration garden. It’s really changed since we were here last, about two months ago. There was one plant in bloom that really caught our collective eye. It’s a Maryland native commonly called Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica). What a beautiful flower. This is something I’d really like to get. I’ve done some searching and it seems like finding seeds will be difficult. There are a few mail order places that have the plant but most of them ship in the fall. Hopefully I’ll remember to order some then.
‘Fiery Meadow Mama’ Coneflower
I could see a fairly large garden with nothing but varieties of coneflower (Echinacea species and varieties). One problem we have with them is that the rabbits and deer seem to like them and many that come up have their flowering stem bitten off so we don’t get flowers on them. The few that do bloom are great, of course, but then th bugs get to them and the petals get holes in them. They’re still nice, but not as photogenic. Because of that, we hesitate to buy more coneflowers. This one, called ‘Fiery Meadow Mama’, nearly made me make an exception. Wow, what a flower. There was another called ‘Cone-fections Hot Papaya’ that was mostly red and with a larger center that was nice, too. But we restrained ourselves.
Rose ‘Munstead Wood’
The second of my three new David Austin roses has started to bloom. It’s called ‘Munstead Wood’ and as you can see, it’s a very double, old fashioned bloom. What you cannot get from the photo is the fragrance, which is very strong. I had to put some hardware cloth around this and one other because the rabbits were biting off the buds and eating them. Now that it’s protected, it’s going to town, with quite a few buds getting ready to open. Of course it’s still a relatively small plant, less than two feet tall, but I’m expecting it to be large enough that it provides a nice point of color in the middle of the garden.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
I probably should have waited a little longer to take a picture of this, since it isn’t really in full bloom yet. But I only got outside for a little while late this afternoon and this is all I took photos of. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), is an American native and well worth growing. It really adds a splash of bright color to the garden. The only thing here is that you need to watch it in our dry summer heat that it doesn’t dry out too much. It likes moist soil and can even tolerate a little brief flooding. If you’re in a place that’s not quite so hot in the summer, you could plant it in full sun but for us, it does better with a bit of shade. This one is growing under a largish cherry tree and it a bit protected from the hot, afternoon sun. If you have a stream or pond, this would be great on the banks of that. Ours will have more flowers in a matter of days but you can already see how red the blooms are and why it’s such a nice thing in the border. We should have more than we do.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
There’s a lot in bloom right now, but there’s actually less variety than there was earlier in the year. The garden is full of black-eyed Susan and there are other, less showy flowers, like the mountain mint, which attracts so many pollinators. Around on the side of the house, in the shadier part of the garden, we have this cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), which is absolutely stunning. The red is so pure and bright, especially when the sun is on it. Cathy saw a hummingbird come to this, as well, which is exciting. I suppose I should have posted a photo of the two of us, for our anniversary, but flowers are where it’s at.
Rose ‘Munstead Wood’
It rained today and I didn’t really get to go out until pretty late. The water on this rose, (the David Austin rose ‘Munstead Wood’) was pretty so I took a few pictures of that. This rose was only planted this spring and it’s doing quite well. The flowers are now up above the top of the hardware cloth fence that I put around it to keep the rabbits off. The flowers are now blooming just below the level of the black-eyed Susans and soon they will be above them. I’m really looking forward to the display we get from this next year.
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
As a landscape plant, burning bush (Euonymus alatus) can be quite striking. I hesitate to ever recommend it. It is an invasive and its use is actively discouraged in many areas (and even banned in Massachusetts, I believe). It’s a native of northeastern Asia and is naturalized over much of eastern North America. The plant we have is in a pot, which helps keep it small, although I’m not really sure I want even that much in my yard. Not that getting rid of ours is going to make much difference, as this is grown all over our area and the cat is already out of the bag.
This red maple in our back yard is turning its spectacular scarlet. It was a wet and cool day and I just went outside to take a few pictures from the back steps. This one is a bit dark but it was a dark, dreary day. The red is certainly nice and the color on this tree is considerably better than some. This hasn’t been the most spectacular fall in terms of color. The bulk of the woods are yellow or a slightly orange or reddish brown but that’s normal. There are, of course, some trees that really stand out with brilliant color but it feels like there are fewer this year than normal. But that’s not a scientific measurement, just a gut feeling.
Twice in the last couple weeks I’ve gone out to take pictures of these hawthorn berries only to be distracted by a butterfly on the nearby Verbena. Today there were no butterflies, so today’s berry photo will make it onto the blog. This is a variety green hawthorn, Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’. The green hawthorn is native to the southeastern United States. Although ‘Winter King’ is a more disease-resistant cultivar it still has issues with rust and some of the berries were ruined by that. I have some fungicide that I use on my two dwarf apple trees and next year I’ll probably spray this tree, as well.
Autumn is here and the trees are turning their autumn colors. The leaves are falling and covering the ground with shades of red, yellow, orange, and eventually brown. This is under the red maple (Acer rubrum) in out back yard. Maples are among some of the best large trees for fall color. I need to walk to the other end of the neighborhood where there is a yard with a nice collection of Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). Those are some of the prettiest trees in our neighborhood, handsome throughout the year but especially nice in the fall.
We have a really nice crop of holly berries on the tree in front of our house this fall. The squirrels are constantly in this tree and the ground underneath it, including the front walk, is constantly littered with pieces of berry and the occasional leaf. The robins also like them and generally, at some point in the winter, we’ll look out and they will be systematically devouring them. There is another holly at the corner of the house and the robins have found that one and were up in it the other day. So far this one has just been the squirrels, though.
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cathy and I drove up to pick up our car from the shop this evening and then I stopped at the nature center on the way home to see if I could find anything worth photographing. I took a few nice pictures including a few of the berries of a Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii, also known as Thunberg’s barberry). This is an invasive species and I generally don’t recommend it. It’s somewhat too late to worry about, though, because it’s already everywhere. And of course there are hundreds of them at the garden center. They do may nice plantings, so I understand why people use them. Note that the fruit is edible and I have used it in a few Persian dishes. They have a great, tart flavor, similar to cranberries.
Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood early this afternoon. I wanted to see the Japanese maples in a yard at the far end of our neighborhood. They generally put on a really good show. While I’m not sure they are quite as good this year as they have been some other years, they’re still worth a look. These are fairly old trees, probably planted about the time the neighborhood was established. This house was built in 1971, so the trees are probably something like 50 years old, which seems about right. They are different, with one having quite dark leaves while the other (shown here) has a very bright red. There are actually a few more trees, one on either end of the house and another in the back yard. Really nice.
Along the fence at the north end of our back garden is a tall hedge of Euonymus. It blooms early in the summer and then the fruit ripens about now. The birds are constantly in these bushes, eating the berries but also just hanging out. They provide good protection from preditors and from the elements. When in bloom various bees, wasps, and flies are all over them and the whole thing buzzes. The deer like them, too, and that keeps them from encroaching too much on the yard. They don’t get the tops, though, which are way out of reach, and the hedge continues to thrive.
I know I posted a photo of these berries in November but that’s all I got today so I’ll have to repeat myself. They’re pretty and always come later in the year than I remember. I really need to prune these bushes heavily and will try to remember to do it early in the spring so that they will still bloom freely. The bees really love the little, sweet smelling flowers and the whole hedge buzzes for a few weeks. Of course these hedges are pretty popular with the birds, as well, both for the berries this time of year and as simple cover. Evergreens are particularly nice for that purpose.
Camellia japonica ‘Hokkaido Red’
This spring I planted three camellias. One was a fall blooming hybrid between C. oleifera and C. hiemalis ‘Showa-no-sakae’ called ‘Winter’s Star’ (see Thursday, October 15, 2020). The other two are spring blooming Camellia japonica varieties. One of them, however, has a bloom that’s opened a bit early. It’s called ‘Hokkaido Red’. My understanding is that it was selected from plants grown from seed collected on the northernmost parts Hokkaido, Japan and grown at the National Arboretum. It’s supposed to be one of the most cold tolerant C. japonica and also blooms prolifically over a long period in the early spring. It’s a relatively slow growing shrub and of course mine was only planted this year, so it will be a while before it’s of any stature. But it looks very promising.
We got this poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) from our next door neighbor and it’s really nice. We have it on our dining room table, except when we take it to the kitchen to be watered. In the past we’ve tried to keep them going from one year to the next and while they aren’t that hard to keep alive, we’ve never had them perform that well in future years. It’s really not worth the trouble, when new plants look so good. As most people know, the red parts are leaves rather than flowers. The actual flowers are quite small and not particularly significant in terms of the ornamental value of the plant. But the leaves really are spectacular.
We’ve had a vase of tulips on our dining room table for a few days. Obviously they are a little past their prime, but I find them quite pretty even in this state. It’s more about color and form than about them as flowers qua flowers. I think I could have done a bit better to eliminate the background from this. Perhaps taking it with a black background would have been better. But, it’s what it’s, as we like to say.
When I was helping Dorothy take pictures of the farm’s produce a week ago, Janis gave me this amaryllis to bring home for us to enjoy until it is finished blooming. It has huge, double flowers and it’s really amazing. This is the third bloom and it’s going strong. When it’s done, Janis asked that we bring it back so she can tend it for next year. What a treat. We grown them fairly regularly but don’t generally get a better flower the second year. This one has clearly been treated right.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
While not a native, common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was introduced to North America in colonial times, and has since naturalized throughout the United States. It’s considered by some to be an invasive weed, although we’ve never had a lot of luck with it surviving in our garden. This specimen is a cultivar being grown in the Master Gardener’s demonstration garden at the Agricultural History Farm Park and it’s a lovely color. It certainly makes me interested in giving it another try. There are paler versions, as well and some really nice yellows. We have plenty of yellows, though, so I think I might go for something like this.
RVFD 100th Anniversary
The Rockville Volunteer Fire Department was celebrating their 100th anniversary today. There was a parade of fire and rescue vehicles and then they all gathered in the parking lot in front of the old Carver High School (the George Washington Carver High School and Junior College, 1951-1960, now the administrative offices for the Montgomery County Public Schools). I happened to be near by and decided to stop and take a few photos of fire trucks and other vehicles. This is Rockville’s Engine 32, and 1935 Mack BG-6S, a 350 gallon per minute Pumper with a crew capacity of six. In 1936 it cost $6,692. Another favorite was a 1960 Buick ambulance. Classic. There were also a few very old pieces of equipment, some dating back to the 1890s.
Red Maple Leaves
The red maple (Acer rubrum) in our back yard is in full fall color mode. Like the wonderful flowers of spring, the glorious colors of autumn are more beautiful for their evanescence. Here today and tomorrow only a memory, they are precious to us. I look forward to autumn and it’s brilliance, which varies from year to year much more than do the blossoms of spring. The colors are intense and they full the woods, much more than the spring blooms. Withing a few days, the leaves will all be gone, onto the ground, brown and brittle, mulch for the lawn. But for a few short days, they sing the glory of creation.
Even after giving a few away, we had a bunch of amaryllises this year. They really have put on a show and right now are just about as good as they are going to get. And they vary quite a bit in terms of color, too. I particularly like the white one in the back with a little green in the center. Of course the pure red blooms are pretty awesome, too, as well as the red and white in the upper left. Heck, they’re all really nice. Together they’re spectacular. Many of them have second blooming stems starting, so we’ll get even more flowers in a little while.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Cathy and I walked at Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon, down to Lake Frank and then up Rock Creek a ways before returning to the nature center. I took my new, long lens but only took a handful of shots with it. I got a nice closeup view of the eagles’ nest but we didn’t see any of the eagles. We did hear one call a few times from a distance, somewhere other than in the nest. I got this photo of a northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), and that’s basically the best I could do. It flew away right after I got this one, so that’s all folks.