Monday, March 31, 2008

Dutch Hyacinth

Dutch Hyacinth
Hyacinthus orientalis
(hy-uh-SIN-thus) (or-ee-en-TAY-liss)

Almost everyone knows this sweet smelling flower. They aren’t blooming here yet but I did see some of the foliage popped out of the ground the other day. I bought these for Easter and have kept them outside on the front step. It is amazing to me that they really took some cold nights (guessing the mid-teens F) with just a little tinge of damage on the top of one of the stalks, which is hardly noticeable. Hyacinths are very hardy in the ground surviving into USDA Zone 3, but this the first time I could see how hardy the flower was. Gardeners south of Zone 7 should treat them as annuals.

There are over 60 cultivars to choose from with a great range of colors. The six lobed petals range from lightly spreading to fully reflexed. There are single and double flowered types and many are strongly scented. This pink one didn’t have a cultivar name but it was nice getting a whiff of it while photographing it in the late afternoon sun. I am wondering if this is one of the Multiflora Group, as it has several stalks per plant.

I like these flowers planted in masses or at least large clumps. They mix well with daffodils and mid-season tulips. I plant annuals over them to hide the foliage after they are done blooming.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bailey Arboretum

Bailey Arboretum
Lattingtown, NY

Now I must preface this post with the fact I only spent a couple of hours walking around the Arboretum. I was intrigued but their collection to say the least but found the condition of the grounds a little rough. They need a massive pruning job and a bit of cleaning out of some areas. To be fair I visited in the worst possible time of the year.

The actual plant collection is wonderful, I saw a lot of my favorites and some new things. I definitely enjoyed my walk and there were a lot of photo opportunities. The sky wasn’t helpful on the day I visited and when I return I hope there is at least a little blue up there. I will be going back when the leaves are out and will report back then. It is worth a visit if you are in the area but probably not as a destination. It is very close to Planting Fields State Park and I will do another combined visit soon.

Here is a link to their website:
Bailey Arboretum’s Home Page
I found the History Link on that page to of interest, read about the Dawn Redwoods. One of them has the largest girth of any Dawn Redwood in the world.

I have to go clean up the mess I made pruning yesterday. It is my first working Sunday of the year. I am not complaining other than it is going to cut into my photography time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Persian Buttercup

Persian Buttercup
Ranunculus asiaticus 'Yellow Blend'
(ra-NUN-ku-lus) (a-see-AT-ee-kus)
Synonyms: Turban Buttercup, Persian Crowfoot

I know I was suppose to write about Bailey’s Arboretum today but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Yesterday wasn’t a complete wash out here (we got about .25 inches of rain) so I was able to get to a few nurseries and see what they were growing. I tend to try and see what is available at the beginning of the season so later if I need some plants or I am making a design I have an idea of what I can get. It is also a good time to get a few pictures.

We grow this Ranunculus as an annual here in Connecticut. The mix of colors the nursery had was really nice. The flowers look a bit like roses to me. They need good drainage and if you are planting them you will understand that you need to plant the claw side down. Some people lift and store these plants for the winter but I have never had any luck storing them. I like getting finished plants so they are blooming before the summer heat kicks in (and the plants go dormant). Dead heading seems to help them keep blooming. This next picture is an abstract macro of another blend type, which I didn't get the name of.

I am off to the Vet’s Office to prune their shrubs. There are a few things I need to look up to make sure that I prune them correctly. One is Grapes as they have a huge grape arbor and I haven’t pruned Grapes in many years, so I need to brush up on the rules.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Group Orchid Photos

Group Orchid Photos

When I went to the Orchid show I tried a few group pictures instead of close ups. It is not something I would normally do but I am trying to ‘loosen’ up on taking the same type of pictures every time I go out shooting. I don’t have the identification on the first two pictures and the third is the same Orchid I posted yesterday CymbidiumRoxburgh Red’.

I have two more photos from Long Island I want to post. This first one is a color shot of the Glen Cove Yacht Club. I took it on a Saturday morning and there was no one around. I actually got lost and ended up here when the road ended. Please bear with me as I try a few different things with the camera this year.

This Black and White photo is from Bailey’s Arboretum. I going to talk about that more tomorrow and post a few more pictures from my visit there.

It is suppose to rain here today and be 38 deg. F. I will probably stay in the office for a while and then head out to look for some plants. Tomorrow I have a pruning job at Molly’s Veterinarian Hospital. They have graciously decided to let me work off some of my bill. Since it is a public building I am going to try a couple of before and after pictures. If they come out I will post them here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cymbidium ‘Roxburgh Red’

Cymbidium ‘Roxburgh Red’
Synonym: Mighty Sunset ‘Roxburgh Red’

This is a color picture of one of the Black and White Orchids I posted a couple of days ago. It is really an unusual and beautiful color. This next picture is the entrance to the Enid Haupt Conservatory. The Orchid Show is in the wing that they use for the seasonal displays. I always find this building to be amazing even if there is no show going on.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ABC Wednesday - J

Buddha Belly Plant
Jatropha podagrica
(JAT-roh-fuh) (pod-AG-ree-kuh)
Synonym: Bottleplant Shrub, Goutystalk Nettlespurge

J is for Jatropha this week. Some of the plants in this genus are being studied for use in producing biodiesel. I don’t think this particular species is, it is primarily grown as an ornamental. It has a most unusual trunk that grows in the shape of a bottle. Unfortunately, when reviewing my pictures the one of the trunk didn’t come out. So here is a link if you want to see it.

They are easy to grow but must be grown in a container in all but the warmest of gardens (USDA Zone 10). I find the color of the flowers to be attractive but some might find them a bit garish, that is how bright they are. One of the nice things about this plant is can flower throughout the year. This native of Central America grows to about 4 feet and has leaves that are 10 inches across.

‘J’ is for Jade Plant (Crassula), too.

Here is the ABC Blogroll:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Japanese Flowering Apricot

Japanese Flowering Apricot
Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke'
(PROO-nus) (MEW-may)

This tree was blooming in the Ladies Border at the NYBG. It is really early and the flowers were a welcomed sight. This is the first time I have seen this cultivar and it is much different then the shrubby white flowered version of Prunus mume growing at the Estate.

This was a yellow flowered Cymbidium Orchid from the show. Its color was a beautiful shade of yellow with a hint of green mixed in.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rainbow Orchid

Rainbow Orchid
Vanda Trevor RathboneBanjong

One thing I wanted to do on Saturday was take a nice pictures of a Vanda Orchid. They are among my favorite types of Orchids. Photographing them in the past as proved to be something I am not really good at. I got a few pictures on Saturday from among the beautiful collection of Vandas that were displayed. They had an almost black one, some nice purples, a red one and a yellow one. They also had some species, which I hadn’t really seen before.

This is a different hybrid. Sorry didn't write the name down.

These pictures are a building block for me. They show that some of the settings I was using are on the right track and I think I am I about to zero in and take a shot of a Vanda that I am truly happy with. I also posted a B&W photo of a Vanda yesterday.

Vanda Orchids are easy to grow and to me contain some of the best colors of the genus. They are native to the Himalayas, and parts of Australia and New Guinea. There are about 80 species. They love a lot of bright light and plenty of water during the growing season. They are best grown in a slat wooden basket with their monopodial (growing upward with a single main stem or axis that produces leaves and flowers) habit in mind. Vandas don’t like to be disturbed so repotting should be considered carefully.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Black and White Orchids

Black and White Orchids

Yesterday I attended the New York Orchid Show again. The flowers were still fresh and I saw a couple of Orchids that either I missed last time or were new. I took both of my Point and Shoot cameras (or compact cameras as I like to call them) with me to try and shoot a couple of Black and White images. I call them compact cameras since they are capable of running on full manual settings, if you want. I can never believe all the technology that is packed into these little boxes. I think that Orchids are detailed enough to give some interest to a black and white photo and once the magnificent color is stripped away you are down to the shape of the flower.

I didn’t get the names of these orchids on purpose, although you may see color versions of the same flower in a later post. These are not conversions from color. They are shot in the ‘monochrome’ setting on the camera. I think the camera seems to take a better picture when it is set to black and white then the conversions. I used both my Nikon Coolpix 5400 and 8400 for these pictures.

I am going to keep it short since it is a holiday. Happy Easter to all that are celebrating. Since I spent a lot of time at the Orchid Show I didn’t get to walk around the NYBG grounds yesterday. I had to go straight from the show to my appointments. I got a couple of pruning jobs. One is going to take about a week. That is a lot of cutting.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Red Japanese Camellia

Japanese Camellia
Camellia japonica Glen 40
(kuh-MEE-lee-a) (juh-PON-ih-kuh)
Theaceae (tee-AY-see-ay)

A couple more Camellia flowers and carrying on yesterday’s color theme, they are red Camellias. I am going to the NY Orchid Show again today. I am going to see the Orchids but also want a look around the grounds of the NYBG. I then have a bunch of appointments to look at some new work so it going to be a full day. I am suppose to go hear my brothers (two of the them) band tonight but I am not sure I am going to make it as I am a little tired already.

This second Red Camellia kind of reminded me of a Rhododendron flower. This cultivar is ‘Mathotiana Rosea’. The next picture is the compost pile outside the Camellia House, I found the tapestry to be fascinating, but that is probably just me.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yellow Flowers

Yellow Flowers

This is my first Daffodil of the 2008 season. I guess it is kind of cheating since it was growing indoors. It was such a bright and happy yellow that I just had to grab a snap of it. I have kept my eye out on the Estate for the first Daff but all there are a few buds so far. I am surprised since there are a lot of early blooming cultivars including ‘February Gold’ (they usually blooms in early March despite its name). The anticipation has been grueling.

Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and takes the winds of March with beauty.
William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

Another Asian Corsage Orchid from the NY orchid Show. This one was literally glowing. Of all the Orchids I photographed at the show the Cymbidiums seemed to have come out the best. The official name of this Orchid is Cymbidium Sussex Dawn x Via Verde Dawn ‘Citron Alba’.

"Jasmine is sweet, and has many loves."
Thomas Hood, Flowers

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nikon 50mm/1.8 Shots

Red Lily of the Valley Shrub (Pieris japonica 'Flamingo')

Nikon 50mm/1.8 Shots

Phillip over at Dirt Therapy commented the other day that he was thinking of buying a Nikon 50mm lens so I wanted to post a few pictures to maybe help his decision. When I was leaving the Main Greenhouse at Planting Fields on Sunday I decided to put on the 50 and shoot my way out to the parking lot. Now conditions were basically terrible, it was raining, very late afternoon on an overcast day and I was tired. I think that most lenses, especially the $100 ones, would not do as well under those circumstances. Working with the 1.8 setting can be a little difficult with the nature shots. It really gives a razor thin depth of field.

I took about 20 pictures on my way to the truck. This first shot is one of my favorite early blooming spring shrubs, Pieris japonica. A lot of people call it Andromeda but I think that is technically incorrect. It is a great broadleaf evergreen that can grow in sun and shade. It likes rich soil and adequate moisture. I have seen grow in some pretty wet conditions also. The Estate has a lot of different cultivars and species (25+) as it one of the owner’s favorite plants. It seems like I see a couple new cultivars every year and it is easy to find one that pleases, there is such a variety. This one is the red flowered cultivar ‘Flamingo’. Some of the varieties have red buds but only a few have this red of a flower when they are open. The red and pink flower types are just starting to get popular and I think they will be seen more and more. I am going to save some comments for when the Pieris come into flower in my area (Long Island is a week or two ahead of us) and hope to do a little series on the different cultivars.

I have been photographing a lot of Witch Hazels, as they are really one of the earliest shrubs to bloom here. Often times they bloom in mid-February or even earlier depending on the weather. I took a couple of pictures of this plant because it is one I hadn’t seen before, its official name is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Barmstedt Gold'. This was a small specimen so I can’t comment on the shape or branching but the flower color is superb. Its a lot darker yellow than ‘Arnold’s Promise’.

This tree is a China Fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) and is located right next to the parking lot. I try and take a picture of it every time I visit Planting Fields, mostly it is an exercise in frustration. I decided to shoot it at F2 since that is the weekly assignment on a photography forum I am a member of. They say that this tree is hardy in Zone 6b (-5 F) but I haven’t seen them growing in Connecticut, maybe you could get away with it along the shore. It is a fantastic tree that is very stately and gets up to about 40 feet tall. Make sure you get yours from a reputable source as they can be variable depending on where the cutting was taken from the parent tree. There is a wonderful blue version available, also.

I took this picture in the greenhouse. They have a great Orchid collection at Planting Fields including some rare ones. I am including this picture for a friend that asked me to post some 50mm floral shots. One other thing I would like to add about the 50mm is that it is quite small and almost toy looking. I like the fact that it is light weight and the build quality is fine as mine has proved.

If you have a chance please visit Phillip’s blog. He is located in Florence, Alabama and is a great gardener and very handy with the camera. I like visiting to see all the stuff that I can’t grow because of the climate around here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ABC Wednesday - I is for Ivy

English Ivy
Hedera helix
(HED-er-uh) (HEE-licks)

It is ABC Wednesday again and today’s entry is ‘I’ for Ivy. I know a lot of people consider this plant to be a weed but we are lucky here in Connecticut because the winter often slows down the growth and spread of this plant. If the winter is bad enough it outright kills it. I have been places, like the US Pacific Northwest, where I could definitely see where it could be considered a weed.

Some Ivy covered Linden Trees I saw in Long Island last weekend.

English Ivy can form dense carpets in shady areas that not much else will grow. It can also climb trees, up to 80 feet tall. I have heard varying reports that this damages the tree but it hasn’t seem to have bothered the trees at the Estate. It will also climb and attach itself on masonry and wood structures. I like the looks of an ivy-clad building but it can eventually damage the building. Ivy is on NASA’s list of air purifying plants and can withstand urban pollution and poor soils.

There are close to 400 different varieties of English Ivy in cultivation. There are many shades of green, gold, purple and pink available. Most have two different types of foliage, the juvenile leaves, which are more lobed and the adult leaves, which have less lobes. The leaves exhibit various streaking, marbling and veining to keep it interesting. I have been using them in the Conservatory and outdoor containers for many years with good results. English Ivy flowers in the fall and can be a center of activity for bees and other insects. I don’t think I have ever seen the plants growing as ground cover flower but the vines growing upright seem to be prolific. They produce small black berries that some people consider toxic to humans, the birds seem to love them.

Since it is St. Patrick’s Day week I thought I would post two photos from Ireland. These are both from Southwest Ireland and the Dingle Peninsula.

Looking out toward the Blasket Islands

The joke about the Blasket Islands is that on a clear day you can see Boston Harbor, it is however, never clear.

Late Afternoon boats in Dingle Harbor.

Here is the ABC Blogroll. Have fun exploring all the different ‘I’ posts. I took off a couple of the people that haven’t posted in weeks. If you would like to be included let me know.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Long Island Camellias

More Long Island Camellias

Again here are a few Camellia shots from Planting Fields. After a grinding Monday I was so happy to have had a few hours to shoot pictures on Sunday. It sure was relaxing to look at the flowers and snap a few pictures. I can see that work is going to be hectic so this is the first Tuesday that I haven’t done Wordless Wednesday in quite awhile. WW is only fun when you can return the visits to the other people’s blogs. In general I will be probably be a little less wordy here than I was in the winter. I do really want to thank the people that visited and commented over the winter. You helped make my idle time a little more pleasurable.

Yesterday I said what lenses I took with me and I thought it would be fun to post one picture from each lens. This first one is the 60mm / 2.8 Micro-Nikkor. I can’t say enough good things about this lens. It is on my camera 75% of the time. I use it as a walking around lens, too. It was $349 (US) after the rebate when I bought with the D70s. It really has done a yeoman’s service under tough conditions. I would like to try out the Nikon 105mm Macro sometime but this will always be my main macro lens.

The first picture is ‘Latifolia Sport’. More correctly it is Camellia japonicaLatifolia Sport’. That is genus Camellia (capitalize), species japonica (lower case) and cultivar ‘Latifolia Sport’ (capitalize, single quotation marks). A cultivar (which is a combination of cultivate and variety) is a plant that is produced in cultivation by selective breeding and is of garden origin (not wild). Now I am not sure if this was a true sport, which is defined as a flower or branch that has an unusual deviation or mutation from the type of growth usually shown by the plant. I didn’t notice anything real different about this plant but I wasn’t looking all that hard. Latifolia means that it has wide leaves.

This next picture is from the Nikon 50mm/1.8 lens. I have enjoyed this lens but don’t use it as often I would like. These are some Clivia (C. miniata) buds that were inside the Camellia House. About 90% of the time I use this lens at F/1.8 but on Sunday decided to try it at some other apertures and found it pretty sharp throughout the range. You can really get some cool backgrounds with this one. The only thing I don’t like about it is the minimum focusing range; it is a little too far. For the money everybody should have a 50mm. One note on Clivias, don’t divide them if you want flowers anytime soon. They can take 10 years or more to flower after division. I learned that the hard way but have been back in business with the ones at work for a couple of years now.

Camellia japonica 'Purity'

Here is a shot with the Sigma 17-70mm/2.8-4.5 lens. I have said that this lens was okay and has taken some really nice pictures. Sigma recently came out with a better and slightly more expensive version of this lens. Overall it is a good trooper having survived a couple of falls and generally nasty conditions. I can’t figure if I like the 18-70mm Nikon lens, which came with the camera, (I gave to Karen for her camera) or this lens. It does seem to auto-focus well and is great in wide-angle low-light situations. This is ‘Purity’ Camellia again; you can see it is a real beautiful white.

Finally here is a picture from what I hope to be a photo series of ‘Flowers in the Dirt’. It is just something I have noticed over the last few years and I think I will start taking pictures of them and see what they look like as a group.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Japanese Camellia 'Alice Stakes'

Japanese Camellia
Camellia japonica 'Alice Stakes'
(kuh-MEE-lee-a) (juh-PON-ih-kuh)
Synonym: Common Camellia

Yesterday I had to drive out to Long Island so even though the weather was less than nice decided I would bring my camera and visit Planting Fields and a garden I hadn’t been before, Bailey’s Arboretum. They are only a few miles apart and both were worth visiting. Planting Fields had their Camellia Collection in almost full bloom and it was a magnificent sight. Utterly amazing and breathtaking. Here is a link to the previous post I did on the
Camellia House.

It is one of the largest collections of Camellia grown ‘under glass’ (greenhouse) in the world.

I couldn’t find any references to the ‘Alice Stakes’ cultivar. The flowers were not very large compared to some of the other Camellias but it was perfectly shaped and a very nice soft pink.

I had my Nikon Coolpix 8400 in my bag along with the D70s yesterday. I also had my Sigma 17-70mm, Nikon 50mm/1.8, and of course the 60mm Micro-Nikkor. I brought the 8400 because I wanted to shoot some Black and White and it is easy to switch between color and B&W on that camera. It also features a 24mm (equivalent) lens, which is a nice foil to the 60mm. Anyway I got this picture of Camellia jap. ‘Purity’.

I think I may try to work some more in Black and White this season. It has to be the right flower but I going to be looking at things with the idea about how they would look in B&W.