Friday, December 31, 2010

Rainbow Orchid

Rainbow Orchid
Vanda Crownfox Sky 'Blue Lace'

Happy New Year to everyone. Personally I am happy to see 2010 move off into the shadows of time and am looking forward to 2011. Today’s flower is one of my favorite groups of Orchids. They are one of the five horticulturally significant orchid genera even though it is a small genus of 50 species. They are continually being used for breeding because of the large and showy flowers. For me it is the colors of the Vandas that are attractive, you just don’t get that blue/purple color elsewhere.

The strap leaved types are easy to grow indoors. They like it warm with filtered to strong light. Good drainage and good air circulation are also necessary. They bloom every couple of months with each of the flowers lasting a couple of weeks.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cane Begonia

Cane Begonia
Begonia 'Orange Rubra'

We have a large collection of Begonias at work. Over the years they have multiplied and gotten big. There are a few over 6 feet tall now and using the largest pots that we have. This little orange one is new to the collection and I love the color contrast between the flowers and green foliage. Obviously we keep the Begonias indoors during the winter and they provide a seemingly endless array of flowers to cheer up the greenhouse. They are always ready to go outside in the spring and don’t seem to have any problems transitioning to the outdoor lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Helenium autumnale
(hel-EE-nee-um) (aw-tum-NAH-lee)

After a wonderful Christmas we got hit with kind of a double whammy. First Karen started with flu symptoms and the next day I had the body aches, sore throat, fever and chills, and cough also. Finally today we are feeling a little better. The second part of the downer was the epic snowstorm that hit here. We got about 18 inches (45.72 cm). That is a lot of snow for us but we do get it on the occasion. What was bad about this storm was the incredible winds that accompanied it. That really made a mess of the snow. The only time I had seen snow/wind combination like that was during a whiteout when I lived in Vermont. Since I was outside working during that storm it is a memory I would rather not think about.

For Christmas Santa brought some cool toys. For the past 15 years I have wanted a Hammond Organ. It is probably one of the most iconic instruments in rock and roll (right up there with the Fender Stratocaster/Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul). Recently Hammond has released a digital simulation in a regular styled keyboard. The XB-1 has made it on to my keyboard rack and it is deliciously complicated. Nice to live out a dream once in a while.

I am also the proud new owner of a used Nikon 80-200 2.8 lens . That is something else that I have been waiting for. The lens is the older style but in super mint condition and even came with the Nikon carrying case. It does have a macro feature so there will probably be some photos posted here with it once the flowers come out again.

Quick note on today’s flower the aptly named Sneezeweed. It is a wonderful late season bloomer that can fit into almost any situation. This pure yellow one is a little unusual as they normally have some red and orange mixed in.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

South African Iris

Noracea polystachya

I think these are some sort of Iris from South Africa. There wasn’t a stitch of information about them on the internet. The nice blue color with a little white and yellow was very attractive.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers . The links open at 1400 GMT.

Here is Sunday’s bonus flower

Hemerocallis 'Russian Easter’
Kirchhoff, 1991

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope all your dreams come true.

Tree is from Lincoln Square in NYC

Friday, December 24, 2010

Heliconia and 35-70 2.8 Nikon lens

Heliconia stricta 'Dwarf Jamaican'
(hel-ih-KOH-nee-uh) (STRIK-tuh)

Yesterday I went and tried the lens Karen is getting for Christmas. It is a Nikon AF 35-70mm f/2.8D Zoom-Nikkor. She is a very good photographer and needed a boost up from the Nikkor AF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that came with her camera. The new lens is sharp and fast.

Since I was already down in Westchester Wave Hill seemed to be good place to check out some flowers and the lens. The push-pull zoom set up is a little interesting as is the macro function but easy to figure out. I didn’t do a lot of heavy testing more like trying to shoot what I would on a normal excursion.

This little Heliconia was blooming inside the conservatory and it is quite cute. The smaller size is perfect for cultivation in a container and it retains the nice ‘lobster claw’ type of flowers. Always a treat to see the brilliant red that this plant produced.

Shooting Star
Clerodendron quadriloculare

(kler-oh-DEN-drum) (kwah-drih-lok-yoo-LAIR-ee)

This photo was also shot with the 35-70mm lens. One of the prime things about a lens, to me anyways, is the bokeh it produces. On a simple level that is how the lens reproduces the out of focus elements in the background of the photo. This lens did nicely and with some more experimenting would do even better.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jerusalem Sage

Jerusalem Sage
Phlomis fruticosa
(FLOW-miss) (froo-tih-KOH-suh)

Here is a flower that should be more widely grown. The semi furry flowers are unusual and the wholly aromatic foliage is nice too. It isn’t quite hardy here in Connecticut but it has successful overwintered here before. A native of Central Europe this plant is part of the mint family. It is considered a shrub and can get tall (4-6 feet) but if it gets too big it can be hard sheared in the spring. Jerusalem Sage is drought tolerant and prefers well drained soil.

I hope everyone is ready for Christmas. Things are getting to a bit of a fevered pitch now. Karen’s new lens arrived yesterday and I hope to go out and shoot a couple of pictures with it to test it since it was actually purchased used.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Musk Mallow

Musk Mallow
Abelmoschus moschatus
(a-bel-MOS-kus) (MOSS-kuh-tus)
Synonyms: Hibiscus abelmoschus

Not 100% sure on the identification on this flower. It was growing in a field last summer.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Echeveria 'Paloma'

This is another plant that stumped Google. The genus Echeveria is easy to get information on but the cultivar ‘Paloma’ drew a blank. The tag could have been wrong as it was handwritten. This plant was being offered at a local nursery for sale and I was attracted to its geometrical symmetry and slightly red tips on the foliage.

Echeveria is a large group of succulents native to mostly Mexico and upper South America. There are number of species that are used as garden ornamentals and numerous hybrids available. They are easily propagated and quite often need rejuvenation after several years in a pot or the ground.

Shot in monochrome, not a conversion

Yesterday we followed the age-old tradition and got our Christmas tree. Most people I know have had theirs up for weeks. It was strange because there was really only one species available Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri). They are beautiful but almost never sold around here as a tree for the landscape. That maybe is because the deer like them so much. Our tree is a little small (which is good since our house is small) but robust and is scenting the living room with a nice evergreen smell. As soon as I am done with this it will be time to put the lights on.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Floss Silk Tree

Floss Silk Tree
Ceiba speciosa
(SAY-buh) (spee-see-OH-suh)
Synonyms: Chorisia speciosa

It is always a treat for me to see a tropical tree in flower. This tree is one that I had seen before in Southern Florida but it looked more beautiful blooming in Southern California. The flowers were held high off the ground and this is as close as I could get with the 60mm lens.

Ceiba speciosa is native to South America and has several unusual attributes. One is the sharp and large thorns that completely cover the trunk and some of the branches. These thorns hold water for the tree to use during dry times, which makes the species drought resistant. Another unusual feature of the bottle shaped trunk is that has some green visible in younger specimens. This due to the high chlorophyll content that allows the tree to perform photosynthesis even when the leaves are off (the tree is deciduous).

All in all this was a really nice sight with the green leaves and multicolored flowers against a blue, blue California sky.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers . The links open at 1400 GMT.

Since it is Sunday that means a bonus flower.

Phlox paniculata
(floks) (pan-ick-yoo-LAY-tuh)

There are so many cultivars of Garden Phlox now that I can’t even guess what this one is. It was growing in Central Park when I visited during the summer. Garden Phlox is a garden classic and makes a good backbone in any perennial border.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

White Flowered Foxglove

White Flowered Common Foxglove
Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora

We are into archive shots here until spring or until we get away somewhere warm. This foxglove is a little unusual but not rare. It is an interesting twist on the normal pink foxglove and looks excellent in the woodland garden or in borders. They provide a nice vertical accent and can be used as cut flowers (cut when half open for best results).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Austin Rose-Molineux

Austin Rose
Rosa 'Molineux'
Synonyms: English Rose, AUSmol

This is another of the long line of beautiful Austin roses. It has a classic color and shape. The warm yellow is a welcome addition to the garden and its medium strong fragrance is also nice. 'Molineux' was introduced in 1994 and one of its parents is my favorite Austin rose ‘Graham Thomas’.

The yellow rose symbolizes friendship and caring. They can be given to good friends to show that you are happy to with their friendship. Yellow roses can also be given as an appropriate symbol of sympathy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

‘Rainbow’s End’ Miniature Rose

‘Rainbow’s End’ Miniature Rose
Synonyms: SAValife

‘Rainbow’s End’ is one of my favorite miniature roses. Last year it was a bit of a tragedy when one of the three bushes didn't return after the winter. They have growing in the garden for about 10 years now and doing well in a scruffy area. While the advertised height is 18 inches mine have grown up to 30 inches tall, which is probably due to where they are planted. The shading on the flowers is amazing almost demanding that the viewer take a closer look. Often when finished blooming the flowers turn all red.

Here are a few facts about ‘Rainbow’s End’:
Color: Yellow blend
Petal Count: 35
Breeder and Introduction: F. Harmon Saville, Nor'East Min Roses, US, 1984
Fragrance: Slight to none
Parentage: Rise 'n' Shine × Watercolor

I would highly recommend this mini. It is a hardy, prolific bloomer that doesn’t have a lot of disease problems.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Alpine Cyclamen

Cyclamen ‘National Liberty Lad’

Once in a while I come across a flower that Google has never heard of and Today’s Flower is one. It was growing and blooming happily in the Alpine House at Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx. Most people know Cyclamen as a florist plant that brightens up the house over the winter but there a few hardy types that can grow outside in the garden. The hardy types often bloom here very early in the spring and do better when we have snow cover. It takes a long time for small patches of them to develop.

The 23 species of Cyclamen are mostly native to the Mediterranean area and Europe where some of the species are endangered from over harvesting. ‘National Liberty Lad’ is even smaller than the dwarf types you see for sale at the florist. It does have the variegated leaves and upswept flower petals of the common types.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers . The links open at 1400 GMT.

Here is the Today’s Flowers bonus picture. It was also a denizen of the Alpine house. The flower was about ¼ inch wide and being so small a little difficult to get a shot of.

Swan River Daisy
Brachyscome multifida
(brak-kys-koh-mee) (mul-TIF-id-uh)
Synonyms: Rock Daisy, Hawkesbury River Daisy

This native of Australia is a relative of the Brachyscome we grow a lot in containers. I know that species as a trouble free, free flowering and low maintenance annual. The species name, multifida, means ‘many divided’ and you can see where that comes from with a little of the foliage creeping in. I have only seen this color of Brachyscome but they also come in pink, white, yellow, purple and blue.

Friday, December 10, 2010

White Dogwood

White Dogwood
Cornus florida
(KOR-nus) (FLOR-ih-duh)

This picture is from the spring and is probably my favorite flowering tree. It is native to our area and has the bonus of nice fall color and brilliant red berries for later in the season. Dogwoods are a graceful addition to the garden but do suffer from some cultural problems. This last season was kind of the antithesis of good conditions for growing Dogwood. They don’t like it hot and dry but seemed to tolerate the weather and from the specimens I have observed this fall have a great crop of buds for next year. I am not sure how the black background came out but this was shot during the middle of the morning.

Tonight is the Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden. I am quite excited about seeing some of the 10 Top 40 bands that will be performing.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Black Prince Echeveria

Echeveria 'Black Prince'
Synonym: Chocolate

This little cutey was blooming inside the Alpine House at Wave Hill. The scarlet color is only partially represented here. The leaves were kind of black with a slight dusty appearance to them. In order for them to really turn black full sun is necessary. This is a tender plant that can tolerate some low temperatures for brief times but generally should be grown in a frost free environment or a container that can be brought inside.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Beauty'
(ham-uh-MEE-lis) (in-ter-MEE-dee-a)
Synonyms: 'Orange Bruns'

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

Yellow Lilies

Yellow Lilies

This picture was stuck in an unrelated folder and I really can’t remember where or even when it was taken. According to the digital information it was shot 1/11/09 with the D700 and the 60m lens. That doesn’t make a lot of sense unless it was from a bunch of cut flowers. Anyway I thought it was a nice way to start of the week and I hope the sun shines this bright wherever you may be.

It is suppose to be really cold all week here. Everything will be kind of building up to Friday night when Karen, Erika and I attend the z100 Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden. Finally I will get to see my hero Selena Gomez performing in concert. Paramore and Katy Perry are also of interest to me. Of course Erika is looking forward to seeing Justin Beiber. Selena while young is just a nice person and the kind of person that makes me proud to be an American. She is beautiful, talented, hard working, charitable and has a great sense of style. It will also be nice to be in Manhattan during the holidays.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Profusion Zinnia

Zinnia 'Profusion Apricot'

While these Zinnias were certainly fading when this picture was taken you can still see the nice bushy habit and color range of Park Seed’s ‘Profusion’ series. To me this group of zinnias has been one of the best and brightest breakthroughs in annual breeding in some time. The compact habit, bright colors and most of all the disease resistance is amazing. If you have ever grown floppy, mildew covered Zinnias and maybe like me given up on them then ‘Profusion’ is for you. They keep coming out with new colors and there are several double types available now. Hopefully more and more growers will catch on to these flowers and they will be more available to us gardeners.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers . The links open at 1400 GMT.

Since it is Sunday here is a bonus picture. Not a flower more like a botanical oddity, which I had heard about but had never seen growing.

Fingered Citron
Citrus medica var. sarcodactylus
Synonyms: Buddha's Hand

This plant was observed at Wave Hill in the Bronx. It is a small tree with a thorny crown. Quite tender (like most Citrus) so it was growing in a pot. There is really no flesh inside the fingers but the peel is highly scented and is often candied to make succade. The zest can also be used for salads.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Nutmeg Geranium

Nutmeg Geranium
Pelargonium fragrans
(pe-lar-GO-nee-um) (FRAY-granz)
Synonyms: Sweet-leaved Geranium

This little Geranium was still blooming at work last week. That earned it a spot inside for the winter. Any plant that can bloom under the conditions we have had is tough and should be able to survive under glass for a few months. This is a nice species of Geranium but needs to be planted in groups for the flowers to be effective as they are quite small. The foliage has a nice fragrance and is also very detailed. I am glad we potted this baby up because it wouldn’t have made it through are impending cold snap.

Last week we spread the ashes of the “big three” at the Estate. I thought it would be a sad occasion but in the end it wasn’t bad. We released some balloons and the kids had some star confetti to throw out. More than a week later I found these three stars lying on the ground and got a nice warm feeling that the three of them again overlooking the garden. We sure do miss all three of them but are glad their spirits live on.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bridge in the Florida Keys

Bridge in the Florida Keys

Since everyone around here has been dreaming about a Florida vacation this winter I was looking through some old photos and found this bridge picture. You can see it is a bridge built on top of another old bridge that was originally for trains. The Keys are a unique and exotic area of the United States. If you are not familiar with the area here is a Wikipedia link for some more information:
Florida Keys

I hope to be reporting live from down there soon.

Last night someone gave me tickets to see the great blues singer Shemekia Copeland in Fairfield Connecticut’s Stage One Theater. It is a very small an intimate venue. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen a blues concert. Both her and her band seemed on top of their game. The opening act was Johnnyswim a lively husband and wife duo with good material and beautiful voices. I had my camera but the battery died about half way through the show.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Poinsettia Cultivar

Poinsettia Cultivar
Euphorbia pulcherrima
(yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (pul-KAIR-ih-muh)

Let’s kick off the holiday season here at Digital Flower with a Poinsettia picture. I am not really sure what variety of Poinsettia this is but it captured my fancy with its beautiful shading and gracefulness. It seems just the other day during a trip to the nursery the Poinsettias were still young, small and green and then when I went back last week they were a sea of color. Seeing the huge greenhouse with its strips of red, white and pink running down the benches was uplifting even though the holidays and Poinsettias aren’t my favorite.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Butterfly Iris

Butterfly Iris
Dietes grandiflora
(dy-AY-teez) (gran-dih-FLOR-uh)
Synonyms: Wild Iris

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some D70s Shots

Some D70s Shots

After dragging my backup camera around during our California get away I ended up taking about 30 shots with it. The plan was to keep the Sigma 24mm/1.8 lens on the D70 to have a wide-angle lens available all the time. I don’t really like to change lenses in the field but will do it when necessary. The D70 hadn’t made it into the bag for quite some time (there were some pictures from Manhattan from July on the card) and it is funny because I often forget the nuances of the settings and capabilities of a camera if it is not used regularly. This time it was that the lens flares really bad in bright sunlight and that ruined about half of the shots. Both the D70 and Sigma are good pieces of equipment and I am happy to have both. For the entire trip the Nikon 60mm lens stayed on the D700, which is a little odd but I didn’t feel like changing.

The first picture is a yellow Daylily that was blooming at Greystone Mansion in Beverley Hills. It is now a city park that has a great location and extensive gardens. A lot of films and TV shows have been shot there so it had kind of familiar feeling to it. Almost as nice as the park was the drive we had around the neighborhood afterwards. There was some quite amazing housing and views to see. There were Daylilies blooming all over the area and I am assuming that they were reblooming at that point. The 24mm does do a fairly nice macro doesn’t it?

Bougainvillea ‘La Jolla’

This picture is from the same camera/lens combination. You can see the polarizer really kicked in although the sky was an amazing shade of blue. This particular Bougainvillea seemed to be the cultivar that was blooming the most at that time. There were a few other colors but this show stopping red was a standout. I just tried to rescue a Bougainvillea at work but think it was a little too late. We will try potting it up tomorrow and hope that just the foliage was damaged by frost. They don’t do great inside over the winter but do survive and sometimes put on a good show.

This final D70s picture is from the harbor at Avalon, California on Catalina Island. The boat was swinging in to pick up the massive exodus off the island on Sunday afternoon. The 22-mile trip out in the morning featured a smooth ride and at one point 100’s of Porpoises jumping and swimming alongside the boat. The building on the right is the Catalina Casino.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Variegated Impatiens

Variegated Impatiens
Impatiens walleriana ‘Peaches and Cream’
(im-PAY-shuns) (wall-er-ee-AH-nuh)

The color combination on this annual was stunning. It was spotted in the conservatory at Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx. There are not a lot of references to this plant on the Internet. Only one site had plugs for sale and they described it as ‘heirloom’, ‘old’ and ‘hard to find’. ‘Peaches and Cream’ would certainly spice up any planting of Impatiens. In the past we have grown a lot of variegated Impatiens but they are always have white and green leaves.

Wow, it dropped down to 17 degrees (F) here last night, which has to be the coldest night this season. It should rebound nicely to the low 50’s but it is going to be difficult getting going in the garden this morning.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Southern Island Mallow

Southern Island Mallow
Lavatera assurgentiflora ssp. Glabra
(lav-uh-TEER-uh) (as-sur-jen-tih-FLOR-uh)

This is an extremely rare flower that is native to Santa Catalina Island and Santa Barbara County. I go this picture by hanging my camera over the wire cage that was protecting it from the deer and Bison on the island. I don’t even want to think what kind of damage a herd of Bison could do to the garden. Like a lot of the Lavateras this flower was striking with its stripes and color pattern. While we saw so many interesting flowers on our trip to California this one was the best.

There isn’t a lot of information available for this plant however I did find this blurb about Catalina endemic plants at this website:

Catalina endemic plants are species that occur naturally on Catalina Island and nowhere else in the world. A restricted (endemic) island distribution may result from the gradual elimination of a species on the mainland and its persistence on the isolated island(s), where the threat of extinction may be less.

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers . The links open at 1400 GMT.

Since it is Sunday here is a bonus California flower. It is a rich rose hailing from Beverly Hills. I think it is ‘Iceberg’ but not really sure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bigleaf Hydrangea

Bigleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Madame Emile Mouillere'
(hy-DRAIN-juh) (mak-roh-FIL-uh)
Synonyms: French Hydrangea, Sedgewick's White

I am not sure what happened to this Hydrangea this summer but it should have bloomed white. It may have been that this flower is aging with a little pink or the plant itself was mismarked. Having inherited this Hydrangea I am not sure if it was bought from a reliable source. The plant exhibits many of the characteristics of 'Madame Emile Mouillere' including the spindly branches and good cold hardiness and an excellent mix of fall colors. Even if the color wasn’t pure white we did enjoy the amount of flowers this shrub produced.

Growing Hydrangeas is something we are called on to do in almost every garden we care for. It really comes down to how cold the winter is here for the final outcome the next summer. I don’t believe in covering or wrapping a lot of plants but will add some mulch if the species is borderline hardy. The one trick for Hydrangea is the pruning schedule, don’t do it too late.

I have a gig at a local coffee house tonight. It should be fun. Here are some of the songs I have been learning (or relearning) over the last couple of days:

Let it Rain
- Eric Clapton

– Jerry Garcia Band (I am singing those two)

City of New Orleans
- Arlo Guthrie

Sister Golden Hair
- America

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pink Chinese Dogwood

Pink Chinese Dogwood
Cornus kousa
(KOR-nus) (KOO-suh)

This tree has been in full bloom for the last couple of weeks. For those not familiar with Dogwoods they are supposed to bloom in the spring. This is the first time I have ever seen one blooming like this in the fall. They have Christmas lights on it now and it is also in full fall color. Originally I thought that maybe it was newly planted and some how been forced to flower now but that really doesn’t make any sense.

Plants and the botanical world continue to amaze me even after all this time working with them. I had to sneak into the parking lot of a jewelry store to grab these pictures. If the tree flowers again next fall I will have to try and get a few cutting or seeds from it. It might start a revolution.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tree Dahlia

Tree Dahlia
Dahlia imperialis
(DAHL-ya) (im-peer-ee-AL-is)

This monster perennial remains elusive and isn’t grown as much as it should be. This one was spotted in Southern California where the weather is mild enough for the November/December blooming time. This specimen was about 12 to 15 feet tall and didn’t have any stakes but some support is usually a good idea especially in windy areas. The flowers point downward, which is nice to see the detail and I was lucky to see a side shoot that had flowers low enough to photograph.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans. We are looking forward to having friends and family over today for a meal of turducken. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year so it is special. During the afternoon there will be a few moments when I am stealing away to my office to learn some songs for the gig on Saturday night.

This second shot is shown to provide a little scale for the Tree Dahlia. They are huge!