Tag Archives: bloom

Birth of an Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

10 May

The thing I love most about this time of year is the process by which new flower buds slowly open up and reveal their hidden treasures. I particularly love watching my Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ as the buds break free from the papery bracts protecting them and explode into a profusion of perky florets. The allium ‘flower’ is actually a cluster of much smaller flowers (florets) atop a stem–this type of arrangement is called an inflorescence.


The papery bract begins to split open under the strain of the growing florets.


The florets start to take on color.


The emerging inflorescence, seen from above.

  
Individual florets begin to bloom.                Close-up of a floret.


The newly emerged inflorescence, seen from above.


Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ in bloom.

 

Seed Transport: A Hairy Situation?

22 Oct

When I think of autumn, I think of brilliant, jewel-toned foliage: rich reds, oranges, and yellows. But fall is also a time for brown–and specifically, for really interesting seed pods that have dried up, split open, and offered up their treasures.

In a recent post, I wrote about wind dispersal of seeds via feathery parachutes. Seeds attached to or encased in balls of fluff can travel quite far on a good breeze. But there are other ways for seeds to get around. Catching a ride on a passing animal is one of them. And that is why some seeds are sticky — or hairy, as in the case of Rose of Sharon seeds, which are encircled by a fuzzy ring.

Despite this transport mechanism, however, Rose of Sharon plants are really, really good at self seeding, with dozens of seedlings springing up around the base of the parent plant each year. So while those seeds are designed for adventure, they are really homebodies at heart. And I’ll take a homebody any day, if it puts on a good show (see below).

Rose of Sharon seed pods

Rose of Sharon seeds

Rose of Sharon flower

Allium Update

20 May

A short while ago, I posted a photo from above of an Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ bud just before it was about to open. Here are side views of subsequent phases in the Allium lifecycle: opening, and fully open (ok, those might not actually be the technical terms).

 

Alliums look delicate, but pitted against squirrels, Alliums will usually win. Why? Because they are members of the onion/garlic family, and squirrels prefer slightly less aromatic bulbs for dinner. Hummingbirds and butterflies have more sophisticated palates, however, and love Alliums. It can’t get any better: a flower that deters pests but attracts welcome guests.

Adding to the Alliums’ charms is the fact that they 1) don’t take up much space and so can be tucked almost anywhere, 2) are long lasting, 3) are pretty hardy, and 4) are just pretty. In the language of flowers, the message Alliums convey is one of perfection and elegance. It’s hard to disagree with that.

Birth of an Azalea ‘Gibraltar’

16 May

One of the joys of spring is seeing the transformation from bud to bloom. Last year, I planted two tree azaleas (they are more upright than bushy) just after peak blooming time and so caught only a brief glimpse of the sole remaining flower on one of the plants. Azalea ‘Gibraltar’ is a deep orange color, but I was not able to appreciate it in all its glory — though I had high hopes for Spring 2013.

But as summer progressed, the azaleas’ foliage turned brown and shriveled up. It was clear I had planted them where it was too sunny, and they were not at all happy. In fact, they were dying. So we took emergency measures and dug them out, relocating them into large whisky barrels in a shadier part of the garden. And then there was nothing to do but wait and hope they survived the experience.

Luckily, they did; here are some photos showing the birth of a glorious, ruffled, orange Azalea ‘Gibraltar’ bloom.