Tag Archives: flower

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

29 Sep

This week’s photo challenge calls for rich, saturated images. This is a Baby Darling Daylily. The pale blue background makes the colors in the flower–the deep plum petals, spring green stalks and buds, and gold-tipped anthers–appear even more vivid and intense.

Rudbeckia maxima: A Natural Bird Feeder

21 Sep

Last year I discovered that while my two bird feeders were quite popular, there was another very attractive source of seeds in the yard that was equally as appealing to certain birds: the Rudbeckia maxima (Giant Coneflowers) I had planted near a wrought-iron fence. I watched one day as a small bird flew by, grabbed a stalk in its little talon, pulled the stalk over to the fence, and perched there, nibbling seeds off the cone.

Since then, I have been happy to share the flowers with the birds. I can see the attraction; the Rudbeckia are stunning–they are tall (about 7 ft.) and cheerful, with clumps of silvery-blue foliage and lovely yellow ray flowers pointing down from the base of the cone. The cone starts off light green but then turns dark brown as the plant matures and the seeds come in. And then, it’s buffet time for finches, chickadees, and other birds. A self-service seed bar, courtesy of Mother Nature.
Even after the petals have dried up and fallen off, Rudbeckia maxima seed heads can play a striking role in the autumn garden: here is a whole one and a section in close-up.


Postcard from Senegal, Part II

2 Jun

After a week of meetings in Dakar, we had a nice opportunity to get out of the capital city and go on a field trip: first to a farming cooperative east of Dakar and then south to the Bandia Wildlife Reserve. It was lovely to be able to see a bit of the countryside.

The area around the farm and the reserve (and in fact, a large part of Senegal) is savannah. The landscape is dotted with the famous baobab trees, which store water in their trunks and can live for thousands of years:

… and also with acacias (new foliage, left; old vine creeping around acacia trunk, right).

On the farm, okra plants were in bloom. I had never thought about okra flowers before (which shows that I have never grown okra)–but I now know that okra flowers are quite lovely–as are the pom-pom like flowers of the Acacia robusta trees lining some of the farm’s roads.
We did not make it to the Wildlife Reserve until the afternoon, when most animals would normally be taking a siesta in a shady spot, but we were lucky to see monkeys, antelope, warthogs, ostriches, zebras, rhinos (from a suitably safe distance), and giraffes.

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.