I purchased this plant about three years ago at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in Ft. Wayne for four dollars. About a year ago, I was ready to pitch it into the compost bin, mostly because I'd neglected it and it was on its last leg. Then it all of a sudden decided it was going to show me a thing or two, and it has come back quite nicely, even rewarding me with blooms.
There's still snow on the ground, outside my window. Bleah. The sun is shining though, and while it won't warm us enough to melt the snow, it's better than the usual gloomy gray skies of winter. And we're on the downside, with just 25 days until the calendar says it's spring. In the meantime, I'm reminded of why I grow house plants.
There are several of them in bloom at the moment and their beautiful faces are not lost on me. As regular readers of this blog know, I love to study the intricacies of a flower blossom up close and personal. I'm continually amazed at the detail with which God fashions each one.
Often, the details of a flower aren't just for our enjoyment though; they serve a very useful purpose. Take an iris, for example. Look closely at this photograph of a bloom from my bearded iris, 'Red at Night' :
The fuzzy beard acts as a runway, leading the potential pollinator into the reproductive organs of the plant. In addition, the hairs serve to brush off pollen that may already be on the pollinator's body as it enters, helping to insure pollination of the flower. And you thought it was just another pretty face!
It will be some time before the iris are blooming outside, but here's what's flowering in the house right now:
I have had a couple of people tell me this is a Streptocarpus, but I figure the people at the Botanical Conservatory know what they're selling, and I found the following information making the distinction between the two:
Some references list Streptocarpella as a selection of Streptocarpus, but these two groups of plants are considerably different. While the flowers of Streptocarpus and Streptocarpella are similar, the plant habit is considerably different. Streptocarpus grows in a basal whorl of leaves with no above-ground branching while Streptocarpella has a well branched top.
The Flowering Maples are all in various stages of bloom, with this Abutilon pictum 'Thompsonii' being the star of the show. The speckling in the leaves is caused (on purpose) by the mosaic virus. The virus can be spread to other abutilons by way of insects, especially white fly, or by grafting. So far, this one remains the only one with speckles here.
And of course, there are my beloved amaryllis (Hippeastrum). I have many of them potted up right now and each week, a new one opens up. Currently in full bloom are:
'Rembrandt van Rijn'
I'm not sure which jasmine this is, because it was simply labeled "Jasmine" when I purchased it a couple of years ago at a garden center in Cleveland, but it has provided the house with a wonderfully tropical scent. These two photos were taken about a month ago and it's pretty well done blooming for now, but there are more buds coming on.
Two of the orchids are still nicely in bloom, with another one forming buds on its flower spike.
The actual flower is the plant's highest fulfillment,
and are not here exclusively for herbaria,
county floras and plant geography:
they are here first of all for delight.
- John Ruskin