Monday, February 23, 2009

Taking Delight in That Which Surrounds Me

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 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.

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:

'La Paz'

This is either 'Lemon Lime,' 'Limona', or 'Green Goddess.' My labels got mixed up and I thought I'd be able to tell which was which when they bloomed, but I can't.

'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.

Unknown Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis Longpride 'Amy'

The actual flower is the plant's highest fulfillment,
and are not
here exclusively for herbaria,
county floras and plant
they are here first of all for delight.

- John Ruskin


Anonymous said...

Your house plants are stunning - and you have taken some lovely shots of them. I always admire folk who can keep houseplants alive :)

Cathy S. said...

Wow Kyle, beautiful! You have 3 of the same plants as I do, the Jasmine
is a Winter Jasmine, also known as a star jasmine. I love the fragrance.
And the Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus)
is just beautiful! So is the Flowering Maple...

TYRA Hallsénius Lindhe said...

Wow Kylee what a blooming great post. The first photo is my favorite, the iris, it's amazing. Thank God what we have all our flowers that surrounds us at home and on the computer.
Thank you for sharing yours.

xoxo Tyra

Unknown said...

OOOh, Kylee, what gorgeous amaryllis. And of course your Phals always make me happy; I have only one in bloom at the moment, the others being reluctant to do anything except grow handsome leaves but I expect flower shoots to start emerging pretty soon. And I dearly miss having an Abutilon this winter, but I just couldn't find any back in the autumn. Maybe when spring July!

Kerri said...

You are surrounded by beautiful blooms! Wonderful photos all...they've really warmed my soul on this very chilly morning. Thank you :)
My Cape Primrose was doing OK last summer, but slowly died off in late fall. I was sad to lose those delicate blue flowers.
Our variegated Abutilons look exactly alike, but mine is called 'Gold Dust'. It's covered in buds at the moment so here's hoping they won't dry up as has previously happened earlier this winter.
Your amaryllis are wonderful! (to say the very least) :)
I hadn't thought of Jasmine as a house plant. Would love to try it. My mum grew it beautifully in Australia, and oh, that wonderful scent...
Fabulous orchids, another plant I haven't tried. And the iris 'runway' is so fascinating.
Enjoy all that beauty, Kylee, and thanks for sharing it :)

Shady Gardener said...

Kylee, Thank you for not only providing an uplifting start to my day through your photographs, but you've provided some good information. (I just went out and purchased my violet a few weeks ago. That's the easy route, isn't it?) ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am finding that the houseplants are giving me a reason to get up in the morning! Along with feeding the birds or course. Then, there is work which has to be addressed but the houseplants are the frosting on the cake right now. Your photos are luscious.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

You do have the touch with houseplants. Maybe I need to start threatening some of mine with a trip to the compost. I'm becoming seriously enamored with those more delicately blooming Amaryllises. Must get some next year.

joey said...

Great photos, Kylee ... love the orchids (some success with reblooming like my cymbidium that just keeps bloomin' on) and Streptocarpella (that I struggle keeping alive).

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Again, you have shown me another reason why we are kindred spirits. I love to look at the intricacies of a flower for the very same reasons!

And your Streptocarpella... it's gorgeous! It looks like God painted it with watercolors.


Kylee Baumle said...

Thank you ALL for your kind comments about my photos. It's so fun photographing flowers!

Karen ~ With over 175 plants to take care of over the winter (less in summer), it's a full-time job practically. Maybe that's the key?

Cathy ~ Thanks for letting me know it's a Star Jasmine! If I'd had to guess, that's what I would have guessed, but I don't know much about jasmines.

Tyra ~ Details of irises have always fascinated me. I have a close-up of a purple spotted one I dug from a ditch (I think an old house must have been there in another era) that is just stunning, as is one I have of 'Princess Caroline de Monaco.' Of course, I can't seem to find those photos as the moment.

jodi ~ Oh I hope spring comes before July! And I hope it lasts a very long time when you DO get it! *hugs*

Kerri ~ I have a Streptocarpus ('Party Doll') that I love, but it's been in a steady decline. There must be a trick to growing them that I haven't discovered yet.
I'm not exactly positive this is 'Thompsonii' because it wasn't labeled when I bought it, so it very well could be 'Gold Dust.'

Shady Gardener ~ No, not the easy way, you have to care for it and that's the most important part anyway!

Layanee ~ I agree! Lots of birds feeding here, too. I'll be doing a bird post very soon!

Mr McGregor's Daughter ~ Yes, you must! They're so easy and provide so much colorful beauty just when we need it.

Joey ~ Wow - you can grow Cymbidiums? I'm in awe! And those darn Streptocarpellas are quite temperamental, aren't they? Perhaps they "vant to be alone."

Cindy ~ Yep! Absolutely kindred spirits, that's us! :-) And isn't that purple just luscious?

Anonymous said...

oh my, where to start? Your photos are GORGEOUS Kylee. I enjoyed seeing all your beautiful blooms this February evening. I share your love of amaryllis and have been collecting new ones as I can. I bought one this year called 'Sumatra' that looks a lot like your 'La Paz.' 'Rembrandt van Rijn' is spectacular as is your green one (whichever it may be). I just purchased 'Queen of Hearts' and 'Papillio' at half price the beginning of this month and can't wait to see them bloom. Do you keep your flowering maple going all winter? I have one in the basement that I forced into dormancy but I've never tried to keep it going all winter. I have trouble keeping Streptocarpus flourishing as well. Glad to know I'm not the only one.
PS The detective story above was great too.

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