Flowery Friday: Silene uniflora and Papyrus profiler.

IMG_1359One of the tidiest, most low-maintenance plants in my garden, Silene uniflora ‘Druett’s Variegated’ (catchfly).  It’s also very amiable:  by the end of the season, the absolute brute that is my Engleman ivy will have flopped and clambered all over it.  No power struggle between these two – they’re like drunken buddies after a long night out.  “I love you, man.”  “No – I love YOU.”

I’ve been planting and watering my new babies like a madwoman…we had some rain earlier this week but it moistened only the top inch or so of soil.  I’m hearing that in the north, some farmers who had their crops wiped out by a late frost are not replanting because of the drought.  “Heat stress” might be the catchword of the summer, as we’re looking forward to some long hot weeks ahead.  I have always tried for mostly drought-tolerant plants because we don’t have a good watering system at the apartment I’m lazy and cannot be bothered to water – I hope I’ve made the right choices that will see the garden through.  Calgary is seriously arid, anyway – that rain shadow cast by the Rocky Mountains is pretty immense.  It’s something we have to take into consideration when we plant.  Or we should, anyway.

My other gardening news:  it looks like we’re finally on track to build a pergola for the community garden, a project I’ve been involved with since late last year.  Hopefully within a month or so I’ll be able to show photos.

I attended a container planting workshop held by the Calgary Horticultural Society last night and was introduced to the decidedly-non-Prairie-denizen dwarf papyrus (Cyperus profiler) – I was one of only a few gardeners in the room who were not familiar with it, so I guess that shows how little I’ve been out in the garden centres as of late (granted, I don’t plant more than one or two containers a year).  Apparently the papyrus sucks back water like no one’s business, which doesn’t really conform to my aforementioned gardening practices, but it’s so funky I will lug water for it daily if I have to.  (Please excuse the photo – I took it this morning in brilliant sunshine).

IMG_1349

What’s new in your garden this week?  What are your plans for this weekend (gardening or otherwise)?  I hope it’s a great one for you!  

Schlumbergera (Zygocactus, Thanksgiving cactus).

Zygocactus

I’ve had it a month and I haven’t yet exterminated my newly-acquired Zygocactus!  I’m really enjoying the blooms of my newly-acquired Zygocactus!

I don’t know why I have trouble keeping Zygocactus* alive…I keep hearing that they’re the “easiest plants in the world to grow,” accompanied by enthusiastic testimony about specimens twenty feet wide and three hundred years old, that bloom sixteen times a year with absolutely no input from the gardener. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly).  I usually kill mine within two weeks of purchase, it’s like they come with a self-destruct button or something.  I wake up one morning and poof! – they’ve completely cratered on my windowsill.

I mean,  I’m extremely careful not to overwater.  Well, actually, it’s more “neglect” than “care” – I must admit that all my houseplants exist in a state of drought most of their lives because I get busy and forget to water them.  You’d think I couldn’t kill cacti of any kind, but I have a pretty good track record.  (Why, when I read that last sentence back, does it sound suspiciously like bragging?).

But this time…I think I’ve finally found The One!  Or maybe I’m getting too excited about our one-month anniversary, and shouldn’t put the cart before the horse and all that.  Wish us a happy ever after!   😉

Do you grow Zygocacti?

*The name Zygocactus is kinda sorta fascinating – well, to me, anyway – as it refers to the way that these plants are segmented, and is not the genus name (which is actually Schlumbergera).

Glass half full.

I’ve been looking with admiration (read: frank jealousy) at all the beautiful photos in everyone’s gardening blogs, all the vibrant colour and lush green of spring.  Even those of you in the southern hemisphere who are experiencing autumn are still enjoying lingering blooms.

Here…things aren’t quite so “flowery.”

SONY DSC

 (My hubby gets the photo credit on this one; he went out and took this shot yesterday while I was at work). 

 

I think they finally waved off the heavy snowfall warning late last night.  I’m looking out the window this morning and there are still white flakes coming down.  Oh well…it’s very pretty, in a “did we sleep through spring and summer and it’s November again?” kind of way.  And while the big bags of soil that my hubby picked up before the snow fell are not going to make their way into the garden any time soon, they are performing a vital service:  acting as extra weight in the back of the truck to offer a bit more stability and traction on the icy roads.

And, of course, when the snow finally melts, the garden will surely POP!

See, I can do it – glass half full! 🙂

 

Zygocactus in bloom.

IMG_5563

I found this glorious zygocactus (Schlumbergera, Christmas cactus) in full bloom in a sunny bay window at my Mom-in-law’s residence this past weekend, and it got me thinking that I’ve never attempted to grow one before.  It is definitely time to change that!

Do you grow zygocacti?  Do you have any tips for me? 

(P.S. In case you’re wondering, I did indeed alter the natural position of the bloom so that it doesn’t turn downward in this photo).

“Sprinter” interest: Amur chokecherry.

Amur chokecherry FP

I’ve admired the beautiful bronze bark of this Amur chokecherry (Prunus maackii) since I discovered it and three companions a couple months ago on a site near my workplace.  I will be even more impressed once the trees start blooming….

I only have to wait for a couple more weeks, right?  😉  I had to laugh when I heard the season humorously referred to as “Sprinter” – that seems so perfectly apt!  More snow expected here this weekend….

Do you grow chokecherries or any other Prunus species?  Which ones are your favourites?

Snow crocuses and squirrels.

Snow crocuses FP2

Now I know spring has finally arrived!  🙂

At long last…there are a few bright blooms in my garden! And when I say “at long last,” I mean it in more ways than one: these snow crocuses were planted in the autumn of 2009 and this is the first time they’ve flowered. I had honestly thought the squirrels had gotten to them during the Great Bulb Migrations of 2009 and 2010, when most of my tulips were transplanted to locations unknown via my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed buddies.

Squirrel FP

(My hubby and I found this little dude at Bowness Park yesterday.  He was alternately mugging for the camera and stealing birdseed from the chickadees). 

I hope you’re having a beautiful Easter weekend! Do you have plans to get out into your garden or go for a nature walk?

Book Review: Fine Art Flower Photography

9780811731812_p0_v1_s260x420

Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.
– Peter Adams

Although Tony Sweet’s book Fine Art Flower Photography: Creative Techniques and the Art of Observation (2012, Stackpole Books) won’t teach you anything about growing plants, it covers a subject near and dear to any gardener’s and garden blogger’s heart: how to make an artistic capture of the beautiful flowers you’ve been cultivating (or find in other people’s gardens).

Like all fine art, the treatments used are intended to elicit an emotional response. From blooms blurred/blown by the wind to Impressionist swirls of drift plantings, to the rippled edge of a bicoloured rose and the perfect round globe of a white tulip framed by hot pink azaleas, the images in this book are absolutely breathtaking. Sweet carefully walks the reader through all of the equipment required to produce his work, and he describes the process he took using both film (ie: setting up for multiple exposures) and digital cameras. Complete explanations are given for working with software programs such as Photoshop to build these digital masterpieces. Armed with this knowledge, the reader should be able to use the techniques described to capture and create their own floral art.

Don’t expect these kinds of beautiful renderings to show up on Flowery Prose anytime soon – photoediting software (and the wherewithal to use it) isn’t on the radar just yet for me! But considering flower photography from an emotional perspective and not merely as a record is something I would like to work more on – and I definitely need to learn how to use my cameras to best advantage! For all of those things, this book is a delightful piece of pure inspiration.

Is photography a passion for you? What are your favourite subjects to capture?  (If you have online folios or a photography blog you’d like to share, please feel free to post a link!).

I’m participating (very belatedly) in Roses and Other Gardening Joys’ Gardening Book Reviews for March! Head on over there to check out all the fabulous reviews!

(You can view some of Tony Sweet’s photo galleries here).