Orchids!

Here in Florida spring has sprung and we are already having hints of summer weather.  But nothing too bad as yet and everything is using this time to bloom and be happy.  Mary’s friend Bob Milner maintains a beautiful orchid garden under the oak trees.  Here are some spring blooms.  If you wish a bigger and closer look just click on the image. ❧

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Images #298-298 – An Orchid?

Coryanthus22015__0621___668Can you believe this provocative and somewhat off-putting image is an orchid?  To me it looks like an escapee from a set of Aliens but is actually a Coryanthes orchid.  It is otherwise known as a Bucket Orchid and the second view may explain why.

 

Coryanthus12015__0621___667Unlike a Venus Flytrap which lures insects to their deaths (thus feeding the plant) the Coryanthes uses insects to pollinate.  There are many kinds of Coryanthes orchids and my friend Bob, who has raised this orchid, has this one labeled Coryanthes macrantha.  Macrantha means “large flower” and that is certainly apt for this orchid which looks, to me, like a hanging slab of meat.

Is that part of the allure, the pretense of being a slab of meat?  I guess we’d need to ask the Stink Bugs and other flying insects that hovered around it. They, alas, are not talking. ❧

Image #289 – Trillium

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Trillium are part of the lily order but have their own family.  And that is no surprise because, as it happens, there are many different varieties that grow across the globe.  I was unfamiliar with it until we acquired the Fawn Hill property.  On our little strand of land we have dozens of pink trillium which, officially speaking, are Trillium catesbaei, or Catesby trillium.  There are quite a few more this year than I remember from the past two seasons that we have enjoyed this place.  Whether that is due to our clearing of overgrowth or perfect growing conditions I don’t know.

As a member of the lily order they grow from rhizomes.  This is great news since propagation will take care of itself. In the picture below you can count at least seven in a relatively small patch of land. Most of ours are pink although there are some white and one or two purple varities.

They are cheery beings and welcome on Fawn Hill. ✦

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Images #288-289 – Lady Slippers

When I was a child growing up in Massachusetts, thereSAMSUNG CSC seemed no shortage of Lady Slippers; that delicate wild orchid that is at once beautifully dainty and profoundly evocative. They are of the subfamily Cypripedioideae and grace most of the continents.  According to Wikipedia:

The subfamily Cypripedioideae is monophyletic and consists of five genera. The Cypripedium genus is found across much of North America, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. The state flower of Minnesota is the showy lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae). The pink lady’s slipper is also the official provincial flower of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.

My sister and I recall them differently. She recalls them being in the woods behind her friend’s house and I recall them being in the woods behind our house, the distinction being that we moved to a big house that had acres of woods behind it just before my sister went off to boarding school. I remember ripping them from the ground and bringing them home to my mother. She rarely scolded us but she did suggest, in that way she had, that I simply leave them be.  After we moved to Florida, when I was 12-years old I rarely saw a Lady Slipper again. I had heard (incorrectly) that they were endangered.  So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered two(!) Lady Slippers on the hillside at Fawn Hill in North Carolina.

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Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) on the hillside at Fawn Hill.

This will be our third summer at Fawn Hill and every year brings more surprises.  In a few days we are having some trees removed, weed trees mainly, opportunists that have grabbed at a chance to thrive, ironically in the absence of care.  As we clear away more and more of this over-growth we uncover a plan. The woman who first owned this land and lived here for more than a decade was a gardener and she installed some beautiful plantings.  Daffodils and tulips have popped up, peonies seem abundant, and azalea bushes are emerging from what tried, very hard, to become forest.  What will surprise us when the weed trees are gone and more light reaches the bank of land behind the house?  Stay tuned.  ✦

A Lady Slipper prepares to bloom.
A Lady Slipper prepares to bloom.

 

Image #271 – Wood Asters with raindrops

Image #271

 

Asters are so plentiful and so sturdy.  Little blasts of color as the days start to change from summer to fall.  The name Aster comes from the Ancient Greek word ἀστήρ (astér), meaning “star”, referring to the shape of the flower head.  These wood asters are a gift from friends. We planted them along the side of the house last October and I feared they would not survive the winter but they have returned and are quite robust.  We are barreling toward the autumnal equinox and change is already in the air. ❧

Image #270 – Fawn Hill’s Wildflowers

Side Hill Flower

 

This is my second summer at Fawn Hill. It’s an abbreviated one because of my Western travels last Spring and the Florida election this Fall. I will head back to Florida on September 5 and begin campaigning for Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative.

But even with an abbreviated stay of  about 12 weeks it has been a lovely time. The house has moved beyond the phase of everything seeming critical.  There are still plenty of fixer-upper things to do but last year’s sense of urgency is gone. More importantly, the hard work of last year has begun to pay.  The front side hill is a perfect example.  When we first arrived it was terribly overgrown with brambles and no small amount of poison ivy. It required most of last summer to eradicate both of those scourges.  But having cleaned out the mess I was then confronted with what to do with the space.  There were still plenty of things to do and so I let it slide.  When I arrived back in June of this year the wildflowers had begun to take over and I decided to let things go. It was the wait-and-see approach and it has been fun.

The center of the collage is an overall picture of what I currently have, a swatch of wildflowers. The always reliable Queen Anne’s Lace is a dominant player but there are others.  In the upper right is a close-up of what I now know is Punctureweed.  I have lots of it and have learned it is a scourge to grass eating creatures such as cows.  But the bees absolutely adore it and can’t seem to move fast enough to get every last bloom. Below that is a Butterfly Pea, a sweet little thing. The red Coreopsis, I confess, was bought and planted by me. I hope it lives long and prospers. I love the color. The last is Purple Milkwort and, as you can see, the bees like it also.

Next year I will help the area with some wildflower seed and perhaps some Cosmos seeds.  The area is so steep it is impossible to maintain anything too demanding. Wildflowers only demand the space to grow.  ❧

Image #259 – More Indian Pipes

Indian Pipe collage

 

My previous post (Image #258 – Indian Pipe Emerging) prompted a good friend to send me an email that said, in part,

Your image reminded me of a crocus, while some of the other images on the net looked so much like fungi I could hardly believe they were plants.  What a wonderful world this is, filled with so many remarkable and beautiful things for those who have eyes to see.  Getting the big picture is important, but you will never get the big picture if you don’t also study the small things.
Indian Pipes can really teach us a thing or two about the small stuff and also the well worn adage, you can’t judge a book by its cover. For example, it is easy to look at these remarkable structures and assume they are a variation of a mushroom but they are, in fact, a plant. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture classifies it as a wildflower and their website provides pictures of the actual bloom, something I have set my sights on obtaining.  I was aware that the Indian Pipe has a source of nectar. The honey bee in the upper right corner of the collage keyed me in to that fact last summer.  The bee, by the way, is making a return appearance here in Alice’s Wanderland. He was originally featured in Image #52.

Indian Pipes are sometimes called “Ghost” or “Corpse” plant because of its remarkable lack of color or, more accurately, chlorophyll.  According to Wikipedia:

Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. It is often associated with beech trees. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult.
The plants are rare which makes our growth here on Fawn Hill a true bonanza. They are popping up all over the hill and their presence makes me re-think efforts to clear certain areas of overgrowth and debris. One person’s debris is a plant’s lifeline.  We’ll do all that we can to preserve these lovely creatures.  What a wonderful world indeed. ❧

Image #231 – The Small Stuff

Image #231

Spring is about cherry trees, glowing tulips, and forsythia … big, bright things.  But spring is also about very small things. Like this little yellow flower that has popped up all over my driveway. The Roosevelt dime gives you a good idea of just how small it is.  We pass these small things by without a thought. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” we say. But in the time that I was sitting, observing this flower it was visited by multiple flying insects, enjoying its sweet nectar. Those insects moved on to pollinate other, larger flowers and also become a morsel for the many birds that are back and very busy.  The small things feed the big things and make it all happen.  So, it’s okay to sweat the small stuff sometimes. . . .we couldn’t get along without it. ❧

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