Plant Pic, 101917 edition

101917honeyglory

The morning glories have invaded the honeysuckle. During summer, this simply will not do, as I don’t want it choked off. This late in the season, I simply admire the juxtaposition of colors and make note to keep an eye on things.

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Say hello to our little friends

bee with face in raspberry blossom

bee with face in raspberry blossom

Some of the most helpful residents of our yard are too plentiful to name or even number: the bees who keep our raspberry patch humming.

We rarely see honeybees. We sometimes see a tiny bee we have yet to identify. Most of our friends are bumblebees, but they are quite docile. Sometimes early in the morning we catch them sleeping on the leaves, which we find quite cute.

raspberry patch

This is the raspberry patch we share. We moved here four Februarys ago and brought a few dozen mature plants with us. Despite pruning and periodically giving plants away, we still have little to no space between bushes, and must carefully lift branches to move through and pick berries. This isn’t so bad, though, because we have to lift branches to check underneath for berries anyway; we just have to be careful of breakage as we walk between. As we do this, the bees ignore us or simply fly to one of the many other bushes.

bags of berries in the freezerThis is what happens to the berries right now: straight into the freezer.

First they get spread out on a plate (or a baking sheet if there are a lot that day), so they freeze separately. If you dump them into a container without doing this, you will get one giant clump of berry.

When the individual berries have frozen, they go into Ziploc gallon freezer bags. Sometime this winter they  probably will become another batch of wine, but this fall we are doing hard apple cider first.

Next summer I hope to begin beekeeping. In the meantime, we are happy to share our raspberries with our bee friends.

bee flying in raspberry bush

 

Plant Pics, 100916 edition

flower bed

flower bed

On Wednesday I drove to neighboring Midland (Michigan). I was picking up honey from an entomologist friend and when she suggested Tuesday or Wednesday to meet, I jumped on the latter because it’s a Farmers Market day. (The other is Saturday. More on the Midland Area Farmers Market within the next week.)

Midland can be an odd place. It’s very much a company town, and that company is Dow Chemical. Because this global behemoth needs to keep employees happy in a town of 42,000 people, there are amenities that don’t usually show up in small Midwestern cities. Also, things are neat and attractive, hence its Sparkle City nickname. That’s not a compliment; it’s a dig at the gentrification and greenbelting.

One positive is that the public plantings often are stunning. This is especially true downtown, where the beds and containers sport interesting plants and combinations – so much so that I had to stop for pictures just outside the market.

flower bed

I love texture, so I’m intrigued by this prickly plant against this feathery one.

flower bed

Looking back up the hill toward Main Street.

purple flower bed

Color groupings are common, such as this purple…

red flower bed

…and this red.

flower bed closeup

Sometimes the combinations are ones that never would have occurred to me, like the one above where the flowers and foliage have no similarities at all.

tall tropical plant in flower bed

 

 

 

I wonder if my hibiscus would like a tall tropical plant friend like this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

plant closeups

These prickly things among the zinnias remind me of baby birds.

plant closeups

More satisfaction for my texture obsession.

Plant Pics, 032416 edition

Pitcher plant
One variety of orchid, in a smaller room off to one side.
One variety of orchid, in a smaller room off to one side.

While I love tending baby insects at Dow Gardens‘ annual Butterflies in Bloom, it is also fabulous to hang out among the plants of the conservatory for a couple of hours at a time. It’s a large version of a dream space, something I could only wish for my own home.

A wall-mounted plant, from the front and from the side.
A wall-mounted plant, from the front and from the side. Like most of the conservatory plants, it is not labeled.
Plant with twisting leaves
This twisty plant is the kind of thing I would take home …
Plant with narrow triangular leaves that are red on the back, green with spots on the front
… ditto this one.
Plant with what look like tiny peppers, half yellow and half red
This pepper-looking plant has caught other people’s eyes too.
Pitcher plant
Pitcher plants are tough to maintain at home. I killed a hanging version but hope to have success another time.
Another variety of orchid.
Another variety of orchid.

Plant Pics, 031816 edition

Criss-crossing roots

Vertical photo of tree with many entwined trunksThe conservatory at Dow Gardens is a wondrous place even when there aren’t butterflies flitting about inside, as there are right now during Butterflies in Bloom.

The building, all metal and glass and angles from the outside, is bright and welcoming inside. Tropical plants are everywhere, from sturdy decades-old trees to fragile orchids.

The flowers are of course beautiful and I’m a huge foliage fan, but I’ve been finding myself intrigued by what I see when I look down.

 

Base of three-trunked tree with curled roots wrapping around inside of huge pot
This looks like a perfect spot for a small animal to curl up and sleep.
Criss-crossing roots
This reminds me of clasped hands.
Gnarled base of a tropical plant with many stubs where branches were lopped off close to the trunk
I envision some mythical creature living in here.

Blue Morning Glory a Happy Surprise

Morning glories, one taking an unusual turn.
Morning glories, one taking an unusual turn.

Summer is over, but the yard still is blossoming.

This morning I got a bonus for filling the birdbath. As I put down the hose and turned toward the front door, I saw a light blue morning glory. That’s right, blue. I tried to do it justice in the photo above, but it was tricky.

Most of our blossoms are purple, some white, occasionally pink. This is the first blue I’ve seen, and I especially love the two purple stripes.

I generally let the morning glories be as long as they don’t interfere with other plants. I guide them away from the honeysuckle, for example, and out of the vegetables.

The hibiscus and morning glory coexisting.
The hibiscus and morning glory coexisting.

The vines were unwoven from around most stems of the hibiscus, shown above, and wound around the downspout instead. A side trailer of them weaves through the beaten-up white metal table, pink and purple prettying up the rust (a little).

My favorite winding blossoms right now come from the moonvine. Sometimes its tendrils seem to grow 6 inches in a day. To me the blooms are interesting even when they’re closed, because I like the strong pale green limbs that allow them to open and shut repeatedly.

A moonvine blossom just opening for the night.
A moonvine blossom just opening for the night.

Ice and Orchids at Dow Gardens

One final orchid.
One of the orchids in the "orchid room" of the Dow Gardens' Conservatory.
One of the orchids in the “orchid room” of the Dow Gardens’ Conservatory.

At Midland’s Dow Gardens this time of year, you get a marked contrast: snow and ice outside, tropics inside the Conservatory.

When I visited last Tuesday, the restroom were under construction, so my first sight was this:

Chic and shiny portable restrooms.
Chic and shiny portable restrooms.

These are the loveliest portable restrooms I ever have encountered. Want to know if one is occupied? Check whether the light above the door is red or green. Why so nice? Duh, Midland. If they’re still there this Tuesday I’m going inside whether I need to or not.

Following are photos I took on the way to and from the Conservatory, outside it and inside. The orchids are not labeled so I cannot name the varieties, but welcome comments from anyone who can.

The iconic waterfall.
The iconic waterfall, almost but not quite entirely frozen.

 

The lovely ballerina, snowed in but not forgotten.
The lovely ballerina, snowed in but not forgotten.

 

Ice formations.
Ice formations.

 

More ice formations.
More ice formations.

 

A pitcher plant. I plan to grow these at some point.
A pitcher plant. I plan to grow these at some point.

 

A stem of orchid blooms.
A stem of orchid blooms.

 

One final orchid.
One final orchid.

Dow Gardens in winter has more than butterflies

While I’ve been volunteering at Dow Gardens’ Butterflies in Bloom, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to take photos.

butterfly

Certainly there are lots of butterflies. One of the most popular is the blue morpho, which looks like this open:

morpho1

Sometimes they’re hard to spot when they’re closed, because the underside of their wings looks very different:

morpho2

We also had African moonwing moths this week:

moth

The gardens look very different in the winter-almost-spring, with ice formations on the waterfall.

waterfall

In case you haven’t been to the gardens, one of their most recognizable features is the “red steps,” which are very Alden B. Dow-like in design.

redsteps

This is the view of the inside of the conservatory from the “office” within.

officeview

This is the center of the conservatory, with permanent artwork hanging above.

center

The center also is home to a pair of frogs (this is the male) who are at least 7 years old.

frog

The noisiest residents are the canaries, but there also is a lone Chinese quail.

birds

Art exhibits periodically grace the gardens. This work by Victoria Billingham is one of three in the conservatory, and there are more throughout the gardens.

vase

In one of the side rooms of the conservatory there are a number of bonsai, including this olive tree.

olive

In the room opposite, there are orchids.

yelloworchid

purpleorchid