Bluer than blue redux

5 03 2009

In early February I posted a collage of my blue flower photographs here.

On Tuesday Michael and I took a field trip to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, to see the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens. I was inspired to do so by fellow photographer and blogger, Patty Hankins, who has been regularly posting her orchid photos from Longwood Gardens (thanks, Patty!). I spent quite a bit of time photographing this bed of beautiful blue flowers in the Conservatory.

If I have identified these correctly by the marker in one of the beds, then these flowers, a member of the Aster family, are a Longwood hybrid—Longwood Hybrid Cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida). Learn more about the history of this hybrid here. I’ll do some extra fact-finding to make sure that’s correct.

After our photo excursion to Longwood, we headed over to Philadelphia to the 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show. This was our second time attending the event (first time was in 2006) and we were disappointed that Borders Books didn’t have their garden-books-only booth. (As if I really needed more gardening books. But still…)

compleastsquash1We still managed to part with a little money, though (seed packets, a worm bin compost system, and the book, Melons for the Passionate Grower, written by Amy Goldman with beautiful photographs by Victor Schrager.

I found one of Goldman’s other books, The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower’s Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes, and Gourds, at a kitchen store that was closing in San Antonio this past Christmas. I paid just $6 for this coffee table book. I have her book, The Heirloom Tomato, on my radar now. Check these books out on Amazon—the photographs are exquisite still lifes; stunning in their simplicity. melons

Now I can identify those pumpkins, squashes and gourds that I photographed last fall here and here at Nalls Produce, a local plant and produce stand in Springfield, Virginia. Mind you, I have no room in a townhouse garden to grow melons or pumpkins, but these books are simply beautiful works of art, and informative too. How could I not add them to my library?

As you may have suspected, I’ll be posting more flower photographs from Longwood soon.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

bluerthanblueredux1


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Hmm. I don’t remember planting that.

16 10 2008

Honestly. Although I have been known to squeeze plants into every square inch of our gardens, I have no recollection of planting this one. I just noticed it blooming last Thursday. It looked familiar. It looked just like beautiful purple Ageratum, which I no longer even bother to grow. Why? It never thrives in any place I put it. It’s an annual. It looks terrible when it’s not in bloom. Yes, it’s beautiful on the nursery shelf. It’s a whole ‘nother thing when I add it to my garden. So each year when I’m out buying plants to fill all those imaginary holes in my garden, I put blinders on when I see that spectacular flash of purple-blue.

So I’m walking around the garden Thursday morning and see this familiar plant—the one I no longer purchase each year. Only this one is huge. Shrub-sized. It can’t be Ageratum. But it really looks a lot like Ageratum. When I was at Nalls Monday photographing baby Jonathan, I saw the same plant. The tag identified it as a Hardy Ageratum (Eupatorium Coelestinum). Hmmm. Didn’t know it even came in a non-annual, hardy version. Finally, an Ageratum that thrives despite neglect. I do not remember purchasing it. I do not remember planting it, either. Perhaps a garden fairy brought it here? A wayward Weedette from my Garden Club, looking for a caretaker for her overages? Anyway, here’s a photo of said plant—and yes, I am aware that this photo won’t win any awards.

By the way, in my online research I learned that although this plant’s common name comes from its remarkable resemblance to the annual Ageratum, it is not related to it. Hardy Ageratum prefers moist soil, and although it likes shade for most of the day, it will tolerate some sun. (I question that fact since it is thriving in full sun all day long in my garden!). Forming a clump about three feet tall, it begins to bloom in September. A member of the Aster family, it is a magnet for butterflies. How fortunate is that for this butterfly-crazed photographer?

P.S. I also read that, after a few years, it can expand aggressively via underground runners. Rut roh.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A penguin in the pumpkin patch

13 10 2008

This morning Amy and I went to Nalls Produce to photograph baby Jonathan in his Halloween costume in the pumpkin patch. Even though he wasn’t much in the mood to smile, we did get a few nice images. I love the third photo…look at that expression. That’s why they call him the “boy of a million faces!” Click here to see the first images I shot of him in late August.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





One more batch of pumpkins…

9 10 2008

Michael and I couldn’t resist…we headed back to Nall’s in the late afternoon yesterday to shoot some images without the harsh mid-day sunlight. I shot mostly abstract closeups of the unusual colored pumpkins and loads of various colored mums. We never knew there were this many different kinds of pumpkins in such an unusual array of colors….blue, brown, gray, purple-gray, verdigris green & blue, peach, forest green, green & orange, creamy white, charcoal gray, earthy browns. Amazing!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A plethora of pumpkins (squash and gourds, too)

5 10 2008

Yesterday, Michael and Regina and I went to Nalls Produce in Alexandria to see their huge assortment of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. We got there past the ideal shooting light and I shot most of these in the mid-day sun. Morning light would have been best, eliminating the hard shadows on some of the images, and intensifying the colors. I plan to go back to reshoot some of these for comparison later and will post the reshoot. All in all, I still like most of the images, despite the lighting. I especially want to get a good shot of BLUE pumpkins (which are actually a purple-grayish-blue)!

PUMPKINS
On the subject of pumpkins, did you know that Antarctica is the only continent where pumpkins won’t grow? While researching the myriad varieties of pumpkins, I also learned that:

• The Irish brought the tradition of pumpkin carving to America. The tradition originally started with carving turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins were plentiful and easier to carve.

• Pumpkins are 90 percent water and were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

• The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds and the largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs, and took six hours to make.

• The name pumpkin originated from “pepon”—the Greek word for “large melon.”

• Pumpkins are native to North America and have been domestically grown here for five thousand years.

Click here to see the extensive list of the variety of pumpkins that are grown.

For some really sophisticated and very imaginative patterns, check out Martha Stewart‘s site.

Check out Tom Nardone’s www.extremepumpkins.com site for all things pumpkin (including “pumpkin pyrotechnics!)

GOURDS
Wouldn’t you just know it, there is an American Gourd Society! It is located in Kokomo, Indiana. Learn everything you could ever want to know about gourds on the Wayne’s Word site. This site is dedicated to the gourd family and reports that the total number of species may exceed 700!

SQUASH
Nalls also had a wide variety of squash, both ornamental and edible. Click here for a squash glossary, recipes, and decorating ideas. Click here for more recipes and learn the difference between summer and winter squash.

Regina and I were really smitten with the beautiful variation of colors on the Indian corn. Click here to learn why the kernel colors vary in Indian corn.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.