Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tulips and other flowers of mid-spring

I was so happy to see the tulips actually get a chance to bloom this year instead of being eaten by deer that I took lots of photographs. There are plenty of other flowers that have been blooming over the past 10 days or so, and I didn't completely neglect them with the camera.

First, the tulips. Most of these photos were actually taken last weekend. Unfortunately, tulips are not very long-lasting flowers once they open, and virtually all of the flowers pictured here have dropped all of their petals. Today I clipped off a lot of the flower heads, because bare flower heads after the petals fall off look rather unattractive (in my opinion), plus if they actually produce seeds, this will use some of the sugar and other nutrients that the plants live on. If they don't produce seeds, more of the nutrients will go down into the bulb, resulting in a larger plant next year. Or so I've heard - I probably should check more closely to see if I'm wasting my time!

These first two pictures are two views of the same tulip. It is the only one with this color combination in the garden - I especially like the combination of colors when the flower is backlit.

Red and white striped tulip with colors that remind me of a candy cane. (It doesn't take much to remind me of one kind of junk food or another.) These I like how the outer "petals" flare out like little tongues. (The "outer petals" are actually sepals in tulips. For many kinds of flowers, the sepals are the green lobes that make up the outer covering of the flower before it opens, and which usually shrivel up or become inconspicuous after the flower opens and the petals come out. In tulips, however, the sepals change color to match the petals as the flower starts to open, and remain an important part of the flower until they drop off around the same time as the petals.)

Pinkish tulip with a lighter central area and sepals that flare out somewhat less than the previous flower.

Large yellow tulip with dark center - and a small spider crawling on the right side.

A tulip of the same type as the previous, except with a single red stripe.

Some type of pale blue iris - as you may have noticed, I'm not good at remembering the names of different varieties or cultivars! All I know is that I got this at a local garden club sale, and that it is a short variety, with the the flowers no more than 6-8 inches above the ground and the leaves not much taller.

A closeup of the flowers of an azalea or dwarf rhododendron (I can't remember which) in front of the house. Notice the bee at work gathering nectar from the flower in the center - I believe this is a honey bee.

A broader view of the same azalea along the walkway to the front door of Dad's house (the house where I spent most of my childhood and have lived for some of my adult years as well.)

A cluster of pink tulips, with some white and red tulips in front of them (kind of washed out from the late afternoon sunlight glaring off the white flowers). The pale blue irises are at upper left, further from the camera than the tulips - you can see how they are pretty short.

An azalea bush with reddish flowers to the left, pink and mixed pink and white tulips to the right. There are a mix of lower-growing plants, including a few blue anemones to the left, a few purplish grape hyacinths to the right, the plant with the gray-colored foliage whose name I can never remember, and a bunch of lily-of-the valley sprouting just about everywhere it can. (Lily of the Valley spreads itself all too well by underground runners. Mom planted it years ago against her better judgment in a location a few feet to the left of the left edge of this photo, and surrounded it with a plastic barrier 6 inches deep to prevent it from spreading as recommended in the garden books. This worked for 2 or 3 years, but then its underground runners found some little breach and it has been spreading to a wider part of the garden each year.)

A patriotic grouping of flowers - red azalea bush, white candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), and blue anemones.

A nice ensemble photo, with 5 colors of tulip (multiple pinks and purples, 2 white with a little red, and a single solid red and single pale-pink/yellow) growing along with bleeding hearts (background), candytuft (lower left), and yellow alyssum (right). An azalea bush is just above the alyssum, but this one has not started to flower yet.

Pink, purple, and red tulips again, along with bleeding hearts and alyssum, and the pale blue irises (which were hidden behind another some of the tulips in the previous picture.)

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