Monday, November 18, 2019

Winter Morning Glory Variations

The past week has been filled with excitement as the three Japanese Morning Glory varieties I started back in August opened their first flowers! Except for 'Star of India', these are my last remaining plants out of all the ones I had last summer, thanks to the mischievous kitties! To save them, I've been growing them in another building that is heated but still chilly for Ipomoea nil, which is native to tropical America. As a result, the flowers have been somewhat stunted. The first to open was this 'Hanafubuki'. The flowers are supposed to be pink with white blizzard markings and very large, but mine have been tiny (about one-inch diameter) and solid pink. It's pretty but I couldn't help being a little disappointed since this was one I've been most excited about. Thankfully I still have some seeds left so I can try again in warmer weather next summer! 😊

Next to open was 'Blue Silk'  ('Akatsuki no Tsuyu' in Japanese). These flowers are normally blue and white with very pretty markings that remind me of watercolors (click on the links to see pictures of the "correct" colorings for these varieties! 😁). Anyway, this one opened in the evening which was a surprise in itself...and it was bright pink! By morning it had started changing to blue and it stayed open all day, fading back to pink before it closed!

A second flower opened yesterday. It was mostly blue with a few pink streaks, but I was busy all day and didn't get a chance to photograph it until evening. By that time it had changed to a lovely violet color!

'Midnight Illusion' also bloomed yesterday. The flowers were quite twisted and didn't open fully, which I'm also blaming on the cold temps, but at least it was the right color!  😁 I was expecting some kind of pattern instead of a solid color, but I've been told that this variety is quite variable anyway. We'll see what happens with this one next summer too!

But the flower that awaited me on 'Blue Silk' this morning really took my breath away! 💙

I've been watching it closely all day, curious to see whether the color would change to blue or pink this time! Here it is at about 11:30 AM...

And at 3:30! 😁

No wonder growing Japanese Morning Glories is so addicting! The surprises are endless! 😊

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Frost Spirit

He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes!
You may trace his footsteps now
On the naked woods and the blasted fields
And the brown hill's withered brow.
He has smitten the leaves of the gray old trees
Where their pleasant green came forth,
And the winds, which follow wherever he goes,
Have shaken them down to earth.

He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes!
From the frozen Labrador,
From the icy bridge of the northern seas,
Which the white bear wanders o'er,
Where the fisherman's sail is stiff with ice,
And the luckless forms below
In the sunless cold of the lingering night
Into marble statues grow!

He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes!
On the rushing Northern blast,
And the dark Norwegian pines have bowed
As his fearful breath went past.
With an unscorched wing he has hurried on,
Where the fires of Hecla glow
On the darkly beautiful sky above
And the ancient ice below.

He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes!
And the quiet lake shall feel
The torpid touch of his glazing breath,
And ring to the skater's heel;
And the streams which danced on the broken rocks,
Or sang to the leaning grass,
Shall bow again to their winter chain,
And in mournful silence pass.

He comes, - he comes, - the Frost Spirit comes!
Let us meet him as we may,
And turn with the light of the parlor-fire
His evil power away;
And gather closer the circle 'round,
When the firelight dances high,
And laugh at the shriek of the baffled Fiend
As his sounding wing goes by!
                                     ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Monday, November 11, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Withered Flowers

I send you a decrepit flower
That nature sent to me
At parting — she was going south
And I designed to stay —
Her motive for the souvenir
If sentiment for me
Or circumstances prudential
Withheld invincibly —
                                  ~Emily Dickinson

The past several days have been below freezing with snow flurries and a stiff breeze that doesn't want to quit. Now we have a Winter Storm Warning in effect for tonight and tomorrow with 7-12 inches of snow expected and then our first below zero (F) temperatures. Surprisingly, there were quite a few flowers still doing their best to bloom right up to the first of the month, but the cold and wind pretty much finished them off. Still, when I heard that Cathy at Rambling in the Garden was celebrating the 6th anniversary of IAVOM today, I decided to go out and see if I could find anything. No fresh flowers perhaps, but I found the Tansy and Calendulas still doing their best, although sadly wilted. 

But at this time of year even a wilted flower is precious, so I gathered a handful. Instead of putting them in a vase, however, I tucked them away into books to press and save for even colder days to come. 

Many thanks to Cathy for hosting IAVOM all these years! It has been an encouragement to so many and a beautiful way to start off the week!  😊

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Last Walk in Autumn

O'er the bare woods, whose outstretched hands
Plead with the leaden heavens in vain,
I see, beyond the valley lands,
The sea's long level dim with rain.
Around me all things, stark and dumb,
Seem praying for the snows to come,
And, for the summer bloom and greenness gone,
With winter's sunset lights and dazzling morn atone.

 Along the river's summer walk,
The withered tufts of asters nod;
And trembles on its arid stalk
The boar plume of the golden-rod.
And on a ground of sombre fir,
And azure-studded juniper,
The silver birch its buds of purple shows,
And scarlet berries tell where bloomed the sweet wild-rose!

With mingled sound of horns and bells,
A far-heard clang, the wild geese fly,
Storm-sent, from Arctic moors and fells,
Like a great arrow through the sky,
Two dusky lines converged in one,
Chasing the southward-flying sun;
While the brave snow-bird and the hardy jay
Call to them from the pines, as if to bid them stay.

 I passed this way a year ago
The wind blew south; the noon of day
Was warm as June's; and save that snow
Flecked the low mountains far away,
And that the vernal-seeming breeze
Mocked faded grass and leafless trees,
I might have dreamed of summer as I lay,
Watching the fallen leaves with the soft wind at play.

Since then, the winter blasts have piled
The white pagodas of the snow
On these rough slopes, and, strong and wild,
Yon river, in its overflow
Of spring-time rain and sun, set free,
Crashed with its ices to the sea;
And over these gray fields, then green and gold,
The summer corn has waved, the thunder's organ rolled.

Rich gift of God! A year of time
What pomp of rise and shut of day,
What hues wherewith our Northern clime
Makes autumn's dropping woodlands gay,
What airs outblown from ferny dells,
And clover-bloom and sweetbrier smells,
What songs of brooks and birds, what fruits and flowers,
Green woods and moonlit snows, have in its round been ours!

I know not how, in other lands,
The changing seasons come and go;
What splendors fall on Syrian sands,
What purple lights on Alpine snow!
Nor how the pomp of sunrise waits
On Venice at her watery gates;
A dream alone to me is Arno's vale,
And the Alhambra's halls are but a traveller's tale.

Yet, on life's current, he who drifts
Is one with him who rows or sails
And he who wanders widest lifts
No more of beauty's jealous veils
Than he who from his doorway sees
The miracle of flowers and trees,
Feels the warm Orient in the noonday air,
And from cloud minarets hears the sunset call to prayer!

The eye may well be glad that looks
Where Pharpar's fountains rise and fall;
But he who sees his native brooks
Laugh in the sun, has seen them all.
The marble palaces of Ind
Rise round him in the snow and wind;
From his lone sweetbrier Persian Hafiz smiles,
And Rome's cathedral awe is in his woodland aisles.

Then ask not why to these bleak hills
I cling, as clings the tufted moss,
To bear the winter's lingering chills,
The mocking spring's perpetual loss.
I dream of lands where summer smiles,
And soft winds blow from spicy isles,
But scarce would Ceylon's breath of flowers be sweet,
Could I not feel thy soil, New England, at my feet!

At times I long for gentler skies,
And bathe in dreams of softer air,
But homesick tears would fill the eyes
That saw the Cross without the Bear.
The pine must whisper to the palm,
The north-wind break the tropic calm;
And with the dreamy languor of the Line,
The North's keen virtue blend, and strength to beauty join.
                                                                        ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Hazel Blossoms

  The summer warmth has left the sky, 
The summer songs have died away; 
And, withered, in the footpaths lie 
The fallen leaves, but yesterday 
With ruby and with topaz gay.

  The grass is browning on the hills;
No pale, belated flowers recall
The astral fringes of the rills,
And drearily the dead vines fall,
Frost-blackened, from the roadside wall.     

Yet through the gray and sombre wood,
  Against the dusk of fir and pine,
Last of their floral sisterhood,
  The hazel’s yellow blossoms shine,
  The tawny gold of Afric’s mine!         

Small beauty hath my unsung flower,
  For spring to own or summer hail;
But, in the season’s saddest hour,
  To skies that weep and winds that wail,
Its glad surprisals never fail.

  O days grown cold! O life grown old!
  No rose of June may bloom again;
But, like the hazel’s twisted gold,
  Through early frost and latter rain
Shall hints of summer-time remain.
And as within the hazel’s bough
  A gift of mystic virtue dwells,
That points to golden ores below,
And in dry desert places tells
     Where flow unseen the cool, sweet wells,—         

   So, in the wise Diviner’s hand,
  Be mine the hazel’s grateful part
  To feel, beneath a thirsty land,
The living waters thrill and start,
            The beating of the rivulet’s heart!         

Sufficeth me the gift to light
With latest bloom the dark, cold days;
To call some hidden spring to sight
That, in these dry and dusty ways,
Shall sing its pleasant song of praise.  

O Love! the hazel-wand may fail,
But thou canst lend the surer spell,
That, passing over Baca’s vale,
Repeats the old-time miracle,
And makes the desert-land a well.
                                           ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Fading Autumn

Th' autumnal glories all have passed away;
  The forest-leaves no more in hectic red
Give glowing tokens of their brief decay,
  But scattered lie, or rustle at the tread,
  Like whispered warnings from the mouldering dead;  

The naked trees stretch out their arms all day,
  And each bald hill-top lifts its reverend head
As if for some new covering to pray.

  Come, WINTER, then, and spread thy robe of white
Above the desolation of this scene;         
  And when the sun with gems shall make it bright,
Or, when its snowy folds by midnight’s queen
  Are silvered o’er with a serener light,
We ’ll cease to sigh for summer’s living green.
                                                         ~Mrs. E. C. Kinney

Friday, October 18, 2019

Time for Another Morning Glory Update!

It may be almost winter here, but I'm still enjoying some flowers! So far, 'Star of India' is still my best flower producer. I actually wished I'd waited until later in the day to publish my last MG post, because this flower really started to do some wonderful things as the day progressed! 

It was a chilly, drizzly day, and by early afternoon I noticed that the flower was turning a bright pink where the raindrops landed! 

An hour or so later, it had changed color completely!


Since then I've had lots of beautiful surprises. Sometimes I've had as many as 10 flowers open in one morning! 

Every flower is unique...


The plants took up their permanent residence indoors a couple weeks ago. 

I am going to have to try growing Ipomoea pubescens again next summer. It doesn't seem to like being inside...despite having numerous buds, this was the only one to open, and it didn't even open fully! The rest of the buds have since dried up, although the plant still looks fairly healthy.  

Sadly, I don't have very good reports on most of the MG plants I started back in July. Many of them just seemed to sulk in the lower light conditions indoors and slowly faded away. But I don't regret the experiment because I've learned a lot and have a pretty good idea of what to do differently next time!  Perhaps, to thrive in low light conditions, the plants need to be grown that way from the start. 

I have had a few pretty flowers from 'Red Dragon Leaf' although I fear that today's is the last as Nastya has selected that particular pot to be her bed and the poor plant has really taken a beating! 

And who can get mad at her when she looks like this?? 😸

But I do have more good news! The second batch of MGs which I started in August, have been doing very well growing on a windowsill in another building, away from the pussies! So that's where they're going to stay, and most likely where I'll be raising my plants from now on, at least until (hopefully!) the Bengals settle down a bit!  These plants are less vigorous, having been grown mostly indoors, but the low light has already encouraged lots of budding! 

This morning I decided that 'Midnight Illusion' looked like a prime candidate for the Japanese pruning method, so I snipped back the vining stem. There are three buds left on the plant...I'm hoping they will all bloom at the same time, and be larger as a result of the pruning. Of course, after the bloom, I'll let the plant continue to grow and produce more buds! 

This has been a fun learning experience, and despite the disappointments, I feel like I'm making progress and hope to be enjoying these flowers all winter long!  😊