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On April 20 I started three kinds of grains for cat grass. Two days later, the wheat and rye are both up. I had my doubts about the hulled barley, but we'll see. Two days isn't really very long, after all.

Today I also harvested the other Hippeastrum seedpod, this one from a cross of 'Apple Blossom' and 'Gervase." I must say that this one isn't promising either -- that although they're full size, the seeds aren't that nice dark color I associate with viable embryos. But we'll see. They have nice bumps at the center and the bumps are dark. I'll dry them for a week and then try the soaking method of germination. Either it will work or it won't.

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I'm happy to have gotten some work done the past two mornings, and expect to put in a solid five or six hours today as well before I knock off for a bike ride. The Macy's Flower Show runs till tomorrow, but for me it's over: I photographed Bill Schaffer's arrangement yesterday. I begged off the shoot of the work-in-progress Wednesday night. After doing Michael Bruce's, I was wiped out the next day (and in fact I think being so tired contributed to the lapse in judgment that caused the comic bike crash) and didn't want to repeat the mistake. Bill and Christian took some point and shoot photos and also a video, which made me a little sorry I missed it.

So here's the Macy's flowery goodness for your enjoyment:

On the windowsills, etc.:
  • I have a pineapple top rooting in a jar of water (plunged into the water yesterday)
  • I have more tarragon seedlings than I know what to do with
  • My Schlumbergera seedlings, planted last spring, have put out a number of full-sized leaves so I think that potting on will be called for very soon
  • H. 'papilio' x 'emerald' is still showing a fine seedpod and a robust stalk leading up to it so I don't think it will abort. It's starting to show signs that it's going to ripen and split any day now
  • H. 'appleblossom' x 'gervase' is likewise maturing nicely
  • H. 'supermarket' x 'papilio' looks a little puny but the stalk is still robust so I don't think it's aborting. Ditto for 'trader joe' x 'papilio'
  • H. 'trader joe' x 'gervase,' class of 2011, has survived its potting on although some bulbs are sulking and leaves are yellowing -- but only one per bulb and I see some new leaves coming up
  • the scrap of Dodo's Nopalxochia that I picked up doesn't look terribly promising, but then it also doesn't look any worse than it did two weeks ago, so I'm not giving up on it
  • I pulled up four seedling maples (cotyledons plus one set of true leaves) from the ground around a little grove of dwarf cut-leaf maples by the Horticulture Center. Two of them show absolutely no signs of shock

I am wondering whether any of my hardy hibiscus have germinated yet, but that means a trip to the basement. Perhaps later.
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I have finally finished editing my Flower Show photos and uploading to Flickr. In what is surely an abundance of overkill, I have included 761 photos. This does not include the 300-plus photos from setup week, nor does it include Roy's photos, which still remain to be edited.

I like it as a slide show, to be accompanied by lovely music and a glass of wine, and perhaps a bit of needlework. It runs about an hour:

And I finished just in time, too -- the Macy's Flower Show opens tomorrow. Not as big a deal, but I do want to get some shots. The theme this year is Brazil, and the plant list looks suspiciously like Hawaii leftovers.

With no photo editing to do today, I'm turning my attention to seed starting and seedling potting on. First step is soaking all my containers in bleach. Once they've been sterilized and dried, I'll start some marigold seeds...pot up some basil, marjoram, parsley, and thyme seedlings in individual market pack cells...and finally cull the Class of 2011 and pot on the 15-20 robust of the 50-plus seedlings.

Today is the much-feared Day 28 for the 'papilio' x 'emerald' seed pod. If a pod is going to abort, it generally does it by Day 28, and mine looks fine. Next hurdle, some time in the next 10 days, is seeing if I got real seed or just chaff. Other developing pods (pollinated March 7 and March 19) still look promising.

Earlier today I opened the plastic bag containing the canna roots I dug up last fall and left in the unheated Anderson House. They're putting out roots and shoots. The sansevieria I left out there has apparently given up the ghost, although the volunteer spider plant that was in the pot oddly enough has not. I think I'll cut back the sansevieria foliage, water the pot and see what happens. One leaf still has some life in it, so I may take a cutting -- I've never tried that, but there's a first time for everything.
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There's a long day stretching ahead of me with no trips to the Convention Center. Oh, I could go over and watch the tear-down, but that's mostly a bunch of sweaty guys moving tons of mulch, pavers, and construction debris and cursing mightily as they load 25' palms into trucks to go to greenhouses etc. It's pretty sad.

I scored a pineapple plant (no idea how to care for it, but I'll figure it out), two sprays of dendrobium, one treated with ammonium sulfate to turn it improbable colors, and a sort of rusty-colored anthurium. Oh, and a piece of wedding cake from this happy couple:


Bill and Kris were married on the Show floor Wednesday night, and the reality TV guy "The Cake Boss" provided the cake. There was a sheet cake for the Wednesday night reception, but the real cake remained on display until the Show closed, when Kris cut it for some of their friends (including Roy and me). She had forgotten to get forks, though, and the cake was replete with chocolate mousse filling, so it was messy. But good. Much more flowery goodness will be posted after I do some real work.

Meanwhile, on the windowsills: both seedpods on 'papilio' are swelling, although they've been known to grow and grow and then abort, or mature but produce only chaff. Downstairs neither of my cross-pollination experiments is clearly successful (this was 'Gervase' x 'Apple Blossom' and vice versa). Perhaps that's just as well, because I'm out of windowsill space. Meanwhile, one late bloomer from the class of 2006, one of the ones I was going to discard, is showing promise of being the pick of the litter. Just goes to show...

All my test herbs have done well, so I may try potting some of them along and growing them out as my backyard herbs for the season. Swiss chard did well, too, but I had it in such a wee pot that it died of thirst during the Flower Show.

Roy is now infected with Flower Show Fever and will be working next year's Show.
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LJ entries will resume when life eases up. Right now I'm having too much fun.

(But I need to remember that Apple Blossom opened up 2/28 and Exotica today, with Gervase about ready to pop. I think I detect swelling of the ovaries in H. papilio, too. And also: 5 of the 10 swiss chard seeds have sprouted so far. I don't need to buy any seeds this year, except maybe for some marigolds.]
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My Hippeastrum 'papilio' is almost open for business -- the ladyparts of the first flower are beginning to loosen up and by tomorrow or the next day ought to be receptive. I'll be torn because once I pollinate the plant the flowers will wither immediately, whereas I could probably eke out a couple more days otherwise. Of course, it may not self-pollinate. Some clones do, I'm told, and some don't. I also have pollen from Hippeastrum 'emerald' (not 'evergreen,' as I thought) coming from a friend in Indianapolis. Emerald doesn't look as green as 'evergreen.' Here's a link to a Flickr photo showing 'evergreen' and 'emerald' side by side. There's some color variation in 'emerald' -- some are pinker and some are greener. I hope Rebecca's 'emerald' is more on the green side.

At any rate, here is my 'papilio' in all her back-lit glory.


I've been looking at my other Hippeastrums with a more optimistic eye. Neither the 'Gervase' nor the 'Apple Blossom' appear to be seriously affected by the virus. The Trader Joe NOID, on the other hand, has streaked and deformed leaves, possibly because of the stress of childbearing three of the past six years. All the children look streaky.

More thyme and windowsill basil are up. Pesto basil is still not. I have forgotten to proof any Rainbow chard but will do so today.

I have four dozen springerle molded and ready to go into the oven but will post no pictures as they would add no new information to my LJ. I took a step backwards and did the 100% canonical flavoring -- the zest of one lemon and a cookie sheet sprinkled with anise seed. The oven is warming and I'll be popping them in directly.

Today is Roy's birthday, but he had to go out of town, not to come back till tomorrow. We've agreed that the date for Roy's Birthday Observed will be Saturday, and I am looking for a restaurant that is 1) not the Union League; 2) a maker of fearsome Manhattans; 3) good with seafood; 4) not a place we've gone to repeatedly.
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Both 'papilio' blooms are mostly open. They should be fully-deployed by tomorrow. I've been taking pictures every day and iwll post another tomorrow.

Around the base of the 'papilio' are several dozen seedlings. I had taken out my saved herb seed packets to see what I had, and I dropped them on the kitchen counter, creating a commingled spillage. Sigh. So I gathered them up and sprinkled them on the 'papilio' pot. A couple of them are parsley. Most of them aren't.

A week ago today I also sowed some test seeds of my two kinds of basil and some thyme. A few thyme are up today. No sign of the basil yet, but I think they will want the full ten days on my chilly windowsill.

I am down to my last four springerle from the last batch, except for the dozen or so I kept to take to my son in April. So I have butter softening in the oven (the pilot light keeps it in the 90s there) and eggs warming on the kitchen counter. All the other ingredients, except for the milk-hartshorn mixture, are measured and ready to go. Almond was interesting, but I'm ready to return to the classic anise seed and lemon rind flavoring.
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One flower on the second scape of 'gervase' is collapsing. (It's the one I pollinated...) The pollinated ovary on the first scape continues to swell. Its stem is green and fat -- the stems of the other three are shriveling and turning brown. I begin to believe we have achieved pollination, but I've seen false pregnancies on Hippeastrum before.

The parsley seedlings looked light-starved, so I took them out back.

Most of the marjoram has bounced back from its transplanting.

And also -- last night sitting at the computer I found myself feeling most uncomfy. So I looked at the thermometer. It was 78F. And the room was muggy because it's full of plants. Eeeuw. I am *so* not ready to put on the air conditioning.
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Yesterday I thought I noticed a slight swelling in the ovary of the fertilized 'gervase.' I also noticed that the girly bits of that one had shriveled and all but fallen off.

Today the swelling is much more pronounced. I cut off the old and tired flowers -- but left all the ovaries on for comparison.

I don't see any swelling in the ovary of the second flower, on the second scape, that I tried to pollinate, but maybe that won't happen until later.

Today I took one of the market packs of marjoram seedlings and planted them in a big pot outside. It is supposed to stay warm for the next several days -- if it turns cold I'll bring the pot indoors.

Roy has become very much invested in this process, wandering out to survey our little Blanchard Utopia several times a day.

Our grand-daughter arrives on Wednesday, so we've been doing some cleaning -- bathrooms and kitchens and we changed the sheets on her bed. Two steps forward and one step back, though -- when I opened the refrigerator door this evening a huge chunk of the plastic lining fell out. Part of it held one of the shelves, so things went clattering to the floor. I can't believe that glass jars met the ceramic tile floor without anything breaking. So we will have to go refrigerator shopping, bleah.
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Two blooms of the second 'Exotica' scape have opened and mine eyes do spy a *third* stalk coming up -- it's about three inches tall now. Because the stalks are coming up in sequence like this I won't get the all-at-once showy display, but that's okay -- I'll get a mid- or late-April bonus.

The girly bits of the one 'gervase' I pollinated with 'apple blossom' pollen have completely shriveled and died, but I think I detect a swelling in the ovary. All four blossoms on the second scape are open. There's no sudden collapse of the blossom I tried to pollinate with superannuated 'apple blossom' pollen, but it's early days yet. Downstairs, the Class of 2006 has two representatives blooming or about to. Neither is particularly exciting, but they *are* my firstborn, so I'll probably keep them.

The Class of 2009, recently transplanted, has a bit of a case of yellowing leaves. They don't especially like being transplanted when they're not dormant, so it's probably just a shocky reaction while their roots re-establish. Another few weeks and they go outdoors to soak up the sunshine.

Nopalxochia is putting on quite a show in one corner but will be winding down this week, I think, except for two or three outliers.

Thyme is germinating beyond my wildest dreams -- I can't count the number of pinhead seedlings, but it's a heap more than I need. I see the first parsleys today, too -- four or five of them. The surface-sown seeds of the impatiens are plumping up and showing tiny white swellings at the corners, so I expect to have an abundance of them as well. All in all, I will probably have more plants than back yard.

In non-gardening news, Roy and I went to see Alice in Wonderland on the big screen. We both found the high level of the audio intensely painful. I had earplugs in my bag, but only one set; Roy fabricated some out of toilet paper. Thus insulated somewhat from the assault on our eardrums, we liked the film very much. Roy commented on our ride home that he thinks we would have missed a lot of the effect if we'd waited for the DVD.

Thyme's up!

Apr. 2nd, 2010 01:09 pm
lblanchard: (Default)
That was fast. I sowed the thyme seeds March 28 and counted nine little seedlings this morning. The packet says germination in 14-21 days.

I now have a new technique for Very Small Seeds:

  1. scatter them on the surface of soaking wet potting mixture in a cut-down 1 gal milk jug
  2. put more potting mixture into a colander and shake over the surface to cover the seeds -- barely (only the fine stuff makes it through the holes so the seeds aren't suffocated by big honking chunks of wood chips or whatever crap Miracle-gro puts in its potting mixture)
  3. set top of milk jug loosely on top of bottom and place in sunny windowsill.

In other news, Roy says he's going to break up the last little nubbin of concrete on his hit list some time today. I think I'll plant my undistinguished sedums there.

Other windowsill news: I don't see any ovarian swelling on the 'gervase' flower I pollinated, but I do see that its girly bits have collapsed, whereas the girly bits of the others are still standing up. Also, that flower rolled up a lot faster than any of the others did. Since the first flower of the second stalk was sort of open, I took a chance at pollinating it with what's left on the collapsing Apple Blossom. Photos should be taken, I guess...

EDIT: I biked about 9 miles today and was pretty tired at the end of it. Roy did indeed break up the concrete but I couldn't muster the energy to plant the sedums.

Flower Show

Mar. 3rd, 2010 08:43 am
lblanchard: (Default)
I spent eight hours on the Show Floor yesterday in a split shift and I am taking the day (mostly) off from the show to recover. Also, it's about time I paid a little more attention to my Day Job.

I didn't see [ profile] clindau's message in time to send greetings to my sister, but will do so at my next opportunity.

In other news, I have discovered that my desktop machine positively refuses to acknowledge the existence of the SD-MMC card. However, the ASUS happily reads it. Thus, I can do a clunky workaround -- SD-MMC card in the slot, external hard drive in the USB port, and transfer. I hope. I shot a video last night, with no clue what I was doing, and we'll see how that went.

I have good germination on my marjoram, thirteen buds on the Nopalxochia, and a second flower stalk emerging from the Hippeastrum 'exotica.'

EDIT: And I spy a second bud amid the leaves on the 'gervase." Whee!

My final tour day has been changed from Thursday to Friday. This will make the time with the artistic and horticultural classes much more interesting -- there will be judging going on in both areas. It also means, I think, that my new day off, Thursday, will be a day on which absolutely nothing is going on in those areas so I'll have a free hand to photograph to my heart's content, but no free coffee.

In other news, I uploaded my niece's photos to one of my servers so that she can grab them if she wants them before I mail the CD to her. Also...the *picture* quality on the video I shot is fabulous. The technical/artistic quality, not so much.
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I've now set the alarm for 5:30 and woke up at 5:00, thanks to my loathing for the station on which I set the clock radio. I was fully dressed and groomed and could have walked out the door at 5:45 if I had wanted to.

The bike run to the PathMark yesterday was wonderful! I felt like school had let out for the weekend. Once I make the turn on to Grays Ferry Avenue I'm virtually assured 1/2 mile of uninterrupted road, all on the level, whee! Also, there were bargains. For $100 I got enough groceries that I had to tell Roy to hop on his bike and come meet me -- I had exceeded my six bag limit and the stuff was too heavy for the handlebar treatment in any case. In fact, once I'd gotten home my arm muscles were all limp from controlling the steering!

Amazon says my Nikon shipped and should be here tomorrow, along with the aftermarket book and the battery recharger. The SD card will take a little longer. I have no obligations outside the house, so I can wait at home for UPS all day, whee!

There are lots of suggestive bumps on the Nopalxochia. I am guessing that when the bumps start to turn green it's a sign that they will become something. If I'm right, this year's bloom will be comfortably in the double digits. Whee!

It's Roy's birthday today and for his special birthday dinner he asked for....meat loaf! So the PathMark run included the acquisition of ground beef, ground veal, ground pork and ground lamb. Also brussels sprouts. Whee again!

EDIT: I bought three packs of Burpee seeds at the PathMark yesterday: marjoram, parsley, and moonflower vine. I started the marjoram this morning -- those seeds are awfully tiny! Tonight I'll put the parsley in to soak, and tomorrow I'll start them.


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