September 26, 2018

Remember the Sunflowers


In the middle of winter, I'll come back to this post.

The Sunflowers in my part of the world were so strikingly beautiful and lush this year ... for several weeks in late August through mid-September. I don't remember this being the case in past years, but maybe I just wasn't as observant then.

monarch 1

Most are faded now, but for several weeks the bright yellows of these giants were favored nectaring stops for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. During several hikes in the area, I came across Maximilian or Prairie Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani), with prominent bracts behind the flowers and nearly toothless leaves; the very similar Sawtooth Sunflowers (H. grosseserratus), which have slightly more serrated leaves and a hairless stem; Giant Sunflowers (H. giganteus), with dark brown anther appendages on the flowers, and Jerusalem Artichokes (H. tuberosus), with their broader and more textured leaves.

I've included just a few images here. I went a little overboard: If you want to see more, you can click on any image and browse through, or you can visit my Flickr feed.










monarch 2


I'm linking this post to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme over at Clay and Limestone. Thanks for hosting, Gail!

September 03, 2018

Playing With Colors and Vases

pink just open

I'm new to growing Dahlias, and I'm pleased with final outcome. They're certainly dramatic and colorful, aren't they?

yellow opening

I was getting impatient because it seemed like it was taking forever for them to bloom. Now that they've shown their faces, I'm thrilled. I can't tell you what specific varieties I have, because they were labeled "decorative mixed." I'm growing them in pots, with plenty of stakes because they're tall and branching--I didn't want them to blow over in the wind.

The first two to bloom (a fuchsia and a medium yellow) seemed warm and deeply colored.


I thought they'd work as very colorful companions with the yellow and fuchsia of 'Zowie' Yellow Flame Zinnia. It's hard to see here, but Zowie has a fuchsia-colored ring near the center.


So I lined them up in bud vases and played around with the vases and the flowers. It worked until the Dahlias began to fade to pastel tones.

tithonia & zinnia

At that point, I clipped a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) as a companion for the warm Zowie.

yellow graceful

The yellow took its time opening, as if it was shy and afraid to show its face. I liked it in all its stages.

yellow still shy

I especially like it here, in the aqua vase, with just a "lock" of a petal draping over its "eye" or disc florets.

pink outside

The fuchsia faded to a bright, vibrant pink--equally at home out on the patio...

pink mellowing

Or in its little bud vase in the house. Do you see the lovely tinges of yellow at the bases of the petals. Dreamy, eh?

I don't know why it took me so long to grow Dahlias--I've enjoyed them as purchased or gifted cut flowers for years and years. All I know is that I will dig up these tubers after the growing season and plant them again next year. ... I'm in love.

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I'm linking this post to Cathy's In a Vase on Monday meme at Rambling in the Garden. My vases are very simple this time, but head on over to Cathy's blog to see creative cut-flower displays from around the world.