Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Neither grass nor a pink

First of all, TPP has to thank the F1 for buying this plant for a Father's Day present.  Sadly it got savaged by a nocturnal visitor for no particular reason, but raccoons are like that.  The common name grass pink refers to two other plant families and it is neither, so much for common names.  This is an orchid native to this area, Calopogon tuberosa, the generic name refers to the yellow beard. Curiously most orchids are resupinate meaning that their flower stalk twists 180 degrees to turn the flower upside down, however this orchid flower is right side up. The slender leaf is slightly grassy, and the flower is pink, so there you go.

Garden come through - primavera

Some broccoli, a cup or so of snap peas, some asparagus, and for good measure a handful of golden chantarelles, not enough of any one thing but altogether they make for quite a good pasta primavera. And you never ever see chantarelles in a store in the USA, so quite a treat.   

Friday Fabulous Flower - Last Magnolia of the Season

It has been a pretty good year for Magnolias; no late frosts and plenty of rain, almost too much.  When the gardens finally get to June, the Magnolias are just about done flowering, except for the sweet bay, Magnolia virginiana.  In our area this species never grows into a full-fledged tree and generally grows as a largish shrub. Some genotypes have trouble with the winter cold so choose your nursery well, preferably to your north.  Ours does not produce a big floral display, but rather a few flowers at a time, and you are more likely to notice their stunning fragrance than their visual display.  The floral odor is a sort of musky fruity fermenty mix that little beetles just love.

Friday Fabulous Flowers - Calycanthus

These are presently in flower in the Phactors' garden, and according to some they are all in the same genus - Calycanthus.  The maroon  colored flower in the upper left is the Carolina spicebush, C. floridus, which TPP has taken apart for you. The upper right was originally Sinocalycanthus (featured here before) but is now considered part of the same genus (it was hard to imagine an eastern Asian eastern North American disjunction).  And the bottom flower, trying hard to look like a star magnolia, is their hybrid offspring called "Venus".  It's a largish, scrambling type of shrub that flowers like crazy for several weeks.  Another selection has a maroon flower, but the ivory one shows up better.  All three survived a very tough winter.  Enjoy.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - rare? orchid edition

While taking a small group of friends on a wild flower walk, this little beauty was found just a couple of feet from the foot path along with a dozen or more plants.  This is often called the purple twayblade orchid, Liparis liliifolia.  And then a friend asked, "Is it rare?  I've never seen one before." that is a fairly interesting question.  This is a small plant usually just a few inches across the pair of leaves and maybe standing 5-6 inches tall in a much taller meadow-type habitat, and the flowers certainly are not gaudy or bright enough to attract much attention.  The fact is that TPP doesn't know how common or uncommon this orchid may be, but one suspects it is more common than you might guess because it is insignificant and easy to miss.  In an old field meadow, a vegetational analysis found one of 3 species of small orchid (Flora of Comlara Park has pictures) at the rate of at least one for every 5 square meters examined.  But even then just walking through the meadow would not result in seeing anything without being very careful.  These little plants were in plain site but TPP had walked by earlier and missed them.  And if deer are plentiful (they are) and bunnies are common (even with foxes around they are), these orchid are subject to being browsed making them less common, but TPP has seen several others this spring, so maybe a good year?