Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - More red, redder, redest

A modest heat wave has turned a bit cooler, but still no rain for nearly 3 weeks.  Plants are very dry.  TPP has no choice but to water certain plants.  The big-leaf Magnolias, a newish Cephalotaxus, a struggling double file hydrangea.  However a couple of well established perennials or biennials were doing surprisingly well: several big blue Lobelias and very red Lobelia.  Usually the latter is associated with some moist places, but this plant is just in a typical enough mixed bed.  Lobelia cardinalis is just not a plant TPP has much luck with.  
Recently TPP told you that a Silene was about as red a flower as you can get, but forgot about this Lobelia.  And the hummngbirds love it.  

Gardening during time of plague - Chapter 4

TPP is retired so avoiding the university campus where Covid cases are increasing was not  a tough thing; but hanging out at home is getting a bit old.  The garden produce is keeping us well fed with fresh tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, and zucchini with lots of basil.  Baby bok choi and lettuce have germinated for a fall crop.  And again some hot weather and drought have returned.  Water bill will be high again.  
Home improvement is our means of keeping people working during the ecomomic plague and it is also the season when nothing seen or heard is to be trusted.  It's going to be a long fall and TPP is so tired of this administration.  Can barely find the energy to say that the WH rose garden needed some work, but who ever did the planning has no sense of the garden aesthetic.  Bland would be TPP's assessment.  But the current occupants are not the sort of people who have a well developed aesthetic, and certainly this is the least of my concerns.  Botany is an international field and TPP is tired of apologizing for our country's bone-headed attitude.  Leadership is a terrible thing to squander. 
One gets the impression that our government wants us to be afraid, but neither god nor guns makes for safety although some people seem to think so.  Stupid conspiracy theories are favorites of the gullible. Saw a well-dressed young gentleman who sign proclaimed that he thought socialism sucks.  Personally libraries and public schools certainly don't suck that badly.  Hope his graduation depends on his understanding of socialism.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - Meadow rue

Well, another busy weekend kept TPP away from his laptop, so the FFF is late again.  A few late summer plants are flowering to provide a bit of choice.  Perhaps the most visually appealing are the magic lilies, the naked ladies, or whatever you call them are a late summer amaryllis and our gardens have hundreds of them in flower.  The leaves come up in the early spring along with the narcissi. But then they die down and provide no hint of the flowering to come.  Then in the first week of August, clumps of flowering stems shoot up 30 or so inches tall and bear an umbel of big pink flowers.  
Hidden in plain view are lesser flowers, and one of them is a meadow rue, a member of the buttercup family in the genus Thalictrum (the species is uncertain, maybe T. rochebrunianum).  The individual flowers are quite small, but the plant bears a spray of hundreds.  The colored parts are either anthers or bracts (in this case, surrounding quite a few stamens.). Ours were being visited by emerald green orchard bees.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - catch-fly

Today's, yesterday's, FFF is sure to add a splotch of color to your garden primarily because this is the reddest flower we have.  It tends to flower just after the mid-summer flowering doldrums, so it's bright red flowers are most welcome.  A friend walking through our gardens spotted the flowers and reached over to pull the plant a bit closer, and discovered first hand one of the more interesting common names, catchfly.  The entire aerial parts of the plant are covered in glandular hairs making it discustingly sticky.  Small insects do get trapped in the goo.  This is Silene regia, the so-called royal catchfly.  This is as close to a trouble free perennial that you can get.