Sunday, January 06, 2008

Alabaster Trollius

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I have always been interested in meteorology but the closest I'll ever come to an honorary degree is an annual visit to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St Johnsbury. They have a great weather program called Eye on the Sky and give some very good lectures on weather. It's a museum to visit if you're in the area. A learned weather person would describe this morning as "overcast'" but I describe it as "the sky is heavy". The sun is absent and the gray cloud cover looks fuzzy and thick and the feeling outside is that some weather change is in process. The temperature has not budged from 29.7 when I got up at 5:30 and lacking a barometer I don't know how quickly the change is closing in. Eye On the Sky suggests things will warm up later and limited precipitation will fall.

Karl the wonder dog wanted to go out as soon as I got up so we got that out of the way early on. He kept pulling down the road towards Kim's house and then decided his feet were cold and he B-lined for the house. I am not particularly amused but being pulled around so early in the morning but I do like this dog although I regularly profess not to.

Gardeners that live in the same house are an interesting combination and they often talk in flower-speak that is confusing to everyone, themselves included. It's often a language that misses verbs and nouns and adverbs and similar things but it seems to be marginally understood so that life can go on. As the size of the gardener's gardens and gardening knowledge grows, so does the incidence of this type of communication.

Last night Gail and I were going to watch a movie that she has been looking for all year. Then we got into the start of the New Hampshire debates on ABC. The movie never made it out of the DVD case and I knew as soon as the Republican debate had finished that we were in for the duration.

This time of year Gail is always reading flower magazines or rechecking her orders. Somewhere along the way she mumbled "Got Alabaster." I later was reminded that she tried to say "Got Alabaster from Walters" but I never heard the last half. The debate had just finished up with a news clip of a man who woke up one day and said "I'm running for president" ABC showed him walking around Manchester NH speaking with people and I was immediately rewinding my short term memory to determine if his name was Alabaster.

What Gail was trying to say was that she had been trying to locate a trollius plant named 'Alabaster' for several years and until this year she hadn't been successful. This year Walters Gardens, a top-of-the-line wholesaler from Zeeland, Michigan, was offering the plant and Gail had received confirmation that what she ordered would be delivered. I obviously do not have a picture of this plant yet but if you go to Google Images and plug in Trollius 'Alabaster' you'll see what the mysterious plant looks like. (Some of the pictures are incorrectly labeled but the real 'Alabaster' should stand out).

I was happy to get through the conversation and will enjoy 'Alabaster'. So will all the customers who have been asking for it for years. It will probably sell out in a couple weeks and then we'll have to wait until we can either buy some more in or divide up those I line out this Spring. ......By the way, I still don't remember the name of the man who wanted to be president.

Trollius are a great plant. They are known as globe flower (also globeflower) and are Ranunculaceae if you travel that path. Wild buttercups that line rural roadways are part of the heritage. They are poisonous if eaten so go someplace else for supper or snacks. They grow well in heavy clay soils and can handle water. The perimeter of a bog garden or along a stream are good placements but they will grow well in full sun as they are planted here. They make excellent cut flowers and they will rebloom most years if you deadhead them as soon as the first flowers fade.

If you make it to our new location on Route 2 this summer, look around the large boulders in the daylily display garden that will parallel the road. You'll see some trollius there. They will be newly planted and small this year, probably only reaching 20" but next year they will represent mature plants and you'll really catch the reason we like them.

Time to get the newspapers. Be well and have a nice Sunday!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Northern Woodlands Magazine reminds me that I shouldn't expect to see more than the single pair of red breasted nuthatches that have been visiting the feeders. They are territorial birds and a pair defends up to ten acres. Check out this neat little bird at the Cornell Ornithology site.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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mw said...

I've been meaning to ask you: What camera do you use? The close-ups are fantabulous.

George Africa said...

Hello mw;

Apologies for not responding to your question. It had been a while since I visited Waterboro (Maine, folks!) Public Library and I lost my way back to you. Kinda like the afternoon I finally found Hidden Gardens in Searsport, Maine and took the wrong turn leaving. That's another long story.

I've been through a number of cameras. Last year I spent the money and had my 35mms cleaned and recalibrated and they are sealed away in storage, probably forever.

There was a time about 5 years ago when I had a Kodak super zoom. My loving wife put the card in backwards with a little force and we held a service for that camera. I bought an Olympus super macro and I just loved it until the day I was climbing up the headwall of the barn foundation garden and fell on it. That led me to a Panasonic Lumix FZ30 and a little Kodak C643 for backpacking.

But here's an opinion, more current after using by son's new, just released Casio something or other super zoom at Christmas. All the little digitals now can take great pictures. The super macro lenses are great for close up work and for $200 you can get so much optical umph now that there's no need to go nuts over the big cameras. A camera, another couple sets of batteries, an appropriate charger and a handful of cards and you're in business. I wouldn't think of playing with pictures without a card reader for the computer because it's easier than dealing with a cable and it saves the camera.

So if we agree that camera potential is seriously good now, then it comes down to the artist in the person behind the camera. I am terrible but with digital I can take a bunch of pictures and pick what I like.

Today for example I saw a picture on a blog, so simple but so nice. It was a shot of the bark of a sycamore tree. It filled the frame. A similar picture today was a full frame of willow leaves hanging down. Two great photos of common things.

Personally I like to shoot flowers from the side or straight on, then crop them with IrfanView (free) and post them. It's an eye of the beholder thing I am sure.

That's my story and there is no more. Best wishes at the library.