Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Moving Post - Hareketli bir Giriş

I do love the new instant YouTube link capability in Blogger!

A couple years ago I did a post (Lost and Found II) about a plant that was a favorite in our family garden for years. But since half the fun is the flower's time-lapse-like speed in opening, I decided that I'd try to film it. Now I just need to find a way to transmit the smell!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

May - Mayıs

Really expert gardeners, the ones who write books instead of blogs (though some of them write blogs too), stress the importance of a careful choice of plants to provide interest and harmony in the garden throughout the summer. Their gardens are always lush, with expertly-designed contrasts of color, structure, and texture. They practice certain strategies like grouping plants for more punch, thinking carefully about what plant will provide a good foliar backup for whatever will be in bloom at any particular period; and they keep diaries, making notes to move plants to a better location next year for a more effective show.

There is, however, another kind of gardener: The plant freak. These gardeners pick something up from the garden center because it was wonderful, and wander through the garden, searching for some place that doesn't either have something occupying the space, or (if they can remember), have some dormant precious bulb just under the surface waiting the hard edge of the spade. I'm mostly this kind of gardener, though I think I've gotten marginally better. I actually did plant a group of three Monardas last year. Only one of them really took off, completely subsuming the other two, but next year, they'll be fantastic. Really. Or not.

In any case, the plants that really attract me tend too often to be those that bloom in spring and early summer. Or have great leaves during those months. It's okay, I tend to be kind of bad about watering in the summer and so there is a de facto xeriscaping happening out there. If you survive, you're in for next season! Of course really special or rare things might get a little more attention...

There was one highlight this May - I bought my first SLR, something I'd been shying away from for a long time because of a bit of technophobia. And of course after just a couple days, with lots to learn still, I don't know how I ever did without. So this will be another mainly photographic post with a few explanations.

Epimedium leaves

The Judas tree, a local species of redbud, which is practically the symbol of Istanbul.

Iris xyphium, a bulbous iris.

Geranium macrorrhizum, a very hardy and drought-tolerant hardy geranium, known for its medicinal qualities.

A Pacific Coast Iris in its second year. It only send up one bloom spike this year but has spread now, so better luck next spring. I'm happy to have any PCIs surviving here!

Another PCI, "Pacific Warrior," probably an I. douglasii hybrid. It grows in an area that's perfectly swampy through the winter and spring, and then gets quite dry in high summer. It's grown like a house afire!

Iris graminea, a plum-scented iris with flowers that open well below the tops of the leaves. This got seriously snail-chewed this year and probably needs to be moved. I'll probably move it...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cappadocia / Kapadokya

After Antakya, my plan was to return to Istanbul making several stops in different areas along the way, and photograph the spring flora. But the night my friends and I arrived in Ürgüp, the main town of Cappadocia, I started feeling a suspicious tickle in the back of my throat...and by the next day I had the worst cold I'd had in years. I did manage to get out that day, but the next day was so miserable that I didn't even leave the hotel. Which was, by the way, a really wonderful place.

Cappadocia is truly amazing, and no picture can quite capture it. The towers of soft volcanic tuff rise up everywhere, and anywhere there is tuff, there are ancient dwellings. The rock is constantly eroding, so some former homes are now fully open; in some cases only a depression in the stone remains; the back wall of what was once an entire living space.

The soil around the "fairy chimneys" is very light and fast-draining, so the plants that grow in it are well-adapted to drought, either through succulent tissues as in some of the thick-stemmed Euphorbias, or as ephemerals, which grow in the rains of fall, establish themselves further through the winter, then rush to grow, flower and set seed in the spring before they're dessicated by the parching summer heat.

A sample fairy-chimney landscape.

Some random flora among the chimneys

Graveyard and orchards where fields meet tufa

An anemone in a fallow field. In Turkey, many plant families are represented by red flowers with black centers.

More fields and orchards. What a place to live!

An unexpected green spot among ancient rock dwellings in the Göreme open-air museum.

Alkanna sp. (orientalis?)

Can't have a wildflower post without at least one Verbascum!

An Anchusa species very common in much of Turkey, which can range from blue through purple shades. I adore it.

The remains of a once enclosed home.

Ranunculus (buttercups) growing above a valley near Göreme.

A peaceful valley near Göreme that we accidentally drove into while looking for another site.

A short video shot in that same valley

More Anchusa, showing the range of color.

What looks to be a truly lovely clover species

More spring ephemerals. In another month, they'll all be dry straw.

A non-botanical shot which I couldn't help but add. I saw two stern parents disowning their pregnant and unmarried daughter...

Anchusa and an aromatic mint family-member in the spring grass

Anchusa in the field. The white mound of gravel behind is all that remains of what was once a fairy-chimney that has eroded away.

Some chamomile growing among old building stone

Another truly lovely Euphorbia. It was almost entirely made up of flowers!

Antakya in April. Nisan'da Antakya

Yes I'm aware that it's not April, but I can explain, really!

Once again you're probably given up on me. It's been a full summer; not so much an extremely busy one, but there have been lots of things vying for priority. But that doesn't mean that the garden hasn't been growing, it just means that I've neglected it here and there. Most notably during the winter, when I'd normally have a big patch of fava beans, garlic, peas and other winter vegetables coming on. I was growing frustrated with the incredible growth of bindweed in that patch, so I've decided to cover it with black plastic for a season. They don't call it "devil's guts" for nothing.

The garden was growing, but I took a nice trip out of town (the first in way too long) to visit friends from the town of Antakya (aka Antioch) in Turkey's easternmost Mediterranean province, Hatay. It was cold and miserable in Istanbul, but Hatay was at the height of spring, which meant that I got two springs this year. So without running on too much, here are some of the botanical highlights of the trip. I'd love to be able to say I tromped around the mountains and explored habitats, but my friends are not such botanical types, so these were all taken within the immediate surroundings of the city.

Campanula sp.

Phlomis sp.
A DYC and Verbascum. I do love me a Verbascum!

Another Verbascum!

The ubiquitous P. rhoeas

A truly beautiful Euphorbia

A typically spiny garrigue/maquis shrub

Looks like a Linum (flax) species. The blue-topped plant (which was actually a bit more purple than my camera could render) is a salvia; the actual flowers are small and white, with the bracts doing all the advertising work.

Naturally-tasteful planting of Linum and Salvia

Not a wild iris; this was planted en mass outside a city building. But seeing any bearded iris other than the dark purple I. germanica is always a treat. They smelled delicious.

A bit more Verbascum. This species grew almost exclusively on near-vertical rock faces.

The colorful Euphorbia on another outing, the hills rising immediately behind the city.

A lovely little ground-hugging clover.

No idea what this is, but it is almost certainly in the Borage family. I searched and searched but could find only this single specimen on the entire hill, and it was growing on an outrcop right at the summit. How did it get there?!

A great little spreading clover with curious balloon-like sepals. I kept thinking of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

A general view of the area. The rocks, slopes and flatlands below all had very different mixes of plants.