Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December: Belated Bloom Day!

On actual Bloom Day, I was working like a crazy person on a grant application (which I submitted a full three minutes before deadline).  I was inspired by other Chicago-area people to hunt for miracle blooms in the garden this morning, but alas, nothing but dead leaves and milkweed fluff did I find.  Still, there's usually something cheerful blooming inside the house.  They're all gesneriads but one of these plants is not like the others...

First, a gaggle of Saintpaulias...


I discovered this morning that I can set the brightness of the flash on my camera.  I took a series of photos of this lavender guy and found that a setting of -1 1/3 gave the most realistic color without looking overexposed.  A setting of +2 gave a crazy yellow blob of light, and -2 actually made the photo darker than not using a flash (figure that one out!).  If I learn one new thing about my camera each month, in 10 years I'll actually be good at using it.

Aeschynanthus longicaulis, which blooms several times a year but sometimes I don't notice until the flowers start dropping onto the floor.  The flowers are cryptic but have such a cool morphology. The stamens are didynamous, the anthers coherent at their tips in pairs, while the five petals are fused into a tube, green outside, red inside.

Not pictured:  I potted up my new amaryllis ($7 at Target, with ceramic pot) over the weekend, and also bought a cheapie red poinsettia from the grocery store.  I know "real" plant people scorn poinsettias but I think they're gorgeous and buy one every year.  I try to keep it alive after the holidays but the best I've done so far is July.  They really don't like to dry out, apparently.

As always - thanks to Carol for hosting Bloom Day!


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Your Saintpaulias are wonderful. I love the frilly edges to the flowers. I must admit, however, that the Aeschynanthus is merely interesting.
Good job figuring out the flash thing. I wonder if my camera has a way to adjust the flash. It probably does.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

That's really cool about being able to adjust flash brightness. And the Aeschynanthus longicaulis is awesome--it looks so.. prehistoric!

MrBrownThumb said...

I've never owned a Aeschynanthus longicaulis so I've never paid attention to the blooms before. They're really cool.

btw, you camera may also have exposure compensation. You can lower the value of it when using flash so you don't get the blown out images.

Other things I've used to lessen the flash is tape a piece of a napkin over the flash "bulb" to filter it.

I can't remember what kind of camera you use, but that's what I do for digicams. I've seen some cooler diffusers made for DSLR's made from pieces of opaque plastic. They aren't as nice as real diffusers but can do the trick.

garden girl said...

I love African violets. . . really should get a few! Had a lipstick plant years ago, and really liked the blooms. I left it at my house with my girls when I moved in with the Lawn Man, and it mysteriously expired. I miss it. Yours is really nice with those variegated leaves. The one I had, had dark, dark green leaves and bright red 'lipsticks.'

garden girl said...

p.s. nice photos! I really should learn more about my camera. It has lots of neat features, but I just point and shoot.

Rose said...

Your experimentation with your camera really paid off--these are beautiful photos! The color certainly looks true to life. I have so much trouble getting decent photos with a flash, but I don't know that my camera has different settings for it--I'll have to check that out.

I'm not one of those who scorn poinsettias--to me, it's not Christmas without one! And I'm impressed you've kept one as long as July. I stick mine in the basement and then forget about them till July--no wonder mine never survive:)

Diane said...

Barbara - I like the Aeschynanthus mostly for its leaves! It took me a while to warm up to the frillyness of the violets. My favorite of the bunch is the plain lavender one because the petals are so smooth and uniform.

Monica - re: prehistoric, I know! I am still trying to guess what its pollinator is supposed to be. No self-respecting hummingbird would be attracted to such a thing.

MBT - It's a Canon digital but not an SLR. I've never tried to filter the flash but I should play with that, too! Oh, so much to learn...

Linda - I have a red lipstick plant as well but it's looking kind of sad. I think it needs repotting. I think I should take a photography class someday so I can understand how to adjust exposure and aperture and all that stuff. Maybe in my "free time." Haha!

Rose - Why thank you! I have my little poinsettia in a grouping with some red and green candles on the table and it looks so festive - I just love it! My wish is to keep the poinsettia alive indefinitely. It doesn't have to turn red again; I like green plants just fine!