This past weekend we visited the sunflower field in Belle Plaine, Iowa. We also went here last year but at that time the condition of the sunflowers were past their peak. So this year we made sure we see them in their prime.
We were not disappointed. They’re so beautiful.
Sunflowers are heliotropic plants. A hell…. what?
Heliotropism is an ability to move or turn in response to light. So sunflowers slowly track the motion of the sun across the sky during the day to face it and then drift back during the nighttime. Though mature sunflowers may lose this ability as their stalk gets stiff.
However, during our last visit I saw a different movement in some sunflowers. They were walking!
Or so I thought. It was just my wife harvesting some sunflowers.
About this time every year, our yard bursts with colors with these big fragrant blooms. These are peonies, and their flowers only last for only two weeks at the most.
Even though it’s not officially summer yet, we are having a “heat wave” for the next several days as Iowa weather is fickly. These flowers wilt fast and they don’t like the heat so we decided to harvest them early. This also provided a photo op.
My wife agreed to be my model for this photoshoot.
We will definitely appreciate their beauty, even for just a few days. I mean the flowers. The model, that’s timeless.
Bonus: While we were harvesting the peonies and doing the photoshoot, someone else, uninvitedly though definitely welcomed, came in to the scene. Here’s the video:
A couple of weeks ago, when we were coming home from a week-long international camporee, we happen to drove by a sunflower farm here in Iowa. We were unaware that there’s a sunflower field here. Since we were all tired from the camping, we did not go down to check it out, but promised ourselves that we’ll come back and visit it some other time.
Last Friday, after we helped our daughter get settled back to her dorm, we trekked down to the sunflower farm, which was less than an hour drive from our daughter’s university.
When we arrived at the field, we were a little disappointed, as the condition of the sunflowers has passed its peak. Summer after all, is almost ending and plus the heavy rains earlier in the week did a number on the sunflowers. In fact some of the sunflowers had already fallen to the ground.
Since the state of the farm was not that picture perfect anymore, the $3 entrance fee had been waived, and instead a box for voluntary donation at the gate was placed. It was also free to take some flowers home.
I have to say though that overall, peak or past their peak, the sunflowers were still a beauty to behold.
I noticed something peculiar as well. I always heard that sunflowers always face and follow the sun from sunrise to sunset. This phenomenon is called heliotropism. However in this field the flowerheads were actually turned away from the sun as they were facing east, though the sun was already starting to descend in the west. Why?
I asked one of the farm attendant and she told us that young sunflowers follow the sun across the sky, but when the plant mature, the stalks become stiff already so they lost their ability to turn. So the mature sunflowers face east permanently the rest of their days.
Isn’t that like people? When we were young, we were impressionable and we follow rules without questions. But when we get old, we become “stiff neck” and become pasaway (hardheaded).
Speaking of pasaway, here’s one:
Don’t worry, I did not really “water” the sunflowers. It was all for photo effects.
For some reason while I was on this field, I had this certain Beatles song playing in my head. Maybe because I know that the sunflowers follow the sun:
One day, you’ll find That I have gone But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun Yeah tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.
Summer has arrived as temperature in our neck of the woods is now climbing consistently into the 80’s Fahrenheit. Though the official start of summer, which is the summer’s solstice – the longest day of the year, is not until tomorrow. I am sure our mercury will rise above 90’s F (above 32 C) or even in the 100’s F (37.5 C and above) in the days to come.
Here are some of the summer colors I captured in the past week:
The first photo was taken in downtown Kansas City, when we made a stopover here on our way to visit our son who is working for two months in a summer camp in Missouri.
The next photo was taken in the downtown Botanical Garden here in Des Moines when we checked it out a few days ago.
My wife also got new planters and have started planting annual flowers that hopefully will not just last for the dog days of summer but late until the cold winter wind blows. Here are some flowers in our deck:
The photo below was taken two days ago when I drove down to southern Iowa for our outreach clinic. As you can see, even a summer’s day can become foggy, dull, and gloomy.
However. even if the day gets gray, there is still a possibility of beautiful colors shining through. And that is true in all aspects of our life. Photo below was taken from our front porch:
I am wishing you all a fun, delightful, and colorful summer.
This period is one of my favorite time of the year when it’s not too cold and not too hot either. Plus the flowers are blooming. Smelling flowers are much more enjoyable than shoveling snow, you know.
I would like to share some photos of what are blooming now in our garden, that have not been eaten yet by the deer or the wild rabbits.
Purple allium and white alliums:
By the way, Allium is the Latin word for garlic. As you can surmise these plants belongs to the family of onions, garlic and shallots. Since these blooms are in the family of onions, they have the trademark smell.
Peony is named after Paeon, the Greek god of medicine and healing. I don’t know if these flowers have curative properties. But one thing for sure, they are fragrant and maybe that’s healing enough.
These large flowers last about two weeks only, so might as well take the opportunity to gather them and display them inside as well.
Below are flowers not from our garden but from a grocery store. I included them here since I like my photo of it.
Despite allergies and all, there’s one unwritten rule in our household: No fake flowers allowed.
The last photo is the harvested peonies. And a selfie of course.
(*Credit to my wife, the master horticulturist; all photos taken with an iPhone)
(topiary |ˈtōpēˌerē|: the art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes.)
It’s officially spring time here, and its time once again to tend the yard and the garden. I have posted before that my wife love topiaries and we have them both inside and outside of our home (see previous post here).
However in our backyard is a line of evergreens that looked like hideously clipped topiaries. Don’t we have the artistic skill to trim them?
However, we are not the one who trim these disfigured shrubs. We’re not thinking our neighbors are vandalizing our plants either, causing this unusual design. In fact, these evergreens are not even intended to be topiaries at all.
Who’s responsible for this art work then? A drunk Edward Scissorhands?
No, it’s the pesky deer!
During winter, when the grass and food is scarce, these evergreen could be a gourmet meal for them. They nibble on what they can reach, leaving the top untouched.
After being away for a few weeks, we came home and was pleasantly surprised that our garden was still in full bloom. We had lots of rain this summer, plus we asked our friend to water our plants if needed, while we were gone.
Not just the flowers, but the vegetables as well were blossoming, like the tomatoes and the pepper.
But besides the flowers and vegetables, the weeds have also grown tall. There are areas that the weeds are crowding the other plants, that it even started to look like a weed garden. No, I’m not talking about the illegal “weed.”
When we looked closely to a patch of our garden with overgrown weeds, a peculiar plant was among them. We thought it was just a tall weed, but it wasn’t.
It was corn!
It’s kind of puzzling how those corn plants got there, for we definitely did not plant them.
We know that a corn field is not too far away, could the wind blew some seeds when the farmers were planting their crop? Or maybe a bird drop a corn kennel there? Or maybe the chipmunks? Or could it be the leprechaun that planted them? Who knows?
After clearing the weeds, we decided to keep the corn and not pull them out. After all, they have ears of corn on them already.
Maybe next year, we’ll plant corn in our garden on purpose. This is Iowa anyway, the corn center of the entire USA, and perhaps the whole world.
Not too long from now, we’ll be harvesting our own corn. Unless the leprechaun (lepre-corn?) get to them first.
I was on-call last weekend. It was not particularly busy that I was drowning in work, but enough to keep me occupied in the hospital most of the days during the weekend. I had more toxic calls before, so I really cannot complain.
I was making my rounds in the hospital and making headway on my long list of patients to see. I have seen all the ICU patients and working on the rest of the patients in the hospital. On my way to the other side of the hospital, I passed the crossway that overlooks the center garden of the hospital.
I stopped for a while and gazed longingly at the garden.
our hospital’s central garden
It was already early in the afternoon. It was sunny, but the temperature outside was not hot, nor was it cold. It was just right. It was early September after all, when summer and autumn are in their crossroads.
It was a perfect day to be outside.
I could have been outside. I could have been sitting outside in that garden with the beautiful flowers in bloom. I could have been outside shooting hoops with my son. Or could have been outside having barbecue with my friends. Or could have been outside riding my bike on some engaging bike trail. Or could have been outside just lying on a hammock under a tree. I could have been outside……
Instead, I was inside the hospital walls. Working.
The next stop on my rounds was the Oncology floor. I entered the room of our patient who has history of rectal cancer and was treated several years ago. But now found to have his cancer come back with vengeance, spreading to his lungs. I was suddenly reminded of my mother who has the same circumstances.
My patient was having difficulty breathing. It was quite obvious that even with high flow oxygen he was struggling. Every movement was an effort. He has been hospitalized for some time now, with no clear indication of when he can go home. Or will he ever?
As I entered his room, he was looking at the window. He was looking at the same central garden that I was looking at, a little while ago. Perhaps he had the same thoughts that I had: I could have been outside enjoying this beautiful day.
But he can’t. And perhaps he never will.
That’s when a thought dawned on me. There’s a reason why I am not outside. I was placed here inside these hospital walls, for a sacred duty to care and give comfort for people who cannot enjoy a beautiful day outside, just like today.
Even though it was only less than 3 months since we have visited the Philippines, I am already missing my native land. I miss walking beneath the swaying palm trees and wandering around a tropical garden.
But the other day, we visited something similar.
We walked in the midst of lush vegetation, typical of a rain forest.
Took shelter from the sun under the broad banana leaves.
And was greeted by familiar tropical fruits, though we did not pick them. First of all, they were not ripe yet. Second, we are not allowed to.
We also found cool water falls in the midst of the thick flora.
It was indeed a beautiful tropical garden.
No, I am not back in the Philippines. In fact, I am not even in a tropical place. All of these were inside a huge glass dome, right here in Des Moines, Iowa, where winter is cold and harsh.
But inside this big greenhouse, the temperature is controlled, where it is warm and balmy all year round, just like the tropics.
There was even a patch of desert plants in one corner.
And of course, there were lots of beautiful tropical flowers for us to admire. Here are a few of them.
Spending some time in the garden was a cool (or should I say hot!) experience.
It does not matter what the weather outside. Whether it is spring, summer, fall or even if it is the dead of winter. I don’t care even if there is a blizzard outside. For under this glass ceiling, I felt right at home.
I wonder if they would let me set up a bahay kubo (nipa hut) in here.
(*photos taken inside the Des Moines Botanical Center)