October 30, 2011

Waiting, Wonder, Woes and Waiting

Gardeners know waiting...we wait for cooler weather, we wait for rain, we wait for sun, we wait for plantings to mature, we wait.  And wait.  Gardening is a study in patience.  

Gomphrena had been on my wish list for sometime.  After planting a couple last fall, I eagerly anticipated the plump, colorful blooms dancing on wispy stalks I'd seen on other blogs.  This summer I feared they wouldn't make it through the drought but they persevered and began to bloom a couple of weeks ago.  The tiniest of blooms that required a close look to notice.  I kept waiting for them to get larger like the ones I'd seen.  And I waited. 


Then I had a "head slap" moment when I was reading about gomphrena 'grapes' the other day.  Seems I will be waiting a long time for these to get bigger.  Like forever.  This is what they do...that's it, teeny, tiny, little flowers.  They're sweet and I like dainty but jeez these are diminutive!


Whilst watering the sweet potato vine an enchanting wonder was discovered.  Blooms!  In all the years I've grown sweet potato vine, I've never had blooms.  Or at least, I've never seen them.  Is this a wonder to you too?  Or did you know?

So of course, I had to take photos.  Sounds relatively easy, right?  And how pretty to put them together with that sweet little gomphrena, right?  Enter woe...


Are there any flowers you just can't seem to get a sharp photo of no matter what you try?  There are a few that really prove challenging for me.  White tropical sage, pineapple sage and gardenia come to mind.  Usually it's the white and red flowers that keep me humble. 


The sweet potato vine flower is hands down the hardest flower I've ever tried to get a macro shot of.  After many failed attempts while the flower was still on the vine outside, I brought it indoors thinking the breeze wasn't helping. 

Well, it wasn't the breeze.  The arrangement was photographed in different light at different times of day, in different locations and all with the same results...blurry blooms.   Not only is gardening a study in patience; so is photography.


So grateful to have a patient friend willing to wait with me.  Yesterday at the Austin Garden Bloggers "Go-Go" I was gifted with some gomphrena seeds.  Robin assures me they are the big flowers! 

I'll be waiting...









23 comments:

  1. I love the way you experiment with different angles and staging, Cat. But what a funny story about ending up with tiny 'Grapes' gomphrena!

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  2. I admire your persistence with the potato vine flowers, I tend to give up rather more quickly... I often find white flowers really difficult to photograph well, particularly those really harsh whites. Glad you now have gomphrena that might give you what you thought you were waiting for before! This year I waited very patiently for my dahlias to leap into bloom. They didn't leap at all, they stumbled and stuttered into bloom, and two out of the three I had planted to create a border I was really excited about turned out to be the wrong plants. And therefore the wrong colours. Really wrong. Pastel pink next to deep (and impossible to photograph) scarlet?! Horrid...

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  3. I've never seen sweet potato flowers! They are really pretty. I know what you mean about some flowers being really difficult to get into focus :(

    I love your pictures! They are so wonderful to look at.

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  4. Cat, I've found that certain 'cultivars' of sweet potato vine will flower, while others will not. I actually prefer when they don't, but I don't hate the blooms.

    What I do hate is planting the "wrong" thing like you did, or trying something new and having to wait half a year to find out it doesn't do well in your climate for some reason (too hot, too humid, too wet, too dry).

    But along with patience, gardeners are the ultimate optimists I've heard it said -- what's more optimistic than putting a seed into the ground, looking forward to the day it will reward with a fruit or a flower or foliage?

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  5. I had the purple sweet potato vine flower last year and that was when I discovered that it belonged to the same family as the morning glory. Before winter set in I took the tubers out of the pot. They were poor twisted sausage like things. I left them on the side int he potting shed all winter and then planted them again. No need to buy these beauties every year. Also on the gomphrena, I think Robins may have been the red ones. I have loads of the purple globe amaranth and pink too. Hope you got some of the G. fireworks. If not I will be saving for next year.

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  6. I was doing the same double take as you the first time I saw sweet potato flowers. Their flowers are sweet and somewhat ethereal when trying to photograph them. The 'grapes' are a nice wispy texture to your bouquet. I will have to try them next year.

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  7. Cat they are the cutest teeny tiny flowers...I have never seen a flower on a sweet potato plant. White flowers in shade are easier, but yellows in certain sunlight are also difficult to capture

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  8. Great close-ups...you say reds and whites keep you humble. I think about every color keeps me humble, but I am sure to learn more one of these days!

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  9. I like that you're playful with your photography, Cat!
    I've had my vine since May and it hasn't flowered in its shady location. But I appreciate that it is very happy on my dark southern facing covered front porch - not an easy place to find a plant for. I have it in a light-green pot for contrast and color since it's difficult to get blooms in such low light. I will try to over-winter it as Jenny suggested....

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  10. Hey Cat,
    Gomphrena is one tough little plant. Yes, the larger one is much more striking. When one of our local nurseries was closing several years ago, they turned off the water, and started getting rid of the stock they had on hand. My friend's dad owned the nursery, so I visited often. One plant that was thriving in the gravel below the plant tables was gomphrena (the large blooms) in the middle of the summer with no water. I'll never forget that. So glad you got some seeds. Your waiting will pay off next year :-) And I am no expert photographer by any means, but last week I was trying to photograph a close-up of some katydid eggs on a twig and my camera just could not focus. It kept trying to focus on the background. (Can't expect a point/click to do it all). So although I am sorry to hear about your photo woes, it makes me feel a little bit better to know that I'm not alone in my photo struggles. I think even your "blurry" blooms look great!!

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  11. There are some flowers I just can't photograph. Guaras. Mr. Lincoln (a red HT). I'm mystified with your gomphrena. I've never seen any so small. Mine were as big as clover, and seeded all over, until I got rid of them. Do try them again! They are delightful little plants. It will be a good lesson in patience! :) (As if us gardeners don't get enough of that lesson!)

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  12. I don't think I've ever seen such teeny tiny flowers! You've captured them beautifully with the sweet potato vines...lovely shot! I love the picture of Blitz resting. Yes, our old friends are so patient and willing to do anything, just to be with us :)

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  13. I love it when the Sweet Potato vines bloom because they do have the prettiest blooms on them. I grew a Bronze Sweet Potato this year and the pink blooms did not go too well with the bronze leaves though. Yours look so pretty in the crock for a bouquet.

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  14. Blitz looks like he knows all about waiting ;-) Love all your photos no matter if blurry or in focus ;-) Sitting on the porch and waiting sounds great right now.

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  15. Lovely photos and a great story about the gomphrena--we've all had those "head slap" moments...

    Especially sweet pic of your dog and his plant.

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  16. I was surprised, too, when my purple sweet potato vine bloomed this summer! Some surprises are more pleasant than others :D

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  17. They are beautiful blooms, but the foliage is stunning, too! I love to see large mounds of chartreuse and magenta Sweet Potato vine! And now you have flowers, too! I've had trouble with some blooms, too. All summer I couldn't capture the bright orange-red Begonias in my hanging baskets. I finally managed to get a decent shot recently, but man it was frustrating. I think your captures are beautiful!

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  18. I hope your new seeds are larger. I can see why it is such a challenge to get those small blooms in the lens. Never having had a sweet potato vine bloom, I would not have known what the blooms look like if you had not posted a photo...what a gift!

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  19. Hi Cat, I haven't had a problem with photographing white flowers, but red ones are really tricky. It is too bad that your sweet potato flower was playing tricks with your camera, although that second last shot makes up for the grief it was giving you. The flower is posing perfectly in that photograph.

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  20. Hi Cat! I do have some flowers that don't like to be photographed. White dahlia (I have two different varieties, one is posing for me and another just pretends to be a white spot) and one type of fuchsia with very slim blooms. I guess I need to talk to them!

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  21. I had no idea sweet potato vine bloomed! I think your photos are beautiful, even if the one of the flower isn't perfect. I grow gomphrena every year but it's the old fashioned kind that you can buy in a cheap six pack of annuals. It has big neon purple flowers. I think the cultivar is called Buddy.

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  22. He he, now that's a first for me - all these experienced gardeners whose sweet potato vines don't flower ... and mine did. In fact, not only did it flower profusely, it got so huge and took over a large portion of a bed so I ripped it out, pretty flowers and all. It is lovely, but for me it was a bit too invasive.

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  23. Hello Cat, I've been out for a week and haven't opened blogs, so a bit late here. I smiled at this post, i wonder why your Gomphrena is so small unlike our buttons, and they seem to flower and fill a space so fast. But your first photo more than compensates for your waiting and the impatience we feel sometimes. I smiled also when you haven't seen the sweet potato flowers, as they are everywhere here, moreover it is not used as garden plants here. We also have its cousins which are so viny and wild but lovely flowers too! Your patient friend really bring wonders to that last photo, as if he was looking at the plants on cue, beautiful.

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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