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by Valerie (August 12, 2000)
yellow iris bud As a photographer, I can't help but notice the incredible shapes and patterns of buds. They often don't look anything like the mature flower, instead having their own unique characteristics.

We have a patch of yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus), which is a beardless iris, but it rarely gets enough water to coax it into blooming. However, in the early spring, it will sometimes produce a few blossoms, which are a very bright yellow. The tightly closed petals are just a hint of the final glory of the opened flower.

The bearded irises (Iris pallida) have much thicker stems and produce a very robust bud. Our single plant has bloomed only one year out of about six, but the blossoms were quite spectacular.

bearded iris bud
green & purple wandering Jew bud
The snail-like whorl at right is the bud of a green & purple wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina). Each flower opens for one day, then a new bud forms just beyond the old one. This continues until there is a little spiral of spent bracts, always culminating with the most recent blossom. This whole structure is about ½ inch long.fennel buds before emerging from stem

The fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) bud pictured at left is about to emerge at the top of the plant. It gives the appearance of a cut-away view on the inner workings of the plant.

zinnia bud
Zinnias (Zinnia sp.) are annuals that are pretty easy to grow from seed. Their various colored blossoms have one or more rings of outer petals with the central flowers opening gradually. The outer petals always open in a curled fashion, like a rolled-up paper tube.

I have been unsuccessful in identifying the plant below at left, although it is a type of wild onion or garlic (Allium sp.). We have many types of wild bulbs that have been added to our gardens and most produce pretty flowers during the spring (as well as quite a bit of onion odor). However, with this particular type of plant, I anticipated the pretty flowers that would emerge from the bud, only to see it produce new plants instead. Each year, I cannot remember which of our bulbs will do this, so I just wait and see if a bud will produce white or pink flowers, or just more miniature plants. Although not as showy as the flowers, they certainly are interesting.
wild onion bud
The final buds pictured here are azaleas (Rhododendron sp.). We don't grow them in our gardens due to the alkaline nature of our soil, but they will flourish in this area if given the right acidic conditions. There is an especially impressive display every spring at Zilker Gardens here in Austin, when their many varieties of azaleas bloom for several weeks. The unopened buds remind me of trilliums.
azalea buds

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