Head of the Horse

first_imgIf I told you that the name of the most beautiful bulb you could grow was contrived from Greek words meaning “head of a horse,” then you probably could not conjure up the vision of an amaryllis. Known for being so exquisite in spring gardens in the South, the amaryllis’ botanical name is Hippeastrum, meaning “the head of a horse.”I assure you that it’s not Trigger, Roy Rogers’ horse. A show happens each spring just within sight of our fairy-like gazebo in the Cottage Garden that draws the attention of cameras and visitors like few other plants — it’s the ‘Wedding Dance’ amaryllis. It’s the perfect name for an amaryllis located at the site of almost weekly weddings.This hybrid amaryllis produces stalks that exhibit several enormous, pristine white flowers measuring up to 7 inches in width. Ours has been producing for weeks and, while most bulb catalogues and vendors suggest stalks 16 to 20 inches high, ours are sturdy and easily hitting 32 inches.Amaryllises, for the most part, are considered bulbs for zones 8 to 10, but ‘Wedding Dance’ can be grown in zone 7b and possibly colder zones, according to Tony Avent with Plant Delights Nursery. Avent commented that they endured -1 degree Fahrenheit in 1996.Here at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia, we haven’t had temperatures nearly so challenging — 18 F a couple of years ago and 25 F this March after the garden was seven weeks ahead of schedule. The St. Joseph’s lily, Hippeastrum x johnsonii, produces deeply saturated red flowers with a pronounced white star and packs even more landscape cold tolerance.Gardeners all over the country can enjoy the amaryllis, whether in the landscape or as one of the most-loved Christmas plants forced indoors. Outdoors they prefer fertile, well-drained soil. Ours get morning sun and late-afternoon shade. In the landscape, we treat them much like narcissi. We will deadhead flowers and leave foliage until it wants to go dormant.Depending on where you live, you may buy yours for planting in a pot at Thanksgiving and celebrating the bloom at Christmas. Your soil mix should be light and airy. Whether going in the landscape or in a pot, plant it so that the neck and top of the bulb are in view. Place the pot in a window that gets morning sun and maintains moisture.After your amaryllis blooms, keep your plant growing until warm, frost-free temperatures arrive, then plant outdoors if you are in the proper hardiness zone. Otherwise, place your pot on the porch patio or deck and keep the foliage actively growing until it wants to go dormant in mid- to late summer. Bring your pot indoors before any chance of frost and remove leaves once they become dry and shriveled. They will need a two-month rest period before beginning the cycle again.Those grown in the landscape in warmer regions can be left in the bed for years without separating, digging or replanting. Once bulbs finally do get crowded, they can be lifted and separated, adding plants to other areas of the landscape. Ours are growing surrounded by ‘Blue Sue’ setcreasea or tradescantia, a wonderful blue-green form of ‘Purple Heart’ setcreasea.Ours are against a backdrop of the old-fashioned nandina that looks picturesque when you have the large, white flowers combined with red berries. The beauty would be even more dazzling if grown in front of hollies sporting red berries. I’ve basically only been touting ‘Wedding Dance,’ but know that there are hundreds of hybrids all with their own special attributes. You will most likely find them readily for sale in the fall. Make this the year you give them a try.Follow me on Twitter: @CGBGgardenguru. Learn more about the University of Georgia Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden at the Historic Bamboo Farm at www.coastalgeorgiabg.org/.last_img read more

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Coalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar

first_imgCoalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sam Ross-Brown for The American Prospect:An unlikely alliance of Tea Party conservatives and progressive climate advocates has come together to fight a controversial solar energy ballot initiative in Florida. Launched in 2015, the so-called “green tea” coalition that includes the Nature Conservancy, the Christian Coalition, the Sierra Club, are standing firm against a measure that would enshrine Florida’s anti-solar policies in the state constitution. The coalition views the amendment as a power grab by the state’s largest utility companies that could cripple the state’s nascent solar industry and undermine consumers’ ability to tap into Florida’s vast solar energy potential.The Florida Right to Solar Energy Choice Initiative, which heads to voters in November, would give residents “the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.” The measure, known as “Amendment 1,” also mandates that “consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize” those that do.While Amendment 1 supporters frame the initiative as a pro-solar consumer-protection measure, opponents say the language is intentionally misleading:Despite its wording, the amendment does not actually allow consumers to lease home solar systems from a solar-power installer or developer. This financing model, also known as third-party leasing, has made solar systems more affordable for residents in many other states. Similarly, Florida residents already have the right to buy and use rooftop solar panels, and protections for energy consumers are strong.Instead, opponents stress that the measure is designed to enshrine the existing leasing ban in the Florida Constitution in tandem with a specific prohibition against “subsidies” for solar customers. Depending on how that language is interpreted and enforced, these changes could make solar power prohibitively expensive for the average Florida consumer and more difficult in the future to change policy.With the rapid growth of rooftop solar in recent years, major power companies in many states want to roll back the tax incentives that have played a critical role in making small-scale solar-power installations affordable for homeowners, apartment dwellers, and small businesses. But conservative Republicans and environmental advocates have joined forces against what they view as unfair market practices by large utility companies and their industry allies that have balked at the competition from small-scale solar systems.Boasting vast and largely untapped solar energy resources, the Sunshine State’s battle over rooftop solar systems has brought conservatives and progressives together in a joint effort to promote small-scale green energy. “This is about choice and freedom,” says Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Tea Party movement who recently joined the pro-solar policy fight in Florida. “I think Ronald Reagan said it best: Being good stewards of the environment that God gave us should not be a partisan issue.”In 2014, Dooley helped establish Conservatives for Energy Freedom, a national group that serves as a counterweight to the large, investor-owned utilities that have opposed the growth of residential solar-energy systems. These companies operate, generate, transmit, and distribute energy with almost no competition in Florida and elsewhere. “That government-created monopoly model really conflicts with conservative values,” says Dooley. “It’s about stifling competition.”The solution, Dooley realized, involved empowering consumers to generate their own electricity, particularly through rooftop solar systems. The group waged and won its first political battle in 2015 when Georgia passed a law that permits third-party leasing. Under the new law, consumers can now lease home sola- energy systems from installation companies and purchase the power generated by those systems at a discounted rate. This financing model allows Georgians to avoid the high upfront costs of buying a home solar system and has increased rooftop solar installations statewide.After the Georgia battle, the group turned its attention to Florida, where utility companies had recently won a fight to gut the state’s energy efficiency and solar rebate programs. These types of changes, Dooley says, “essentially block out the sun.” The power companies’ attempts to enshrine anti-solar policies in the state constitution could cripple Florida’s solar industry, she warns.The proposed amendment would ban “subsidies” for solar customers. Those subsides could include programs like net metering, which allows solar consumers to sell their excess power back to utilities at market rates. A net metering rate cut would make a home solar-power energy systems more expensive for most Florida homeowners.Florida largest power companies and conservative business groups are bankrolling a well-funded and coordinated pro–Amendment 1 effort. The Consumers for Smart Solar campaign emphasizes the need to “protect Floridians from scams and rip-offs” and “promote solar in the Sunshine State.” Since last summer, Consumers for Smart Solar has raised and spent more than $7.6 million, $2 million more than Governor Rick Scott’s re-election PAC, Let’s Get to Work, has pulled in.According to Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund, that rhetoric is designed to confuse voters, since Florida consumers currently have the right to own and use solar panels and third-party leasing is already banned. In fact, Florida is one of just four states that outlaw third-party leasing. Moreover, the initiative does not contain any new consumer protections. “They’re trying to undermine the economics of rooftop solar,” says Smith whose group is a “green tea” ally of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. “You can see them dancing around that.”But Kallinger says solar customers should share the costs of operating the power grid. “If you choose to use solar, and you use the grid, you have to pay for the maintenance of that grid,” he says, echoing language utility company officials have used in Michigan, Nevada, and a few other states. In the coming months, Consumers for Smart Solar plans to step up its anti-solar campaign with “Yes on 1 for the Sun” TV ads, direct mailings, and a social media push.Yet there may be some dark clouds on the horizon for Amendment 1. A March Mason-Dixon Polling and Research survey of 625 registered Florida voters found that 64 percent of those polled supported the measure, while 18 percent opposed it and another 18 percent were ‘not sure.’ Support for the measure has dropped nearly 10 percentage points since a Hill Research Associates February survey commissioned by the proponents, Consumers for Smart Solar.Under Florida law, constitutional amendments must obtain 60 percent of the vote to pass. In recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Times, Sun Sentinel, and a handful of other Florida newspapers have expressed deep skepticism about Amendment 1, calling its language “deceptive” and “manipulative.”The Florida solar campaign demonstrates how that conservatives and progressives can find common ground on energy policy.Full article: Tea Partiers and Progressives Unite Against ‘Deceptive’ Florida Ballot Initiativelast_img read more

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Other Sports Ferrari to appeal Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty which robbed him of Canadian Grand Prix win

first_img Montreal: Ferrari said on Sunday they will appeal against the five-second penalty that cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix. Five-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton maintained Mercedes’ record winning start to the season when he was handed the controversial victory courtesy of a disputed stewards’ decision, despite crossing the finish line just behind the German. Vettel was deemed to have forced a charging Hamilton towards a wall after running off at a chicane and rejoining across a strip of grass. The Briton had to brake and pull out of his overtaking manoeuvre, prompting the stewards to impose the time penalty on Vettel.    “Where could I go?” protested Vettel. “They’re stealing the race from us.” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto later said the team would be appealing against the penalty. “At the moment, we, as a team, are naturally disappointed,” said Binotto in a statement posted on the Ferrari official website. “As for Seb, I don’t think he could have done things differently, which is why we have decided to appeal the Stewards’ decision. Under the sport’s regulations, Ferrari has 96 hours from the end of the race to gather evidence to support their appeal. Vettel drove his car back to the garage instead of into parc ferme and refused to attend the post-race interviews.RELATED    He stormed off to the Ferrari motor home before being persuaded by his team to return for the podium ceremonies. On the way, he walked into parc ferme and swapped the number one for the winner from in front of Hamilton’s Mercedes with the number two in front of the empty space for his car. The pro-Ferrari crowd booed Hamilton on the podium, but Vettel told them: “Don’t boo Lewis — you should boo these decisions, not him.”    It was a record seventh victory in Canada for Hamilton and the 78th of his career. It extended Mercedes’ season-opening run to seven successive wins. Vettel was classified second ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Leclerc. Valtteri Bottas was fourth in the second Mercedes followed by Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault. Hamilton had suffered problems before the start. A hydraulics leak, discovered in the morning, required two hours to strip down and repair his power unit and then a slow getaway for the formation lap created more alarm. But as the start lights went out, he kept cool to resist Leclerc and stay within sight of Vettel who built a lead of 1.6 seconds on the opening lap from pole position. Tyre wear was a key factor on the Isle Notre-Dame as track temperatures touched 50 Celsius and Hamilton bided his time.    Vettel pitted from the lead for hard tyres on lap 25 and rejoined in third leaving Hamilton to push on his worn rubber as Vettel clocked the fastest lap behind new leader Leclerc. Leclerc led Vettel by 11.4sec on lap 30 but three laps later the gap was slashed to five seconds prompting Ferrari to bring in the Monegasque. Vettel led again by 2.3sec from Hamilton, who had also pitted, with Verstappen third, 10sec adrift as Leclerc rejoined in fourth. But on his fresh hard tyres, Hamilton looked revitalised and closed in on the German. Vettel responded with another fastest lap but with Hamilton applying constant pressure he finally twitched under braking at the first chicane with 22 laps of the 70-lap race to go, forcing him to cut across a strip of grass before squeezing Hamilton towards the wall.    Stewards deemed him guilty of an “unsafe re-entry forcing another driver off the track” and the five-second penalty decided the outcome as Hamilton crossed the line 1.342sec behind Vettel. “Where could I go?” said an angry Vettel on team radio. “I had nowhere to go… They are stealing the race from us… This is the wrong world. This is not fair.” Lewis Hamilton secured his 78th career race win in F1.Sebastian Vettel had a five-second penalty imposed.Hamilton won for the seventh time in the Canadian Grand Prix. For all the Latest Sports News News, Other Sports News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.center_img highlightslast_img read more

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