Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 028

TinEye, after much searching through the usual orange things, came up with a photo of Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen1 on stage. After a bit of blinking and Googling, I wished on a star to be in that kind of shape when I'm 57,2 then declared the seedling officially named.

Behold Schlumbergera #028 "Phil Collen."



A second seedling in pot #028 came up with something a little lighter in color, a week or two later:




For #028B, TinEye didn't give me much to work with. One picture of the bottom of someone's foot, so I considered "Sole" for a second or two, but then I saw this photo taken at the Museum of Neon Art. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a museum of neon art, but apparently there is. And that led to thinking about the Bjork song "All Neon Like," so I'm going with "Neon Like" for #028B.

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1 (=/= Phil Collins)
2 (I wasn't in that kind of shape when I was 20, for fuck's sake.)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pretty picture: Dendrobium Love Memory 'Fizz'

Some websites say "Dendrobium nobile Love Memory 'Fizz.'" I don't know what this signifies, exactly, and consequently have no idea whether it's accurate or relevant, but I include it for the sake of completeness.


Should perhaps also note that I find this one a lot more appealing than I do most Dendrobiums. Which also may not be accurate or relevant, but what the hell.

Dendrobium Love Memory 'Fizz' = Dendrobium White Rabbit x Dendrobium Sachi (Ref.)

And now some unfinished Schlumbergera business:

I attempted to narrow down the field of possible names for S. #083A --


-- and instead wound up enlarging it. Part of what happened was that on Monday, there was news about Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX) announcing that he was naming two "autonomous spaceport drone ships" after ships from Iain M. Banks' series of Culture novels, and their names would be Just Read the Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You.

Which sent me down a wikihole of reading all the names of all the ships in all the novels,1 some of which were very amusing (and possibly even more amusing in context: I wouldn't know),2 and that led somehow to the discovery of a Twitter account that periodically proposes new possible ship names along the same lines as the originals.

So, we have an abbreviated version of the list I came up with originally (about half of the originals have been dumped or altered), plus some of the names proposed in the comments of the #083 introduction post, plus a handful of names that occurred to me spontaneously just going about my regular business, plus a substantial chunk of names that are Iain M. Banks Culture ships, other people's ideas for Culture ships, or my own ideas for Culture ships.3 In alphabetical order:

"AbFab Darling:" Enough of an improvement on "Sweetie Darling" that I'm going to forget about "Sweetie" in favor of "AbFab." Successfully evokes intense colors thrown together haphazardly. Suggested by Diana.
"Casino:" Under consideration. You have to admit, the flower's color scheme does overlap that of most (all?) casinos. (Do an image search, I dare you.) Probably a little too generic, ultimately: a particular casino would be more interesting. But I'm sure all the particular casinos would sue me.
"Delirium:" From Paul's suggestion of "Delirious." Also possibly too generic, but nevertheless being considered. Possibly gets me minor nerd cred points for the (very) glancing Neil Gaiman reference.
"Gaga:" Paul's suggestion. I'm a little worried that it might age badly, depending on what Lady Gaga does with herself in the future. I'm, like, thinking about thinking about this one. It does have going for it that it'd be the easiest candidate to type.
"Psychedelic Bunny:" From Nadya W-G's suggestion. There's certainly something psychedelic going on here. The bunny part is questionable.4
"She's So Unusual:" Prompted by Paul's riff ("So Unusual") on Claude's suggestion ("Cyndi Lauper"). Makes sense with the plant, and I have nothing against Cyndi Lauper5 or the album in question. It could work.
"Tamika Flynn:" Seemed to be the crowd favorite from the original post,6 growing on me, and the previous arguments in favor still apply.
"Uh Hey Baby:" I'm cooling off on "Uh Hey Baby," as other, more evocative and colorful options have been suggested, but I'm not yet prepared to rule it out.
"You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That:" Also Culture-ship-esque. Unwieldy, and I cringe imagining all the extra typing I'd have to do, but somehow . . . appropriate?

Honorable mentions, but not serious consideration, to:

"Gravitas Rainbow:" Both a pun7 and a gravitas joke. Stolen from the Twitter account. The "rainbow" almost makes it work, but I don't like it well enough to make it permanent.
"It's More of an Aesthetic Question:" Culture-ship-type option. Stolen from the Twitter account. Probably too long to be serious, plus if it's going to be a super-long name, "You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That" is better.
"Naked Celebrity Gravitas:" Stolen from the Twitter account. Not serious, I think, but just imagine the search engine traffic I'd get!
"Ruth Bader Ginsberg:" Not much of a contender, on the grounds that I can't imagine her wearing colors like this, even though I'm sure she probably has at some point or another, and maybe even is right this moment. I'm not sure I've ever seen the Notorious RBG in regular clothes clothes. But there really needs to be something named for Our Most Adorable Supreme Court Justice of All Time.8 Maybe an Episcia.
"Tripping Balls:" Well in line with the psychedelia angle, but probably too vulgar for actual consideration.


Anyway. So it looks like we have nine serious(-ish) candidates. Advocate for or against them in the comments;9 I plan to decide and announce a name by 2 February. Though I may have to pull a name out of a hat or something: however hard I try, I can't seem to eliminate any more than five options.

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1 I have not actually ever read any of Iain M. Banks' science fiction novels, though I've read two of his mainstream books, a long time ago (Whit and The Crow Road). I understand that the Culture series are considered to be good by the people who consider that sort of thing.
2 e.g. So Much For Subtlety; You Would If You Really Loved Me; I Blame My Mother; I Blame Your Mother, etc. There's also a running joke regarding the word "gravitas," which includes Zero Gravitas, Very Little Gravitas Indeed, and Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall, which will explain some of the name options you'll see momentarily.
3 If you proposed something that didn't wind up on the list, the most likely reasons I didn't include it are that it implies colors that the flower doesn't contain ("Aurora Borealis" or "Mardi Gras" really should be at least partly green), I included a riff on your suggestion but not the actual suggestion, you made the suggestion after I completed writing this post and I didn't want to spend my whole Monday re-editing it, or you suggested a group of related names and I picked one out of that group instead of all of them.
4 I have a hard time seeing Schlumbergera blooms as anything other than hummingbirds, personally. But "Psychedelic Hummingbird" seems redundant, so we'll let "Bunny" stand.
5 (as if anyone could)
6 (among those expressing an opinion)
7 (on the TV show Gravity's Rainbow)
8 (not counting Clarence Thomas)
9 Or say something about the Dendrobium at the top of the page. You remember the Dendrobium, right?


Monday, January 26, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 008 (again)

I suppose I'm designating this as #008B, since we've already seen a #008. #008A was disappointing, due to excessively reflexed petals, but #008B is fine. Orange, as most of the seedlings have been,1 but there's nothing wrong with orange.



I think this one sort of broke TinEye's search-by-color page, because in addition to the usual, familiar photos of tomatoes, pumpkins, autumn leaves, etc.,2 I got a number of images like this, mocking former President George W. Bush by pretending that his brain farts are revealing of things that he actually thinks,3 next to the word "candor" and its definition. Leaving aside the question of whether or not it is appropriate and desirable to mock President Bush, because I know we all have opinions on that (and likely don't care what one another's opinions are, making their discussion pointless4), I'm bothered by this because the background on the images doesn't even seem like that great of a color match to the bloom.

However, given the repetition of the definition for "candor," which is a short and fairly pleasant word, I think I'm going to roll with that, rather than scroll through page after page of assorted orange things looking for a better name. Schlumbergera #008B "Candor" it is. Apologies to those in the audience who would spell it "Candour," those who would like to discuss the Bush Presidency, and those who feel wronged in some way they can't put their fingers on but would like an apology anyway.

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1 All the flowers you've seen so far are from seedlings that had 'Caribbean Dancer' as their seed parent. There are a few seedlings from the 2012 batch that have the NOID peach as seed parent, but none of them have done anything, and frankly they all tend to look a little odd so I'm not sure I even want them to bloom. I think so many of the seedlings are blooming orange because they're all the result of the same 'Caribbean Dancer' x NOID peach cross, and in Schlumbergera math, 'Caribbean Dancer' x NOID peach = orange.
The batch I started in 2014, which may begin blooming in 2016, should have more variety: the seed parents were 'Caribbean Dancer,' the NOID peach, the NOID white, and the NOID magenta. I don't have any guesses on the pollen parents, but it should be at least those four, giving us at least six different possible combinations. As opposed to just the one.
Assuming I start a set in 2015 or 2016, those will have more variety yet: I have fruits developing on 'Exotic Dancer,' 'Stephanie,' #057 "Pyrotechnic," and #025 "Clownfish," in addition to the four plants from the 2014 set. I may also have managed to get some pollen from the NOID yellow spread around, though that's uncertain: I haven't been able to get the NOID yellow to accept any pollen, so it may be sterile.
The point being that you won't be seeing orange forever and ever. Just for the next year or so.
2 One thing I've learned from TinEye: people are not taking enough photographs of carrots. Tomatoes outnumber carrots by at least five to one, and tomatoes aren't even orange. So get out there and take some pictures of carrots today. They need your support.
3 Possibly they are. Possibly they aren't. We don't need to start dredging up the things he may not have meant to say: he's a public figure, and has said and did plenty of things on purpose, out in the open, that we can look at, if we're interested in what sort of man he is. Whatever your political leanings, there's more than enough of information there to judge his character if judging his character is what you want to do.
4 So don't even start in the comments. I mean it. A lot of us hang out on plant blogs partly to get away from people arguing about politics.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 083

This is the seedling we've all been waiting for. I mean, #025 "Clownfish" is great, #054 "Helpful Gesture" is unexpectedly pleasant as well, #057 "Pyrotechnic" has been growing on me, and there are a decent number of keepers in the bunch overall. But this one is perhaps actually something special.

In fact, it's special enough that I can't quite settle on a name.


TinEye had lots of the usual red / orange / pink stuff -- cars and car parts (I had no idea that people were so into taking pictures of tail light replacement lenses), leaves, flowers -- and the only thing that was coming up more often than normal were images of parades. Lots of costumed dancers from Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, that sort of thing. Also there were one or two shots from burlesque shows. But I feel like this deserves something more . . . distinct.



It colored up pretty dramatically as it opened: the above two photos were taken only a day apart.


Close-up, this is the most amazing Schlumbergera I have ever seen. From further away, the magenta and orange kind of blur together to make red. But the petals actually do shade through white, orange, red, and magenta. If this is a normal and common thing for Schlumbergera petals to do, I apologize for my enthusiasm, but I've somehow missed noticing it before.



The only bad characteristic of the blooms is that there aren't very many of them. How many? Just the one in the photos. There are no buds in progress. Granted, the plant is still young, and it didn't have a great environment for trying to bloom this year -- late repotting, limited light, dry air -- so presumably the next time will be better. Or at least we can hope.



So anyway. I've spent an absurd amount of time in search of a name, and the best I've been able to come up with thus far is a Beavis and Butthead reference: "Uh Hey Baby." This almost works for me -- it sounds stupid, yes, but that was pretty much what my inner Butthead said when I saw it opened for the first time, so it seems right somehow. The downside of this is that much of the charm of "Uh Hey Baby" is the way Butthead pronounces "baby" when he says it, and it wouldn't really make any sense to people who aren't familiar with the show. Not that making sense to people is necessarily a high priority for variety names of plants anyway, as we've seen over the years, with the orchids. I don't know.

Also under consideration to some degree or another, in order from least to most appealing:

"Burlesque" (yawn)
"Night Cheese" (a 30 Rock reference, which is pleasingly nonsensical but mostly serves as a reminder that when brainstorming Schlumbergera names, there are no bad ideas)
"Rainbow Sherbet" (there actually is a company making a white, orange, and purple sherbet,1 and it was a favorite of mine as a child. I've even mentioned it on the blog before. Alas, there's already a Hibiscus 'Rainbow Sherbet,' and the colors of the Schlumbergera don't match the colors of the sherbet particularly well.2)
"Saint Beavis" (I don't know where this one came from. It was apparently important to me at one time to have a Beavis and Butthead connection. Incidentally, there are "Saint Beavis" t-shirts available for sale on-line. Which raises more questions than it answers.)
"Tamika Flynn" (a Welcome to Night Vale reference, which has going for it that: Tamika is at least the sort of person who should be getting things named for her, and the name is not particularly ridiculous if you don't know who Tamika is. Problems: she's not a particularly major character and it's not a particularly major show, so most people would not get the reference, and if nobody's going to get the reference then I should maybe not bother.)
"Breakin' the Law" (also B&B-related, but a Judas Priest reference before that. I kind of like this just because the seedling is doing something that I didn't know Schlumbergeras could do, so it seems semi-appropriate.)
"Sweetie Darling" (an Absolutely Fabulous reference, with all the same problems as "Uh Hey Baby" plus the problem that it sounds a little overly precious. In the show, it works because you know Edina doesn't remotely mean it; out of context, it sounds cloying and gross to me. It's nevertheless probably the strongest contender I have after "Uh Hey Baby.")

I'm not in love with any of these options, so if there's something you've always wanted to see a plant named, throw it out there. No bad ideas in brainstorming, I might like it, etc. Or cast a vote for one of the other options. Otherwise I'm probably going to default to "Uh Hey Baby."


Seedling #083 also has a plain orange seedling in it. If not for its proximity to the most amazing seedling to date, #083B would seem pleasant enough.



TinEye gave me at least one photo of a bonfire, so I'm going with "Guy Fawkes Night" for the name.


More seedlings to come, though the three I know about at the moment are all varying shades of orange, so the remaining posts will probably be anticlimactic. Prepare yourself accordingly.

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1 Though I think the name "rainbow" is pushing it, if you've only got three colors involved and one of them is white.
2 (Not that that stopped the Hibiscus people. Should also note that the Hibiscus name has no actual relevance: the same name can be used for multiple genera as far as I know. But again, we're going for something *special* with this one, so if someone's already used it for something else, that makes it a lot less appealing to me.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 021

As I've explained before, some of the pots of Schlumbergera seedlings contain more than one seedling, and consequently bloom in more than one color.1 021 is an example of this, though the two plants to have bloomed so far aren't dramatically different.

The first is, you know, fine. Orange. Not the deep dark orange of #025 "Clownfish," not a pastel orange like #024 "Bryce Canyon," it's just orange. After a lot of poking around in the TinEye search, I came up with a picture of a spider crab (Hoplophrys oatesii) on "soft coral," so I'm calling it "Spider Crab."


(As seedlings claim the more obvious photographic subjects from TinEye, the names are likely to get weirder and less obviously related to the flower colors. I would say I'm sorry, but I'm actually looking forward to more of this so I guess I'm not sorry.)


The second seedling in pot #021 is pleasant, though, or at least it photographed pretty well. The only real difference is that its tube is pink. (Technically, "Spider Crab" also has a pink tube, but you have to be looking at it pretty hard to see that it's not quite white.)


TinEye gave me a handful of birthday parties (of one specific child in particular, who seemed to be having a good time), and lots of images of people's food,2 so I'm splitting the difference and going with "Birthday Dinner."


Also if anybody has any advice for ways I could mark the plants so as to be able to tell them apart when they're not in bloom, that would be appreciated. At some point I'm going to want to propagate some of these, and I won't be able to do that if I don't know which plant had the flowers I want to propagate. You see the problem.3

Joseph Tychonievich, in his book Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener, suggests embroidery thread -- it's not bulky, it comes in lots of different colors, it won't wash off in water, etc. That seems like a great solution for some kinds of plants (I'd use acrylic yarn because it's what I have already, but same idea.), but I'm hesitant to tie anything onto the segments because of how easily they pull apart. And the only other thing I can think of would be writing on the segments in Sharpie (bad idea: it'd wash or flake off by the time they bloom again), carving into the segments with a needle (permanently disfiguring, and in the event that the plant dropped the wrong segment, I'd lose the information), or sticking something through a segment (same problem).

So I'll go with the yarn thing if I have to, but I'm hoping someone else has an idea that will work even better.

And just for the record: no, dividing the plants is not an option at the moment. Not only are the roots all matted and intertwined with one another, making it nearly impossible to do without killing them (or at least setting them back quite a bit), but I don't have the room for the number of additional pots this would create.

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1 As will become apparent later, this is sort of a Big Problem for me. If you decide to try to grow some houseplants from seed, and the plant in question is variable enough that you expect to get significantly different seedlings by doing so, pot the seedlings up individually when you start them. Yes, some of them will die, and then you'll feel like you've wasted a bunch of space or potting soil or whatever, but it's better than realizing later that you can't tell them apart unless they're blooming.
2 Why has it become a thing for people to take pictures of their food before eating it? I'm not necessarily annoyed by people photographing their food, and I don't think it makes you a bad person if you do or anything. I just don't understand who the photograph is for. I mean, they're not even usually very good photos. Are there people who find it entertaining to reminisce about specific meals they've eaten, but can't do it effectively unless they have a visual prompt? Are there people who are entertained by seeing pictures of meals that other people have eaten in their absence? It's confusing to me.
3 In fact, it looks like several of the plants don't intend to bloom again until next November, which is a long time to have to wait to figure out which is which: I may not have any propagated flowering-sized plants from any of these until the fall of 2017 or 2018. Possibly if I'm lucky, I'll see a few blooms in April or May and be able to start a little sooner, but even so. Would have been helpful if I'd anticipated this problem and tried to do something about it when I still could have, hence the advice in footnote 1.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Pretty picture: Schlumbergera 'Stephanie'

It's Schlumbergera time again!

I'm writing this on 12 January, so I don't yet know how many total posts this second round will contain, but there are at least five. This particular post covers the last named cultivar to bloom, 'Stephanie,' which missed the first named-cultivar post by a couple weeks.



And no, I didn't get a photo of the flowers fully-opened, but I think you can extrapolate from the above pictures what one of those looks like.

This is the first time 'Stephanie' has bloomed for me, and I was a little disappointed with it. Not that the flowers aren't pretty, but it didn't make very many (I think there were five, total.), and I think when I got it, I was 1) expecting more of an orange than a red-orange, and 2) not aware that I would eventually have tens of thousands of orange seedlings. Though all that happened so long ago that I honestly can't remember what I was expecting.

In any case, voila, 'Stephanie.' Tomorrow we start back up with the seedlings again. Hope you like orange!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Varina's Wine

Next round of Schlumbergera pictures begins Friday. Are you excited? You should be excited.


Paphiopedilum Varina's Wine = Paphiopedilum Varina Vaughn x Paphiopedilum Joanne's Wine (Ref.)


Friday, January 16, 2015

Pretty picture: Lycaste Dainty

Here's another Lycaste (previously: Lycaste Alan Salzman). It has no colors in common with the previous Lycaste, and I'm not really seeing a similarity in shape either, but I suppose I can still believe that the two are related. It'd hardly be the first time that an orchid did something that didn't make sense to me.


It helps that the International Orchid Register has heard of it, and believes it to be a hybrid of Lycaste candida x Lycaste campbellii. (Ref.)