After many, many months of struggling to get even halfway-decent Anthurium photos, I think I have finally cracked the problem. It involves crawling through a thicket of Agaves under a table,1 but it improves the color fidelity from my camera, so it's worth it.2
This means you'll be seeing more Anthurium seedlings. But first, I've finally gotten some blooms from one of my Schlumbergera seedlings. (You forgot those existed? Sometimes I do too!) And it is spectacular.
And now you're thinking, well, that's very nice, certainly, but "spectacular," Mr. S.? Aren't you overselling it a little?
Perhaps. But it seems pretty darn spectacular to me. I didn't already have an orange Schlumbergera, and orange is a color I particularly like in flowers, so it's a lucky break that the very first schlum to bloom happens to be a deep, vivid orange. It also wasn't expected -- the known parent was 'Caribbean Dancer,' which is red with a magenta tube. Orange with a white (very pale pink, in the right light) tube isn't something I was expecting to see out of 'Caribbean Dancer.' Not in a single generation, anyway. But I did say in the Schlumbergera profile that Schlumbergera genetics and breeding is screwy like this, so I suppose I should have been expecting to be surprised.
Whether you find it impressive or not, this has made me ridiculously, deliriously, uncharacteristically happy, for a couple weeks and counting. Unlike the Anthurium seedlings, I hadn't given names to the Schlumbergera seedlings in advance, so I got to search for names for it. (Presently it's just "Number 25.") Out of curiosity, I used the photo search by color at TinEye Labs to see what sorts of things it might be reasonable to name a flower this color, and have settled, at least for the moment, on Schlumbergera "Clownfish," though I haven't definitely ruled out "Road Work Ahead" or "Oompa."4
I've been very pleased with some of the Anthurium seedlings as well, but "Clownfish" / No. 25 is the first plant I've made where my reaction has been oh my god I would absolutely buy that if I saw it in a store I must propagate a million of them and have it forever. It doesn't hurt that it is apparently more willing to bloom than the 100+ other seedlings, or that it's apparently less sensitive to day length, since it's tried to bloom a few times before this. Seriously. You have no idea how excited I am about this.5
Schlumbergeras 7 and 23 are also in bud, so we might have some more schlum pictures coming up soon. Early indications are that 7 will be orange or red and 23 will be pink or magenta, but schlum buds change even more during development than Anthurium buds do, so that's just a guess.
There's also another Spathiphyllum seedling getting ready to bloom (which would be the third to do so), as far as it goes, but I'm willing to bet that you can imagine that just fine without me showing you a picture.
Moving on to the Anthuriums:
Since the last report, four more Anthurium seedlings have produced buds. They are:
Sylvester6 (#31) -- color indeterminate, may wind up being a little orange but it's hard to tell
Mario Speedwagon (#200) -- looks like it will end up somewhere in the pink/purple/lavender neighborhood
Rhea Listick (#231) -- also purple to some degree or another, but it's too early to tell how purple
Heather Boa (#149) -- red or dark red
We've also finally, finally seen a full-grown flower from Bob Humbug (#76). He's kept us waiting since October, and I lost track of how many buds he's aborted since then. (It's approximately five.) But Bob turns out to be red to dark red, depending on the light, and the spathe is respectably-sized:
It's not amazing. Arguably not worth the wait he put us through. But there's nothing wrong with it either.
The wavy edges, by the way, are just a side effect of the spathe having just opened when I took the picture; it had smoothed out by the next day.
The Haus of Kinda-Purple officially gained a new member this week, but I'd suspected Ross would be at least a little purple for quite a while. The spathe isn't as big as Alyssa's, and the color and veining isn't as neat as Carson's, but Ross is the one with the unusually large, flat, shiny, unblemished leaves that I was pleased with anyway, so to have purplish flowers on top of that makes me nearly giddy.
As sometimes happens, the back is a different color than the front:
And here are the three members from the Haus of Kinda-Purple together:
And yeah, the size difference really is that pronounced, though I think Alyssa may be slightly closer to the camera.
Betty's spathe had some kind of malfunction while it was unfurling, so it's torn. But it would have been a pretty awesome inflorescence if it hadn't. (And it's still okay. Maybe next time, Betty.)7
Elijah is the one from this set where I'm not sure the color in the photo is accurate or not. I've been watching it for the last couple weeks, and got excited because it looked like it was going to be a little bit orange.8 And then once it actually opened, it looked pink to me. Except that it still photographed kind of orange. But it looked pink. So . . . Elijah is either the first player for Team Vaguely-Orange, or another unphotographable oddball like Deena Sequins. Or both, I suppose.
It's too bad the foliage isn't nicer. Maybe it'll improve.
And that's the report for now. I had intended the Schlumbergera announcement to be accompanied by a different, more contemplative kind of post, but after trying to write it several times and not being happy with how it was turning out, I finally decided that it was more important to tell you about the new bloom than it was to try and get deep. You can only keep Pointer-Sister-level news quiet for just so long, after all.
The north-facing window in my office has a shelf of plants in front of it, naturally, and will only roll just so far because a lower shelf is holding all the surge protectors. And then the table with the Agaves underneath is right next to that. So in order to take photos using the window for lighting, I have to roll the shelf back as far as it will go, then crawl under the table, through the Agaves, take the pictures, and then crawl back out. It works, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking for an easier way.
2 If you care, this solution was inspired by this Flash Photography Crash Course (found via MetaFilter), specifically the part about hard light vs. soft light.
3 The Schlumbergera pictures pre-date my discovery of the crawling-under-the-table photography method, but the colors are pretty accurate.
4 Most of the pictures that came up with TinEye were also of flowers, with roses, Gerberas, Hibiscus, Papaver orientale, and various lilies dominant. Tomatoes are also highly represented, which initially struck me as weird (we're accustomed to thinking of tomatoes as red, not orange) but is undeniably relevant to the color. There are also a surprising number of photos and logos related to the Free Burma movement. I investigated, but didn't come up with much of an explanation: the best I could do is that it seems to be related to the use of saffron to dye the robes of Buddhist monks, and Buddhist monks are one of the more prominent groups in the Free Burma movement. However, Buddhist monks' robes are more traditionally dyed maroon, so I don't know if that even explains anything. Concert photos, chili peppers, tulips, sunsets, and unidentifiable abstract things make up most of the remainder. I did see one picture of an electric stove's burner, with the coil glowing orange, that I thought was nice, and so for a second or two "Burner Coil" was under consideration, but I didn't want to have to explain that.
Meanwhile, oranges, orange juice, Snooki, and John Boehner were all unexpectedly underrepresented in the TinEye results.
5 I am aware that other orange Schlumbergeras exist. I don't care. This orange Schlumbergera is mine. You can't bring me down. I even found a moderately advanced scale infestation on Tuesday. Water off a duck's back: I have an orange Schlumbergera.
6 Not a drag queen, but close enough.
7 On being told "and this one's Betty Larsony," the husband's response was "yeah, she looks like a Betty." And it's true: she does.
8 It's a seedling from 'Orange Hot.' 'Orange Hot' is only orange compared to all the pinks and reds, but it's the best I've got to work with.