Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 114

Hard to come up with a lot to say about 114A: it has longer, narrower petals than average. Pleasant, I guess. I don't know. I'm afraid the most notable thing about it will be how difficult it is to name, but we'll see.

I had 30 TinEye names, which I condensed down to four.1 I wasn't crazy about any of those, so I kind of panicked and threw in three names from the emergency names list (all of which were originally racehorse names, I think). So, seven options overall. Not thrilled about the longer list either, but let's see what we get:

Unsubtle would probably apply equally well to all the Schlumbergeras. Flowers are unsubtle on purpose, to attract pollinators. So yeah, the name technically applies, but it doesn't say anything. Pass.

Francis S. is a sort of indirect reference to someone who was important in my life, and in theory I like the idea of naming seedlings after people I actually know, but if I name a seedling after one person I actually know, then do I have to name seedlings after everyone I've ever met? (Obviously, no, but where do you draw the line, right?) So this is maybe a name that would start me down a slippery slope, and is therefore best avoided.

Copper Kismet has things going for it: it's almost certainly not already in use, it refers to the flower's color, and the alliteration makes it kind of fun to say. On the other hand, it doesn't actually mean anything.

I grew up near, and spent a lot of time in, Fairfield, Iowa, so even if the name isn't especially related to the bloom, there's still a strong pull toward the idea of naming a seedling after the town. The husband (who also has significant connections to Fairfield) says that the ideal color for a Schlumbergera "Fairfield" would be a bright yellow or slightly orangey yellow, though; my own mental associations would color the ideal "Fairfield" white or a very pale yellow. So seedling 114A is in the ballpark, but maybe not the right seedling for the name, which I reluctantly drop.

So we're down to three finalists now:

Fervent also appeals for primarily personal reasons, recalling the dog we had briefly before getting Sheba, who we named Fervor. Fervor was only here for four days, but I was pretty intensely upset when my allergies turned out to be bad enough that we had to take him back to the shelter,2 and I still think about him from time to time. And a firey red-orange is one of the more appropriate colors for a word like "Fervent," so it works there too.

The down side: it's a little abstract, and possibly a word people aren't very familiar with. That doesn't always doom a name prospect -- plenty of obscure and non-English names among the seedlings -- but it's something to consider.

Apollo is a lot more familiar, and it's even one letter shorter. Apollo was the Greek god of (among other things) the sun and light in general, so orangey-red is borderline color-appropriate,3 and I think he's one of the nicer Greek gods,4 which is why so many things are named for him already. This is also the down side, as there's a better-than-average chance that a Schlumbergera 'Apollo' already exists, or would by the time I got around to making the name official.

Finally, Gallant Fox, another racehorse name. It's long, but also unlikely to be in use already, color-appropriate,5 and depending on what outfit you imagine a gallant fox wearing, it could even be sort of a pleasant mental image. There's even a very thin Iowa connection, which makes up a bit for dropping "Fairfield." Possible downside: "fox" has taken on some additional meanings lately.

Once again, I slept on the question after narrowing the choices down. The morning after writing the above, I was less enamored of Apollo, considering how many namesakes he has already, but I was completely deadlocked on the other two, so I wound up flipping a coin, which came up Gallant Fox. So there we are.


1 Though I want to give an honorable mention to a fifth, Rebolation. I hadn't heard the word (the name of a Brazilian dance style), and looking into what it was meant that I got to see a lot of videos of people dancing impressively. (Made me think of what you'd get if you crossed Michael Jackson with Michael Flatley.) Turn the sound down on your computer/device and watch this:

Finding out about this sort of random stuff that I would otherwise never have heard of is my main motivation for doing the seedling names the way I am: since TinEye results can be, literally, anything that anybody has decided to take a picture of and upload to Flickr, I almost always wind up learning something about the world by the time I manage to pick out a name, whether that turns out to be Dusty Springfield's sexual orientation, the existence of ginger beer, the German word for lipstick, the Spanish word for "cobra," a new tropical fruit, the name for grooved sections of highway that make growling noises when you drive across them, etc.
2 He got readopted, eventually (not a given: adoption is often slow for gigantic black dogs). Fervor's fine.
3 Again, a golden yellow would probably be a better match to the name.
4 Of course, the benevolence of Greek deities has to be graded on a curve: I don't think any of them were entirely benign. In particular, don't let Apollo challenge you to a musical contest, 'cause that never ends well.
5 Appropriate to "fox," not to the racehorse, who was a bay.


Paul said...

I think Gallant Fox works very well for that one.

With regards to naming one after someone you personally know .... I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. If someone had a significant impact on your life, there is no reason NOT to name a plant after them if you so wish. If other folks get a bee up their butt over it, that's their problem. Perhaps I'm somewhat jaded by the orchid world -- plenty of hybrids out there named after a favorite (grand)child, departed loved one, et cetera. Rarely do many growers name a multitude of plants after people. Just reality. (Plus how many of the folks you concerned about offending will actually KNOW that you named a plant after so-and-so unless you tell them you did?)

mr_subjunctive said...


That's a fair point. And no, almost no one I know would know who Francis S. was referring to (I doubt the husband would even know). Maybe the name will come back for some other seedling.

EBC said...

Love the Gallant Fox as a name. The color and grace of the flower are quite appropriate. It reminds me of a fox darting out of sign as you try to move your head fast enough to look at it (an experience I recently had).