Saturday, May 16, 2009

Random plant event: variegated Thymus vulgaris

Okay, so it's not amazing. But still, there's a tiny shoot of this thyme plant that's marbled green and white, which is kind of cool. Also it smells nice.

It looks like the variegation is weak: one of the side shoots on the affected stem has reverted to all-green already (there was also one that was all-white). But still. Thyme was already my favorite herb, because there are better pun possibilities with it than any of the others (in fact, not too long ago I attended a Halloween party as a waste of thyme: two plastic containers of thyme, tied to a length of yarn and hung over my shoulders -- and at the end of the evening, I threw it all away.1, 2), so seeing the plant does interesting variegation stuff too only solidifies my appreciation.

The husband prefers basil. Whatever. Like you can make puns with the word "basil."


1 It was kind of conceptual. Also I have never been able to get it together to make, buy or wear an actual Halloween costume of any kind, though in fairness that's at least somewhat because most years I have to work Halloween night and it wouldn't matter if I had a costume ready or not. So costumes, when I make the effort at all, tend to be extremely cheap and slapdash.
It is perhaps also worth noting that I have been heavily influenced by something a college friend told me once, that the only Halloween costumes worth wearing are those which can be rapidly shed in the event that one wants to dance, eat, go to the bathroom, look remotely dignified, flee a burning building, or any of the other things people sometimes need to do on short notice. Which seemed like a sensible rule, actually, but means that I wouldn't be inclined to get terribly elaborate with a costume even if I had the means and inspiration.
2 The original plan had been to pour glue on the backs of my hands and then sprinkle the glue with dried thyme before the glue dried. The name of this costume, obviously, being "guy with a lot of thyme/time on his hands." It was eventually ruled too messy, as were the plans to dress up as "a walking thyme/time bomb." Perhaps some year the husband and I can dress up as "Thyme/Time and Again," or a "thyme-line," "from thyme to thyme," "standard thyme," etc. The possibilities are nearly endless. I could sit here and list them until the end of thyme/time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Site-related: Search terms

Primula auricula, allegedly a perennial here in Iowa, though I have my doubts.

Recent internet searches that have led people to PATSP:

1. what is the point of botanical names
2. how to take cair of a spathiphyllum domino leafs that broken [sic]
3. psychedelic plants you can buy at lowes
4. can you die from smoking random plants?
5. plant thorns in head dangerous
and my favorite so far, because there's a whole story in there:

6. my husband got separated in the head by a yucca house plant and it is now very infected i did not know they could do this

Lobelia something. Probably 'Regatta Blue' or something like that.

For the record, my responses would be:

1. So that botanists don't have to learn a thousand different names for every one of the millions (billions?) of plant species in existence.
2. Cut off the broken leaves: they don't heal themselves once they've been torn or the petiole (stem connecting the leaf to the base of the plant) is bent.
3. I don't think there are any (anything genuinely psychedelic is very likely also illegal for them to sell), and even if there were, they've probably been treated with pesticides and you shouldn't be ingesting them anyway. Stay in school.
4. [exasperated:] Yes. I don't know whether to call you an idiot for having to ask the question or praise you for at least trying to look it up first. (I am also tempted to answer no, everything in the natural world is natural and therefore safe, so smoke with wild abandon. But I won't.)
5. Well, yes, usually they are. It kinda depends on whose head, and whereabouts on the head.
6. I don't think "separated" is the word you mean, but if it's a cut that got infected, well, you knew cuts could get infected, right? Let's not go blaming the poor Yucca.

Impatiens x 'Fanfare Bright Coral.' Sold to us for the first time last year as an Impatiens that could handle full sun, they're actually better thought of as an Impatiens that can handle more sun than most: full sun all day long will still cause them to burn up, but give them a little shade from a nearby tree or building and they'll spread like gangbusters. (DISCLAIMER: Spread may not actually resemble that of gangbusters. I don't actually know how gangbusters spread.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Site-related: The Urban Gardener

The Urban Gardener is another case of a site I've been meaning to add to the sidebar but have, for one or another reason, failed to add. Rectifying this today. Today's Anthurium post is a thing of beauty.

Pretty picture: Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' flowers

Ack! No time! It's a buncha flowers!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Random plant event: Two coleuses with memory problems

These are not nearly as impressive as the three-leafed one from a few days back, but still worthy of attention.

The first is a 'Gays Delight' that forgot what variety it was for a moment, before remembering and going on. One pair of leaves -- but only the one pair of leaves -- looks a lot like 'Merlot' (in person, you can even tell that the color is detectably different from the sort of brick red in the "normal" leaves; the photo doesn't really show this that well), but the stuff before and after that pair look just like all the others. I didn't buy it, but I did notice it.

The second one is a 'Kong Rose' that has forgotten how to make a color. The normal 'Kong Rose' has very large (up to 8" long, the tag says) leaves in three colors: a sort of fuchsia near the center, a chartreuse margin, and a dark red in between the two. We got plugs in this spring, and of the 36 plugs we got, one of them has forgotten how to make the fuchsia color. The result is a leaf that develops a weird, ink-stain-on-a-wet-paper-towel burgundy line, and is otherwise more or less chartreuse.

I've gone back and forth about whether or not I find it an attractive plant in its own right. At the moment, I lean toward no, it's not especially pretty.

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Kong Rose' (L) and the sport, which I hereby designate S. s. 'Kong Aline.' (R) The sport is larger than the regular 'Kong Rose' plants just because these are the last of the 'Kong Roses:' we'd been putting the biggest ones out for sale first, and we're now at the end of the batch, so only the runtiest ones remain. Also -- and this may or may not be significant -- 'Aline' has always been slightly bigger than the others.

But I bought it anyway. Partly, this is because I like to have plants that I'm fairly sure nobody else has, even if they're not particularly interesting plants. But also it's because I have something of a soft spot for the plants that I can see trying to think for themselves. It's sort of the same logic that causes you to praise the short story your eleven-year-old just wrote even though it's a transparent rip-off of the last two movies s/he saw and they misspelled the main character's name throughout. At least s/he's trying.

We'll see how 'Kong Aline' develops over the summer, assuming I don't inadvertently kill it first.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

[Exceptionally] Pretty pictures: transmitted light -- Part XI

Went out to the house again yesterday, because I had the day off. I was going to try to get some stuff planted, finally, but ran into technical difficulties (among other things, I needed, like, 100 more feet of garden hose than what I had), so now the Lysimachia is wondering how come it got to ride around in the car all day. Possibly I should forget actually planting anything and go directly to container gardening. Maybe I should find out what's been planted here already before I start adding stuff all over the place. Already some Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) have popped up since I was there last. And there was another surprise:

Thamnophis radix, the plains garter snake.

This struck me as a good sign. I like snakes. And this one was big and healthy-looking. Not much of a conversationalist. Robust, though.

Anyway. All of this is to explain why I'm resorting to the transmitted light pictures for today's post.

(The previous transmitted light posts can be found here.)

Rhapis excelsa. I had not previously noted the little sideways (vertical in this photo) lines. They're perfectly visible to the naked eye, of course. I'd just never paid attention.

Tetrastigma voinierianum. The dark specks are natural, not bugs or dirt, but they also brush off. I'm a little confused about their origin and purpose.

Ficus benjamina 'Black Diamond.' I still like this variety of Ficus benjamina, but it's less certain about me.

Cordyline glauca. It's not always noticeable, but new Cordyline glauca leaves, if the plant is growing in strong light, will come in purple first and then turn green later. Which is kind of cool.

Coffea arabica. I know that the plant in this picture did have some chlorotic leaves (it was a casualty of the 'Skunky' purge), though I can't recall whether this was one of them. Hard to tell from just the one picture, though it seems like whether or not it's chlorosis, something must be wrong.

Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime.' This was an incredibly, bafflingly hard picture to get. I literally tried for months, under various lighting conditions, and invariably the picture would come out blurry. It was weird.

Aglaonema 'Maria.' Turn it sideways and pretend it's a Rorschach blot. What do you see?

Dracaena marginata 'Colorama.' Also a very difficult picture to get, and not necessarily worth getting. But there it is anyway.

Dieffenbachia 'Panther.' Probably my favorite from this batch.

Codiaeum variegatum NOID. I hadn't realized until the day I took this picture that Codiaeum variegatum leaves have multiple layers of pigment. I was looking at a nice yellow 'Mrs. Iceton' leaf and thinking about photographing it, and then I turned the leaf over and it was actually red underneath. In retrospect, this is perfectly obvious, but at the time, I was surprised that croton leaves aren't necessarily the same color all the way through the leaf.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Random plant event: Sedum 'Lemon Coral' flowers

Remarkably pressed for time on this one. But I thought these were interesting. I don't know anything about Sedum 'Lemon Coral' except that they're apparently used as annuals by the kinds of people who use succulents as annuals here. (Or maybe they aren't. They haven't sold particularly well compared to some of the other succulents we got in the same assortment.)

I have no idea how they would do as houseplants. The flowers, in any case, are neat, and I hadn't seen them before. So there you go.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pretty picture: Lewisia cotyledon 'Praline' flower

I'm fairly certain we had these last year, too, but I don't remember ever seeing any flowers, just the (unimpressive) plants. Of course, so many things were going on last spring that I was bound to miss a few of them. Or most of them. Whatever.

This doesn't particularly make me want one. Pretty though the flowers are, they're not huge, and if you don't have them where they can be looked at closely, then you miss a lot of the show. Perhaps a container garden on top of a short column, next to a chair, would work. Something like that.