Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday morning Nina picture

Aaaaand we're back, with a Nina photo that has a lot of dramatic tension, I think. Or at least potential for it.

It occurs to me that it's actually been a really long time since I've seen Nina actually eat her crickets. I mean, I know she is, because she's not dead, and the crickets disappear over time, and I'm not finding cricket corpses. But it used to be that once I dumped them in, she'd go after them immediately, and she hasn't done that for a few months now. I'm not worried about this, just less entertained than I used to be.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Son of Even More Blogroll Additions

PATSP hiatus begins tomorrow, and I have to say, I've rarely looked forward to hiatus as much as I do this time. I do, in fact, finally have too many plants, and keeping up with all of them has gotten to be a bit of a pain. (I know I've said this before, but this time I really mean it.)

This has especially been the case following the recent evacuation. This won't actually let me off the hook for anything, since I'm still going to have to be working on the blog during the hiatus, as well as continuing to keep the plants watered, but at least not having to come up with stuff for a few days means that I might be able to finish some of the longer posts I've been trying to work on. Some of them will be very cool if I ever manage to finish them. Plus there's a profile coming just any day now on Pandanus veitchii and P. utilis (UPDATE: Done!), and a large number of potential profiles (see sidebar).

(The Pandanus profile looks like it's even going to involve cake, for you fans of cake. I'm not kidding.)

But you are not entertained by promises of posts in the future! You want posts right now, am I right?

So allow me to recommend the following sites to enjoy in my absence:

Homegrown Evolution isn't really applicable to me so much, but I suspect they're relevant to a lot of my readers, and the site is well-written and interesting, so I include it. Main topics include urban gardening, self-sufficiency, environmentalism, beekeeping, canning, and similar hippie-slash-grandma stuff. But in a good way. It is written by "Homegrown Neighbor," "Homegrown Evolution," and "Mrs. Homegrown," which one rather hopes are pseudonyms. All three live in Los Angeles, CA. The site first came to my attention when they linked to my Asparagus spp. profile. (They don't like asparagus ferns either.)

Fuck You, Penguin isn't very houseplant-relevant either, but it's funny. Topics: mostly being rude to adorable animals, as the title suggests. Sometimes being rude to gross animals. Animals, animal photography, that kind of thing. Posts written by "BZA," though the book (F U Penguin: Telling Cute Animals What's What) is by Matthew Gasteier, which is at least strongly suggestive that maybe BZA and Matthew Gasteier are the same person. I think I found this by checking out the other blogs that one of my "followers" followed, but I don't remember who it was.

Howplantswork Weblog is yet another blog that is more or less exactly what it sounds like: it's a blog about how plants work. Consequently, it contains a lot of science; most of it is about two notches more sciencey than PATSP, and there's more biochemistry than the average PATSP reader is going to be accustomed to. But it also explains things like how plants make flowers, how plants know how big they are, how and why plants produce ethylene, and various other stuff that we've occasionally touched on here. Try it and see if you get anything out of it. If you don't, no harm done, and you don't have to go back. I think I found it through a Google search on something or another.

The Phytophactor is both the title of the blog and its author, who when referring to himself in the third person sometimes calls himself "The Phactor." The Phactor is an academic biologist, with a particular interest in tropical rain forests, but the jargon is fairly minimal, and the science, when presented, is totally readable. The vocabulary is roughly equivalent to, or maybe even a notch below, PATSP, depending on the post. I have no memory of encountering this blog, so I can't tell you how it happened. Topics: academia, gardening, rainforests, taxonomy, plant diversity.

Liz and the Professor is written by who you would think it would be written by. They live in Key West, FL, U.S., and grow a lot of the same things I do, but they grow them outside instead of inside. It's mostly about the photography, but -- it is very good photography, especially if you're like me and have only ever seen these plants indoors, in pots. It hasn't been updated much lately, which makes me wonder about things, but before November there were about three posts per week. I'm pretty sure I found it during the Blotanical Awards last September (L&tP was up for Best Florida Blog; it placed third, but as a multiple third-place finisher myself, I say third is not that bad).

Garden Chronicles is similar: it's interesting to find pictures of houseplants I have growing outdoors, fifty times bigger. Also lots of orchid pictures. Garden Chronicles is written by James Missier from Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia. (If you're reading this, James: I tried to find Garden Chronicles at Blotanical to fave you, and literally could not get to your blog or plot. I know Stuart said he was going to be fixing the navigation problems, so I can only assume that he's started to do so already. But the intent was there.) I suspect I found it through My Nice Garden, but I'm not sure.

Greensparrow Gardens is written by Greensparrow (Joseph Tychonievich) and appears to be mainly about outdoor gardening, plus a good bit of science and miscellanea. It's hard to summarize. I also don't know anything about this alleged green sparrow: was it green to begin with? Did someone make it green? Is it metaphorical, and the sparrow in question is just really environmentally conscious? We do not know. We may never know. I don't remember how I found it: possibly via comment here at PATSP, or through some other blog (The Scientist Gardener would be a likely candidate).

Good to Grow, on the other hand, I'm pretty sure I discovered through looking at my Sitemeter statistics. Houseplants, interiorscaping, how-to, retail, outdoor. It's written by Liza, from Albuquerque, NM, U.S.

I don't even know what the name of the next one is, because it is, unfortunately for me, written in Greek. It looks like "Phytology," maybe. (Google Translate renders it "Fytologio.") I found it when the author started to follow PATSP. (I don't check out all of my followers' profile pages, for various reasons, but I usually do eventually look at most of them.) I recommend it mainly for the photography, which is very good. Lots of close-ups of very obscure succulents, plus also some orchids and really strange cactus stuff. (For example, this post from October, which involves grafting cactus that have been cut vertically: the plant which results is an Echinopsis on the left and a Sulcorebutia on the right. Crazier still, both of these appear to be grafted themselves, onto an Opuntia. Why? I do not know. But it certainly expands my understanding of what can be done with cactus grafting. Also check out the thinly-sliced Lithops pictures, which does the same for my concepts of transmitted-light plant photography.) The pictures also link to a separate website with a really ridiculous number of plant pictures, which I had previously run into when researching for the Haworthia profile, and which is nice for IDing stuff because there are many pictures of each plant, from various angles.

So. There. That should hold y'all for four days. (Actually, some of those sites could give you reading material until Easter, all by themselves.) Have a good Christmas, and I will see you again on Boxing Day, at which point we can gleefully fling poinsettias into the garbage while saying rude things to them, which is how I traditionally observe Boxing Day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pretty pictures: Cyanotis kewensis flowers

Well, I said I'd get better pictures of the flowers than I did of the buds (last Thursday), and I think I was successful. A couple of these turned out really, really well, in fact, or at least better than I was expecting. The first two pictures were taken using the flash on the camera; the others used natural light. I can't really tell the difference, as far as the quality of the pictures goes.

The flowers are not especially long-lasting, and on dark days, I don't think any of them bother to open at all, but considering that flowers are pretty much just a bonus, not really the reason for growing the plant, I'm satisfied.

The color doesn't come out quite right in the photos, by the way. I mean, the pictures are closer to reality than I was expecting them to be (particularly the first picture), but the real flowers are a strange glowy, possibly fluorescent, purple that I really like. It doesn't exactly go very well with the rest of the plant (glowy purple plus olive green plus brown? Ew. . . .), but I try not to think about that.

Cyanotis kewensis is in the Commelinaceae, a family which has given us several other houseplants (Tradescantia pallida, Tradescantia sillamontana, Tradescantia spathacea, Tradescantia zebrina, Gibasis geniculata, Siderasis fuscata, and Callisia fragrans, among others) and outdoor plants, plus a few weeds (Commelina communis being the main one). The family shares the same basic flower structure, though the color varies from species to species, and not all of the flowers look so much like feather boas.

I've found mine to be somewhat difficult to get going; I've tried starting cuttings in the mini-greenhouse, with partial success, and in Nina's terrarium, with no success. Once established, it seems to be relatively easy. I get the feeling it would be happier in a higher-humidity environment.