Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

We don't live in a big town. The entire town comprises thirty-one blocks, says Google Maps, plus four cul-de-sacs. (The town I lived in until I was eleven only had ten blocks, and no cul-de-sacs, though, so it could always be worse.) This makes walking Sheba sort of boring, because even if I take routes through alleys and stuff to try to expand the options, there are still only just so many paths to be taken, and I've already been everywhere in town several times over.

So when the weather is nice enough for it, I've been walking outside of town with Sheba. There's a particular gravel road I like, heading west out of town, that's fairly quick to get to and relatively untraveled during the day.

It must see more traffic at night, though, because the trash in the ditches next to the road is like: beer can, beer can, cigarette pack, beer can, soda can, beer can, beer can, chewing tobacco container, beer can, soda can, jar of pickles, beer can, soda can, gun cabinet --

-- malt-based alcopop bottle, chewing tobacco container, beer can, beer can, beer can. I'm guessing a lot of drunk driving probably happens around here. Probably a good chunk of it's even underage drunk driving. Yeah, we're classy.

But so the point is that it's an okay place to walk a dog, during the day, and it makes for about a two-mile walk. I worried a little that maybe all the gravel might be hard on Sheba's feet, but there's actually enough grass along the side of the road that I don't think she spends much time on the gravel, and obviously I don't encourage her to walk down the middle of the street anyway. Unless I want to get a picture.

No doubt we'll get tired of this route soon enough too, but it was nice to discover. Now if we could only have some days when it's nice enough to go on an extended walk. Seems like all we've had for the last two weeks is rain and cold and gray and yuck, grumble grumble.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Elsewhere on the Web

Decorah Eagles
Summary: Somewhere in Decorah, IA, someone put a webcam in a Bald Eagle nest and is broadcasting the activities of its occupants (two adults and three eaglets) to the world. This is shockingly popular.

OSU College of Biological Sciences Greenhouses
Summary: A titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) named 'Woody' at Ohio State University, in Columbus, OH, is in the process of blooming. There's a webcam for this one too, which seems a little unnecessary but whatever.

Pretty pictures: Pink and Red Pelargonium cvv.

One nice thing about the new camera (which isn't even new anymore; I've had it more than a year): it appears to be capable of taking pictures of Pelargonium flowers. The old one always gave me over-saturated colors that obscured the details.

I go back and forth about Pelargoniums: when I started at the garden center, I liked them. After I'd been there a while, I hated them, especially the smell of them. (I considered writing a profile around the "person" of Newborn, or Infant -- they have very rounded features, they frequently smell funny, and everybody was always talking about them as though they were super-delicate. It still kind of makes sense to me.) Since leaving the garden center job, I've been appreciating pels again. Why absence makes the heart grow fonder with Pelargoniums and not Phalaenopsis, I don't know.

Pelargonium 'Strawberry Sizzle.'

Pelargonium 'Stars and Stripes.'

Pelargonium 'Peppermint Twist.'

I only actually own two pels. One is a 'Vancouver Centennial' that I've had for about two years. I can rarely give it enough light to get the leaves to color up properly (it's an inconvenient size, and competition is fierce for the high-light spots), but it's otherwise been agreeable.

Pelargonium 'Mrs. Pollock.'

The other, 'Mrs. Pollock,' only arrived a couple weeks ago (one of only TWO plants I've bought in the last two months, the other being the Rhipsalis I posted about a while back -- such superhuman restraint!), and all indications are that it's going to have the same problem. I hope to work something out that everybody is okay with. Nina and I are currently sorting through everybody's applications for one of the coveted outdoor positions this summer (yes, the plants fill out paperwork. We all get paperwork here.), and Mrs. Pollock makes a strong argument. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Walkaway: Aristolochia gigantea

Still trying to get the list together for the plants I intend to sell or trade (which is going to take a while longer; there are many pictures, and I suspect I'm including too much information about the plants in question but I'm sort of paranoid about sending one to somebody and then having them not like it, or having it be not what they were expecting, and then feeling like I should do something to fix that -- except that by the time it reaches that point it's sort of too late to fix, so I'm inclined to share everything I know about the plant in question in hopes of forestalling this kind of awkwardness. Except that then I realize that I'm dumping tons of information on the readers, most of whom will find it irrelevant and tedious, so I delete most of it, only to succumb to the fear that I've omitted important details, so I add it all back in again. Which is why it's taking a long time.), but figured I should still post something today, so why not another plant I didn't buy from the ex-job?

It's at least a plant I'd never seen before; I'd barely even heard of it. (I think I've seen it on a couple other blogs, but it's not something people typically try to grow, particularly not as a houseplant.)

Younger Former Coworker said it had an unpleasant smell, but either I couldn't smell anything, or I forgot to check. (It could be that Younger Former Coworker makes up fragrance-related things to tell me about, so I'll question my own perceptions.) It certainly has the I'm-pretending-to-be-a-dead-animal look to it.

Younger Former Coworker also referred to the plant as "the nut-sack plant." She spends a lot of time around livestock.

I'm a little suspicious of the ID here: Aristolochia gigantea was the name on the tag, but the A. gigantea results from Google are the wrong color and size. It may be some other Aristolochia. It also wasn't completely opened-up yet, so the resemblance might be better now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pretty pictures: Phaius tankervillae

When I worked at the garden center, Phaius were very occasionally on the availability list from our supplier, but I never brought any in because . . . I don't remember. Our supplier used to try to push them on me, too, and sounded surprised when I declined to order any.

They've gotten a few in since I left, though, and . . . they're nice. I didn't get pictures of the foliage (which I regret), but I like it nearly as well as the flowers -- it's pleated a bit, like Asplundia, but otherwise long, narrow, and oval (like Canna or Alpinia).

The common name is "nun orchid," because a structure deep inside the flower resembles a nun with a white wimple. I looked, but couldn't actually see this on any of the flowers in this post, so I don't have a picture, sorry. (Garden Adventures does, though, as well as having more information about the plant.)

I didn't buy, because they were out of my price range (like everything else). That may not be such a terrible thing, though: I don't know what they're like to grow indoors, and I don't have room for one anyway. But they're interesting plants. Perhaps someday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More Adventures With Chlorophyll Kid

I think it's more entertaining not to know what led up to this scene or what happens immediately after.



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elsewhere on the Web

I don't quite get Tumblr -- it seems to be very popular, and yet I don't see that it's doing anything you couldn't do with Blogger, Wordpress, etc. Perhaps it's just that it's newer? There does seem to be a lot of faddishness on-line: everybody has a Geocities page until everybody has to have a MySpace page until everybody has to be on Facebook.

I don't understand Facebook's popularity either, especially considering their cavalier attitude toward user privacy. (Google/Blogger is, I suspect, not better, but so far they seem less blatantly bad than Facebook.) And I gave Twitter a chance, but it's too much, and I found it more frustrating than useful. (I don't think in 140-character snippets. It's okay. The rest of y'all go on ahead into the future without me.)

But, while I don't understand the advantages of Tumblr as a platform, I'm interested in some of the people who use it, and sometimes one follows links from site to site and winds up finding something interesting. I don't know how I got there, but I saw this on Hometown Memories, and for some reason it speaks to me:

Random plant event: Anthurium cross pollination

About two months ago, I went through a phase where I ran around trying to cross-pollinate everything that was in bloom: Chlorophytum, Nematanthus, Saintpaulia, Anthurium, Murraya. I'm not sure why. It seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

Mostly, this was useless. The possible Nematanthus fruit that I was so excited about dropped off without developing; the Saintpaulias weren't even willing to pretend that something had happened. The Murraya produced a few fruits, but I haven't been able to get any of the seeds to sprout; ditto for the Chlorophytum.

I thought that the Anthuriums were another case where nothing happened at all, and wasn't that surprised, because I had no idea how to cross them (it's not easy to tell when the flowers might be receptive; it's only barely obvious when they're shedding pollen), but it turns out that at least a few worked, as you can tell from the lumpiness developing in the spadices:


As for how I did it: I took a cheap plastic paintbrush and went around "painting" the spadices of all the Anthuriums then in bloom, in varying sequences, on multiple occasions. That's all. I'd tried other methods in the past (both rubbing spadices together and using fingers instead of a paintbrush), which never worked.


This doesn't mean I'm going to get seedlings out of this, and if I do, I won't know which plant was the male parent, but it does, at minimum, move me from the nothing-happened Saintpaulia category up to the something-happened-but-I-still-didn't-get-more-plants category. If I do get fruit and seeds from the Anthuriums, I'm fairly confident that I know what to do from there. Keep your fingers crossed for me.