Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Technically Sheba's on the neighbor's lawn in this picture, not ours; our lot has a corner taken out of it for unknown historical reasons.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Three Unidentified Cactus Blooms

I seem to be kind of on a roll this week as far as posting every day -- which hasn't happened since December -- so let's see if I can't make it seven for seven just to prove that it's still possible.

All of these pictures are from the ex-job, over the last three or four months. Anybody who can identify one of the three plants here with any degree of confidence should let me know in the comments.

This one's obviously a Mammillaria of some kind. (Right?)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pretty pictures: Portulaca grandiflora cvv.

We've bought some Portulaca grandifloras this year, both a couple six-packs and a couple packages of seeds. It's maybe a little late for seeds, but if we plant them soon, we can still get some flowers from them before the summer's done. (Unfortunately, we had one spot in mind for them when we bought them, then decided that we didn't want to plant anything there after all, so now we're trying to figure out what else to do with them. I'm leaning toward giving them their own dedicated bed somewhere, but there aren't any obvious places to put one. So we dither.)

I've missed Portulaca. In the apartment in 2008, we had some, and they were nice. Bought more when we moved, and had lots in 2009. Never had enough for proper reseeding, though, so we wound up with fewer and fewer every year, and none last year. So hopefully we can start over this year.

In the meantime, though, we have twenty-one pictures of Portulacas past, arranged in color order, because I took that many pictures in 2009 and 2010.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Random plant event: Billbergia NOID

This was blooming at the ex-job last week. Sorry about the crappy photo: the light was bad, the background was cluttered, and there's only so much I can do to clean these things up. Hopefully you get the idea regardless.

I'm not sure the color of the actual flowers comes across properly here; in person, it was sort of navy blue, which is what I thought was the most interesting about the whole thing.

I don't know which Billbergia this is, though I can narrow it down to two: I'm pretty sure the only ones they have are 'Borracho' and 'Hallelujah.'

Billbergia 'Borracho.' (This is my personal plant, from a couple years ago.)

Billbergia 'Hallelujah.'

The sharp-eyed reader will notice immediately that neither of these look like the plant at the top of the post. This is because both varieties need fairly bright light in order to maintain proper color, and this is prime annual-buying season. So they've gotten shoved under tables to make room for Impatiens and stuff, causing the reversion to plain green.

If I had to guess, I'd guess this is 'Hallelujah.' Not only do the leaves appear to have a little bit of reddish-purple in them still, the inflorescence matches the search results for 'Hallelujah' a little better than 'Borracho.' Whichever it is, I'm happy I got to see it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New plants

Reader generosity (thank you, Paul VA!) has gotten me one of the plants that's been on my want list for a long time, Euphorbia leuconeura.

He even sent a slightly smaller duplicate, just in case.

Not a lot to say about the plant yet; I only just got them last Thursday. The only thing that's really jumped out at me so far is that they're a lot prettier in person than I was expecting from the photos I've seen on-line. (The above photos included.) Some plants just don't photograph well.

But wait! There were even more bonuses! Agave potatorum 'Kissho Kan' and a duplicate:

I hadn't asked for this specifically, but I'm always happy to make the acquaintance of more Agaves (with the possible exception of A. bovicornuta, which is much too stabby for its own good), so this is also awesome.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pretty picture: Epidendrum Fany Lady

I couldn't find any record of an Epidendrum Fany Lady. At first I thought maybe it was a misspelled Funny Lady, but that doesn't appear to exist either. So I don't know anything about this particular orchid except that apparently it's an Epidendrum.

Alas, this is another case where I was a bit too far away to get a good photo.

I've spotted a couple Epidendrums in regular, everyday retail lately -- the ex-job had an orange one last Wednesday, and they'd had a few others earlier this year. Not sure what, if anything, this signifies, but it's interesting to me because this is the first time I remember seeing them outside of orchid shows. When I've mentioned them on the blog previously, readers have told me that they're not inordinately difficult to grow, so maybe this means I'll be encountering them more often.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Elsewhere on the Web -- Karma Police Edition

Things of interest from the internet:

1) I sort of already suspected that imidacloprid is not particularly good for the environment, but had avoided reading much on the subject because I didn't want to have to stop using the only thing I've got that seems to work. And then The Raw Story published an article about imidacloprid in water being linked to lower populations of snails, dragonflies, and other invertebrates. I don't really care about the snails so much, because what have snails done for me lately, but I would hate to be responsible for hurting any dragonflies. I mean, they eat mosquitoes. They're on our side. We don't want to mess with the dragonflies.

Imidacloprid is also often used in flea and tick control collars for cats and dogs, by the way, so don't think you're in the clear just because you don't use it on your plants.

Honeybee on unidentified cultivar of Bracteantha bracteosa.

2) On the other hand, the danger of imidacloprid to bees has maybe been exaggerated. At the very least, the people who are sure that colony collapse disorder is entirely due to neonicotinoid pesticides are overlooking some things. For one thing, it's been happening for a long time:
It gets even better: in both 2007 and 2009 another paper pointed out that there were at least 18 historical episodes of similar large-scale losses of honey bees dating back to 1869, at least several of which had symptoms similar enough that they cannot be ruled out as being the exact same ailment. Yet, how often have you seen any of the scientists and journalists and beekeepers acknowledging that any theories about the cause of CCD need to accommodate the evidence for similar bee crashes that pre-date neonicotinoid pesticides, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), migratory beekeeping, cell phones, genetically modified crops, or any of the other human-made “causes” that have been run up the proverbial flagpole? (emphasis in original)
Don't misunderstand: neonicotinoids are not doing the bees any favors, and bees would be better off if we stopped using neonicotinoid pesticides. But that's not enough to end colony collapse disorder. More things are happening than just pesticides.

3) has a post called "Searching for OJ's Killer" that's an interesting read, if you've been longing to learn more about citrus greening (huanglongbing) since the last time I mentioned it. Among the things I learned: there's a virus that affects citrus plants that's been named "Tristeza" ("sadness" in Portuguese), which is surely in the running for the most appropriate plant-virus name ever.

Photo from

4) New from the world of unnecessary plastic plant-related crap: The Book Vase. It's not that it's not cute -- it is -- but I look at that and think about how hard it would be to water without accidentally getting the books next to it wet and ruining them. And then I think about how there are no drainage holes. (Though at least in the photo, they're using a plant that can grow in water. The expanded clay pellets instead of potting mix is also a good call.) And then I think of algae. This just seems like more trouble than it could be worth. (Via Colossal.)

5) Finally, lest this post be completely depressing and negative,1 I found a video I thought was cool. It's a cover of Radiohead's song "Karma Police," as performed by Tel Aviv-based musicians Rotem Shefy (vocalist) and Leat Sabbah (cellist/arranger). It took me a few listens to decide I liked it: it's very different from the original, and in spots I was like, are they parodying Middle Easterners? What's going on here?,2 but it grew on me. Also the video is worth watching for the outfits alone, if you're into that sort of thing.

(Via MetaFilter.)


1 (This is PATSP, not The Deep Middle.)
2 In short: yes, they were, at least partially. From their own description: "A satirical arrangement recorded with an exaggerated Arabic accent," though the Kickstarter page for the video also says "What seemed at first a satirical cover transformed into a full-blown multi-layered middle-eastern arrangement," (emphasis mine) implying that they consider it something else now. This sort of transformation is apparently not uncommon in the music world. The discussion of the song at MetaTalk may also be of interest, if you like to read people arguing about arguing.