Saturday, May 2, 2015

How Righteous Is Our Maple Tree?

This righteous.

I have no idea what a tree has to do to get a halo, but clearly, this is a very, very good tree.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 082

Yes, Schlumbergera seedlings can still bloom in colors other than orange. Sometimes lots of colors other than orange: this one starts out pink and light yellow (as a bud), becomes red, orange, and white as it opens, and then turns pink/magenta as it ages. So the photos in this post may not look like they came from the same plant -- but they did.

It was pretty exciting to see a new array of photos from TinEye, not to mention a little disorienting (where did all the orange go?) but this was one of those rare cases when I was able to settle on a name without having to consider and reject them one by one.

First, an honorable mention: I think this is the first time I've submitted Schlumbergera colors to TinEye and had it suggest a photo of a Schlumbergera back.1 So I thought about making it a MS Excel joke and calling it "Circular Reference."

But the name I settled on was a combination name from two different photos. First, I got new fruit-related suggestions from TinEye. Ordinarily I get mostly tomatoes, and occasionally grapefruit, but what came up for 082A was a lot of cranberries, strawberries, and pomegranates. Strawberries in particular. (one, two, three) In person, there really is something sort of strawberryish about the color: it would definitely fit. And I'm very fond of strawberries. So maybe "Strawberry-_________".

Second, one of the photos that came up showed a person who reminded me very, very strongly of someone I used to know. It wasn't that person, of course; it was someone about twenty years younger, and from a different country. But the resemblance (the hair! the facial expression!) was strong enough that a lot of memories and feelings about that person welled up, and I realized I was probably never going to have a satisfactory resolution to my life's story with that person, and although I was basically okay with never having that resolved, all the feelings were still there, at something very close to their original level of intensity, and it was surprising and sort of uncomfortable.

I was sure there was probably some word for that experience, and I figured that if there were, I would probably find it at The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, since that's the sort of thing he specializes in, but I didn't find anything that seemed right. So then I tried asking MetaFilter2 for nomenclatural help, and they suggested several terms for the person in the photo.3 Not everything worked for what I was intending, but four stuck out as plausible things to name a seedling:

Schadengeist (the idea was "harm-ghost," in German, though Ivynettle says it doesn't really come across that way)

Madeleine (from the madeleine in Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, as well as a character, Madeline, in Hitchock's Vertigo, which I don't think I've seen; my understanding is that Madeline's role in the movie involves the same person-who-strongly-resembles-another-person situation as my experience)

Saudade (one of those words that winds up on "untranslatable in English" lists a lot; my understanding is that it's roughly "bittersweet nostalgia for something irretrievably lost," in Portuguese, but has a more elaborate article about it)

Revenant (a person who returns after a long absence, often a ghost or spirit that's returned from the dead but not necessarily)

My understanding of German is minimal, and "schadengeist" seems to emphasize harm more than the situation warrants -- yes, stuff with this person was painful at the time, but it's been many years since I've seen them, and seeing the photo of their double wasn't scary or painful as much as just really surprising and intense. And "revenant" didn't really work on the grounds that they're neither actually dead nor actually returned.

I had more or less decided that I wanted to work "strawberry" in there somewhere too, so that left "Strawberry Saudade," which has a pleasing sound to it and is more or less emotionally accurate, or "Strawberry Madeleine," which emphasizes the shock-of-remembering thing more, plus is a thing that might actually exist. (I was eventually able to confirm that they in fact do exist.)

Ultimately, I liked the concreteness of Strawberry Madeleine more than I liked the consonance of Strawberry Saudade, so Strawberry Madeleine it is.


1 Flickr people apparently don't take a lot of photos of orange Schlumbergeras.
2 Oh yeah -- I signed up for MetaFilter a while back. I'm "Spathe Cadet" there. (That groan you just made inside, over the pun? That groan took me more than a year to settle on. I would have joined MeFi ages ago if I hadn't been so worried about choosing the right user name.)
3 Which I'm deliberately not linking the photo, by the way, because the only conceivable thing linking it to an actual person publicly could accomplish would be to make it weirder and more personal. I feel like it's already pretty weird and personal.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum (sukhakulii x Big Boba)

The International Orchid Register was unable to find a "Big Boba" in any genus. Google and DuckDuckGo1 hadn't heard of it either. This could mean that it's just a very new hybrid, but that's unlikely since it's old enough to be used in crosses which are old enough to appear, in bloom, in an orchid show. So either the IOR is a lot less comprehensive than I had been led to believe, the name "Big Boba" has been invented by a retailer, or it's what's left over after the original name was mangled by a show exhibitor. From past experiences with the show tags, I'd put my money on the last option, but I checked "Big Bubba," "Big Bob," "Big Buba," and "Big Bobba," and didn't get any hits on those either, so it'll remain a mystery, I guess.

At least Paphiopedilum sukhakulii definitely exists; it's quite popular with breeders. (see previous posts: 2012 orchid show, 2012 again, and my first (and last) attempt to grow my own Paphiopedilum.

Also, as long as you're here: there are still Schlumbergera cuttings to be purchased, if you're interested in doing so. Prices are $7 for one plant, $11 for two, and $15 for three; this includes shipping. I'm planning to mail them out at some point in mid to late May, depending on the weather. There are currently at least one available pot of cuttings for:

008B "Candor"
010A "Semantic Satiation"
019A "Belevenissen"
024B "Bryce Canyon"
025A "Clownfish"
026A "Brick Wall"
028A "Phil Collen"
028B "Neon Like"
030A "Diwali"
031A "Baby Carrots"
057A "Pyrotechnic"
078A "Art Party"

Photos and additional information at the original blog post.

I also started a new batch of cuttings this week, which should be ready to mail in July:

023A "Stoked"
054A "Helpful Gesture"
055B "Fort Venus"
073A "Laurie Anderson"
082A "Strawberry Madeleine"
088A "Cyborg Unicorn"
099A "Dessert Room"
111A "Morning Sun"

So e-mail if you have any interest in that,2 and if not . . . you probably stopped reading a while ago.


1 (= Bing)
2, without the "3"

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 055(B)

055B is as close as any of the seedlings have gotten to looking like the seed parent, 'Caribbean Dancer,' but 'Caribbean Dancer' is just red, while 055B starts out orange-red and gets redder and redder with age. The tube color intensifies too, from pink-magenta to a darker magenta-magenta. It's not unusual for Schlumbergera blooms to get darker and/or redder with time, but this is an exceptionally dramatic (and pretty!) case. Not a huge bloomer, but better than a lot of them on their first time out: I think I got three or four flowers total.

I only came up with twelve name options with TinEye; possibly I wasn't in the right mood for it. I suppose that might make it easier to choose one, though. Let's see how it goes:

Let's see. So Good Cop Bad Cop is out on the grounds of being long. Prototype doesn't really make any sense. Pork Butt is amusing to contemplate but obviously, painfully wrong.

I find Pit Bull almost interesting, but I've also been naming the really terrible blooms "_____ Dog," and that might be confusing. You might or might not be crazy about 055B, but whatever it is, it's not a dog.

There's nothing especially Loopy about the flower, so we'll toss that one.

Fiction (Fictions? Fictional?) seems like just begging for something confusing to happen. ("I'm sorry? You're looking for a fictional cactus? Do you know what 'fictional' means?")

It's not impossible that Shocktop might be trademarked.

Gasworks probably doesn't have the most pleasant associations for people, and doesn't really make any sense anyway.

I like the idea of naming a seedling Hovercraft, but can't come up with any rational defense for doing so, which makes me think I probably shouldn't.

Which leaves us three options: Invitation, Fort Venus, and Secret Intensity. I like all three to some degree, but there are problems with all of them too.

Invitation is a neutral to good word, on its own; generally people like being invited to things, I think, right? I mean, it's usually less upsetting than not being invited to things. It's a little generic, but I don't imagine it's been used before for a Schlumbergera. I can imagine it working.

Fort Venus is a twist on the photo's "Venus Fort," and I like the contrast: the sexy, feminine Venus juxtaposed with the ugly military reality of "fort." On the other hand, I do already have a "fort" bloom,1 and maybe it's too early to be repeating words?

Secret Intensity sounds like it wants to be some kind of personal hygiene product.2 Or maybe it's what the journalists write about you after you go on your killing spree.3 It's just vague enough to seem like it means something, without really meaning anything. Also there's nothing particularly secret about the seedling, as far as I know. Though I suppose if there's something out there being all obvious and BLLLEEEEUUUURRRRRG then it's really not much of a secret.

In the end, I think I like the concept of "Fort Venus" more than I care about repeating words, and it just kinda looks like a "Fort Venus," so that's what we're gonna call this one.


1 ("Sofa Fort")
2 Though I suppose "intensity" is not something one normally wants in a personal hygiene product. ("Hmmm, let's see . . . Summer's Eve, RepHresh, Massengill . . . Oh! Intensity! That sounds like the one I want!" "This deodorant is intense, brah!" etc.)
3 ("Though most people only saw a mild-mannered plant breeder who cared about his husband, dog, and collection of tropical houseplants, Mr. Subjunctive possessed a secret intensity few people ever glimpsed.")

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 073

I've thought I was done with the Schlumbergera seedling posts a few times now, most recently in mid-March, but I've seen blooms from another five seedlings, so I guess it's time to do one more round. Maybe once I finish with those, the seedlings will let me rest for a few months.

Schlumbergera 073A is, you know, okay. Orange / pink, not especially floriferous so far, hasn't really distinguished itself from the group.

When I do these posts, I've taken to dividing the initial list of possibilities from TinEye into "maybe," "no," and "lol no" sets. The "lol no" group included "Mean Words," which I find almost appealing but was nevertheless obviously wrong, "Bio-Digester," which is somehow both even more appealing and even more wrong, and "Midland-Odessa," which if you've ever seen Midland-Odessa, Texas, well, you understand why it's not appropriate to name a pretty flower after it. "Midland-Odessa" is more of a Stapelia name. Something tan and xeric.1

The "no" group were mostly either boring (Pre-Event, The Wave) or too non-sequiturish (Marrow, Polyglot) for me, and aren't worth listing in full.

Rejected "maybe" candidates:

Dopey: not really applicable. Ditto for Synthpop, Callejón (Spanish for "alley"), and Hellkitten.

Rhumba: too generic; it's conceivable that someone else might have named a Schlumbergera "Rhumba" already, or will soon. Also Heartthrob, Honeymoon, and Ballerina. ("Honeymoon" was not helped by the fact that the photo is of an undetermined animal's butt.)

Which left me with five.

The picture for Cupcake (or Cupcake Graffito) isn't very interesting. "Cupcake" would be appropriate for pretty much any of the seedlings, and "Cupcake Graffito" doesn't make much sense. So never mind. Four. We're at four.

Omani Desert is a lovely photo, and a great color match, though not really quite the right part of the world for a Schlumbergera, which are all native to Brazil. Which makes me a little uneasy, enough so that I'll discard this too. (It's not like I won't be seeing the photo again.)

Not Enough Shoes has a nice story to go along with it, but is sort of nonsensical, plus long. So it's out.

Candy Box is a little generic, but the colors seem appropriate to the name and it's unambiguously happy. Unless one is diabetic, I suppose. So I'd consider it, except that . . .

Then there's Laurie Anderson. I love love love Laurie Anderson ("Babydoll" is probably one of my ten favorite songs of all time,2 and the first time I heard Big Science was all but a religious experience.), and the only objection I can think of is that orange and pink are not colors I normally associate with her. Which isn't enough.3 So "Laurie Anderson" it is. No contest.


1 And I say this as someone who did Spring Break in Lubbock, TX twice during college, and liked it. My message to Midland-Odessa would be, when you're comparing unfavorably to Lubbock, it's time to ask yourself, am I really trying as hard as I could be to be a pleasant place to live?
But seriously. Hop on Google Maps street view and look around Midland a little bit. I dare you to find something pretty.
2 Two others which are surely in my top ten: "Spark" (Tori Amos), "North Dakota" (Lyle Lovett). After that it starts getting hard to pick any out, but those three are undoubtedly desert island songs for me.
3 How likely am I to get a Schlumbergera that blooms in grayscale, after all?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Anthurium no. 0357 "Rhea Litré"

Yeah, not only are there two Rheas, there are two Rhea L.s. And both Rheas are pretty nice plants, too, as it happens, though it should be noted that Rhea Litré is less impressive than 0231 "Rhea Listick." If I had known there was a real-life drag queen who performs as "Rhea Litré," I probably would have named 0231 something else, but these things happen.

So but how is the plant, you might be asking. Well, see for yourself:

The bloom isn't anything we haven't seen before, really. Dark red and yellow-green like 0002 "Alexis Mateo," 0290 "RuPaul Charles," 0005 "Chad Michaels," and 0203 "Anna Mae Hemensouz." (Possibly a little more yellow than green in Rhea's case.)

Still, it's fairly nice, compared to most of those: Alexis produces gorgeous leaves but not many blooms, and grows very slowly; RuPaul is still pretty new and may yet surprise us, but the one bloom we've seen so far appeared to have been damaged during development. Until I overwatered a few times, Chad was doing really nicely, and the overwatering didn't actually kill him, but the new growth is coming along very slowly, and I have to be super-careful about watering until he's got a solid root system again. Anna Mae's spathes are pretty small compared to the others, and tend to flip backward pretty severely. So there's still plenty of room for a good dark red / yellow-green, which is why I'm keeping Rhea around.

One thing about all five plants with those bloom colors: they have good foliage. Alexis is the clear winner, with really big leaves, dramatic color, and nifty venation (Not that the photo below shows that necessarily, but trust me: Alexis is superior.), but all five tend to have leaves that are bigger, darker, thicker, and glossier than average. Even more importantly, they tend to be more resistant to thrips damage. (And thank goodness something around here is resistant to thrips damage.) All these characteristics are probably due to the influence of the NOID red, who I suspect of being the pollen parent in all five cases.1

Top: 0002 "Alexis Mateo" and 0005 "Chad Michaels."
Middle: 0203 "Anna Mae Hemensouz."
Bottom: 0290 "RuPaul Charles" and 0357 "Rhea Litré."

Looking forward to seeing a second bloom, because often the second blooms are a better indication of what the plant is really going to do than the first ones are.


1 0002, 0005, 0203, 0357 have 'Gemini' as the seed parent; 0290's was 'White Gemini.'