Friday, February 3, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 203

The more seedlings there are to keep track of, the harder it is to distinguish between them, so I can't tell you a whole lot about 203A that isn't obvious from the photos.

Mostly: the colors are loud. Which is fine. I think I prefer the seedlings with strong, fully-saturated colors to the more pastel ones anyway.

For 203A, the four name candidates are: Dolly Parton, Flamboyant Tendency, Loud and Clear, and What About My Needs.

203A was early enough in the season that the tears in the petals here were probably mechanical, the result of them catching on other plants (or the flats, or the shelves) when getting moved around. The thrips normally don't eat all the way through a petal anyway, just scrape off a thick enough layer to make the flower ugly and then move on. That said, I suppose it's possible that the thrips are learning new things.

I think I can drop Loud and Clear right away. It's not inappropriate, but it's sort of a cliche. Pretty much the same goes for Flamboyant Tendency -- actually now that I look at it, "Tendency" adds nothing: it should have just been Flamboyant.

What About My Needs is a Culture ship name.1 At 19 characters long (including spaces), it wouldn't be the longest name I've used,2 but it's pretty long. It sort of works, in that the loud-and-screamy colors seem to go nicely with a phrase that is normally loudly screamed. I guess. The other option left is Dolly Parton, who, as previously noted, is delightful3 and totally seedling-worthy, and has also been on my mind a lot lately.

Poor What About My Needs never really stood a chance. I hereby christen 203A Dolly Parton.


1 Culture ship names, discussed here, are so named because they resemble names of spaceships in Iain M. Banks' series of novels about the galaxy-spanning civilization called the Culture (hence the name); they're not necessarily names that were actually used in the novels though. Culture ship names are distinguished mostly by their length, and are often but not always a full grammatically-correct sentence.
2 That would be 082A Strawberry Madeleine, which is 20 characters long. What About My Needs would tie 084A Downward-Facing Dog for second-longest.
The list of prospective names technically maxes out at 30 characters (Fictitious Canadian Girlfriend), but that's the only option I have with more than 25 characters.
I don't know if there's an official character limit for cultivar names or not, but I read some naming guide a while back that I think said to stick to 30 or fewer characters, and I figured 25 would be even safer. I had also been trying to keep names at one or two words long, but I've broken that rule a few times already (020A Feet Of Clay, 066B Sigrid the Haughty, 083B Guy Fawkes Night, 084A Downward-Facing Dog, 103B Must Be Love, 105A Berry Rhubarb Fool, 106A Jaws of Elmo, and 200A Breakin' The Law. And yes, I'm aware that I'm being inconsistent about capitalization of small words -- 020A Feet Of Clay but 106A Jaws of Elmo, for example -- and it bothers me too and I intend to do something about it sooner or later, don't you worry.), and the prospects list goes up to at least five- and six-word options (Will They Or Won't They, I Thought We'd Get Out, Let Me Count The Ways, A Banjo Like The Moon, I Want To Be Sedated, You Don't Want Me No More, I Want To Go To There), though I don't know how seriously I'm taking any of them as possible names.
I admit to finding A Banjo Like The Moon bizarrely appealing; it was in the running for seedling 127A until I decided I liked another banjo-related name better.
3 The late Roger Ebert described meeting Dolly in person (to do a one-on-one interview in promotion of her movie Nine To Five) thusly:
As we spoke, I found myself enveloped by her presence. This had nothing to do with sex appeal. Far from it. It was as if I were being mesmerized by a benevolent power. I left the room in a cloud of good feeling. Next day, Siskel and I were sitting next to each other on an airplane. "This will sound crazy," he said, "but when I was interviewing Dolly Parton, I almost felt like she had healing powers."

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pretty picture: Phalaenopsis [probably not] Minho Princess

Of all the reasons not to go to the orchid show this year, I think the one closest to my heart is that it will prevent me from seeing a new batch of incorrectly-spelled orchid ID tags.

It's not that misspellings are traumatic in themselves. This one isn't even that bad, all things considered: a simple transposition of two vowels from a combination which doesn't appear that often in modern English (AE) to a combination that does (EA). Totally understandable. What really gets to me, though, is the lack of proofreading. You've already made the sign, it's sitting there right in front of you, you're looking at it -- how do you not pause for a fraction of a second to ask yourself, does this look right?

Or maybe it did look right. Which is perhaps even more upsetting.

Anyway. Thank you for indulging me in one more grumpy orchid-proofreading ramble before I stop doing the orchid posts. To reward you, I will tell you that the letters of the word "Phalaenopsis" can be rearranged in 59,875,200 distinguishable permutations,1 including "a snail shoppe," "a posh spaniel," "hapless piano," and "polishes a pan."

So this is the plant in question. I think there's a pretty good chance that it isn't Minho Princess. Why? I couldn't find any photos of Minho Princess on-line that looked like this. I mean, I suppose it could just be a really variable grex, but the photos I found all showed a mostly white flower, with a little pink-purple along the largest veins, and some more pink-purple at the margins. (Example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4, example 5, example 62) The online photos for a highly-variable grex shouldn't be this uniform. So I conclude that somewhere along the line, the wrong ID became associated with the plant, probably at the original seller. Sellers don't think their customers give a crap about IDs, so they don't feel like they have to give a crap about IDs either.

I like the plant. The blooms are obviously pretty striking close-up, but the contrast was visible from surprisingly far away, too. I wish there was some way of, you know, learning the name of this plant that I like.

[Phalaenopsis Minho Princess = Phalaenopsis Sun Prince x Phalaenopsis Ta Lin Freeds (Ref.), though that doesn't matter because this isn't Minho Princess.]

In (now somewhat-old) Anthurium news, I purged the Anthuriums in the living room, the ancestral varieties that produced all the original seedlings. 'Pandola' is gone. The NOID red is gone. The NOID dark red that never bloomed is gone. 'Gemini' is gone. 'White Gemini' is gone. 'Peppermint Gemini' is gone. 'Orange Hot' is gone. All three copies of the NOID pink are gone. 'Krypton' is gone. The NOID red-violet that might or might not have also been 'Krypton' is gone. All four of the 'Florida's are gone (though I'm pretty sure they never contributed anything genetically. Moral support, perhaps.).

There were also a couple ancestral plants in the basement, pre-purge. The NOID pink-green is gone. 'Joli' is gone. The small pot of salvaged cuttings from the NOID purple, which had only just gotten old enough to bloom, is gone.

My goodness. So what isn't gone, Mr. S.?

The NOID purple, and two backup copies of 'Red Hot.' And one 'Red Hot' is looking a little shaky, to be honest.

I'm not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, in theory, the genes from the founding generation are present in the surviving seedlings; the founders had already made themselves redundant. Not to mention that there were ghost mites, Xanthomonas, or both, on all the plants I threw out, and it's good to get rid of pest/disease reservoirs. On the other hand, this means that if I were to decide to start over with the seedlings, I'd have to buy new Anthuriums to start over with. And, as it happens, the ex-job is now even more of an ex-job than it used to be, because they're no longer in business, so I'm not even sure where I'd get the replacement Anthuriums from.3

In any case. The founding-Anthuriums purge is upsetting, and also it's not.4 Just like the ex-job closing is both upsetting and not. Ditto the really big plant-related thing I've alluded to a few times now but haven't been able to bring myself to name and describe yet, which was both devastating and an enormous relief. The last three months have been fucking weird.


1 Assuming that my math is correct. A twelve-letter word in which no letters are duplicated should have 12! (= 479,001,600) different permutations; since "phalaenopsis" has three letters duplicated (a, p, and s), I think the number of combinations should be 12!/(2^3) = 59,875,200.
2 In March or April last year, I found two more sites which showed Minho Princess with the same coloration as the others; those links have since 404ed. But six examples should be enough to get the idea.
3 They announced this in mid-November. I think this was a deliberate decision to retire, rather than the owners finding themselves forced out by the economic climate or whatever. But they'd been talking about closing or relocating since at least 2008, and since I didn't go back to chat with them or anyone else who worked there, I'm not sure that it wasn't motivated by declining sales.
I never understood how they could price plants at triple the big-box and grocery-store prices and stay in business in the first place. But then, I don't have a keen business mind.
Should note that I don't feel particularly upset about the ex-job being gone. I rarely visited anymore; when I did, I didn't generally buy anything. There are also some not-great memories associated with the place, which time has faded but not eliminated entirely: although things weren't super-ugly when I left, the bad was outweighing the good by that point. (Some of this was my fault, some of it wasn't. Somewhere in my various files is a draft for a blog post titled "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Garden Center Workers." Which is still good advice. Eight years since I left, and I still can't look at poinsettias without a small jolt of dread.)
Still. End of an era, and all that. I don't entirely understand why I didn't go back to see the place one last time, or talk to the people who still worked there. Had I visited early enough, I could even have picked up some new houseplants for a mere 2.25 times the big-box price. It wasn't that I didn't care, but -- the idea of going back to see the store gradually clear out made me uneasy in some difficult-to-explain way, so I never did. And now it's gone. Or gone-ish, anyway.
Also: if a family-owned garden center in the area had to close down, why couldn't it have been Pierson's?
4 Watering the living room for the first time, post-purge, took me 3.7 hours. That no doubt sounds like a lot of time to spend watering, but the most recent five pre-purge waterings took 4.3, 5.1, 5.4, 5.5, and 6.4 hours. Not only do I save time watering, but I no longer have those periodic pangs of should I throw this one out? Is that Xanthomonas? Are those ghost mites? to deal with. It's definitely not all bad.