Saturday, September 23, 2017

Anthurium no. 1634 "Helena Handbag"

So, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the average quality of the photos I post here will probably, and I stress probably, improve in the next few months. The bad news is that A) it might not, B) even if it does I'm not sure you'll actually notice, and C) it's because the camera I'd been using for the last few years abruptly died on me this week and I've been scrambling to find an affordable new one.1

I have posts scheduled, and the photos for those posts have already been taken, but it looks like I'm going to have trouble writing the text to go with the photos for a while, because the camera-replacement process has eaten up a lot of time and energy and now I'm behind on watering and everything else. And I still have to figure out how to use the new camera. So I expect the post frequency to fall off for a while, until everything's back to some approximation of normal.

But for today, we have Helena. "Helena Handbag" is one of those drag names that gets a lot of use but doesn't belong to any particular performer. The sort of name you come up with on Halloween night when you're in drag at the karaoke bar, waiting your turn to rock out to Alanis Morisette's "You Oughta Know" or whatever. So I could probably dig up a video or a web page or something having something to do with Helena Handbag, but it'd be pointless, as there isn't really a Helena Handbag:2 we are all Helena Handbag.3

Helena is another seedling from 0330 Faye Quinette (previously: 1594 Roxy-Cotten Candy), and she resembles her mother pretty strongly. The most obvious difference so far is in the foliage; Helena's is much flatter, with smaller, less visible veining.

Both Faye and Helena have green veins on the backs of the spathes, though it's less intense on Helena. (This may just be a first-bloom thing.)

The full-plant photo is substantially out of date by now; Helena's grown more and larger leaves since it was taken.

In any case. Thrips damage is pretty minimal on the leaves, and the spathes are a color that would hide thrips damage well anyway, but aside from a spot at the top in this photo,

the thrips seem to be leaving the spathe alone anyway. So that's good.

As I've mentioned before, 0330 Faye Quinette isn't doing great lately. The foliage seems to have Xanthomonas, and although it doesn't seem to have gotten to the heart of the plant yet, and it's theoretically possible that the plant will recover if I remove the affected leaves, I'm not terribly optimistic about that. So it's nice to have some similar-looking substitutes like Helena and 1727 Mercedes Sulay around, just in case.

Another seedling from the FE seedling group has bloomed (1679 Madison Adjective -- prettier, but less interesting), but we won't get to it for a while yet.


1 Which was technically unsuccessful. I found and purchased a new one, but "affordable" is a stretch.
2 Also in this category, as far as I know, are "Ida Slapter," "Robyn Banks," "Heywood Jablome," and pretty much anything you want to pair with Ivana or Anita.
3 More than usual, lately, even.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Anthurium no. 1103 "Valeria T."

I'm pretty sure this is one of my own names, and no drag queens currently perform as "Valeria T.," but I still found Twitter, Flickr, Yelp, YouTube, Facebook, and other accounts on-line under this name, so who knows. The intended reference doesn't really have anything to do with anything and isn't even the right color, so 1103's a lot more likely than most seedlings to get her name changed at some point, but she's Valeria for now. And this is what she looks like:

In person, this is a very difficult color to pin down, and it changed over time besides: immediately after opening, it seemed like a very, very pale yellow, but that turned to a pale pink or orange (depending on the lighting), then white, and then greenish. Because it was so pale, I wound up taking a lot of photos, to try to come up with an objective consensus on the actual color, which means I can show you the whole progression:

July 21 (L) and July 24 (R).

August 2 (L) and 10 (R).

August 23 (L) and 26 (R).

September 9 (L) and 17 (R).

I feel like the photos pretty much speak for themselves; I'm not sure what I can add. Obviously I'm pretty happy to have a spathe so large and blistered, and that's before the unusual color, which is maybe -- just maybe -- even yellow. Technically.

Valeria's seed parent was 'Midori;' obviously I'd been hoping for some interesting genetic contributions from 'Midori,' but this is more than I'd hoped for. Both develop a light pink blush near the center of the spathe with age, both have very large, rounded spathes with heavy blistering. The spadix is the only real clue I have to the pollen parent: on 'Midori,' the spadix starts green, becomes white, and then reverts to green, whereas Valeria's progression is yellow-white-green. That's not much of a clue, since about half the Anthuriums that have ever been in the house have had yellow spadices at one point or another, but it's all I've got.

Valeria's foliage also takes after 'Midori' heavily. Both have elongated leaves with large lobes,

both tend to produce a few very big leaves, instead of a lot of smaller ones, and both are very waxy, leading to a slight blue sheen to the leaves sometimes, if you look at them from the right angle. Neither plant offsets worth a damn either.

Valeria's spathe does show some thrips damage in the later photos, but seems to be fairly resistant to thrips all the same -- the damage is mostly just tiny pinpricks that wouldn't even be visible on a darker color; judging from the photos, the one large spot was present as soon as the spathe opened, and might be some other kind of damage, instead of thrips. Not sure.

'Midori' produced three groups of seedlings before dying, the CS, CZ, and DP groups. Valeria T. is the only survivor from CS; none of the CZ seedlings made it, and there are only three DP seedlings (1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess, 1357 Dayonna Hilton, and 1476 Anya), so it's maybe going to be a struggle to keep the 'Midori' genes going. I've tried to pollinate Valeria, but no luck so far. I don't think this means I can't; it probably just means I need to pay more attention. There's a new bud almost open as I write this (19 September), so it looks like I will have an opportunity to try again soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anthurium no. 1419 "Maya Douglas"

The real Maya Douglas would probably not be impressed with her namesake seedling. All I knew about her when I started this post was that she is a pageant queen, and they tend not to be the ones I like the best;1 the stereotype is that they're so focused on achieving a perfect, polished appearance that they are often short on personality or other skills, so I didn't have high expectations when I started poking around on-line. But Maya Douglas is awesome, y'all. Like, I had no idea. Here she is in 2008, lip-synching to "Mercy," by Duffy:2

Adorable. And she's also been doing this forever -- YouTube has videos of her performing that go back to at least 1996, and she was an established presence on the scene before that. Her titles (Ref.): Miss Gay Rochester (New York) 1981,3 Miss Continental 1985, Miss Gay USofA 1995, Texas Entertainer of the Year, F.I. 1997, Universal Show Queen 1999, Miss Krash International 2001, Miss Continental Elite 2006 -- I don't know what most of those things actually are or what sort of prestige they carry, but it's probably safe to say she's a big deal. And she's still making appearances (about about the 6:00 point in this video of 2015 Miss Continental, for example).4

So, like: huge fan, all of a sudden, of Maya Douglas. Which is why it's a little awkward that her seedling is so weird and unpolished-looking:

Now, this is more complex and interesting than it looks, and I'm actually really pleased with it, but if you're unfamiliar with Anthuriums, you wouldn't look at this and think wow, I gotta get me one of those. So, why is it cool anyway?

Well. First of all, it's the first green seedling I've gotten. We've seen orange and green together (0330 Faye Quinette, 1727 Mercedes Sulay); red and green together (0842 Pretty Punasti, 1594 Roxy-Cotten Candy), peach and green together (1299 Sinthia D Meanor), various seedlings with green "ears" on a differently-colored center (1213 Miss Foozie, 1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess, 1224 Perry Watkins), and a lot of seedlings that start out pink or orange and become greener as the spathe ages, but as far as I can tell from the one bloom to date, Maya's aiming for a solid light green. Any seedling can be pretty; unique is much better.

Also, the spathe margins have a little bit of red to them, which is more apparent in some photos than others.

What does this mean? I have no idea. It's pretty normal for pink or red seedlings to have a darker margin, and there have been other light-colored seedlings with a faint, difficult to photograph, pink or red margin (most notably 1293 Power Infiniti), so maybe that's all that's happening here: some gene or group of genes sometimes makes a faint pink or red halo around the margins of the spathe, and Maya happens to have those genes. Though it could also be a sign that the actual color is going to be the muddy brown color you get from mixing green and red. Time will tell.

Maya bloomed while in a 3-inch pot, and was promoted to a 4-inch pot in mid-August. Haven't seen a second bud yet, which is disappointing, though obviously green buds don't jump out at you the same way a red or orange one will, so it's possible that there's one there and I just haven't noticed yet.

I'm looking forward to the second bloom so much; odds are that it will be more or less the same, but sometimes second blooms are different, and it would certainly be nice to know whether the thrips are going to tear up every bloom this seedling produces so badly. The color is also in question: from the bud, I'd been assuming a strong, yellowish, apple-green like 'Midori,' and instead I got a lighter, more delicate minty green.

And like I said, green-brown isn't out of the question. Green-brown would make more sense, actually, considering that the seed parent was 0245 Sawyer Ad.

(0245 Sawyer Ad.)

Unexpected colors appear all the time in seedlings, sure, but I would never have thought that a seedling with so much red could give me offspring with so little red.5 The world would make more sense if Maya's future spathes had a mix of red and green pigments. But I guess we'll see. Personally my fingers are crossed for a green green. I'll accept any shade between mint chocolate chip ice cream and pea soup.

As chewed-up as the inflorescences are, the leaves are weirdly undamaged:

I don't know what to make of that, but the hope is, again, that the first bloom was just atypical, and later ones won't sustain quite as much damage.

Upshot: the story of 1419 Maya Douglas is not yet finished, but the seedling will likely get to stay regardless of what the next bloom looks like, as long as it refrains from getting a severe infestation of scale or ghost mites or something. If the second bloom is pretty, so much the better, but special will be more than adequate.

Very occasionally, I'm lucky enough to get a seedling that's both pretty and special, like 1103 Valeria T., which will be the next post.


1 There is probably a post or two to be done someday where I explain why I like or care about drag at all, considering that it's something I've never actually done or wanted to do, and I don't go out of my way to find shows to watch. (It's entirely possible that I haven't seen a drag show in person since the late 1990s. I mean, it seems like that couldn't possibly be right, and yet I can't think of anything more recent. The husband and I were planning to see Jujubee in Iowa City several years ago, but we didn't wind up going for reasons I no longer remember. Sorry, Juju.)
2 When I went looking for the song (uncredited on YouTube, so I had to search by lyrics), I discovered that I had completely missed Duffy in 2008 when she was at her hottest. "Mercy" was a top-40 hit in the U.S., and yet I'm pretty sure I'd never heard it before this week.
3 Yes, another Rochesterite. What is it about Rochester?
4 I also enjoyed this video from 2010, where Douglas lip synchs to "Happiness," by Alexis Jordan, though a good chunk of that is because it turns out I like the song. The lip-synching is weird in places; it seems pretty clear that the original audio was replaced for the video (which makes videos much, much more pleasant to watch: other queens please take note, I beg you), and maybe the performed version of the song isn't the one the video uses or something, I don't know. (Also sometimes she's pretty clearly talking to an audience member instead of trying to lip-synch.) In any case, sometimes the lip synch is very tight, and sometimes it's not. But if you can get past that, it's an interesting video too.

And then there's a medley, including "The Way We Were" and Gladys Knight's "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," which is a little long for my taste but is still well-performed. The word that kept coming to mind is "classy." (It's not quite the word I want, but it's the only one I could come up with.)

And I know sometimes people look at drag and think well what's so impressive about that, it's just somebody wearing a costume and pretending to sing something, what kind of talent do you need to pretend to sing, but something that impresses me about Douglas in these three videos is the way she nails all the details: the outfits go with the songs, the songs go with the wigs, the wigs go with the makeup -- it's all a unified character. She's even adjusting her body language, mannerisms, and facial expressions for each song: it wouldn't have been that difficult to convince me that these were videos of three different (but similar-looking) queens.
And just to be clear, my emphasis on how long Maya's been performing is not in any way intended as shade about how old she must be; I think it's wonderful that she's been so good at this for so long.
5 And, indeed, the only sibling of Maya's to bloom so far is 1493 Kalypso Bang. Kalypso doesn't look like Sawyer either, but at least she makes sense.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Anthurium no. 0886 "Zaria Baudit"

Zaria Baudit, obviously, is best co-planted with Schlumbergera 096A I'm Really Sorry.1

I like Zaria's color, though it feels kind of unlucky. I suppose a lot of the seedlings of any given color wind up getting thrown out, but it feels like the purple-reds and purple-pinks do so more often. Maybe it just feels worse because it's an interesting color.

The leaves are unusually big, which I like,

but thrips are kind of a problem on leaves and spathes both,

so it's probably not a good idea to get too attached to this one.

Zaria's a late first-generation seedling; the seed parent was 'White Gemini.' She's one of the better seedlings from the CB seedling group, though that's not saying a whole lot.2 At this point, it looks like Zaria's the only CB seedling that could live long enough to reproduce, and I wouldn't bet money on that happening. We'll see.

The next post will be about 1419 Maya Douglas. I don't promise beauty, but she's at least something we haven't seen before.


1 This might actually work, kinda: I treat Anthurium and Schlumbergera similarly. More or less the same soil mix, same watering schedule, same lighting. In the long run, I suspect one plant would crowd out the other, but I bet it would be possible for them to share a pot for a while. If you were into that sort of thing.
Not sure whether the colors go together, though. I mean, I think they look fine --

-- but then a lot of the consensus understanding of what colors go together and which ones clash strikes me as weird and wrong, too, so I'm probably not the best person to evaluate.
2 So far, the other blooming CB seedlings are:
0835 Brenda Dharling (dead because crappy bloom, small bloom, bloom never fully opened, scale)
0892 Eddie Izzard (soon to be dead because the color is boring, spathes are small, there's lots of thrips damage, and I'm not positive but I think Xanthomonas is present too)
0897 Sylvia Womansune (probably going to be discarded soon; the most recent bloom's spathe caught on the spadix and tore, ripping top of the spathe off, and then what was left of the spathe cracked and tattered -- it looks like someone beat it with a golf club)
1095 Carolina Pineforest (dead due to accidental decapitation, spathe never fully opened)
1249 Celeda (fate to be determined, but I don't like her odds: not only was the first bloom small, and the spathe reflexed badly almost as soon as it opened, but the inflorescence was pretty short-lived too, and the leaves have pretty bad thrips damage)
There's only one surviving CB seedling that hasn't tried to bloom yet: 1233 Aquadisiac. It doesn't look like it's ever going to do so. The leaves have substantial thrips damage, and its root system is poor -- at this moment, it's hanging on to the soil by a single root. When I picked it up to look at it, the whole plant flopped and spun around the root, and usually when that happens, the plant winds up decapitating itself sooner or later. (I've tried replanting them to give them a chance to re-root, and I'm not sure that's ever actually worked.) So the CB group looks like it's mostly or totally a bust, depending on what happens with Zaria.