Saturday, March 5, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 058

For most of this winter, I've been able to keep blog posts written a week or two ahead, but the last week of February was complicated and often required my presence away from home, which means that I'm writing this on March 1, a mere four days before it's supposed to publish. And my attention today is going to be split between the blog and Super Tuesday primaries.

As I need to come up with a post quickly, and will be preoccupied by Super Tuesday coverage anyway, why not combine the two and use the election to name a seedling?

Well, because politics is a famously touchy subject and I'd just as soon not drive away readers, that's why. But I feel like I can thread this needle by referring to a quote by poet Marianne Moore, which Molly Ivins was often moved to quote during especially bonkers periods of political upheaval: it is an honor to witness so much confusion. Goodness knows I've been reminded of this quote many, many times since the 2016 election cycle began; I expect to be reminded of it many, many more.

I therefore christen seedling 058A Much Confusion.

While you're here, though: please remember to vote in your state's primary (if it is still in the future) and in the general election. I know it doesn't always look like it matters, and some of you probably live in places where it truly doesn't. But vote anyway. It's not all about the Presidency; elections for Congress, governors, state representatives, mayors, etc., all affect your life just as much, if not more -- they're the people who actually make the decisions about what your kids learn in school, whether the potholes on your street get fixed, what happens to you if you lose your job, and that sort of thing -- and your vote has a much higher chance of swinging the election in those cases.

I'd also consider it a kindness if you'd vote for someone who supports my right to remain married and to be able to access health care and stuff like that, but you do you.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Anthurium no. 0524 "Hedda Lettuce"

The best thing Hedda's got going for her is her color; the spathes are a very dark red. That's not my favorite color necessarily, but anything outside of the pink to pinkish-red range is unusual enough to be interesting, at least, if not actually good.

That's about all she has to offer, though. There has only been one bloom so far, and it was very small. I don't remember ever seeing scale, which I suppose is also a good thing, but she gets leaf scarring from thrips anyway, so the foliage is mediocre.

Scarring is harder to see on darker spathes, but as far as I can tell, the thrips are mostly leaving her alone.

I don't have anything much against her, I guess, and I intend to let her make a second bloom before deciding her fate, but I think she's probably not a long-term resident here, because space has become so limited and there are much more interesting plants around.

And that's all I've got to say about Hedda.

I do have some news you might find a little exciting, though, which is that I've seen buds on three second-generation plants. 0687 Pauline Pantsdown, daughter of 0273 Wes Coast, budded on New Year's Eve, 2015:

(Though the bud was already dying by the time I took this picture, which is why it doesn't look much like a bud.)

The foliage was somewhat damaged, but had potential:

and I was impressed that she was trying to bloom at all, considering how young and small she was:

Alas, Pauline is no longer with us, and my notes about what happened conflict with one another, so I'm not sure what actually happened. Since a large number of 0273 Wes Coast's offspring have attracted scale at some point or another,1 I bet Pauline eventually would have too, so perhaps it doesn't matter. But the point is that there was a definite bud, on a second-generation plant, in December.2

Two more second-generation seedlings have budded for the first time in late February: 0716 Herbie Hind (son of 0239 Russ Teanale) and 0805 Triana Hill (daughter of 0234 Ross Koz). All three second-generation seedlings have the same known grandparent: 'White Gemini.' (This isn't necessarily meaningful, but it's not necessarily not meaningful either.)

L-R: 0716 Herbie Hind and 0805 Triana Hill, 25 February 2016.

Triana is possibly nothing to get excited about, but Herbie's bud is sort of nice, and I could at least imagine it opening into a nice bloom. We'll see. In both cases, the foliage is a little marked-up, but still slightly better than average,

L-R: 0716 Herbie Hind and 0805 Triana Hill.

and although Herbie isn't much to look at overall,

0716 Herbie Hind.

Triana is at least suckering a lot, and doesn't seem too bad.

0805 Triana Hill.

Whether Herbie and Triana wind up actually blooming in the next couple months or not, this is still a sign: the F2 show is going to start soon; the stagehands are already pulling back the curtains.


1 So far, Wes has produced 52 seedlings, nearly a third of which (17 of 52) were discarded due to scale. Only 20 survive overall (38%). Without wandering too far out into the statistical weeds, this is a much lower survival rate, and a much higher rate of scale infestation, than other seedlings' offspring have had.
This was especially upsetting to me, because a lot of Wes's seedlings have interesting foliage -- the leaves tend to be very shiny, flat, dark, and about as broad as they are long. They also often had an exaggerated heart shape, compared to other seedlings of the same age. It's possible that a few of those will still be scale-resistant enough to mature and bloom, and if not, maybe another batch of seedlings from some other parent (0273 Wes Coast having died a while ago, due to an accidental uprooting) will replicate their foliage.
2 Which isn't record-setting speed, but out of 177 seedlings to produce buds so far, Pauline was the fifth-fastest. (The other four: 12 months from sow to bud for 0058 Betty Larsony, 14 months for 0415 Darby Dragons, 15 months for 0835 Brenda Dharling, and 15 months for 0282 Dave Trading. Blooming so early doesn't seem to be particularly desirable: Betty's first bud aborted, and then she took a couple years to follow it up with a bud that became an actual bloom, which was pretty crappy. Darby's bloom was fast but awful. Brenda dropped her bud and hasn't produced a replacement yet. Only Dave has produced a normal, reasonably attractive bloom soon after being sown. Also noteworthy: 0835 is so far the only seedling to produce a bud while still in a 3-inch pot; all the other seedlings have waited until they were in a 4-inch pot, at least. Until Brenda, I'd been assuming that it was somehow impossible for a 3-inch plant to bud, so even if she didn't actually bloom, and maybe never will, I'm still impressed with her.)

0835 Brenda Dharling, 31 December 2015.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pretty picture: Calanthe rosea

Okay, well. This one's interesting insofar as it's a new genus for the blog. And it's an actual genus, too, not a mere nothogenus.

I kind of don't like it, though. It's not that it's doing anything wrong, but it reminds me of something we sold at the ex-job as an annual. I want to say Nemesia?1 Whatever it was, it didn't like our greenhouse so much, and they didn't do well, and I didn't know why. This orchid looks just enough like whatever it was that just looking at it makes me mildly anxious and stressed out.2

My photo differs from a lot of the photos of Calanthe rosea on-line; it seems the flower petals are usually a bit flatter, and more elongated (e.g. one, two, three). I think the ID is still correct, because other sources have the flowers looking more like my photo, but they apparently don't always look like this. Maybe don't even usually look like this.


1 Image search was inconclusive. It's been at least seven years now; the memory has faded a bit. Nemesia is at least plausible.
2 I haven't had to work with poinsettias in seven years now, but I honestly still get a little queasy if enough of them are around.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 208

208A is the first seedling to bloom from the 2014 batch of 'Caribbean Dancer' seedlings, numbers 195 to 220.1 I'd hoped that I might get something a little new from this group. Even though the seed parent is 'Caribbean Dancer' again, I thought, maybe the pollen parent was different.

And 208A is a little unusual, in that it's not another orange/white or orange/pink,

but so far none of the 2014 seedlings are doing anything unprecedented.2 I can't rule out the possibility that the 2014 batch of seedlings are also 'Caribbean Dancer' x NOID peach, in which case we'll have to wait even longer to see something interesting. I'm not going to despair just yet, though; we'll get a better idea what's going on as more blooms appear.3

Even if not a never before seen color, 208A was different enough to make me optimistic about TinEye. Maybe I'd get some different suggestions? And that hope was justified; it did in fact suggest some names I hadn't seen before. Don't know what we're going to do for names after 208A, though: I've looked ahead, and it's a very long, very orange road from here. I mean, things have been pretty orange all along, but I'm starting to burn out on the whole process and we still have at least 11 more seedlings to go so it sure would have been nice if they'd decided to show some variety about now.


You should also know that this is the second time I'm writing this post. The first time, I had a name picked out, and then after I thought about it for a couple days, I decided that I couldn't live with it after all. So I added some emergency names, because it was an emergency, and we're going again. The choices: Ciao, Cupcake, I Miss You, Padparadscha, Pink Disco Trilobite, Raspberry Possum, Rooster, Saltwater Taffy, Sweet Galaxy, Sweetie Darling, and Vintage Ribbons.

TinEye was bizarrely insistent on Cupcake, bringing it up five times: two, three, four, five. However, Cupcake is the name that I landed on in the first draft, then decided I couldn't live with, so there's no point in considering it further. It seems like it should work. I don't know why it doesn't.

Conversely, I like Sweet Galaxy a lot better than I probably ought to; I think I like each of the words separately, but don't care for them together.

Sweetie Darling is apparently another one of those names that's just going to come up over and over until I use it, though I think it might actually be more appropriate for an orange seedling, as I think of Edina Monsoon as wearing orange a lot more than I think of her as wearing pink.4 And if I've got a name that works for difficult to name orange seedlings, that I like well enough to keep considering, I suppose it should go to an orange seedling.5

I Miss You (also) seems a little melancholy. Not the worst thing ever, but it's not like I'm missing anybody in particular right now.

I was sort of interested in Vintage Ribbons, because it's true that cactus petals in general, and Schlumbergera petals specifically, have a sort of satiny quality to them. I can't point to anything about the name that makes it a bad fit, exactly, but I don't think it works for me.

If you have a crystal of aluminum oxide (corundum) that's colored blue by impurities, it's called a sapphire. If it's red, it's called a ruby. Padparadscha is what you get when the impurities tint it pink, orange, or colors in between. The search results from DuckDuckGo mostly lean pink, even light pink, whereas Google's results run a little darker and oranger, but the bloom is within the range of colors accepted as padparadscha, either way. This name made the list of finalists, in my first draft of this post, but I chose Cupcake because 1) Padparadscha is a pain to type, and 2) I'm trying to keep a lid on the number of non-English words. Which turn out to be sort of the same reason, in the long run.6

And that's maybe as good a reason as any to throw out Ciao, while we're at it, though it's common enough and short enough that I doubt it would cause the same problems.

The third finalist in the first draft was Rooster (also, also), which I find both off-putting and appealing. The color isn't actually a very good match (though the shape kind of is; the serration of the multiple petals kind of mimics the shape of a rooster's comb), but with allowances made for varying lighting conditions, sure, why not. I'm reluctantly leaving it off the list this time, more because I like all three remaining options better than because I have a specific problem with Rooster. Though I acknowledge that Rooster is silly and nonsensical and also possibly misleading as to color.

So that leaves us just the finalists, all from the emergency list. Pink Disco Trilobite was considered and rejected for 074A Vroom; Raspberry Possum was considered for 078A Art Party; Saltwater Taffy is a brand-new option.

I like all three, but since I have to drop two of them, Pink Disco Trilobite is longest (and maybe also a little inaccurate: I wouldn't say the flower is primarily pink), and while I love Saltwater Taffy the food, the name isn't actually specific about the color at all. I mean, I've seen green saltwater taffy before. So I guess this one is Raspberry Possum, which kind of surprises me, but the alternative is to write this post a third time. And I do not want to write this post a third time, so I will live with Raspberry Possum.


1 It made me happy to realize that, a year ago, I predicted this.
2 208A resembles the red/pinks 054A Helpful Gesture and 078A Art Party, and maybe also 074A Vroom; 217A resembles the orange-red/whites like 079A Yayoi Kusama and 099B Karma Cobra. 212A is yet another orange. I mean, it's a nice orange, but it's still just an orange.
3 And if nothing else, I should also have seedlings from the NOID white (numbers 118-142) and NOID magenta (169-194) coming up this year or next. I'm a little surprised that none of them have tried to bloom already.
4 (Image search mostly backs me up on this.)
5 Though this might be a good moment to mention that there's going to be another Absolutely Fabulous movie, to be released in July. Whether it will be any good or not is still an open question: the trailer spends like 45 seconds setting up a punchline that never actually arrives and I have no idea what they're trying to accomplish with it.
Also people are upset about a Caucasian actor being hired to play an Asian character, in the AbFab movie. There are a number of ways that could be executed, not all of them necessarily bad (though I am admittedly hard-pressed to think of a way in which an Asian character named "Huki Muki," portrayed by a Scottish actress, might wind up striking a blow against racism), but it sure looks like they're doing that thing people do nowadays where you put something in your movie that you know will upset someone, so they protest, and then you get free publicity when the press covers the protest. I mean, even if you think political correctness is all a bunch of crap and everybody's getting offended over nothing all the time, it's a little irksome that this works well enough to have become an actual marketing strategy. (It's not my actual position that political correctness is bullshit, though I feel like lately I'm seeing both the cynical insertion of offensive material in order to get free publicity for one's product, and, less often, the reverse, where advocacy groups get free publicity for their cause by objecting loudly to a perfectly innocent element of some popular cultural product. Both wind up perpetuating prejudice and discrimination, for the sake of a cynical grab at more money. It's gross.)
If I hear in July that this is actually a brilliant subversion of yellowface or something, then fine, maybe I'll watch anyway. But I'm not optimistic. (Rumor even has it that the character is intended to resemble Yayoi Kusama, and if they're mocking Kusama then I'm even more offended, because Kusama is awesome. Like, I pretty much want to grow up to be Yayoi Kusama.)
Which is another reason to hold off on Sweetie Darling; by July, I may not even still like Jennifer Saunders.
6 As I've explained before, I actually tend to like non-English words better than English ones, everything else being equal. I mean what are the odds that English just happens to have the most appealing word for every concept? Pretty damn slim.
There are two main problems with using a lot of non-English seedling names: one, because I haven't seen the words as often, it takes me a little longer to skim past them in a list, because there's that brief moment of what the fuck? for each unfamiliar word. (I do eventually get used to them. I barely trip on 035A Patito at all anymore.) The second reason is that I'm not sure but what having a non-English name might be a sales liability. Like, has no one ever requested 019A Belevenissen because it photographs poorly, or is it because nobody wants to try to type "belevenissen?" And Padparadscha is also a four-syllable, twelve-letter non-English word.
(To an English speaker, "belevenissen" looks like it should be the five-syllable bell-uh-ven-ISS-un, but I looked into it last year and it seems to actually be pronounced something like buh-lay-von-SUN; it more or less rhymes with "delay Johnson," though it's stressed differently.)