Winter hung on like the respiratory crud that was going around earlier this year, but it looks like it’s finally gone. It won’t officially be spring until the first tornado watch, but I did find a little color on my visit to the botanical garden this past weekend. There are more pictures here, plus orchids here.
There’s a springtime jigsaw puzzle below the fold.
I spent most of the week before Christmas in California visiting family and seeing Disneyland. It was an excessively memorable experience, thanks to the blunders of United Airlines,1 the astonishing traffic in Los Angeles,2 Tracfone’s buggy website, and the 10,000 oblivious people wandering around Disneyland. It was worth it to see my sister and her family, but I’m not eager to repeat the experience.
If I had been ten years old, Disneyland would have been terrific. However, I’m several times older than that now, and roller coasters are less exciting, particularly when you have to make an appointment to ride or wait an hour and a half in line. I was more interested in the plants there, some of which are greenhouse exotics in Kansas but ordinary bedding plants in the subtropical climate of the southern California coast. These are mostly what I took pictures of.
I found a little Christmas present in my indoor garden. The Prosthechea cochleata which I got last July opened its first flower on December 25. I would characterize it as “interesting” rather than “pretty,” but interesting it is. Despite its eccentric appearance, it’s in the same branch of the orchid family as Cattleya, the classic corsage orchid.
The Epidendrum that I picked up back at the beginning of November is still blooming and looks like it will continue indefinitely. It’s also a member of the Cattleya alliance.
I took too many pictures at the weekend’s orchid show, as usual. I’m about halfway done editing the photos. You can see the first few batches here. I should get the rest done within a day or two or three. (Update: they’re done.)
Right-click and open this panorama in a new window for an overview of the show.
I found a pleasant surprise this morning. A Stapelia flavopurpurea that I started from seed about 18 months ago is blooming. The photo above is much larger than life-size; the actual size of the flower is about an inch across. Click to see it even larger. Technical note: the picture was composed from a stack of 51 separate images assembled in Helicon Focus.
S. flavopurpurea is an atypical stapeliad in that the flowers don’t smell like something’s dead. It’s said to have a scent like beeswax, but I haven’t been able to detect any fragrance at all. Although Stapelias and their kin often look like cacti, they are not related. They are currently part of the Apocynaceae, which includes oleanders and vinca and the milkweeds.1 Stapeliad flowers are as complicated as they look; you have to go to the Orchidaceae to find more complex flowers.
A useful site for those interested in orchids: a list of abbreviations. Of particular note are the man-made intergenerics. Some orchids have eight or more different genera in their parentage, e.g., “Sya. = Sallyyeeara = [Brassavola x Broughtonia x Cattleya x Cattleyopsis x Diacrium x Epidendrum x Laelia x Schomburgkia x Sophronitis].”1
Not an orchid: Pleiospilos nelii at about five months.
Back in May I picked up five orchids at an auction. Three are in good shape and doing well, as far as I can judge. However, one turned out to be infested with mealy bug, and another promptly lost most of its roots; i.e., 40% of my purchases had problems. That is not satisfactory. (I think I managed to salvage the ailing pair, but it will probably be a year or more before they’re presentable again.)
Perhaps I might have better luck buying plants online. I recently ordered a few from Orchids by Hausermann. The box arrived this past weekend. Let’s open it up.
Belamcanda chinensis. Or is it Iris domestica? Or Pardanthus chinensis? Or Morea chinensis? Or Ixia chinensis, Gemmingia chinensis, Vanilla domestica or Epidendrum domesticum? Taxonomists have too much time on their hands.
There are more pictures from Saturday’s trip to the botanical garden here.
The Phalaenopsis orchids I got back in November have been doing well, so I picked up a few more at an auction yesterday.1 When I took some close-ups of the ones in bloom, I discovered that I had acquired more than just orchids. The plant below is in isolation until the insecticide arrives later this week. (Click to embiggen; right-click and open in a new window to see at maximum size.)
The botanical garden recently added a “Chinese” garden. It doesn’t look like much yet, despite the big ceramic dragon on the wall leading to the little pagoda, and the plants that catch your eye are as likely to be American as Asian. I did spot the tree peony above there yesterday, which is definitely Asian, albeit Japanese. It’s Paeonia suffruticosa “Kokuryu-nishiki”, first introduced at a Yokohama nursery in 1905. The name, according to at least two sources, means “Black Dragon Brocade,” though Giggle Translate says “Small clew nishiki.” More pictures from yesterday’s visit are here.
The Neofinetia falcata (or Vanda falcata) that I got back in November survived my inept care and is now in bloom. It’s a small plant, almost a miniature. The blossoms are about five-eighths of an inch across, and the length, including the spur, about an inch-and-a-half. This, I gather, is on the small side; an inch across and two-and-a-half long is more typical, according to what I’ve read. At night the flowers smell like vanilla with a slight hint of lemon.
I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese obsessed over these little epiphytes.1 Cacti, which would have been unknown in Japan until the later 19th century, turn up in everything from Martian Successor Nadesico to Elf Princess Rane, so there ought to be an occasional Neofinetia here and there in animated shows. But, as far as I know, there isn’t. Perhaps there’s one in the later episodes of Hyouge Mono, which I never finished, but probably not. I can’t think of any shows featuring orchidaceae.