Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Unfinished business: Polyscias seedlings

I suppose "unfinished business" is misleading, as it implies that some kind of business is going to be finished here. It's totally not. But I thought you might be interested in seeing what the Polyscias seedlings are up to now that they're 21 months old.1 (Previously: at 0.9 months, 1.8 months, 8 months, and 13 months.)

Of 53 seeds sown, eleven did well enough to become official plants, on the spreadsheets and everything. Seven of those are still with us. One of the more surprising things about this (aside from the fact that Polyscias hybrids are self-fertile in the first place, and the fact that it's even possible to germinate Polyscias seeds indoors) is how dramatically different they've been in vigor and appearance. Seedlings 5, 7, 10, and 11 all died. Seedlings 6 and 8 are still with us, but are very short -- measured from the soil line to the top of the plant, seedling 6 is only 7.5 inches tall (19 cm), and seedling 8 is only 4.5 inches (11 cm). Which sucks, because seedling 8 was really interesting.

But. The remaining five plants are all doing well, for some definition or another of "well."


Seedling 1 most resembles the parent plant, though it has more finely-divided leaves, and the leaves are spaced further apart, or something. Mostly it's annoying because it's top-heavy, and flops over when it gets dry. But it has, at least, started to branch since the last time we checked in, which means that the base of the plant is filling in with foliage. Maybe this will help keep the main stem upright.


Seedling 2 was my favorite, and remains so. It's deceptively small-looking in the photo because after I repotted it into an 8-inch pot, the main stem started to grow sideways. I felt like I had the stem straight when I repotted, though that's happened with a cutting of the original plant too, so maybe I'm bad at judging what's vertical when I'm repotting.

In any event, the cutting was itself very large (large enough that I didn't think I should remove all of it, which is why the plant still leans to the left in the photo), and I've managed to root it in a large plastic container already. Haven't potted the cutting up yet because it has a lot of leaves, and I'm afraid that it's going to need a bigger root system to support them. But in any case, seedling 2 is the first one to be propagated.


Though seedling 3 wanted to be the first seedling to be propagated. In February, it bloomed.


The flowers opened and closed, just like they're supposed to, but I was unable to pollinate them. I don't know what the problem was. After this, seedling 3 went through a terrible awkward period where the stem that had bloomed fell apart (dropped leaves and buds), and then some branches developed from the bottom and took over so it filled in. Not sure what to expect it to do next.

The leaf color remains unusual as well; the photos are crap2 but the leaves are nearly black, much darker than those of the parent plant. (Similarly, seedlings 1 and 4 are both very green; seedling 2 is green but shows up bluish in photos because the leaflets are broad and waxy; seedling 9 is a very dark green, similar to 3.)


Seedling 4 is the shortest of the "tall" plants. It retains leaves almost perfectly, which is all the more remarkable because the leaves are very thick and three-dimensional; you'd think they'd shade one another out really badly and then the plant would lose the ones that were most shaded. But no. It's very very thick, and very very fluffy, and I think it's probably the one most likely to have commercial appeal (very fluffy looking, slow grower, little/no leaf drop), though personally I'm more interested in 2 and 3, because they look the least like anything I've seen before.


And finally, number 9, which very nearly didn't make it -- when it was young, a few of its leaves developed a bunch of yellow spots and then dropped off. I was pretty sure that it would linger and then eventually die, but it bounced back and seems more or less fine now. Granted, it's not especially pretty. The foliage is too sparse, and it's only just now starting to branch from the base. So I'm thinking it's probably got the least commercial potential of the five.

I think at this point, it's pretty safe to assume that these five will be with us for a while longer, and it would be nice to have some way to refer to them besides the numbers. Which means I'm officially asking for name suggestions. Ideally, we're looking for a list that's basically infinite (like types of music3 or mass nouns4), a list of things for which there are five main ones and then a near-infinite number of smaller ones, like Lakes of the United States,5 original Buffy: The Vampire Slayer "Scooby Gang" characters,6 or auto show locations,7 or groups consisting of only five things, if it's possible to imagine extending the list with additional, plausible-sounding names, like the Spice Girls8 or Marx Brothers.9

In any case. If you have a group of names that you've always wanted to see used for a group of five Polyscias seedlings but you never suggested the idea because it's not really an everyday sort of opportunity, now is your time to shine. As it is, I'm kinda leaning toward the Spice Girls, and I can already tell that that's a terrible idea.

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1 (Alternately: I thought you might be willing to pretend to be interested, if it means getting to look at something other than an Anthurium or Schlumbergera.)
2 I had to take the full-plant photos in this post outside, because the plants no longer fit into the photo setup I've been using. The lighting, as a result, is not what I'm used to, and seedling 3's photo turned out especially poorly because the tops of the leaves are very nearly the color of the fabric behind them.
3 (seedlings 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 could be Classical, Top 40, Death Metal, Country, and Alternative, perhaps)
4 (Mass nouns are things that aren't directly countable, like Air, Gravel, Lava, Sand, and Ashes: you don't say one sand, two sands, three sands, etc. -- if you have to quantify an amount of sand, you specify units and then attach the numbers to those, like six grains of sand, or three tons of sand. If you're part of the International Society of Rare Sands Collectors, and you have samples of sand from sixty different locations in little vials in a display cabinet on your wall, then I guess you can talk about having sixty sands, but that's a very special circumstance, and even then, everybody would know that what you really mean is samples of sixty distinct kinds of sand.)
5 Erie, Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Ontario.
Later seedlings, if any, could take Great Salt, Of The Woods, Iliamna, Oahe, Okeechobee, Pontchartrain, Sakakawea, Champlain, etc.
6 Cordelia, Willow, Giles, Buffy, and Xander. Though it might get weird having a non-willow plant named "Willow."
Subsequent seedlings, if any, could get Anya, Angel, Oz, Tara, etc.
7 Paris, Tokyo, Detroit, Geneva, and Frankfurt are "the Big Five" per Wikipedia, but without even having to look it up I know they have auto shows in plenty of other places, so it's basically infinite.
8 Baby, Sporty, Scary, Posh, and Ginger; could maybe be extended to Dreary, Sundry, Fairy, Glory, Sleazy, Spacy, Weary, Wary, Hangry, Tiny, Rosemary?, Hairy, Fiery, Tory, Marsh, Harsh, Danger, Lager, etc., though I feel like the number of plausible additional spice girls is pretty small. It doesn't take very long at all before you find yourself seriously considering Notary Spice, Dairy Spice, and Laundry Spice.
In fairness, some of the names they actually went with seem super-questionable to me, too. Like, I don't think I would ever have come up with "Baby Spice," because ew. Also Scary is fine, I guess, but giving that name to the only non-white member? Really?
9 Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, and Gummo; additional Marx Brothers names are also pretty limited, but I suppose we could consider Banjo, Bongo, Cheapo, Cargo, Combo, No-Go, Rambo, Limbo, Dorko, Dingo, Jumbo, Turbo, Stucco, Devo, Loco, Crisco, Dodo, Judo, etc.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Anthurium no. 1268 "Li'l Miss Hot Mess"

So finally we get an interesting one again. It's mostly interesting for who it's related to, not for its physical appearance, granted, but it's interesting, and something I hadn't seen before.

Li'l Miss Hot Mess is the first seedling from 'Midori' to bloom. I predicted in July 2014 that the best-case scenario was for a 'Midori' seedling to bloom in January 2016, and it actually took one year more than that (first bud in December 2016; first actual bloom in February 2017). It looked like this:


Which I'll be the first to say that that's not incredible or anything. I'd been hoping for something closer to 'Midori' itself, with solid green, large, heavily blistered spathes,


but I suppose white with green "ears" is arguably more interesting and ornamental. Looks more like a flower, you know. 'Midori' mostly just confused people.1

Li'l Miss Hot Mess has turned out to be unusually difficult to photograph, both because the camera doesn't know what to do with the white spathe on a black background, and because they've had very short, wide, asymmetrical spathes that flipped back from the spadix as they aged, making it difficult for the camera to figure out where to focus, and difficult for me to find an angle that shows the weird proportions accurately.

(the second bloom)

I've also managed to pollinate this seedling,

(also the second bloom, about five weeks later)

which isn't necessarily going to lead to anything, but: since the last thing I said on the subject was that I'd stopped trying to pollinate the Anthuriums at all because I was depressed, angry, and discouraged by all the bugs and diseases, I thought it counted as news anyway.

As far as foliage goes, 'Midori' produced a relatively small number of large leaves, and the leaves were waxier than the typical seedling;2 both 'Midori' seedlings to bud so far have done the same.3



The shorter, wider spathes happened to several seedlings lately. I'm not sure that it's necessarily bad, but the first seedling I remember doing this, 0063 Audrey Quest, later produced more normally-proportioned spathes, so this makes me think that it has an environmental cause. The seedlings that have done this are physically near one another (1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess and 1209 Raven Samore Holiday are on the same shelf; 1224, 1299, and 1373 share a shelf also), but I can't figure out what all five have in common. Maybe it doesn't mean anything. Maybe it's another odd thing first blooms will sometimes do, and the location thing is coincidence.

Anyway. Obviously a keeper; hopefully it will give me more interesting seedlings in the future.

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1 Past tense, because 'Midori' has since died. The cause of death wasn't clear, but I think it was too wet, too dry, or somehow both at once. I'm increasingly convinced that Anthuriums are capable of being both too dry and too wet simultaneously.
2 It's not usually noticeable in person, but all Anthuriums produce some wax on their leaves, and mainly I notice it when editing photos; waxy leaves wind up looking bluer. 0426 Zelda Zizzle is a good example of a seedling with waxy-looking leaves.
3 The other 'Midori' seedling to bud is 1103 Valeria T., which has even bigger, waxier leaves, and doesn't look like it's going to have a large, solid green, symmetrical, blistered spathe either. My fingers are crossed for something 'Midori'-like, but so far, Valeria looks like possibly another yellow-tan, like 1299 Sinthia D Meanor. I could be happy with that too: Sinthia's the most interesting seedling all year.
Li'l Miss Hot Mess and Valeria have a lot of pressure on them to keep 'Midori's genetic legacy going; only four 'Midori' seedlings are still alive.
1033 Phoenix (weak)
1092 Mia Amor (weak)
1093 Luna Stones (dry)
1094 Ella Vawaydego (dry)
1101 India Vent (weak)
1102 Eden Fertu (weak)
1103 Valeria T.
1104 Angel F. DeMornay (dry)
1105 Amy Vodkahaus (accidentally buried under potting soil during watering and didn't bounce back when uncovered)
1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess
1357 Dayonna Hilton
1476 Anya


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 290

Seedling 290 was one of the really good white Schlumbergera seedlings: the flowers were large,1 and it bloomed several times during the season. Some of this is probably because it was lucky enough to get a good spot near the window, not because it's intrinsically awesome, but lucky and good look the same at this particular moment.


The naming process has been agonizing, as a result. I had eleven contenders initially, ten of which had been considered for other seedlings, all of which could have been a perfectly good but not amazing name, and reduced that to the four names I present to you now: Giselle, Lyle Lovett, Mae West, and Our Lady Of Assumption.

Giselle is the new one. It was suggested anonymously in the comments for 128A Sloths Arrive Late, as a reference to the ballet of the same name.


Lyle Lovett was rejected for 128A Sloths Arrive Late.

Mae West was under consideration for 067A Cyndi Lauper, but was rejected on the grounds that the real-life Mae West apparently had a thing for wearing white in public, and decorating her home in white and gold, whereas 067A was very colorful.

Our Lady of Assumption2 was considered for 165A Assertive, but I rejected it on the grounds that it was a bad fit with a magenta flower, and I said I'd bring it back for this one, so here we are.3

Just as a point of interest, the smallest 50% or so of the petals have a stripe of yellow-green down the center. I didn't notice it until 290A bloomed, but when I went back and looked at the other white seedlings, I discovered that all the white ones do this to some degree or another. I couldn't tell whether the non-white seedlings do it too, since I don't generally take photos of the flowers' butts4 so there aren't a lot of examples to work from, but judging from the few cases where I did, it looks like non-white seedlings either don't have any green, or they do but you can't see it because the other pigments are intense enough to make it impossible to see.

Since all four name options would work, and I actually like all four of them, it's basically impossible to narrow down the list. So I tried to conduct an experiment: I imagined forcing myself to accept all four outcomes, and then tried to determine how disappointed I would feel in each case. Which is pretty difficult to do, it turns out, but I determined that I would be most disappointed by Mae West, and least disappointed by Our Lady Of Assumption, so I guess this one is 290A Our Lady Of Assumption. Which feels pretty weird, but it was kind of a weird situation to begin with. Better luck next time, Mae, Giselle, and Lyle.


Also, as a side note -- I have decided that I actually hate Europa as a name for seedling 190A, so I changed its name to the runner-up, Snezhana, even though changing all the blog posts and spreadsheets is going to be a pain. It's so much of a pain that I've never done it before, but I hate Europa that much.

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1 Though there's a lot less variability in Schlumbergera flower size than there is in Anthurium spathe size. No doubt it's still possible to breed Schlumbergera for larger blooms, but I feel like it would be frustrating, and progress would be slow.
2 (Which is one of the names intended to honor a specific person from my life, and is in fact unusually perfect for the person in question. It should really be Our Lady Of The Assumption, but I'm trying to keep the names under 25 characters if at all possible.)
3 For the sake of completeness, the seven rejected names were: 14th Anniversary, Glass Slipper, I Made It All Up, Ice Castle, Magician's Dove, Pegasus, and Snezhana.
4 Fine. What would you call them, then?


Friday, June 23, 2017

Anthurium no. 0910 "Aria B. Cassadine"

Aria is the first, and so far only, seedling from 0063 Audrey Quest to bloom. Audrey was a pretty ordinary red / yellow, notable mostly because the first bloom or two she produced was oddly proportioned, shorter and wider than typical. Aria has only produced one bloom so far,


which is not without its charms, but it's smaller than I would like, and I'm not happy with the thrips resistance either.



It feels like a lot of the seedlings have been doing this pinkish-orange color lately; I think this indicates some genes from 'Orange Hot' in their ancestry. I didn't care for 'Orange Hot' that much, mostly because the name seemed misleading (it was neither orange nor "hot"), but somehow the color is okay on one of my own seedlings, that's not making any false promises about its color.

Anyway. Aria's probably a discard, but I'm willing to see what the next bloom looks like before committing either way.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Random plant event: Clivia miniata

In October 2007, Wonderful Co-Worker (WCW) gave me a Clivia offset. It looked like this:



I knew it was too small to bloom, but I like Clivia foliage anyway: it didn't matter to me whether it ever got around to producing flowers. And at this point you can probably tell where this post is going, so . . .


I don't know why it decided to bloom this year: it spent the winter near a window in the plant room, and I know cooler temperatures are necessary for Clivias to set buds, so that might be related, but on the other hand, it's been in the same general part of the plant room since we first got the plant room set up, however long ago that was (2010ish?). For several of those years, it lived on the floor in the corner of the room, which was surely cold enough in the winter, but might have been too dark. I don't remember how long ago it was moved up to a shelf, where it gets some direct afternoon sun, but that might have done the trick too.


Or, possibly, the plant was just picking up on the recent, much more Clivia-friendly vibe in the house since February.1


In any case. The plant's only been an actual problem once: it got scale this winter. Hand-wiping the leaves, plus dosing the plant with imidacloprid, seems to have solved that problem. There has also been some thrips damage, which isn't quite a problem, but is still irritating. (The petals are too thick for the thrips to do deep damage, and it's not particularly visible from a moderate distance away, but I'm still not happy about it.)


I've tried to spray the flowers with soapy water and then regular water, once. It didn't completely eliminate the thrips, but it does seem to have helped, a little. I'd do it again, except the rinse cycle snapped a petal off one of the flowers. Not that one petal is that big of a deal, but between that and worrying that I'll wash all the pollen out of the flowers and be unable to pollinate them, I'm probably not going to try it again until the flowers are nearly spent.


Thrips-related disappointment aside, I've been really happy about the flowers. I sincerely do like the foliage for itself, and sincerely don't care all that much about whether the plants flower, but they're lovely, and it's been such a long wait that I rarely even thought about it as a plant that was capable of flowering. So the flowers have been a nice surprise.

They are, alas, not terribly long-lived -- I first noticed the buds on 5 June,


the first flower was open on 7 June, and the first flower started to shrivel and die on 16 June. As I write this, it is 18 June, and there are still three buds on the stalk that have not yet opened, so there should be something still there for another couple weeks, but the blooming process seems to zip by really quickly. Probably I'm just spoiled by the Anthuriums. In any case, having accidentally figured out how to get flowers once, perhaps I won't have to wait a decade for it to happen again.

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1 May as well do a seedling update while I'm here, I guess. The February batch started with 77 seeds. Some failed to germinate, some germinated but then died, some started, barely, to germinate and then stopped growing. I currently have 64 seedlings from that group, officially (photo below), 61 of which have produced leaves, and I'm thinking the other 3 seeds are going to be thrown out pretty soon.


There were 65 seeds in the May group, and I was getting kind of worried about them toward the beginning of June, because it felt like they were germinating more slowly than the February group did, but I think the problem was that I had unreasonable expectations, not that the seeds germinated more slowly. Looking at the records I have, the February batch was sown on 7 February and potted up on 31 March (52 days later); the May group was sown on 4 May, and 52 days after that would be 25 June. It's totally plausible they'll be potted up by then, or at least that they ought to be.
Of the 65 May seeds, it looks like 61 have germinated, so if the same proportion survives, I should wind up with 51 or 52 plants from the May batch by 12 September. Which is a lot of seedlings, obviously.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 201

Nothing terribly exciting about seedling 201 (though it photographed well), so let's jump straight to the names.


Finalists: Are We Not Men?, Maharaurava, Sweet Catharsis, Varian Fry.

As we get further away from the moment I chose some of the names for the seedlings,1 I'm finding it harder and harder to follow my own reasoning behind choosing some of the candidates. So don't expect me to explain why they're here, though I can still tell you where they came from.


Are We Not Men? is originally a quote from the 1896 book The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H. G. Wells, and is specifically a reference to Chapter 12 of the book, where it is the refrain in a ritual chant.2 Although I read The Island of Doctor Moreau when I was a kid,3 in this particular case it's intended as a reference to the band Devo, more specifically their 1978 album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (YouTube link; please be aware that some songs have aged better than others; track 5 is particularly iffy though I think the problem is more with the vocabulary than the sentiment), and even more specifically still the song "Jocko Homo" (YouTube), from that album.

Maharaurava is one of the Buddhist hells, previously considered for 058C Consternation.

I don't know where Sweet Catharsis came from. It might have been a random word combination.

Varian Fry is another World War II figure; he was an American journalist in Vichy France who helped a few thousand Jewish and anti-Nazi refugees escape Nazi Germany, including quite a few people you've maybe heard of.


So. Sweet Catharsis can go; I have no particular attachment to it, and this flower doesn't feel particularly cathartic anyway.

And Are We Not Men? gets the song stuck in my head. I find the song . . . interesting, but more thought-provoking and mildly uncomfortable than enjoyable. I get self-conscious about liking Devo sometimes anyway. And "Jocko Homo" isn't even my favorite song of theirs. If I'm going to have a Devo song in my head, I'd rather it be "Through Being Cool."4


Which leaves Maharaurava (which I'm getting better and better at spelling correctly the first time, by the way) or Varian Fry, and Maharaurava has two things going for it: one, this is its second time under consideration, and two, I just did a World War II name. I like Varian Fry well enough that the name will probably return next year, but this one's going to be 201A Maharaurava.

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1 (the bulk of the remaining name options were chosen in December / January / February)
2 The titular Doctor Moreau has been performing experiments on people and animals, basically fusing them to one another to make half-animal, half-man creatures. The creatures have a "Litany of the Law" which they chant, which the narrator is drawn into, that names the rules they are to follow and declares their obedience to Moreau.
3 (I did not like it, but felt compelled to read to the end anyway.)
4 Which might or might not make an acceptable seedling name; I'll have to think about it.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Anthurium no. 0779 "Hollee Luja"

Hollee Luja is one of those punny drag names that have been around for a while; I'm sure there have been queens who performed under this name, but as far as I can tell, no individual queen performs primarily as "Hollee Luja."1


The camera doesn't like Hollee: she's much, much darker red than the photos show. When the camera is tasked with taking a photo of a dark spathe on a dark background, it lightens everything up. Which would be objectionable if I could just turn the photo's brightness down and get an accurate image, but the camera manages to do it in a way that makes it very difficult to adjust.

The leaves are really interesting, though -- both very narrow


and with red veins on the underside of the leaf. This is a trait that shows up here and there in the seedlings (most notably on 0723 Tara Dactyl), but Hollee seems to do it about as well as Tara. This is possibly related to the fact that Tara and Hollee are siblings or half-siblings.2,3


The plant as a whole seems to be nicely compact, as well, though the photo below is more than a year old so it's not the best illustration of this. (Almost all of the seedlings are pretty compact when they're young.)


Anyway. I would like to move Hollee up to a 6-inch pot sometime, but space is extremely limited right now: I only have room for maybe ten seedlings to move from 4- to 6-inch. And there are a lot of deserving seedlings.4 So I'm not sure if that can happen anytime soon. Though I'm still having trouble with thrips, Xanthomonas, and ghost mites, so it's possible some of the current 6-inch plants will get thrown out, and then more room will appear. We'll see.


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1 Which I mention only because I was sort of in the mood to do some drag queen research, which is not usually the case, and then today there's no research to be done.
2 Both Tara and Hollee are from seedling group BQ (seed parent was 0005 Chad Michaels, sow date 25 August 2014), which has produced a lot of interesting and pretty blooms:
0694 Brad Romance (very large plant, light peach / yellow blooms, long-lasting blooms, very thrips-prone, some weird bleaching on some of the leaves that I can't figure out)
0696 Jessica Wild (a pretty run of the mill red / red; small blooms, nice foliage, kinda slow-growing)
0698 Landon Cider (decently pest-resistant, long-lived red / purple-red blooms)
0721 Chandelier Divine Brown (unphotgraphably striking red / pink blooms, the first of which was pretty small but they've gotten a lot larger with time and a new pot)
0723 Tara Dactyl (large red / red inflorescences; underside of new leaves have strong red veining)
0842 Pretty Punasti (very large brownish-red to red spathes; spadices start out brownish and age to pink; large leaves)
3 Though I have noticed some tendencies toward red veining on 0116 Eileen Dover and 0120 Eliza Boutisecksis as well, lately. It appears only on very new leaves, fades quickly, and isn't as strong, but it's noticeable enough that I'm surprised it's taken me this long to notice it.
4 Promotion certain: 1299 Sinthia D Meanor.
Promotion likely: 0779 Hollee Luja, 0788 Owen McCord, 0805 Triana Hill, 1265 Inez Paloma, 1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess, 1325 Dixie D Cupp.
Promotion possible: 0378 Annie Thingeaux, 0648 Bianca Del Rio, 0698 Landon Cider, 0716 Herbie Hind, 0728 Sister Dimension, 0771 Nina Flowers, 0791 Joslyn Fox, 0799 Hope Sandreams, 0811 Alma Children, 0910 Aria B. Cassadine, 1171 Chris of Hur, 1181 Tajma Stetson, 1212 Sweet Pam, 1224 Perry Watkins.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 135

Yet another white-blooming Schlumbergera seedling. This is one of the medium-quality white ones: I may or may not keep it around.

Name finalists: Chiune Sugihara, Fog Machine, Glass Slipper, Rental.


Fog Machine is kind of nonsensical, but, you know, fog is white, this is white, it sort of works. Rental is because from everything I've seen, available apartments are always painted white. Like, always always.1

Glass Slipper was previously considered for 193A Arcade Gannon; it works better as a name for 135A because the photos for this one were lit in a way that showed the translucence of the petals more often.


And then there's Chiune Sugihara. He was a Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania during World War II, who is now known for issuing travel visas to Lithuanian Jews (as well as Jewish refugees from Poland) to travel to Japan. (From Japan, they were then able to reach various other destinations as immigrants or refugees, with the assistance of the Polish ambassador to Tokyo, Tadeusz Romer.) Sugihara was officially prohibited from doing what he did. Per Wikipedia:
At the time, the Japanese government required that visas be issued only to those who had gone through appropriate immigration procedures and had enough funds. Most of the refugees did not fulfill these criteria. Sugihara dutifully contacted the Japanese Foreign Ministry three times for instructions. Each time, the Ministry responded that anybody granted a visa should have a visa to a third destination to exit Japan, with no exceptions.
By ignoring the official process and issuing visas anyway, he was risking his job.

Wikipedia says that Sugihara spent 18-20 hours a day, for about six weeks (18 July to 28 August 1940), writing visas.
According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train's window even as the train pulled out.

In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train. As he prepared to depart, he said, "Please forgive me. I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best."
He is thought to have directly saved about 6000 Lithuanian and Polish Jews, though there's some dispute over the number.2 Not all of the people who received the visas were able to leave Lithuania in time, either: some were captured by Germans during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and executed anyway.

He did eventually lose his position in Japan over this, but not until 1947. He was also held for 18 months as a prisoner of war by the Soviets, in 1944-46. He died in 1986, at the age of 86. There's a lot more at his Wikipedia article, including a list of books about Sugihara.


And, honestly, I don't see any point to pretending to consider the other three names. There's something about this story in particular that I find moving -- I mean, there are a ton of other people who risked one thing or another to help save European Jews during World War II. But, I dunno, there's something about this specific story that gets me. (Best guess? Something about the contrast between the incredibly high stakes and the incredibly tedious act. Can you even imagine hand-writing visa documents for 18 hours a day, for 6 weeks?)

I do kind of like Glass Slipper, but this seedling is pretty obviously 135A Chiune Siguhara.


And lest I forget, here's a 352A bud update. The bud has dropped off, as I was expecting it to. So, if I can keep to the schedule I set up for myself and nothing really weird happens, we only have seven more Schlumbergera seedlings to get through this year.

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1 Which I understand, of course: it looks clean, it looks bright, and people generally don't have strong feelings about it one way or the other. You probably could get someone to rent an apartment where all the walls in all the rooms were painted an intense tomato red, but not everyone is going to find that appealing, and you don't want to have to show an apartment to more people than necessary, 'cause every person you show to who doesn't wind up renting is a waste of your time. Therefore, white.
And yes, I know it's actually normally off-white. (I assume this is because white-white looks too sterile and cold?) Close enough for our purposes, I think.
2 Which is further confused because some sources cite the number of descendants of those Sugihara saved, instead of or in addition to the actual people. And also nobody was exactly counting at the time, and not everybody who got a visa was saved, and not everybody who was saved had been given a visa, and so forth. It gets confusing. The point is that it was a lot.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Anthurium no. 1447 "Daesha Richards"

Please bear with me, reader, I promise we'll be getting some more interesting Anthurium seedlings soon.

Which is not to say this one's boring; it's just not particularly good. The blooms have all been pretty small. The color combination is a common one,


and the foliage is not great,



so it's probably going to be discarded eventually. But there is something slightly noteworthy about 1) how many blooms it's produced, and 2) how hit-or-miss those blooms have been. I don't have photos for every inflorescence the plant has produced, but here's the first one:


and here's the most recent one.


And this one came in between.


It's still not extremely common, but the seedlings, collectively, are producing inflorescences on short peduncles more frequently now. I don't know if this is because of damage from pests, or if environmental conditions in the basement are causing plants to attempt to bloom before they're actually ready to do so, or if we're seeing recessive genes show up in the F2 generation that didn't have visible effects in the F1 seedlings, or what, but it feels like it means something.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 132


The name finalists for this one are giving me a bit of mood whiplash, but it's a nice seedling. One of the more interesting things about it is that it photographs as pink or magenta at different times, and I haven't been able to figure out whether that's because the flowers are actually changing color with age1 or because my camera's screwing with the color balance. Or both.

So what are these whiplashy name options? Glad you asked. Divoon, Pointy Space Princess, Rosenstrasse, Sweet Baboo.


Divoon keeps coming up and then getting shot back down, see 181A Margaret Atwood and 182A Padparadscha, but surely one of these times it's going to stick, right?

Pointy Space Princess is a nod to the character Lumpy Space Princess, from the show Adventure Time.

(warning: the video's volume varies substantially from one clip to the next)


The name actually describes the region of space, lumpy space, of which she is the princess; it happens to also work as a physical description, and she self-describes as lumpy so I'm not sure if this is an important distinction to make, but since I've just learned this I figure y'all may as well learn it too. In any case: I wanted to name a lavenderish seedling after LSP, but A) the Schlumbergera seedlings are not lumpy, they're pointy, and B) I didn't want to give the impression that the makers of Adventure Time or whatever company owns the rights to it approved this particular seedling or were affiliated with me. Therefore Pointy Space Princess. Which might still not be distinct enough, but it's the best I could do.


Rosenstrasse (German for "Rose Street") is the name given to a protest in Berlin, during February and March 1943, in which the non-Jewish wives of German Jews who had been arrested and were to be deported demonstrated until their husbands were returned. There's a ton of stuff about it at Wikipedia, and the story overall is, I gather, not so much that standing up to oppressive regimes can save lives (though it can, and did) as that if you stand up to oppressive regimes, you can sometimes embarrass them enough that they'll do what you want in order to shut you up, so they can do different horrible things. Not the ideal message, but we can't be too picky about where we find hope and encouragement these days.

Sweet Baboo is intended as a reference to the comic strip Peanuts: Charlie Brown's sister Sally referred to Linus as her "sweet baboo" a number of times, generally with Linus protesting that he was not her sweet baboo. I'm not clear on whether Sally ever actually defined what a sweet baboo was, but I suppose it's clear enough from context what she meant. I'm not sure why this seedling seems like it could potentially be a sweet baboo. It just does.


So the first name I'll drop is Divoon, less because I don't like it than because the other three names are just obviously better.

And Sweet Baboo is fine, except that there turns out to be a musician performing under that name, which would be a problem even if I liked their music, but is more of a problem since I don't.2


So we're stuck between a very silly name (Pointy Space Princess) and a very serious one (Rosenstrasse). Which is uncomfortable, and I'm not sure how to choose between them. I can't even eliminate one on the grounds of color-appropriateness, because the lavender/magenta photos work for Pointy Space Princess about as well as the pink photos work for Rosenstrasse, and I don't know which color is the "real" one, or whether either color is "real." Whatever "real" even means in this context.

I don't know exactly what tipped the scales for me, but after thinking about the question for a while I decided to go with 132A Pointy Space Princess. Which is mildly disappointing, but I was going to be mildly disappointed either way, and there will be more World-War-II-related names coming along shortly,3 and I imagine we'll see some pink seedlings next year, so it's not as if the Rosenstrasse opportunity is gone forever.


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1 A theory for which there is some support: the early blooms tend to photograph pink, the later ones magenta.
2 Or at least I don't think I do, so far. This is less a comment about the quality of the music than it is a comment about me: I hate about 90% of music the first time I hear it, even things that I later wind up loving for decades. Dunno why.
So maybe if I listened to more songs by Sweet Baboo I'd eventually come to love them, but the first impression wasn't great. *shrug*
3 (at least 135A, 201A, and 271A)