Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Spring flowers, common and exotic

April 23, 2018

… at Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden this morning. In the common category: mock-orange, foxgloves, and bearded irises. On the more exotic side: Elegia capensis, the horsetail restio; and the Chilean bromeliad Puya coerulea.


Cuppy and his cub

April 17, 2018

Cuppy is a cymbidium orchid, a great big maxi guy in a shade of light peach / apricot, with yellow highlights and a dark red lip. And now he has a cub, a clone. They’re the last of my cymbidiums to come into bloom each year; they might last into June, depending on temperatures (cymbidiums are winter-blooming, cool-weather plants).


The cymbidium report 4/7/18

April 7, 2018

Good floral times on my front patio. Five shots, mostly of the cymbidium orchids (taken by Kim Darnell):

(#1) Showing 7 pots with flowers in bloom (some are clones of the same original), one with buds; there’s more


Mistakes in avian medicine

March 13, 2018

Brought to my attention on Facebook by Chris Hansen, this grotesque Bizarro from 2013:


A real test in cartoon understanding, this one. Some readers on Facebook never got it, many (including me) took a few moments to figure it out.


POP on the half shell

February 28, 2018

Paul Noth in the March 5th New Yorker:


A POP (phrasal overlap portanteau): home birth + Birth of Venus, with the two expressions combined linguistically, and also conceptually in Noth’s drawing.


Adventures in alcohol

February 21, 2018

A recent Pinterest e-mail with boards on food and drink offered a number of remarkably named drinks, including two that were new to me: the Purple Fuck (powerfully alcoholic and powerfully sweet) and the German drink Gockelsperma ‘cock’s cum’, lit. ‘rooster sperm’ (made with Waldmeister syrup, from the sweet woodruff plant).


Mary Jane comes to Palo Alto

February 9, 2018

(One in a series of postings about my neighborhoods here on the SF peninsula, especially featuring food, plants, art, and architecture, and especially focused on things within two or three blocks of my house. Notes of a flâneur.)

Caught on the street yesterday at the Palo Alto Tacolicious (on Emerson St., around the corner frm my house), this announcement:

(#1) Photo by Kim Darnell

The first two events featured crab plus CBD cocktails, made with Sonoma Hills Farm fruit juices infused with cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil.


Pretty in pink 2018

February 5, 2018

First, the recent cymbidium report. Last week’s new orchid blooms were these pretty pink ones:


I posted a photo of this plant last year, under the title “Pretty in pink”. But last year it had only a couple flower stems, while this year it has many; and last year it bloomed a full month later than this year.

At this point my plant report veers briefly into a weather report, after which I return to plants, in particular a remarkable succulent — sometimes called evil genius — that blooms at the beginning of a warm season, and is now flourishing in the Arizona Cactus Garden at Stanford.


Tulip trees and magnolias

February 3, 2018

Two days ago, in my posting “Some winter flowers”, I looked at the saucer magnolia tree, Magnolia x soulangeana (pictured in #2 in that posting), currently in bloom all around me on the SF peninsula. The large cup-like blossoms (purple, ranging from purplish-pink to reddish-purple) appear before the tree’s leaves do, making the floral display even more impressive.

When I posted about these trees, Kim Darnell objected, saying that they aren’t magnolia trees, but tulip trees.

It’s important here that Kim lived for two decades in Atlanta, where (as generally in the southeastern US) unmodified magnolia refers to Magnolia grandiflora, also known as southern magnolia, a large evergreen tree with glossy green leaves and stunning fragrant white flowers. Meanwhile, somewhere she picked up the name tulip tree for saucer magnolias —  a natural label, given that saucer magnolia blossoms look like pretty tulip flowers. But not  a common name that I’d seen reported before; instead, the common name tulip tree generally refers to magnificent trees in the genus Liriodendron; a giant specimen of L. tulipifera towered over a yard halfway between the house I lived in as a child and the grade school I went to, so I’m familiar with its leaves, flowers, and fruits, all of which I played with as a kid.

Finally, also in bloom now in my neighborhood, Magnolia stellata, or star magnolia, which like saucer magnolia, blooms before it leafs out.


Some winter flowers

February 1, 2018

Here in northern California we have an array of seasons, marked not just by weather, but also by cycles of various plants. There are plants that come into bloom in December and January: my cymbidium orchids, in particular. Most citrus fruits mature then. Some food plants — leafy greens and most cruciferous vegetables — flourish then. And the first narcissus plants come into bloom then. Late January brings a series of botanical events that signal early spring or summer elsewhere: among other things, calla lilies spring up, magnolia trees reach their apex of blooming; garden ranunculuses (aka Persian buttercups) flourish; and the first of the flowering fruit trees, the flowering plums, come into bloom.

Some garden notes from this week, starting with a delightful animated greeting card from Benita Bendon Campbell featuring Persian buttercups.