Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Veronica Salpiglossis, the Greek goddess of Gamble Garden

May 24, 2017

From a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden yesterday: two striking flowers I have never grown, though they are common ornanentals: Veronica spicata, or spike speedwell; and Salpiglossis sinuata, or painted tongue. In the garden (photos by Juan Gomez):

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Corn snakes and eggplants

May 23, 2017

… with belladonna as a bonus.

Two more photos by my man Jacques (of uncertain date), in Columbus OH:

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The snake is curled up in a crevice in the house’s crumbling cellar wall. The corner on the upper right is the edge of the back steps. (Eventually the cellar wall was completely rebuilt, and this spot was transformed into an excellent wooden deck.)

The snake just turned up on a sunny day, looking a bit like a copperhead, but seeming to be unthreatening, which copperheads are not.

The plants in pots in front of the snake are eggplants, bearing their glossy black fruits. The eggplant has come up frequently on this blog as a versatile foodstuff, several times as a member of the Solanaceae / nightshade family — it’s essentially edible nightshade — and occasionally as a phallic symbol, but I haven’t done justice to it as a plant.

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The patio report

May 22, 2017

(About my life and plants.)

Following up on yesterday’s patio-restoration posting, four photos of the results so far: two literally out the window by my work table (with the blinds just as they are now), two from better angles out on the patio.

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JHT photos: on the peony patrol

May 20, 2017

Recently unearthed: another huge trove of photographs, including a set of photos my man Jacques took back in the 80s and 90s. Places J loved (at Stanford: the Burghers of Calais, the fountain in White Plaza, scenes near the Dish on the foothills; Sather Tower at Berkeley; the house and garden on Beaunmont Rd. in Columbus, the house on Ramona St. in Palo Alto). Today it’s peonies in Columbus.

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Artichokes on the hoof

May 17, 2017

Yesterday, coming back from the Ross Road YMCA (where I’d just been through my first Enhance Fitness class, an hour workout for seniors; note final cluster simplification in enhance for enchanced), Kim Darnell and I went past a house with, in its front yard, some remarkable tall green stems with huge green buds on top of them, looking like a child’s idea of a Martian plant, a pole with a vegetable on top. A photo from the net, not as perfect as the plants in south Palo Alto, but it’ll give you the idea:

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Some of you will recognize these as artichokes on the hoof, on a farm like those in Watsonville (in Santa Cruz County) or Castroville (in Monterey County) and surrounding areas of the Artichoke Empire. Others will, like Kim, will be startled to discover that this is how the artichokes we eat grow.

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ice plants

May 16, 2017

… that is, plants in the Aizoaceae, or ice plant, family. On the occason of recent visits to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, where there’s a spread of gorgeous Lampranthus spectabilis (syn. Mesembryanthemum spectabile), trailing ice plant:

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(photo by Kim Darnell)

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I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley

May 13, 2017

It starts with a striking variety of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), a flower of the month of May and of weddings:

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Photo from Liz Fannin, in Columbus OH, who found the plant at OSU’s Chadwick Arboretum plant sale last year.

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Two spectacular plants

May 10, 2017

Two visits to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden recently (Sunday with Kim Darnell, yesterday with Juan Gomez), both to mark/cushion Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s 80th birthday. Photos of remarkable plants both times — this is high flower season — and I’ll spread the photos (by my companions) out over several postings. Today: from yesterday, two spectacular plants — Tower of Jewels (Echium wildpretii), distinguished by being a humongous cone of red flowers; and treasure flowers (Gazania rigens / splendens hybrids), with composite flowers of such intense bright colors they look like an artist’s (van Gogh’s, maybe) imaginings of flowers.

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Blooming on the street

May 9, 2017

… on Ramona St., in front of the Ramona Townhouses. A little while back, it was the white calla lilies a few doors up the street from my place, but they have now collapsed to the ground, their bloom time over. Then, in the arches over the entrances to several of the units, a sign of spring: showy displays of yellow trumpet vine, growing amongst the ivy there; and in front of my unit, a spray of very pretty fancy pink geraniums (that is, pelargoniums).

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Mothers

May 9, 2017

I’ll start with Roz Chast’s cover art for the May 15th New Yorker, “Motherboard”, a droll celebration of Mothers Day in embroidery. With notes on uses of mother. From there to a sepia-toned mother and baby photo (more baby than mother) from 1965: mother Ann Daingerfield Zwicky, baby Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky. On the occasion of Ann’s birthday, today, May 9th; Ann would have been 80 today (but she died at 57). And then something celebratory: a lot of gorgeous foxgloves, a plant that Ann much liked; locally, they’re at their peak around the time of Ann’s birthday (and Mothers Day, which she detested; and Derby Day, which she loved).

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