Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Now we’re cooking with carrots

November 20, 2021

From Ann Gulbrandsen (in Sweden) on Facebook today, a wonderful still life of earthy carrots:

Ann wrote (in Swedish; what follows is the Google Translate version in English, which is, um, flatfooted, with one paraphrase by me):

Thought to pick up the last small harvest of carrots when it will be minus degrees next week. I clearly underestimated what was [underground]. May be cooking with carrots [Sw. matlagning med morötter] a couple of weeks ahead.

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Halloween pompoms

November 1, 2021

🐇🐇🐇 From a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden on Saturday morning with Kim Darnell and their sister Diana, a plant apparently designed for Halloween: Kleinia cephalophora ‘Orange Flame’:


(#1) A plant for this season (photo by K. Darnell); its many flower heads are orange-red globes, and it blooms late in the season (October), making it an appropriate Halloween plant

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Growing boldly where no flowers had grown before

September 11, 2021

Thanks to Randy McDonald, yet another pop-up garden wrested from cracks in the concrete jungles of Ontario:


(#1) [RMcD:] “I saw this [intentional accidental garden] back on 22 September 2017, walking north on quiet residential Palmer Avenue in Niagara Falls ON towards the train station”

Randy chronicles the street scenes of Toronto in great detail — gets the buildings and the streets and the sky above them to talk to us — and also the everyday scenes wherever he happens to go on his travels. So, here, in Niagara Falls ON in 2017.  (This week in 2021: Charlottetown PEI.)

This is a pop-up garden, composed of fast-growing annuals, mostly marigolds (and a white flower, maybe snow-on-the-mountain), that will shrivel, go brown, and die when frost comes. For the moment, it flourishes in brave defiance in this amazingly inhospitable place, the crack between curb and sidewalk. Where it clearly could not have sprung up unbidden, but had to be nurtured by human hands and carefully fashioned to look wild and spontaneous.

Take tough seeds and give them human care, and showy garden flowers can grow boldly where none had grown before.

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The flowers that bloom on the 6th, tra la

September 6, 2021

My birthday — 9^2, 3^4 — rolls around again, in its relentless way, and people are sending me flowers. Well, electronic images of flowers. (Meanwhile, I’m wearing my, sigh, gay dinosaur t-shirt, and I had coffee ice cream for lunch dessert, because it’s my favorite and because 9/6 is, whoopee, National Coffee Ice Cream Day, as well as AMZ’s and the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthdays, 1940 and 1757 respectively.) Today, three floral compositions:

— a sidewalk-crack garden (on the street in Dovercourt Village, Toronto), posted by Randy McDonald on his Facebook page on 9/3 and sent to me by e-mail on 9/4 to cheer me up (despair lurks in doorways, ready to pounce on me and rob me of joy): cleomes and snow-on-the-mountain

— from Benita and Ed Campbell (outside of Denver), a Jacquie Lawson electronic birthday card, “Golden Chain”: laburnum (yellow), drumstick alliums (purple and blue), plus seven parrots and a peacock

— from Rod [Williams] & Ted [Bush] (in Oakland), a different Jacquie Lawson card, “Birds and Flowers”: an arrangement of flowers to be identified, plus several little chirpy birds, with the accompaniment of a much-abbreviated orchestral arrangement of Chopin’s Grande valse brillante

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Sad farewells

July 26, 2021

Brief report from my house on things falling apart, or Why I Hardly Post Anything of Substance These Days. New medical problems — no serious details now, but a symptom of one is enormous exhaustion, so sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day, so not getting much done; and my hands all painfully seized up with arthritis in a terrible flare-up. But yesterday I had some remission and could slowly say farewell to my succulent garden. And then, later, could take some time at the computer slowly clearing out a chunk of a giant iceberg of unanswered e-mail going back to 2009 — a Monument of Things Undone, things that will never be done.

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Annals of commercial naming: Bear Naked Granola

June 18, 2021

Brought to me by Facebook in recent days, advertisements for two playful trade names: one — for the Boy Smells company, offering scented candles, unisex fragrances, and (unscented) underwear, all for LGBT+-folk — covered in my 6/16 posting “Annals of commercial naming: Boy Smells”; and now, for the Bear Naked® Granola company. The two cases turn out to be very different.

Boy Smells belongs with a series of postings on this blog on dubious and unfortunate commercial names — some clearly unintentionally racy, some playfully suggestive, some openly, even brazenly, suggestive, given the nature of the establishments (Hooters). The Boy Smells company is almost painfully earnest about its LGBT+ mission, which makes its name — so evocative of teenage pong — especially unfortunate.

Bear Naked Granola, in contrast, is knee-deep in playfulness, starting with the pun on bare naked, so that on the one side, you get a reference to bears, with their fondness for nuts and fruits and honey (all relevant to granola); while on the other side, you get bare naked, suggesting purity and simplicity. And you also get the pop-culture view of bears, as cute and entertaining.

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News from the rose garden

May 12, 2021

Mail from the Park of Roses in Columbus OH a few days ago, to say that the variety in the rose bed dedicated in my man Jacques’s memory had recently been replaced by a new variety, with an interesting name:


(#1) Grandiflora rose ‘Cardinal Song’ (from the Dave’s Garden website)

It’s all about that shade of red: the color of the bird whose song provides the name for the flower. Both the bird and that shade of red get their name from the color of a cardinal’s robes in the Roman Catholic Church.

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A walk around the block

April 12, 2021

… on Saturday morning, slowly, using my walker, in my penguin mask and the company of Kim Darnell (who took some flower photos, to come below). My first such walk since February 2020, so it was a Very Big Thing.

Across the street and through the parking lot of the downtown library (much improved during my lockdown time by the replacement of some decayed fencing festooned with a collection of noxious weeds), to Bryant St., the next street east of Ramona (as we reckon directions locally); then south on Bryant to stop at 740, which has a fabulous garden right out on the street, for the pleasure of the community (picture time here); on to the corner of Homer Ave. (the corner condo planted with expanses of easy-care vegetation, including a big spread of light blue Ceanothus, California lilac); around the corner to go west on Homer Ave., passing two young Chinese elms that had been planted on the street since I last walked this route; across Ramona St., to stop at the condo at the northwest corner and admire its low-water plantings, all of which except one I had previously identified (another picture time here); and then back north on Ramona St. to home, at 722.

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White petals

April 4, 2021

After a very long time away, a visit yesterday (Totally Vaccinated Day + 1) to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, thanks to Kim Darnell (who also took the pictures). It was the Saturday of Easter weekend, so of course the place was as packed as it could be, given distancing (and masking) requirements. A very high percentage of the visitors were Chinese(-American), many in three-generation groups, almost all of them speaking a Chinese language. Much joy.

It was tulip time, with irises soon to follow. Already many different salvias in bloom (the garden has dozens). And lots of oriental poppies in bloom, dotted here and there throughout the beds, for color. And intriguing things, as always, in the regional gardens — Mediterranean, Australian, South African, Chilean. Two standouts with white petals: Chilean strawberry plants, a Yoshino cherry tree (the ‘Akebono’ cultivar in white).

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Notes of cade oil, spikenard, and labdanum

February 23, 2021

Among the scent notes in the “unisex perfume” A City on Fire — burnt match is another, but that doesn’t require looking things up — from the Imaginary Authors company, whose remarkable fragrances come with synopses of fictitious works of extravagant fiction and with striking graphic-designer labels on their bottles.

The perfumes aren’t cheap — $95 for a 50 ml bottle ($38 for a 14 ml Traveler size, $6 for a 2 ml Sample size) — but then we don’t know how many bottles get sold, and how much the perfumes are actually worn, as opposed to being treasured and displayed as art objects with an olfactory as well as visual and textual dimensions.

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