Saturday, April 29, 2017

Clivia seeds available

A reader has sent me a batch of Clivia seeds, more than I can realistically grow out.1 She also provided instructions for their germination that got me 91% germination, and 88% post-transplant survival.2 If you're in the U.S. and have always wanted to try growing Clivias from seed, this is your chance to try it out.

How many seeds you get will depend on how many other people want them (and how many you want to get). If a lot of people are interested, I may have to ask you to cover the cost of postage, but if it's just 1 or 2 readers wanting them, I don't mind mailing them out for free.

Contact me by e-mail (, minus the two a's) if interested to get the addresses / quantities / money straightened out. I don't know how long they'll remain viable, and I was hoping to mail them out on Monday or Tuesday (1 or 2 May), so sooner is better than later.

Also if you have cats, you may want to pass. Clivia are toxic to cats. It sounds like fatalities are rare, but I wouldn't be comfortable taking the risk, personally. Clivia are also toxic to dogs, though I didn't find out how toxic until, like, today, and since Sheba's never shown any interest in the Clivias I assume she's not going to suddenly develop any. Decide for yourself how much of a gamble you want to take, but I figured I should say something.


1 Because I got a big batch of seeds in February already. I'm good for Clivias for the foreseeable future.
2 About half of the first batch, as of 22 April (sown 7 February, so they're about 10 weeks old in the photo):

You were probably expecting to see the germination instructions down here. Sorry. I'll try to get a blog post up about this soonish.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 096

Seedling 096A bloomed relatively late in the season, along with the other plants on the same flat: I moved them all up from the basement last Halloween, which you'd think would be plenty of time to set buds and bloom along with all their brethren, in mid- to late November, but apparently not. Moved them on Halloween, and they all started blooming between about Christmas and mid-January. 096A is notable for its intensity of color

and the number of blooms produced at once. Normally I don't try to get pictures of multiple blooms, because it's tough to find an angle to photograph from, but 096A made that easy:

Many of the early batch of blooms had weird petal edges. Not sure what to call it -- "frilled" sounds more deliberate and regular than I think it was. Maybe "lobed?" "Ragged?" In any case. I don't think the thrips did it, since they normally leave the structure of the petal intact: in this case, the plant appears to have just declined to grow part of the petal. It also hasn't been consistent: some of the blooms have the weird margins,

and some of them don't.

And they are all the same seedling. I checked. But anyway. Should get to the naming before I run out of photos. I came up with: I'm Really Sorry, Tamika Flynn, Wheel Keeps Turning, and You Look Great Today, which seemed like a much stronger set of names before I started writing this post than they do now.

I'm Really Sorry is one of the names intended to honor particular people from my life. I mean, I'm Really Sorry technically could be referring to (almost) anybody I've ever known, but there's a particular person intended here. And it's kind of timely.1

Tamika Flynn is the character from Welcome to Night Vale, previously considered and rejected for 083A Psychedelic Bunny, 078A Art Party, and 089A Halloween Moon.

Wheel Keeps Turning and You Look Great Today are maybe not exactly self-explanatory, but I don't have any explanation to add.

Of the four, I think I'm least interested in Wheel Keeps Turning, so I'll drop that. And You Look Great Today seems to imply that the plant and/or flowers are going to look great as well, or at least invites the reader to look at the plant with a more critical eye to its appearance, which I suppose can't really be guaranteed.

Which gets us down to I'm Really Sorry or Tamika Flynn, and as much as I like Tamika, the timing of the journal stuff is too much to resist. And anyway I was kind of picturing a Tamika Flynn seedling being more of a magenta or purple. So I'm going with 096A I'm Really Sorry.


1 I've mentioned before that I've kept a daily personal journal since 1987. A year or two ago, I started typing the old, handwritten entries (Feb. 1987 to May 2002) into my computer. I then got distracted by other stuff and stopped it, but I resumed in early March. I've transcribed roughly 445,000 words since March so far (for comparison: Moby-Dick is 206,052 words long; The Lord of the Rings is 455,125; War and Peace is 587,287); I expect to finish in August or September 2017 if I keep typing at the same speed.
Presently, the typed journal is 5,257,000ish words long; I estimate that it'll be somewhere between 6.2 and 6.6 million words when complete, plus whatever I wind up writing in the journal between now and whenever I finish transcribing. (6.4 million words is the length of not quite eleven War and Peaces, for reference.) No doubt that sounds like a lot, but remember, this is over 30 years, too: it averages out to like 600 words per day. And 600 words is nothing.
The journal transcription has made life super weird for me lately, in good and bad ways. I'm spending enough time transcribing (about 2.5 hours/day of transcribing, on average, plus contemplating and puzzling over the stuff I've just transcribed) that a substantial part of my life is spent reliving the events of other years: sometimes it feels like I am living simultaneously in, e.g., 1993 and 2017. Which is not all bad, though it's also not all good. I've occasionally been motivated to look up music I haven't thought about in a long time, most perfectly and appropriately Peter Gabriel's "Digging in the Dirt" (1992) --

-- which has been really nice. And sometimes things that were confusing or mysterious at the time are obvious and clear now; it's always satisfying to able to say oh, that's what was going on, even when what was going on was unpleasant or makes me look bad or whatever. Occasionally it leads to new mysteries, things that made sense at the time but are now puzzling; sometimes the other people involved are around to be asked, and sometimes they're not. Some stuff is healing, some stuff reopens old wounds.
Occasionally some delightfully strange thing will show up that I'd forgotten completely about. (Hey, remember that time you were at that bar and that total stranger had a picture of his own surgically-removed testicle in his wallet and he wanted to show it to you and everybody else in the place? Why no, I didn't. Thanks, 1998!) Surprisingly often, I discover that I've been remembering things wrong: trips and conversations that couldn't have happened, people who weren't present, objects I remember belonging to other people that were actually my own, bizarre events that actually did happen but I'd convinced myself were too weird to have been real.
Also it's easy to see how choices that ended up determining the rest of my life barely registered as choices at the time. Stuff like deciding which year to take high school chemistry. Picking a destination for Spring Break 1993 and 1994. Making a phone call. Writing a letter. Discarding cigarette butts in one spot instead of another. (All those were the wrong decision except the first one.) This is actually a little upsetting (particularly the Spring Breaks; never take my advice about where to go for Spring Break. I'm life-threateningly bad at it.), though I suppose there were probably lots of inconsequential-seeming decisions that also saved my ass from catastrophe that I'm not aware of because the catastrophe never happened. For all I know, the only reason I didn't get shot in an IHOP in El Paso in November 1995 is because I skipped all my classes on October 2, 1992. For example.
In any case. The point is that doing a deep dive into your own past is really weird, to the extent that I have trouble even coming up with words to describe how weird it is. And the original point is that the person connected to I'm Really Sorry is on my mind a lot because of what I've been transcribing recently, even if the name's not particularly related to the qualities of this particular seedling.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 077 (again again)

This is another "C" seedling (previously: 058C Consternation), which means I'm not sure if it's a legitimate new seedling or just one of the old seedlings blooming in a different color. 077A Grendel is a pretty dark orange, or at least has been previously, and 077B Bad Reputation is orange-red, so this sure seems plausibly different from either of those. But there's only been one bloom so far, and I only have one photo of that bloom, so it's hard to even make guesses. It looked different enough at the time.

Name candidates: Blended Family, Chop Wood Carry Water, Flickering, and Stowaway.

Blended Family and Stowaway are both references to the seedling sharing the pot with two (?) other seedlings; Flickering both refers to the single brief flower so far and to the color and shape -- orange and pointy like a fire or a candle flame.

Chop Wood Carry Water is from the Zen Buddhist saying, "Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water." As I discovered from searching the net, exactly what this means varies somewhat depending on who you ask, but mostly people seem to read it as meaning that being enlightened doesn't free you from the normal everyday activities of being alive; you don't suddenly wake up in a mystical realm where chopping wood for your stove or bringing water home for drinking and bathing are no longer relevant to you or are no longer your responsibility. In the particular context of this seedling, I'm mostly just making a weak joke about the sameness of the orange-blooming seedlings, but it's also meant to be sort of a reminder to myself that even if the world occasionally feels like it's been turned upside down, certain things have to be done anyway. (It's possible that it's also a reference to the monotony of watering all the plants every day; I don't know.)

In any case. Blended Family and Stowaway are referring to the same situation, but Blended Family is a lot more positive-sounding under the circumstances, so I'll drop Stowaway. And I like Chop Wood Carry Water, but it's long (21 characters), and I'm not even sure there is an 077C to be named; I don't want to waste an otherwise-acceptable name on a seedling that I may not still be using this time next year.

Which leaves Blended Family and Flickering, and I think I prefer Flickering. It'll be especially appropriate if it turns out that 077C doesn't exist. Therefore: 077C Flickering.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Anthurium no. 0813 "Arya Reddy"

Not much to say about Arya (but keep reading anyway, 'cause at the end I'll talk about a different, more interesting seedling). Her seed parent was 0234 Ross Koz (red-purple spathe, yellow spadix). I understand that the pollen parent is contributing genes too, and therefore I shouldn't expect the seedlings of a given plant to all look the same, but it still surprises me to get this

out of this:

0234 Ross Koz.

I wish stuff like that would happen more often with the Schlumbergeras.

This spathe color is similar to 'Orange Hot,' though a bit lighter. Presumably that's where the color comes from; I've seen it in several other seedlings by now. Though I think Arya is unique in having a matching spadix; all the other peachy-orangey-pink spathes have come with yellow or light yellow spadices.

Arya starts out more orange than pink

and finishes more pink than orange.

Also you can see the thrips really like her. The leaves are nice, though: large and mostly unblemished.

And she seems to be suckering okay.

So I'll probably keep Arya a while longer, as long as she doesn't develop new problems on top of the thrips.

The other seedling I want to talk about is 1299 Sinthia D Meanor, which fell apart just before opening a first bloom. Since I'd teased you earlier with talk about Sinthia doing a new bloom color, and since the bud got far enough along to be able to tell what color it was going to be, I figured I should go ahead and reveal it even if I don't have an actual full bloom to show. Here's Sinthia:

In person, that's a sort of muddy tan-yellow, a little closer to the second photo than the first. The spathe uncurled enough before dying that I could see a tiny sliver of the spadix; what I could see was light yellow.

So it appears that it's possible to get to a yellow(ish) spathe through breeding alone, presumably a combination of a very light green pigment (which came from the seed parent, the NOID red) with a very light orange pigment from one of the oranges. Averaged out, that would yield the muddy tan-yellow we see here.

Obviously I would rather have an actual open bloom to show you, but since it looks like it's going to be a while before Sinthia tries again, I figured I may as well show you what had happened so far, since it's pretty interesting news either way (if you're the sort of person who finds unattractive but unusual spathe colors interesting).