Sunday, February 19, 2017

Visiting Scotland--Beautiful Orkney

Orkney, Scotland

Sometimes the places I go are imbued with romance from my childhood. Ah, Orkney! In the King Arthur tales of my childhood, Sir Gareth of Orkney was my favorite. (Cliffnotes) Many places associated with King Arthur are in southern England, for example Cornwall, so I never grasped how far Gareth traveled to serve with King Arthur.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Carnivorous Plants, from Legos

Southeast Asia is famous for diverse and bizarre insectivorous plants.

For example these Nepenthes pitchers, seen in Seattle's Volunteer's Park Conservatory. About five inches long, the pitchers capture and digest insects to provide essential nutrients for the plant. Carnivorous plants are most diverse in low-nutrient ecosystems such as tropical bogs.

Nepenthes

So I was pleased to see Nepenthes pitchers at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

Nepenthes

But wait! those aren't plants, those are built from legos!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ancient Seeds of Lotus

lotus Nelumbo nucifera
Sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
The sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, is perhaps the most iconic plant of Asia. (Post about lotus)

But it is the subject of ongoing scientific study because of the longevity of its seeds.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Anniversary, the Fourth One

Hardrangar Fjord, Norway
Hardrangar Fjord, Norway
I started this blog in February of 2013. What an experience it has been!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bali Dye Garden -- Blues and Browns

Ooh! A dye garden!

Dye garden, Bali
Dye Garden, Ubud Bali
In Ubud, Bali, I spent an afternoon visiting a dye garden. Dye gardens are rare. Very few people use natural dyes these days, and only a few of those who dye grow the plants they use. So the dye garden was a treat!

This dye garden, run by Threads of Life, provides dyes for local natural dyeing and for teaching about dyes. The dyes, dyed cloth and things made from the dyed cloth are sold at the Threads of Life store in Ubud. The garden is frequently used for natural dyeing workshops (see upcoming workshops: link).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tropical Flowers

orchids
orchids,  Singapore
Here is are a group of bright flowers, in case you are deep in snow as I am, are heading for a tropical holiday, or just enjoy the dramatic colors -- a collection of common tropical flowers. The tropics are defined as between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the area around the Equator between 23 degrees north and south. Except at high elevations, this region never freezes and is generally quite warm and rainy.

All over the tropics you'll see:

Orchids! Members of the Orchidaceae, the plant family with more species than any of the other 400+ plant families, orchids have great diversity, from small pale flowers to large purple or red ones. People love them, so there are thousands of cultivated varieties. The vast majority of orchids require warm temperatures and high humidity so are easily grown in the warm tropics and less visible elsewhere.

orchids
another orchid seen in Singapore

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Plant Story -- the Mysterious Marquis Frangipani

The Marquis Frangipani eludes me.

plumeria

Frangipani, Plumeria, (link: previous post) is one of the plants where the common name is no easier than the scientific name: both are multi-syllable words unfamiliar to most people. The scientific name is Plumeria. That name was chosen by Linneaus in the middle 1700s in honor of the Franciscan monk and French botanist Charles Plumier (1646-1704, biography), who collected and described many plants in the Caribbean in the late 1600s, one of which was plumeria. The plant was of course well-known to native Americans across the Caribbean and central America. The Badianus Manuscript, 1552, describes it and its use by the Aztecs, but The Badianus Manuscript was not widely known or available for many years after it was written (link).