Time for some geeky plant stuff. But first, a rundown of my week. Feel free to skip to the pretty pictures.
The DAY JOB THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED.
Well it has actually been on OK week. At one point on Thursday after unwillingly getting involved in the eventually successful search for a valuable piece of equipment an absent colleague had hidden away I was tempted to get a t-shirt printed with the slogan ‘Darren – sorting out other people’s shit since 1992‘ but figured it might not go down well at work.
On a positive note I found out today that a paper written with our PhD student Sophia has been published.
Quite an interesting piece of work that follows on from her earlier paper that observed the negative effects of Fluoxetine (Prozac) residues on the breeding success of birds. It appears that female starlings chilled out on anti-depressants are less attractive to males. I am not going to comment.
You may have already seen our WFNC post from Wednesday and the activities surrounding that and our Fashioned By Nature designs and shop have been the main artistic focus of the week.
On a personal level. I have now joined the Society of Botanical Artists. Previously standard membership was only open to artists successful in the society’s annual exhibition but has now been made open. To achieve fellowship level there are still additional requirements including active exhibiting and this may be a goal for the future.
I have also become a member of a group of artists associated with King Street Studios here in Lancaster. Last week I attended their meeting which was a ‘working with clay’ workshop. Suffice to say that being a potter or sculptor is not in my future. I have sent my details to be featured as one of their associated artists and hope this will appear on the website soon.
My new computer was installed last weekend and successfully talks to my scanner. I have loaded ‘Affinity Photo’ onto it and hope to experiment this weekend with preparing images for prints and cards.
Geeky plant stuff.
I featured the yellow form of this species in an earlier post but the red form is now in flower too so I decided to feature them as a pair. I first became aware of this species when I saw a beautiful potful in the conservatory at Kirstenbosch botanical garden in Cape Town 20 years ago and have just now finally achieved my ambition of flowering both colour forms.
Daubenya aurea is endemic to the Roggeveld mountains in South Africa, where it grows on clay flats and is endangered by encroachment of agriculture. It grows through the winter, flowers in spring, then goes dormant for the hot dry summer months.
Due to its montane habitat this is an unusually cold-tolerant plant for a South African bulb and is thought to survive temperatures down to -15C and often has snow cover. This might make it seem ideal for cultivation here in Europe and indeed it is easy in Mediterranean countries but our low light in the UK winters mean that the usually prostrate leaves try to stand upright and look a mess. Also it can be very prone to rot, especially the bulbs if they have moisture when dormant.
I have placed my plants this year under an LED light in a breezy position in the greenhouse and this means the leaves have stayed fairly flat. It is very slow to reach flowering size from seed in the UK, and unless it gets a hot summer dormancy it often fails to show again the following winter and takes a year off.
The colour dimorphism of the flowers is interesting. It occurs in pure red (var coccinea) or pure yellow (var aurea) populations. The two can, however be cross -pollinated to yield orange intermediates. (This has a coincidental parallel in two orchids from Europe : Dactylorhiza sambucina and D, romana.)