Friday geeky plant post and update.

So, firstly, what has this week entailed?

Very busy at work. Our annual audit by the UK Accreditation Service for the lab accreditation to ISO17025. As QA manager this is my big week of the year. Happily all went really well. Despite evidence to the contrary I do know what I am doing apparently.

After this I decided that my old brain needed a break so I spent a happy day on thursday with a box of tools, re-plumbing the vacuum system of a mass-spectrometer in my lab.

Today I have been at home learning to use Affinity Photo and it has gone well so far.

My profile has now appeared on the website of King Street Studios in Lancaster. The photo was taken by my lovely friend Dominique in Montreal last autumn. Beware that the link in my profile brings you back to this blog. I am not sure what happens if you do that. The resulting loop could cause a space-time paradox and we could all end up in a parallel universe. You have been warned.

Winter growing climbing Nasturtiums

Chile is home to a number of climbing nasturtium species that grow from tubers. Many of them escape summer drought by staying dormant in summer and growing through the winter months. These make fun but untidy and unruly plants for a cool greenhouse. These are the few I grow:

Tropaeolum brachyceras has tiny yellow flowers which are quite attractive en mass.

Tropaeolum tricolor is a bizarre looking thing and is the most cold hardy of the lot, often surviving the winter in a cold frame here. It finds its way to the frame because it produces loads of tiny potato like tubers that find their way into other pots at repotting time.

Tropaeolum hookerianum ssp austropurpureum is a lovely thing.

All the above will sometimes hybridise to produce offspring with reddish purple flowers.

The most coveted one is Tropaeolum azureum which has flowers in various shades of blue. It is not the easiest to grow, sadly, needing extra care with watering.

Finally – a bit of fun.

Me triggering the pollination mechanism of the Australian orchid Pterostylis curta x nutans.


  1. Those are some amazing plants, particularly the tricolour one. Affinity Studio sounds interesting. Does it have raster capabilities and blending modes, by any chance? Well done on the King Street Studios inclusion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Val. The answer to your question is yes to both.
      I chose Affinity for several reasons:

      It is a one off purchase for a bargain Β£50. I was unhappy about the idea of being locked into full Photoshop’s subscription model, and Elements is not a versatile as Affinity.

      On my work PC I was accustomed to using Paint Shop Pro, but this is not available for Mac and I use Mac at home.

      The reviews for Affinity are remarkably good too. And their tutorial videos on Youtube are great.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a quick look and the fact that it has a CMYK colour profile tells me it’s streets ahead of the usual Photoshop rivals. I’ll have a think about getting it. As for the subs on Photoshop, this is why I’ve stuck to PSE (Photoshop Elements) which has mostly done for my needs – but doesn’t have the CMYK profile with would be very useful. I’ve only ever used PSP a little – had a free version of it on the first pc I had – but in those days I only played around with distortion filters, not much else! (I got into colouring via Elements.) Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No problem Val. It does seem very full featured for the price. I am impressed with it so far but it is not intuitive after PSP. You would learn quicker than me as you are familiar with the terminology and I am a beginner with that.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Darren, the tropaeolum tricolor is so unique. Love it! And it has lovely leaves, too. I really like the heart shape of the azureum as well. Gorgeous. The cherry on the sundae is of course your video.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Saw your profile on the King Street Studios page. You look pretty good in that photo you old goat! Oh wait, you’re the other one. πŸ˜‰ I’m so happy to see this happening. This has been quite a year for you! β€οΈπŸ€—

    Liked by 2 people

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