Saturday, November 26, 2011

Phal. Tying Shin Cupid 'Montclair' (Sogo Lawrence x Kuntrarti Rarashati)

Tying Shin Cupid 'Montclair' is a fantastic addition to my collection.  With a light scent made apparent during the warming-hours of the day, this phal boasts some of the most intense coloration I've seen on a phal bloom.  It is also of heavy, almost waxy substance, which means it likely has blooms that will last for a long time.  Its pod parent, Sogo Lawrence, has been used extensively by the Tying Shin nursery.  I have my own Sogo Lawrence as seen below.

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Phal Kuntrarti Rarashati
If you combine the two with some careful consideration, it gives you Tying Shin Cupid 'Montclair'.

P. Tying Shin Cupid 'Montclair'
From description from their website:
Another exceptional clone of this incredible FRAGRANT hybrid from the famous Tying Shin Nursery in Taiwan ! Phal. Tying Shin Cupid is being used extensively in their breeding program, lending its smaller size, floriferousness, waxy substance, fragrance and brilliant sunset tones to all its progeny. First bloom seedlings often produce more than one spike and when fully mature, are capable of producing multitudes of branching sprays. A must for multi-floral miniature collectors and essential for any breeding program

Phal. tetraspis (tetraspis ' Jumbo' x tetraspis ' C #1 ')

One of my latest additions to my collection is this species, Tetraspis.  It is actually the progeny of a mated pair of the same species, but one that is pure white and one that has the classic light barring.  The pure white version brings to the plant a strong vanilla scent and a larger bloom and the classic species brings the barring.  When I bought this plant from the made it very clear that you would have no idea really what you'd get.  The basics of genetics dictate that you'd get roughly 1/3 white, 1/3 barred and 1/3 of something in between.  Of course genetics is more complicated than that but for my purposes, it'll suffice.

The photo from website (not my photo!)
I have to admit I have I wanted one with barring but the allure of having a fragrant phal was too much for me to resist so I bought one.  When I received the plant, it had already grown several spikes that had clearly bloomed.  Fortunately for me, a change in conditions for most phals will send the plant into another round of blooming-- and this one did not disappoint.

And here is the latest on my own:
On one spike you can find what looks like a completely white bloom. :o(
But on this spike you can see a bar has clearly begun to develop.
Species are known to take their time in blooming so hopefully I won't have to wait long to see what this plant has to offer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Question: Why?

The Question: Why?

Changing everything-- from diet to hygiene and more

25 April 2011

Growing a vegetable garden these days has become more common-- especially with the sudden rise and attendance of farmer's markets in local communities and such. But even with keeping a garden, most people tend to stick to the things they like the most-- which is natural. Tomatoes, lettuce, maybe broccoli. But what if you take it one step further-- or two or three steps? What does a garden become? For me, it's transforming into a new way of living.

I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania-- nestled in Dutch country, I was surrounded by farming communities, intermingled with white-collar businesses for those who liked the scenery of the country, but not necessarily to live off the country. The farm was a dairy farm but also had loads of land for crops. Most of the crops were for the cows, but that didn't mean it couldn't yield food stuff beyond what the cows needed or wanted. I remember my dad selling soybeans and alfalfa on a regular basis to other farms and through local auctions. We lived off of the milk those cows provided and off the meat the steers would provide every year. On occasion we would even butcher pigs and chickens-- it was a working farm, after all. It was a way of life I knew-- I knew of no other and it's interesting now as an adult to look back and examine that way of life and just how far removed I am from it.

A few months back, Carrie began looking into natural products. I look to Dr Bronner's Soap as the catalyst that began the transformation or how we use, procure and dispose of things. For those not familiar with Dr Bronner's Soap, it comes in many forms but the one I'm used to is castile soap that is highly concentrated-- a drop goes a very long way. Dr Bronner and his family (I believe the good Dr has since passed) are committed to making natural, bio-based soaps that are meant to simply clean, not destroy every living thing in it's path-- and it does just that. Anyway, this gate-way "drug" into the natural products world is what opened up my eyes to not only the possibilities, but the insanity of my daily living and just how much toxicity I lived in. I even considered myself a environment-conscious individual and a clean one at that!

Dr Bronner's was about as far as I was willing to go at first. It's like trying out something before buying-- you are skeptical of the new product or new way of doing something and need proof to further invest yourself in something that could change your way of life. I wish kids were this way, but they seem to be an all-or-nothing product. Carrie really focused on the cosmetic side of things, though-- mostly because of her epic struggle to find things that work for her but also because Colorado has some of the driest air you'll ever experience and she uses a lot of moisturizers etc-- well these products have some of the most bizarre ingredients, most of which haven't a single drop of naturally occurring elements in them. I on the other hand looked at food. Why food? Well, we all have our reasons for things, right?

Because of a personal health issue, my attention turned to food. I never considered myself an unhealthy eater but looking back, there were some serious flaws. I ate vegetables and fruits but I also ate a lot of meat (maybe not compared to others but compared to now, definitely). The amazing thing is, I could not tell you one single thing about where my food came from. Was it local produce? Was the hamburger from the next town over? Where was the bread baked? No idea… absolutely none. And I should know better, right? I mean, I grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania where were knew precisely where our milk came from-- where our cows were butchered and our ham cured (our farm!). I am many years removed from that way of life and sadly, I slowly and quietly progressed the point where I am now-- wondering where my food comes from and why the food I eat is not necessarily helping my body.

My change in eating and in my food is simple-- I learned too much bad stuff about the food industry. Monsanto is not a tool of the Devil, but just might be the Devil itself! (Devil claim is a personal belief of mine and is not based in fact) This company, in particular, has been the focus of some more recent outrage in the food industry. Companies like this are pure evil and are taking ingenuity, tried-and-true traditions and the very essence of living off the land and stomping on it with its huge, well-funded legal boot. Monsanto and others like it are unwelcome in my life and are strongly urged to stay out of my wallet. Given that our food industry is controlled by very few companies now, it is near-impossible to cut them out of the loop, but I'll never stop working to that end. Other issues focus squarely on meat. I love meat-- especially a good hamburger (steaks are nice but they mess with my stomach too much!) but the cost of raising an animal under healthy circumstances and butchering it humanely makes meat very expensive. (The American Association of Meat Processors is an organization that lobbies for major meat-producers-- and nothing says trust than a huge lobby with a logo that has a piece of meat in it! A law suit from a Brazilian company about producing bad meat in the US). I should mention at this point that I'm not a huge fan of using my money, either, especially when I know it goes to corporations instead of my neighbors. The economic impact on me and the ecological impact on our land is a good enough case for me to simply lower-- even by half-- the amount of meat I consume. It feels odd to say it, mostly because of the stigma around diet and food in this country, but I've changed my diet from meat-based vegetable supported to vegetable-based meat supported. And though we're still using up our supply of store-bought meat, our plan is to purchase our next order of meat from a local butcher. It'll cost a lot, I'm sure-- but the responsibility that goes with how we live and operate on this planet falls on the individual. I'm tired of shrugging off my responsibility for the sake of cheap food that makes me sick.

Knowing where my food comes from is the major factor that drives the changes in how I live. My experience and childhood on the farm is something I long to return to. It wasn't an easy life-- my parents and my siblings all worked very hard and went without plenty of things to make life work on the farm but times are different and I'm also not running a farm-- rather, I'm introducing things I know are good and though they may not be easy-to-do, they are much better than the alternatives. So for the first time since leaving the farm, we have a vegetable garden planted. It is 400 square feet and I'm stoked to learn how much money we save (if any) in terms of produce that we get out of the garden. We have plans to freeze, can, preserve… you name it. We also bought chickens. Yep. Chickens. Sybil, Helen and Edith are three buff orpingtons that we got just over a month ago and they are here for one purpose-- eggs. But they're also here for other reasons-- they give great compost, eat bugs in the garden and are funny as hell. One day they'll even be on our table-- but that's not for a while yet! We eat a lot of eggs, mostly because they're cheap, readily available and a good source of protein and good fat but there is a catch-- they're produced from birds that are kept in some of the more outrageous conditions. You'll hear the term "organic" or "cage free" and think you're getting eggs from happy chickens-- but this could not be further from the truth. Eggland's Best defines cage free as, "The hens selected to lay Eggland’s Best Cage Free eggs are not kept in cages and are free to roam. The hens are provided with sunlight, shade, shelter, an exercise area, fresh air, and are protected from predators." If by "free to roam" you mean housed in a huge-yet-jam-packed metal box, then no, they are not in cages. I don't mean to pick on this particular company because I have no specific quarrel with them but I find it very difficult to believe they provide a humane existence for these birds and give them what they need to produce the best-quality egg out there. And I'm not saying I can do any better but at least I know where my eggs are coming from-- my yard.

This movement to a more natural way of life makes sense to me. It takes work and thought but it is rewarding and I enjoy the work. I've even come to enjoy the look on people's faces when they hear I have chickens! It's the "are you nuts" look-- classic. And no, I'm not nuts, it is perfectly natural to have such animals in my care and on my land. Nowhere else in the World, than in America, does one buy acreage of land and not use it for a single agricultural purpose. I like having several acres of land, as it keeps other people away from me, has a great view of the mountains and is full of birds and deer and other cool animals-- but it is land! It can be used responsibly to provide me and my family and in the healthiest way possible. To me, there is no question as to whether or not to do this-- the answer is clear.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

H. Siren, Stanwick, and NOID

I kept a few bulbs chilled in our fridge over the winter months figuring that I could have extended bloomed later on during the gap between Winter and Spring, or when Spring has an identity crisis and acts like Winter, which it so often does here in Colorado. But then I moved and the bulbs had no chilling and suddenly came to life. So I ended up potting them in semi-hydro and letting them grow happily in the new sunroom. One of those bulbs is Siren-- a double flower that is both red and white, witch a lot of shading and speckling in between. She gave me two scapes this year. The first was the typical four per scape. Here is the first round of flowers.

The blooms are beautiful but it was the second scape the surprised me most about this particular bulb. I hope it always does this...

I counted and got 8 full blooms on the second scape. Saweet!!!!!!

Around the same time as Siren's blooming I was lucky to have two others blooming as well. The first is Stanwick, which is an Australian hybrid. This is the first bulb I've ever grown hydroponically and is the second bloom for this particular bulb. I did run into a bit of a problem with this one, though. Its roots turned black while in the hydro. At first I thought maybe the plant lived its useful life in hydro and that the environment simply went toxic or something to that effect. But it is my belief that the roots just got too hot, as not all of them died. I repotted the bulb and hopefully its root system is rebounding now.

And finally, we have a NOID. It was supposed to be Rembrandt von Rijn but looks to me more like a dirty Picotee. It is really nice looking anyway, so it'll just in my collection as Picotee.

I apologize for the terrible pics-- they were taken on my cell phone and due to the ease of uploading from the phone, that has been the choice method lately, as time just isn't available for more!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Phal Rousserole x (Carmerla's Wild Thing X Adelaides Delight)

Phal Rousserole x (Carmerla's Wild Thing X Adelaides Delight)

I bought this Phal off of Ebay from a seller, Mijo. He sells many phals throughout the year and they're always these strange crosses. Well I fell in love with this one and had to have it. I love the dots! When I first got the plant, it was about to bloom and over the month, three buds opened and that was the extent of the show. However, the plant did very well in hydroton and grew substantially over the next year and the photo below is of this season's blooms. Funny thing, though, is that instead of a lot more blooms, I only got one more for a total of four. I'm not complaining because I love this plant, but the plant is very healthy and large now and sent up a long graceful spike only for four blooms.

Another thing I like about this plant are the unbloomed buds. Most phals have pretty boring looking buds but this one has this amazing blend of lavender, green, purples all mixed together to make even the unbloomed flower a work of art.

This variety is a long-lasting bloom.

Haworthia Cymbiformis var translucens

Haworthia Cymbiformis var translucens, Eastern Cape of South Africa

This plant was a gift from a friend of mine from a few of the garden forums I frequent on the Internet. It is a stunning succulent that I have never seen before but am captivated by its look and form. Many succulents that bear some sort of translucency usually only have a small 'window' of translucent flesh but is protected otherwise by a more solid green flesh that blocks the intense sun from burning the plant. However, this plant seems to be most translucent and in so far as I can see, only the veins are solid green. It has only recently been acquired and it did not get potted as quickly as I would have normally done as I was moving to a new home-- so hopefully it'll show signs of being happy soon!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Phal 'Ember'-- First Bloom

I present phal 'Ember'-- a smaller rich purple flower with a wax-like petal that is common among orchids that retain their blooms for extended periods of time-- anywhere from a month to several (even up to six!). Ember is an interesting plant not only because of its beautiful flower but because of the interesting floppy leaves it develops over time. The leaves start off as small, shiny/waxed leaves from the center and elongate to this impressive pale-green leaf that colors to a reddish purple colors near the tips. By itself, its quite impressive. This plant was bought from Logee's Greenhouse in Connecticut. A word about these guys-- impressive selection and excellent customer service. I cannot say enough about how awesome these guys are. Anyway, this plant began its spike in September 2009. If you're looking for a fast-growing, fast-flowering plant, this is not it. The spike is short, not long and arching like many phals are. I believe this is simply because of its lineage, of which I'm not sure, but the plant in general looks decidedly different from most other orchids and seems to relate in terms of leaf shape and look to those of violecea coerulea family-- these are found in hot and very tropical environments prone to a lot of rain-- hence the waxy look and feel of the plant.

Anyway, the spike is in fact short but full of blooms and is exhibiting several branches. None are growing much like the main spike but its likely they will continue on after the main spike subsides or stops growing. Again, this plant spiked in September 2009 and it bloomed on the first day of Spring! March 20 2010!

Without further delay... the bloom of phal 'Ember'-- a rich purple with an intense yet mouth-watering scent exhibited only in the morning (and if you're lucky, at sunset!).