Entries to Win Afghan

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Sweatpants Not Included

Each year, there is at least one competition which gives the entrants a space which is supposed to represent a certain type of room, and they are to interpret the theme with plants and various accouterments. For example, in 2019 the contest was an 'interiorscape,' showing any interior room of a house.

This year the intent was to create a "home office oasis for plant lovers that makes working fun." The name was Sweatpants Not Included.

Two entries tied for 2nd place, with no 3rd place ribbon awarded. I'll show you those first.

This is called "Aloha from the Mainland." Intent: "My mainland office has transformed into an island oasis."

The judges said, "the quality and diversity" of plants executed the category statement well, but they wanted the rug to fit the space better- they did not like how it overlapped the edge of the platform.
Philadelphia Flower Show interiorscape

The other second place winner is my favorite. It's called "A Wet Suit Required." Intent: "The sailing ship is the oceanographer's home."

The judges said it was creative and they liked the warmth of the space. In this case, they thought there was too much diversity of plant material. (I basically think you can never make the judges happy.)
Philadelphia Flower Show interiorscape

I'm going to show you the opposite corner of the same "room." I really thought they did a great job of using land plants to mimic a bed of seaweed.
Philadelphia Flower Show interiorscape

Now for fourth place. This one was clearly not as good, but it was created by high school students: "Play is Work is Play." The Intent is: "When you are a child, is there really a distinction?"

The judges said it was innovative and unique, but there wasn't good balance.
Philadelphia Flower Show interiorscape

Here's the one the judges liked and gave the blue ribbon, "Unlocking the Secrets of Plants." Intent: "The plants' intricacies and variations captivate her, inspiring continued inquiry."

The judges used words like "quality," "fun and cozy." They thought it captured the home work environment.

It's nice, but probably too formal for me. Not to mention pink and purple.
Philadelphia Flower Show interiorscape

In other news: I spent the day cleaning out Sunny and repacking him. It's supposed to rain tomorrow and I wanted to get as much of that done on a nice day as possible.

I'm not sure I learned anything worth repeating. I couldn't sleep last night and spent the hours trying out the Draft2Digital print option. I learned that it's more expensive than KDP Amazon. But anyway, I now have an account, and I ordered a couple of copies to see how the quality compares. I signed up for Reading Rocks in Rockford which is all about children's books. I did errands. I learned (noted) that Sunny is no longer new. That's OK, because he's been well used and loved in the process, but it seems so recently that I was celebrating the pristine flooring and how well each of the parts fit together. Now, this summer, I'll need to do some repairs and re-fitting of some parts.

See This Year's Heuchera

Monday, March 20, 2023

This Year's Heuchera

As you know, I love Heuchera, also known as coral bells or alumroot. It's almost always grown for the foliage rather than the flowers. Gardeners have tinkered with it for centuries, and there are hundreds of varieties across the maybe 40 species. The species intergrade naturally, let alone with the help of breeders, so attaching an exact species name to any plant may be tough. However, the varieties are usually patented by various companies. The genus is named for Johann Heinrich von Heucher, a German physician of the 18th century.

This year, I saw a couple new ones at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and there was also a small garden vendor at the Expo this past weekend, and they had three more.

This is 'Ball Gown,' at the Expo. The leaves are large and a clear green. That's a little unusual- there is often some variation of color from the center of the leaf to the edge.
Heuchera ball gown

This is one with dark purple leaves called 'Wildberry,' also at the Expo.
Heuchera wildberry

This one is from the Flower Show, and I like it a lot. The plant seems to have been drenched in dappled sunlight because the leaves vary from bright green to almost yellow. Its variety is 'Citronelle.'
Heuchera citronelle

Back to the Expo. This specimen isn't very full, and it may look a bit faded in the picture. It's one of the many, many attempts to approach black with the leaf color. It's by Grande (TM) and is just called 'Black' with the hybrid number TNHEUGB. Pictures on the company web site are much darker. Of course, this is the risk with cultivars... what you get may not be quite what the pictures looked like or what you hoped.
Heuchera Grande black

I've saved the best for last, although it's actually a cross between a Heuchera and a Tiarella, called a Heucherella. The variety is 'Solar Power.' I've actually run across this one before, but this display was gorgeous. I may not previously have realized it was a cross between two genera, so that is my new fact for today.
Heucherella Solar Power

I'm actively getting ready to leave for the trail. Later this week!

See Heuchera

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Fred Sings for Me

  I am safely home from the weekend at the Women's Expo. I finished with the account in the black, but the total sales were disappointing for spending three days at it. There must be a more consistent way to market books or make money, but I sure haven't found it yet. I don't think I'm greedy, I just need it to be more than a hobby. It really needs to be supplemental income.

I will add that no one had stellar sales. Traffic was good, but nothing like the crowds of some other years. I'm not complaining, but one has to analyze what works and what doesn't. Given how much I hate driving into downtown Grand Rapids, the noise, and the logistics of inexpensive parking, I'm not sure I'll do this show again. On the other hand... there were 18 authors there, and being present is worth something that is a bit intangible.

It did feel surprisingly good to be back in the author world. I'm no longer anything like a newbie, and I like being able to help other people and introduce them to more people who might be able to answer their questions. I liked discussing author-type issues with other authors.

That said, I REALLY like being home where it is quiet and I don't have to do anything for the next few hours.

I stayed with my friends Fred and Margie for the overnights. We were all too tired to do much more than say hello the two evenings, but we did get a bit of quality time this morning. I neglected to take a picture of Margie or Zed the dog (one of my favorite doggie friends [cover your ears, Sophie Rose!]). However, Fred wanted to share a hymn with me that he had recently discovered, so he sang it for me. If you want to see Margie and Zed, you can follow the link below to another visit.

He also suggested a book series I might like to read. We have similar tastes, so I'm sure he's right.
man with guitar

Tomorrow, I'll try to keep working on my projects, and I also need to start getting ready to go back to the trail. I sure don't know how it got be be almost the end of March already.

See A Wonderful Weekend

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Dinosaurs Didn't Read

  Dinosaurs didn't read and look what happened to them.
dinosaur costume

In fact, the dinosaur was so uneducated, it threatened several authors. I think it chose our tallest author because it couldn't even see us small people.
dinosaur costume

But then it came and got my books. I don't know if it wanted to eat them or try to read them.
dinosaur costume

And that's the end of the tale.
dinosaur costume

Selling books for 8 hours is a long day. Two in a row. Only 6 hours tomorrow. Several of us went out to dinner afterwards and that was a good time. I'm in the black on the event. Tomorrow is all profit. Yippie!

See PFS- Spiral Cactus

Friday, March 17, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Spiral Cactus

  I'm way too tired to do a long post tonight. Have a very cool spiral cactus, Cereus repandus "sprialis."
spiral cactus

I posted one picture of the Expo on Facebook. You don't need much else unless the authors get together for a photo. It's another vendor show, rght? Today was very slow. We all need it to be better tomorrow. I'm staying with friend, but we are all way too tired for pictures tonight.

See PFS- Brain Forest

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Brain Forest

This is another of the major commercial displays, and it is one of my two favorites from this year's show. It was created by Jennifer Designs of New Jersey and also called Cerebral Garden. Of course the one part you could see from almost anywhere in the room was the stark white tree above some sort of convoluted base.

As you approached, you realized that there were flower beds all around the bottom of the white... sausages? intestines? brain!

Whatever it was, you could walk inside it, like entering a cave underneath the roots of the tree.

There you learned that the display was playing on the idea of an "electric garden of the mind." There were interpretive panels that explained the different parts of the brain. You could push buttons to hear about how the brain uses electrical signals to create thought. The rope lights represent neural pathways.

Inside, there were a lot more of those (manzanita? see- I remembered that from yesterday) branches that look like electric arcs painted white.

There were even white fingers of "electricity" painted on the floor. I like this attention to detail.

Throughout, the frothy floral material seemed to suggest brain matter.

And they left the roof open right under the tree so you could look straight up through the roots to the tree itself.

This display also won one of the special recognition awards from the Federated Garden Clubs of Pennsylvania.

I managed to be super-productive today, which is good, because not much will happen for the next three days while I'm at the Women's Expo in Grand Rapids. Of course, I hope to sell a lot of books, and that is a good thing too. But the projects will suffer.

I'm not sure I learned much. Well, yes, I learned how to use a spreadsheet to help create a good master plan to design a database. That works much better than just sketching things on scrap paper, but I hadn't thought of it. It's part of the video series about Access that I've joined.

See PFS- Lightning Strike

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Lightning Strike

  Today I'll show you another of the standard flower show sections. This competition was for a vertical display on the theme "Lightning Strike." In case you don't know how these work, the entrants are given the dimensions of the space, and sometimes the color of the backdrop (I'll explain later why I think that is true of this display), the theme, and sometimes some other contraints, and they are to interpret the theme using plant materials.

This one took 4th place. The plants are leucadendron, lunaria (money plant), rose, and bismarckia nobilis (a palm). The judges said there was nice textural and color balance, but the roses were too heavy. It is beautiful, but does not say "lightning" to me.

Again, the third place does not strike me as lightning. Pun intended. It uses a lot of plants: chrysanthemum, clover, cyclamen, dianthus, gloriosa lily, hyacinth, phalaeanopsis orchid, ranunculus, scabiosa, spider plant, tweedia (related to milkweed- I think it's the blue flower near the top), tradescantia, and wax flower (the problem with common names is evident here- there are at least 5 plants called wax flower, and none of them looks like anything in this entry).

The judges said that the vibrant color and variety of flowers fit with the overall Garden Electric theme of the flower show, but the delicate plants are incongruent with the heaviness of the display.

I thought 2nd place was right on the money. As I see it, the one problem was that it's white against a white background. Maybe they were not allowed to change the background. It would have been great against black. Alternatively, I think they should have made the branches black and the colors more yellow and orange. I like it a lot.

The plants are: palm, pincushion protea, and an unspecified branch. The judges subtly mentioned that the branches were manzanita, and also thought there wasn't enough contrast. Otherwise, they thought it was effective.

This one took first place and also a Grand Prize ribbon from the Federated Garden Clubs of Pennsylvania. Plant materials are: hala leaf (a screw pine of Hawaii), cymbidium orchid, and heliconia 'golden torch' (common name lobster claws- the orange points)

The judges said it was an excellent interpretation of the theme and refered to "flax" (which there is none of in the exhibit!!??). But they liked the angular forms and stuccato rhythm.

I'm not sure I learned much today that I will retain. Nothing spectacular anyway. I may remember some of these odd plants mentioned above. I may remember some of what I learned about database building from a video. But most of the day was spent on marketing things- 2 hours on a support chat, getting ready for the Women's Expo this weekend, ordering more business cards... not a stunningly exciting list.

See PFS- Hair Raising

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Hair Raising

I always enjoy the entries in the standard flower show. This is a miniature category. The displays were in 6" cubical niches. The category was "Hair Raising." Each entry is somehow supposed to interpret that theme.

This one took fourth. It includes eucalyptus seed, kiwi vine, lily, and milkweed leaves. The judges said that it carries the eye well, but the heaviness of the material weighs it down.
Philadelphia Flower Show Hair Raising

This one took third. It includes echinops and ting-ting. Ting-ting is readily available at all kind of craft suppliers, but I can't seem to find out what it actually is, except a naturally curled plant. It may be a rush or a grass. I'm out of time to find out for today. I actually like this one a lot, but the judges said there was too much negative space. The focus on the photo isn't crisp.
hiladelphia Flower Show Hair Raising

The second place winner used clove, bamboo, millet, rice, and miscanthus. Everyone joked that it looked like a covid virus. But the judges only said that athough it evokes static electricity, the vertical line impedes the movement. That comment doesn't make much sense to me.
hiladelphia Flower Show Hair Raising

This one took the blue ribbon. The single plant material is tillandsia which is an air plant. The judges said, "This hair raising design ignites the imagination! Click."
hiladelphia Flower Show Hair Raising

Personally, although this was very clever, I thought the more abstract one that took third was more "hair raising." But I'm not a judge!

I've been in the mood for an odd food item, so I made it! Creamed potatoes and peas. This was a staple when I was growing up, but I rarely made it for my family because Omer didn't like cream sauces. It was a yummy dinner for today.
creamed potatoes and peas

My new fact for today stems from seriously starting to plan when I will go back out on the trail. The Trap Hills are going to have to wait till near the end because the snow is still too deep. But I "accidentally" learned that trap rock is a geologic term that refers to "any dark-colored, fine-grained, non-granitic intrusive or extrusive igneous rock." So are the Trap hills trap rock? I still don't know. I think the answer is maybe. There is a Trap Hills Range in Wisconsin as well, basaltic volcanic flows that split and created cliffs of which there are a lot in Michigan's Trap Hills, and I think they are geologically connected. I overlaid the trail on a geologic map, but I'm still not sure. I'll keep digging!

See PFS- Blue

Monday, March 13, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Blue

  Have you ever wondered why blue is a somewhat rare color in flowers? There are lots of shades of violet, but true blue is difficult to find. This exhibit, I'm not sure who created it, focused on blue. You'll notice, though, that the eye-catching display has a blue dress rather than blue flowers.

Look closely at the front of the dress, and you can see flowers spilling out, some of which are blueish purple.

The rest of their display wasn't very full with plants, but they tried to stick with blue. They largely featured Pulmonaria, Lungwort.

If you ever have dabbled with drying flowers, you already know that blue flowers don't dry blue. This can be very annoying when you would like to make a dried arrangement that preserves the color. Sometimes, the color it dries to is a help with identification. Blue lettuce may dry white or yellow depending on the species.

And here's my new fact for the day. I did not know this AT ALL, so I love it. Blue is a really difficult color for plants to produce. The minerals that are true blue in some forms are cobalt and copper (sulfate). But both of those minerals are highly toxic. Plants create anthocyanins which result in shades of color that range from purples to nearly black. (Side note- some purples are the results of betalains, such as beets). But blueberries, purple cabbage, dark autumn leaves, black beans, and many other plants are colored by anthocyanins.

But the plants have to sequester these chemicals within the cell so they don't poison the organism. Within plant cells are sacs called vacuoles. These are surrounded by a membrane that isolates the contents from the rest of the cell. (Specialized structures can move compounds in or out of the vacuoles)

Once the flower is picked and the cells no longer function as living things, the vacuoles break down and the anthocyanins fade. There weren't many blue flowers at the flower show this year although I can think of a few I did not see anywhere. However, there were hyacinths.

And my favorite of what I did see is blue Cineraria, Senetti (a trademark) Pericallis x hybrid.

I got back on track for working on my projects today and got a lot done.

See PFS- Chandelier

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Philadelphia Flower Show - Chandelier

  This was another of the major commercial displays and was created by Arrange, Floral, and Event Design of Haddonfield, NJ. Their premise was that electricity is an element of nature such as lightning and fireflies. They created a fanciful chandelier.
Philadelphia Flower Show Chandelier

Here's a closeup of the middle.
Philadelphia Flower Show chandelier

One of the drawbacks of the "electric" theme is that the colored lighting masked the natural beauty of the plants- in this exhibit, the falls of orchids. This was the one complaint our group had over and over about this year's event. But sometimes the theme just seems to create inherent problems.

One reason Marie and I left so early yesterday to go to the train station was that I asked if we could drive up on the east side of the Hudson on the Taconic Parkway. I had been on it once before and knew a little about it, but I wanted to cement more of the info in my head, so that is my new thing to learn for the day. It is a partially limited access highway that is only open to passenger vehicles (like the Blue Ridge Parkway). It follows the edge of the Taconic Mountains, and is scenic in nature.
Taconic Parkway
I knew it was old, but now I know that it was envisioned in the 1930s by Franklin Roosevelt. Gilmore Clarke, a New York architect designed it. He also designed the Central Park Zoo and the landscaping of the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Taconic Parkway

The Taconics are geologically part of the Appalachian Range although they are often mistaken as part of the Catskills and/or the Green Mountains of Vermont. This is a view across the Hudson with the Catskills just peeking out below the clouds.
Catskill Mountains

I didn't sleep much Friday night. Last night I was on the train and slept intermittently. Everything on the whole trip went well, but the net result is that I'm too tired to even focus my eyes. I think I need to go to bed and listen to something until I fall asleep.

It was a wonderful trip- back to work tomorrow.

See PFS- Eye Candy
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