Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On and around the terrace

Almost a September sky today: clear, high blue.

On the terrace, a surprise, the Dunyazade lilies started to open. I had told them to hang on for Vince to get here but two of them just couldn't hold it anymore and had to pop. Just one more week, girls, sheesh.

Although their colouring is similar, they do not have the velvet voluptuousness and intensity of the Silk Road. Open, they are flatter, a little recurved, without the deep trumpet. The back-flaring of the petals is nice, but the raised details on their insides, in lime green, yellow, pink and white is where the interest lies.

The architecture of the anthers is amazing, on all the lilies. Each anther hangs by a thread from the filament, so that it see-saws wildly at the faintest breath.

Below: the tiny yellow flowers of the cherry tomatoes: dead give-away solanum, with the torpedo-shaped anthers:

"The filaments [of Solanum flowers] are usually very short, and in many species the anthers are connate into a tight cone around the style. This arrangement facilitates buzz-pollination by bees that cling onto the anther cone and discharge the pollen through the pores by vibrating their indirect flight muscles. Nectar is absent in Solanum flowers, with pollen as the sole reward in most species." Now you know. From the Natural History Museum, London.

This is a young Silk Road - it only made two flowers this year. The other three had 8-9 flowers each, still in bloom, and already the first ones to open have shed their petals.

On the house opposite, the obsolete antennae serve as roost for mockingbirds, starlings and red cardinals during the day. An outraged screeching signaled two mockingbirds (and a boeing!) dive-bombing the local little kestrel, who was having a snack, holding it down with his feet, while pecking and pulling. They did not manage to dislodge him. Previously I have seen him fly off in disgust, uttering high tweets of rage.

At 16x digital zoom, this is the best I could do! I saw feathers floating up around him, or what I presumed to be feathers, so I think he may have been eating young pigeon?

I worked at home today, so had plenty of time to observe these goings on, rewarding myself with some Noilly Prat and Cassis with a sliced lime, once two terrace layouts had been drawn and the light signaled Colonial drinks-time.

Ice. A simple luxury. But a luxury it is. When we were driving in Parts Foreign early this year, the first thing we would do before setting up camp was locate the ice, and buy bagsful. Or, if setting off in the morning, stock up so that we'd have some in the middle of nowhere, squirreled away in our coolers and fridge (thanks Guy and Jay!!)...


  1. It's indeed amazing how such a simple thing as ice can become the most coveted luxury...

    Tell the lilies (and the black one too) to hold on and wait for me!

  2. Marie, your lily photos are wonderful.

  3. I want to live inside that lily, and have its pollen dust my hair. I used to while a way many afternoons watching carpenter bees buzz-pollinate the tamarillo tree in our backyard. And of course, it's in the Solanaceae too!

  4. Beence - Estorbo takes exception to that remark.

    Lisa - thank you! How's your famous husband? :-)

    TEOH - (jislaaik, that's a mouthful...I'll work on it): actually, right now I'm covered in pollen! It keeps brushing on me from the Silk Road lilies, 7' and 8' tall.

  5. what an amazing photo of the sky! obviously the lily ones are incredible too... but that sky/cloud one really caught my attention. thanks for an awesome blog, you inspire my gardening self!

  6. ICE... I so agree.
    My few travels overseas over the years which included England, Wales and Germany gave me much appreciation for a number of things we Americans take for granted. One of them was ICE!


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