Sunday, 25 June 2017

One New, Two Repeats

"Ixia viridiflora -- Turquoise Ixia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Ixia viridiflora, also known as Turquoise Ixia, is a member of the Iris family. It is native to only particular areas of the Cape Province in South Africa and it is a very rare plant. Its habitats are continuing to be destroyed by human activity so, sadly, its conservation status is now listed as “Vulnerable” in the Red Data Book, and is likely to be upgraded to “Endangered” in the near future. 

Turquoise Ixia gets its name from the really spectacular blue-green turquoise colour of the flowers. Turquoise is a rare colour for flowers. These lovely blossoms are grouped in long rows and are traditionally star-shaped. They have a black-purple centre. This flower is pollinated by specific scarab beetles known as monkey beetles. 

It is said that Linnaeus derived the name for the genus, Ixia, from an old Greek name for a plant noted for the variability of its flower colour. The species name viridiflora is from the Latin and means "green-flowered".

"Impatiens niamniamensis - Congo cockatoo", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

As posted 5 November 2009:

There is a species of Impatiens that is one of the most unusual members of the genus and that is the type pictured above. Its name is Impatiens niamniamensis, commonly known as Congo Cockatoo or Parrot Plant. This shrub, native to tropical East Africa, is of the Family, Balsaminaceae

These truly fantastic flowers are said, by some, to look like parrots. One commentator has said that they actually remind her more of candy corn! I think I agree with her as I really do like candy corn! The stems of this shrub can get so thick that after a while, the whole plant looks like a dark, tropical tree. 

The genus name of Impatiens is from the Latin and refers to the seed pod's habit of bursting open when touched. The species name of niamniamensis means of or from Niam-Niam (a 19th century name used by Europeans for central Africa -- a name which is now considered pejorative).

"Eustoma russellianum - Prairie Gentian", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

As posted 9 July 2012:

Eustoma represents a genus of 3 species belonging to the family Gentianaceae and can be found in the warm areas of Texas, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America. They thrive in grasslands and places of disturbed ground. 

Eustoma grandiflorum is one of the best known of the species and is valued because of the large number of cultivars that have been developed from this species. The cultivated plant is frequently listed as Lisianthus. In North America the common names include Texas Bluebell or Prairie Gentian. As well, the cultivars have been developed in colours such as white and pink. 

The meaning of Eustoma (eu = beautiful, good....stoma = mouth) is good tasting or well spoken, but in the case of this plant it may mean "beautiful mouth" referring to the extraordinary colors of the flower as you look down into its "funnel" shape. The species name of grandiflorum is from the Latin and is used as a scientific name to indicate a flower with large blooms.

Most of the above text is taken from various Internet sources.


"Suki Daydreaming"
Photo by Amra, 2017
Well, Suki continues to behave as though she is feeling quite fine. So far I haven't seen any indications of unusual lethargy or discomfort.  In fact, she seems, on occasion, to be feeling better than she has for some time. Perhaps this expensive, low-calcium diet the vet has her on is really making a difference.

At any rate, I plan to take Suki to the vet some time in the next couple of weeks so that she can take more blood from the poor kitty.  I will then pay the $300 this specialized blood test costs and wait to see if the results of this second test show any improvement over the results of the prior test.  Please join me in keeping your fingers crossed! 

As for me, I, too, continue to do reasonably well -- all things considered. My eyes are still causing me discomfort; however, until the doctor finds a medication that consistently controls the ocular pressure, I suspect things will remain a bit uncomfortable.

I have been very fortunate to have had friends visiting this past week.  In fact, I had visitors on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  It has been quite wonderful to see some of my friends again and catch up on the news.

I have also have several medical appointments over the past two weeks and have still more appointments in the weeks ahead.  I'm uncertain as to why I suddenly have a batch of doctors visits here at mid-year -- must have something to do with needing follow-up appointments every six months.


Between now and the time I post again, we will be celebrating Canada Day here in my country.  This year's celebration is a somewhat special celebration for all the immigrants (that includes me) to this country as it is 150 years since the federation of Canadian provinces was first established [the Dominion of Canada, as per the British North America Act of 1867 that unified the provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)]. 

Of course, the indigenous peoples in this great land look with something of disapproval on these celebrations and who can blame them!  After all, this land had been their country for hundreds of thousands of years before the European invasion began in the early 1600s.

At any rate, we will be celebrating and, as you may recall, I prepared for this celebration by doing a drawing of the Canada 150 Tulip some months ago.  This is the tulip produced by the bulb that the kind folks of the Netherlands cultivated for us in honour of our celebration.  (see below)

"Canada's Tulip -- 150 Years, July, 2017", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Canada Tulip 150" blooming in
St. James' Park, downtown Toronto
Photo by Mercedes
One amusing thing regarding these tulips occurred after masses of the bulbs were planted across the country.  When they burst into bloom this spring, a surprising number of them had orange petals instead of the desired red and white! Fortunately, the majority of the bulbs bloomed in the appropriate colours as you can see in the photo above taken by a friend of mine back in the spring of this year as she passed by St. James' Park.

So, I wish you all a very happy Canada Day, a happy 4th of July (USA) and a happy International Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. Celebrate and enjoy! 


Sunday, 11 June 2017

More Floral Repeats

"Mertensia paniculata - Tall Bluebells (Lungwort)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Here are three more repeats -- in other words, three flowers I have featured during the past 10 years and of which I have now done new "drawings".

Below, for two of the drawings, I have used the information I posted previously; however, it appears that this first item, Mertensia paniculata, was published on an occasion when I was in a big rush so all I posted was the drawing itself.  

Hope you enjoy another trip down memory lane.


Mertensia paniculata, also known as tall bluebells, bluebell lungwort or northern bluebells, is a dwarf shrub with drooping bright-blue, bell-shaped flowers. A member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae), it is native to north-western North America as well as the Great Lakes region. Mertensia paniculata occurs naturally in the temperate zone of North America and is known to thrive within boreal forests. 

The buds of Mertenia paniculata are purplish-blue and green, turning bright blue when the flower opens. The blue flowers are bell-shaped, hanging on slender stalks. Leaves are dark green with a long tapering tip and rounded base. 

Mertensia paniculata has been used for medicinal purposes throughout the centuries. The dried leaves of the plant would be made into an herbal tea to stimulate the respiratory system. Thus, the common name of bluebell lungwort. Externally, the leaves were used as poultices on cuts and wounds. 

The genus name of Mertensia honours Franz Karl Mertens, early 18th century German botanist and professor of Botany at Bremen. The species name, paniculata, is taken from the Latin, panus, diminutive panicula, which, in this case, means a loose, branching cluster of flowers.


"Convolvulus arvensis -- Field Bindweed", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

From salliesART posting May 30, 2010: 
Field Bindweed is considered to be a pest and nuisance throughout the world -- but even such a despised plant has its own beauty. I hope I have captured some of that beauty in my drawing. 

The proper name for this plant is Convovulus arvensis, known in English as Field Bindweed. It is a native of Europe and Asia that has spread throughout the world. It is considered to be a serious weed in 14 countries and a problem in 19 others, including Canada. The first observation of Field Bindweed in North America was in 1739 in what is now the State of Virginia. 

Field Bindweed is a twining perennial vine. Characteristics distinguishing it from other vines include arrowhead-shaped leaves, thin stems, pinkish petals fused into funnel-shaped flowers. These flowers only last for one day, while a single plant in a single season may produce up to 550 seeds! Stems, which usually attach themselves to objects, always twine around those objects in a counter-clockwise direction.

The genus name of Convolvo comes from the Latin, meaning "to entwine". The species name of arvens is Latin for a "cultivated field". 


"Erythrina bidwilii - Coral Tree", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

From salliesART February 24, 2012: 
Erythrina × bidwillii is the botanical name for two different hybrids (cultivars) produced from hybridizing Erythrina species at Camden Park Estate, New South Wales, Australia, in the early 1840s. 

Although the flowers of both cultivars are similar, the form of the plants is different - one is a small tree (Camdeni), commonly known as “Coral Tree”; while the other is a shrub (Blakei), commonly known as “Shrub Coral Tree”. The tree form, when protected from frost, can obtain the height of 20 feet. 

The genus name Erythrina comes from the Greek erythros meaning "red", both the flower and seed are bright red. They are members of the Fabaceae (legume) family. There are over 100 species of Erythrina that grow in warm, frost-free regions of the world. 

The wood of the Coral Tree is strong and lightweight with the buoyancy of balsa wood. The wood has been used for canoe out-rigging, fish net floats and surfboards. 

In Africa the tree was considered a royal tree and was planted on the graves of Zulu chiefs. When the tree began to flower, farmers knew it was time to plant their crops. Medicinal use suggests that species have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects (it is rumoured to also have narcotic effects). The seed is said to be a lucky charm. 

Much of the above text was taken from various Internet sources.


"Suki sitting on place-mat",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
Suki had to recently deal with another visit from the "monster" that comes to my apartment every so often and frightens her into her bedroom closet hidey-hole!  This time the "monster" was a workman with a big drill which he planned to use on my balcony in order to create a larger drainage hole for rainwater.  

When the workman, along with my building's maintenance supervisor, first knocked at my door, Suki bristled-up like a big, hairy puffball and growled menacingly. However, as soon as these folks entered, Suki decided that a full retreat was a better choice than trying to fight this particular "monster" and so she made a swift exit to the bedroom.  As I spoke with the maintenance supervisor, I could hear Suki frantically pushing open the bedroom closet door.  

It was an hour after the workman had finished his noisy job and left my apartment before Suki would come out of her hidey-hole.  After sniffing around a bit, she must have decided that the "monster" had well and truly gone and, thus, she then begin pestering me, indicating that she deserved an early lunch after her harrowing ordeal. 

Since then, things have been as they usually are in our home:  quiet and calm.  Of course, I have had a number of medical appointments over these past two weeks.  Visits with members of the medical profession have become the source of most of my social interactions these days!

Most of these visits are simply follow-up appointments -- just checking to make certain that the various conditions from which I suffer are still being managed properly by the medications prescribed.  

There is only one of these that is not being managed as well as hoped and that is the glaucoma which is in both eyes now. The ophthalmologist has been trying several different drops over these past months in an effort to bring down the pressure in my eyes, but so far nothing has worked.  I am now on something even stronger in the hope that it will finally do the trick.  I have to use it for the next four weeks before the doctor checks my eyes again. So, here's hoping!

Before my next posting, we will be celebrating the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere (it will be the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere of course).  Although we humans have strayed far from our hunter/gatherer/agrarian roots, which kept us so aware of the changing of the seasons, I think most people still sense something, however vaguely, when their side of the earth is closest to the sun. 

I have often wished that I had travelled to someplace like the Canadian far north or the Shetland islands at midsummer when it never really gets dark at all. I understand from those who live in such places that it is very difficult to sleep during these weeks of "simmer din" (summer twilight in Shetlandic when, from mid-May to mid-July, the sun only dips below the northern horizon for a few hours), but I still wish I had taken the opportunity to experience it for myself.  Ah well, thank goodness for photos and videos.

Midsummer night on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides
Photo from BBC production "TWO Midsummer Live"