Masquerade and Plants

image

image

image

There were many beautiful illustrations in the old zoological textbook I wrote about in my last post. Today I’ve picked some illustrious examples of what is known as masquerade or mimesis. Basically, prey animals during evolution developed mechanisms, to camouflage and have higher surveillance rates. Mimetic animals look like something else, not interesting to the predator, like bark, twig, leaf or even lichen. You have the examples on the pictures above, they are actuary  full of  mother nature’s wit. But could it be presumed, that mimesis is a form of  aggressive influential behaviour? Meaning ,that flora in general, is in a way pushing other species to try to survive by being more flora like. Which in turn ends in better surveillance rates of real flora, as the, so to say, fake mimetic subjects de facto are ”incompetent plants”? Would like to hear your opinion about this science-fiction idea!

Zinnia-mal de ojos and human eye

image

Fall colours bring the last sun before winter.But before forests turn their foliage to yellowish part of the spectre the last summer flowers pretend this summer will never end.Zinnias make even this little garden an oasis of summer,delivering a piece of colour memoirs to those passing by. I’ve remembered little zinnia bouquets from the food market that we loved so much, that we kept buying them until we believed they are nothing special and traded them for some fancy flowers in trend.What a pity a human eye recognizes colours  but the meanings remain unseen just too often……

Johann Gottfried Zinn was born in Schwabach. Considering his short life span, Zinn made a great contribution to the study of anatomy. In his book Descriptio anatomica oculi humani,       he provided the first detailed and comprehensive anatomy of the human eye.

In addition to his medical career, Zinn was also an ardent botanist. In 1750, the German Ambassador to Mexico sent Zinn some seeds of mal de ojos,  which was considered a weed in Mexico, but the plant briefly aroused interest in Germany. [1]

Botanist Carolus Linnaeus designated a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceaenative from Mexico as Zinnia  in his honour. Zinnia was introduced to Europe in 1613.  from  :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Gottfried_Zinn

Self Portrait Dedicated To Dr Eloesser 1940 - Frida Kahlo

from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_299336/Frida-Kahlo/Self-Portrait-Dedicated-To-Dr-Eloesser-1940

Woman With A Red Zinnia - Mary Cassatt

from:http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/mary-cassatt/woman-with-a-red-zinnia-1891

Zinnia
Zinnia × hybrida flower and foliage
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribe: Heliantheae[1]
Genus: Zinnia
L.
Type species
Zinnia peruviana (L.) L.
Synonyms
Crassina Scepin
Diplothrix DC.
Mendezia DC.
Tragoceros Kunth[2]from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinnia

Cichorium intybus blue flowers and Horace diet

image

image

Chicory is quiet an unnoticeable plant ,surviving where streets end, sometimes even trying to invade side walks, growing in the corners of kindergarten playgrounds and behind shopping moles where city lawns meet native plants.But when it starts to flower , then it is seen  afar. Sky-blue flowers look as small oceans of blue colour , transforming weed-like into sky-like. Once far ago I wanted to have this beauty with me, at home, so I picked a big bouquet and put it in a vase . How disappointed was I ,recognizing chicory is no cut-flower plant, nice blue petals shrank and my bouquet was a sad one. Since then I admire chicory there, where I find it! 

The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: “Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae” (“As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance”) from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicory

File:Fedor Bronnikov 014.jpg

Horatius reads before Maecenas, Fyodor Andreyevich Bronnikov (1827–1902), from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fedor_Bronnikov_014.jpg

Sambucus nigra and an old watchmaker

image

image

image

image

A big, old elder  grows  in the corner of our garden. No none knows, who has planted it. No one even notices it, growing there. Yet each year, in early summer, elder steps out from his corner, its milliard of tiny yellowish white flower stars bring fresh smell telling summer is here to everyone entering the garden. What is the flavour of this smell like? It is a glass of sweet elder syrup on ice with a slice of a lemon sipped in dark shade reading a good book and enjoying hot summer days.  Year after year, summer after summer ,it is the same smell pretending to be the sweetest elder syrup we sip late into winter to remember great days of last summer. When little white stars fade away one always knows, next year the elder will flower again, as an old clock, telling the summer is here …

The pith of elder has been used by watchmakers for cleaning tools before intricate work. from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus

The watchmaker - Charles Spencelayh

“The watchmaker” oil on Canvas. Charles Spencelayh from: http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_284554/Charles-Spencelayh/The-watchmaker

Hyacinth and rebirth of spring

In Greek mythology Hyacinth was a divine hero.His cult dates from the Mycenaean era .When Hyacinth was killed by Zephyrus, Olymp made flower from the spilled blood of Hyacinth.As this myth talks about death and rebirth of nature hyacinth flower is the one deserving this name indeed.Each year, after winter ,the bulb produces one of the first spring flowers,in wonderful colours  smelling as coming from eternity,giving us hope that after cold winter spring is bringing new chance to everyone………Mozart at only eleven years,  in 1767, wrote opera based on Hyacinth story-Apollo and Hyacinthus. From the same time originates also book about rare flowers with botanical illustration of Hyacinth (see link below)…….after 255 springs Mozart music still brings spring, as does hyacinth flower-but I wonder how is with rebirth of Hyacinthus viridis from mentioned botanical illustration , is it extinct yet or hopefully not?

….

image

image

image

image

image

image


image

image

image

hyacinth-old botanical illustration

Hyacinthus orientalis
Scientific classificatione
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Genus: Hyacinthus
L.
species
Hyacinthus litwinowii
Hyacinthus orientalis
Hyacinthus transcaspicusfrom:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyacinth_(plant)

Syringa vulgaris or smell of spring

Image

Image

Image

When May comes after a long winter, it looks like green hues are painting the landscape all over the place.Since always you remember the spring smell of new leaves opening all over the forests, gardens, parks.And, indeed, when then first fresh green tiny leaves are unpacked from buds ,it again feels in  spring of this year everything could be possible, even the almost forgotten smell of lilacs seems to become more as mere memory quite soon.And when  then comes the first tiny spring rain,washing down leafy smell from the air,you feel spring is already evidently here ,but then you open the window and sweet smell of lilacs embraces you.There it is, lilacs in fool bloom , and now you know for sure, this spring is real…… 

Open Window Lilacs Study 1886 - Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov

“Open Window Lilacs Study 1886″ oil on Canvas,Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov, from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_297499/Valentin-Aleksandrovich-Serov/page-1

The Lilac Bouquet - Serkis Diranian

“The Lilac Bouquet” oil on Canvas, location: Private collection.Serkis Diranian, from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_80221/Serkis-Diranian/page-1

The Bunch of Lilacs - James Jacques Joseph Tissot

“The Bunch of Lilacs” oil on Canvas.James Jacques Joseph Tissot from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_253706/James-Jacques-Joseph-Tissot/page-1

Gathering Lilacs - Daniel Ridgway Knight

“Gathering Lilacs” oil on Canvas Daniel Ridgway Knight, from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_324463/Daniel-Ridgway-Knight/page-1

Lilacs - Boris Kustodiev

“Lilacs” oil on Canvas Boris Kustodiev, from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_204631/Boris-Kustodiev/page-1

Prunus serrulata and Cherry blossom Viewing

Cherry Blossom at Asakura - Utagawa or Ando Hiroshige

Utagawa or Ando Hiroshige:”Cherry Blossom at Asakura” oil on Canvas.from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_210155/Utagawa-or-Ando-Hiroshige/page-1

Cherry Blossoms at Asakayama near Edo - Torii Kiyonaga

Torii Kiyonaga: “Cherry Blossoms at Asakayama near Edo” oil on Canvas.from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_203768/Torii-Kiyonaga/page-1

Cherry Blossom - Pierre Amede Marcel-Beronneau

Pierre Amede Marcel-Beronneau:”Cherry Blossom” oil on Canvas.from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_368106/Pierre-Amede-Marcel-Beronneau/page-1

Cherry blossom Viewing at Kiyomizu Hall in Ueno - Ogata Gekko

Ogata Gekko:”Cherry blossom Viewing at Kiyomizu Hall in Ueno” oil on Canvas.from:http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_286026/Ogata-Gekko/page-1

Spring makes me happy each year .This year the winter was cold and so long we almost forgot the colours of a spring sunny day. Yet it is now here, opening our hopes towards the future, making us believe sun will shine forever and all these vivid colours of spring flowers in breeze will carry us into some new days. Unexpectedly,this Japanese cherry in full bloom embraced me not only with the smell of new day to come, but with sweet memories of past days at the same time.Admiring pink cherry buds opened in early day I remembered how many years ago my son couldn’t wait cherry blossoms to fall down to make us a pink carpet on the pavement on our way to kinder-garden.And as these thoughts under cherry tree have carried me back into memories I’ve searched across some old art works with cherry trees catching my memories-to be transposed in future of the spring day again, staying fascinated with the impression of old and new times catching each other under a cherry tree!

PICT1507 PICT1513PICT1514PICT1511PICT1509PICT1510PICT1512

A garden story with frog service and botanic garden poem

Image Taking a train ride for Stoke on Trent I was observing Potteries landscape running by, all green and smooth.It made me happy to recognize English countryside  just as sculptured in Wallace &Gromit our kids liked that much .Yet my thoughts at that moment  were: “If I survive this I shall reward myself  with one Wedgwood cup!”-sorry my friends in Stoke, but at that moment I couldn’t know that all the clay and coal from these green paysage helped writing a garden story I would listen with open mouth… 2012-10-28 08.50.41

I met a young man by the name of J. Wedgwood  who had planted a flower garden adjacent to his pottery.He also had his men wash their hands and faces and change their clothes after working in the clay.(attributed to John Wesley).

I was  happy indeed, when I found this sentence, visiting Wedgwood museum.There were so many potters there around, for centuries, but just one of them, Josiah Wedgwood, succeeded to become the one and only one.  How he did it?  The mentioned sentence explains it all.  I am not saying each gardener will become best potter ever. Yet to make porcelain that different from average, so beautiful, with fantastic patterns, one has to be a good observer,and one has to dare. Young Joshua dared to plant a garden behind his factory, there he could observe the beauty of nature, and to transpose it into porcelain.I state this shows nature is the best teacher keen observer  can have.

PICT0538

PICT0548

 

 

Garden themes Joshua Wedgwood revived in porcelain brought his name far away.

One of Wedgwood porcelain masterpieces-Frog service- was commissioned by Empress Catherine in 1773 .Incredible number of 952 pieces of the service were all painted with 1,244 realistic scenes with buildings ,gardens and landscapes from England.As the service was intended for the palace built on a frog marsh a green frog emblem was painted on each piece of the service.

Frog Service Dessert Plate View 947. A View taken near Mr Smith’s House at Battersea looking up The Thames. Designed & engraved by Boydell, 1752. (Possibly a duplicate that was not sent to Russia due to an imperfection).from:http://wedgwoodmuseum.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/by-royal-approval-wedgwoods-queens-ware/#more-216

Nature and gardens didn’t bring Joshua Wedgwood only to the queens of England and Russia, there arouse even more important friendship.In 1780 Wedgwood turned to Erasmus Darwin,English physician, natural philosopher, physiologist, inventor and poet, to help him running the business after Wedgwood business partner died.It is no surprise the two became close friends.Why? They both admired botany! While in Etruria Works  fantastic porcelain with scenery from nature, gardens, botany was produced Darwin worked for seven years on  Carolus Linnaeus  latin text coining many English botanic terms in use up to today.

Erasmus Darwin, from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Darwin

Erasmus Darwin was not only a scientist and inventor, he was also a poet.His two poems; The Economy of Vegetation and The Loves of the Plants,were published together as The Botanic Garden (1791).The book was an expensive one, but it became a best-seller  It was educating broader public, making botany interesting ,speaking about evolution in nature.

Title page from The Botanic Garden(1791), from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Botanic_Garden

But the story does not end yet! Joshuas daughter married Erasmus son.Their son was Charles Darwin, father of the evolution theory! Could you believe what arouse from the love of nature , gardens, botany?

Three quarter length portrait of seated boy smiling and looking at the viewer. He has straight mid brown hair, and wears dark clothes with a large frilly white collar. In his lap he holds a pot of flowering plants

The seven-year-old Charles Darwin in 1816.from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin

This post was written as a guest post for The Beagle Project, a blog  about Charles Darwin journey ,so inspiring even today.