A place where I post a photo each day, which you can download and use as a desktop image.
These are all my original photos and you are welcome to use them for your personal purposes. If you wish to use them commercially, please contact me.
Cymbidium, or boat orchids, is a genus of 52 evergreen species in the orchid family Orchidaceae. It was first described by Olof Swartz in 1799. The name is derived from the Greek word kumbos, meaning 'hole, cavity'. It refers to the form of the base of the lip. The genus is abbreviated Cym in horticultural trade. This genus is distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia (such as northern India, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Borneo) and northern Australia. The larger flowered species from which the large flowered hybrids are derived grow at high altitudes.
Cymbidium plants are sympodial and grow to a height of 60 cm and the racemes as high as 90 cm. The raceme grows from the base of the most recent pseudobulb. Each flower can have a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, according to the species. They bloom during the winter, and each plant can have up to fifteen or more flowers. The fantastic range of colours for this genus include white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink, and red [and orange] and black (and there may be markings of other colour shades at the same time), but not blue.
The flowers last about ten weeks. They have a waxy texture. The rounded sepals and petals have about the same dimensions. They show very diverse colour patterns, different for every species. Cymbidium is one of the most popular and desirable orchids in the world because of the beautiful flowers. These plants make great houseplants, and are also popular in floral arrangements and corsages. They have been cultivated for thousands of years, especially in China. Cymbidiums became popular in Europe during the Victorian era. One feature that makes the plant so popular is the fact that it can survive during cold temperatures (as low as 7˚ C or 45˚ F).
Mount Bromo (Indonesian: Gunung Bromo), is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif, in East Java, Indonesia. At 2,329 meters (7,641 ft) it is not the highest peak of the massif, but is the best known. The massif area is one of the most visited tourist attractions in East Java, Indonesia. The volcano belongs to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
The name of Bromo derived from Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu creator god. Mount Bromo sits in the middle of a plain called the "Sea of Sand" (Javanese: Segara Wedi or Indonesian: Lautan Pasir), a protected nature reserve since 1919. The typical way to visit Mount Bromo is from the nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang. From there it is possible to walk to the volcano in about 45 minutes, but it is also possible to take an organised jeep tour, which includes a stop at the viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan (2,770 m or 9,088 ft) (Indonesian: Gunung Penanjakan). The viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan can also be reached on foot in about two hours.
Depending on the degree of volcanic activity, the Indonesian Centre for Volcanology and Disaster Hazard Mitigation sometimes issues warnings against visiting Mount Bromo.
Billbergia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bromeliaceae, subfamily Bromelioideae. The genus, named for the Swedish botanist, zoologist, and anatomist Gustaf Johan Billberg, is divided into two subgenera: Billbergia and Helicodea. They are native to forest and scrub, up to an altitude of 1,700 m, in southern Mexico, the West Indies, Central America and South America, with many species endemic to Brazil.
They are rosette-forming, evergreen perennials, usually epiphytic in habit, often with brilliantly coloured flowers. The cultivar shown here is Billbergia 'Muriel Waterman' that was hybridised by the great American collector and enthusiast, Mulfor Foster, and introduced in 1946. The stout tubular rosette, is about 7.5 cm in diameter, opens out to a funnel at the top of some six to eight leaves. These are rose-maroon with transverse silver bands, making it one of the most colourful foliage billbergias. The showy flower spike consists of long pink bracts and striking blue flowers.
Prague (Czech: Praha) is the capital and largest city of Czechia. It is the 15th largest city in the European Union. It is also the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava River, the city is home to about 1.26 million people, while its larger urban zone is estimated to have a population of nearly 2 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters. Prague has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union.
Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with waxing and waning fortunes during its 1,100-year existence. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras, Prague was not only the capital of the Czech state, but also the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire and after World War I became the capital of Czechoslovakia. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, and in 20th-century history, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era.
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The city boasts more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city. Also, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe.
Prague is classified as an “Alpha” Global City according to GaWC studies, comparable to Vienna, Seoul and Washington, D.C. Prague ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 6.4 million international visitors annually, as of 2014. Prague is the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. Prague’s low cost of living makes it a popular destination for expats relocating to Europe.
Iris unguicularis (also commonly known as the Algerian iris or Winter iris) is a rhizomatous flowering plant in the genus Iris, native to Greece, Turkey, Western Syria, and Tunisia. It grows to 30 centimetres, with grassy evergreen leaves, producing pale lilac or purple flowers with a central band of yellow on the falls. The flowers appear in winter and early spring. They are fragrant, with pronounced perianth tubes up to 20 cm long.
This plant is widely cultivated in temperate regions, and numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use, including a slightly more tender white form 'Alba', and a dwarf variety I. unguicularis subsp. cretensis. The cultivar 'Mary Barnard' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilisation as a fuel. The word "rape" in rapeseed comes from the Latin word rapum meaning turnip. Turnip, rutabaga, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, and many other vegetables are related to the two natural canola varieties commonly grown, which are cultivars of Brassica napus and Brassica rapa. The change in name serves to distinguish it from natural rapeseed oil, which has much higher erucic acid content.
Brassica oilseed varieties are some of the oldest plants cultivated by humanity, with documentation of its use in India 4,000 years ago, and use in China and Japan 2,000 years ago. Its use in Northern Europe for oil lamps is documented to the 13th century. Its use was limited until the development of steam power, when machinists found rapeseed oil clung to water- or steam-washed metal surfaces better than other lubricants. Canola oil is made at a processing facility by slightly heating and then crushing the seed. It is one of the most commonly used vegetable oils for culinary purposes.
The young plant greens (seen below) are edible and have an agreeable, savoury flavour. The tender hearts can be eaten raw, or more commonly stir-fried, or blanched and served with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
San Diego (Spanish for “Saint James”) is a major city in California, in San Diego County, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 190 km south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico. With an estimated population of 1,394,928 as of July 1, 2015, San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest in California. It is part of the San Diego–Tijuana conurbation, the second-largest trans-border agglomeration between the US and a bordering country after Detroit–Windsor, with a population of 4,922,723 people.
We are fortunate in Melbourne as our Winter is quite mild. Hence, many flowers are still blooming in our gardens and in the fields in June, our first Winter month.
The mosaic below shows some common flowers that are blossoming right now. Beginning in the upper left and progressing clockwise: Nemesia; Bacopa; Oxalis; Blue Hibiscus; Japonica; Jonquils; Lobelia. In the background you can see some Winter marigolds.
I had occasion to travel to the country on a day trip yesterday and fortunately the weather was good - cold but sunny. I went by train and took a few photos of the countryside from the window. These cows look contented, feasting on the lush grass of Gippsland, Victoria.
Echinacea is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family, Asteraceae. The nine species it contains are commonly called purple coneflowers. They are endemic to eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas.
They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ἐχῖνος (echinos), meaning "sea urchin," due to the spiny central disk. Some species are used in herbal medicines and some are cultivated in gardens for their showy flowers. A few species are of conservation concern.
Darebin Parklands, in Fairfield/Alphington/Ivanhoe, is a pocket of natural bushland that is unique given it is only 7 km from the Melbourne CBD. There are hidden treasures within the park including remnant orchards and crops that were grown on the fringe of a growing city during the mid-1800s. A dairy farm, vineyard, quarry and tip site were all at times active industries within the bounds of the park, and clues of this can still be found if one knows where to look. Sunrise there is quite magical.
Leiden is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of South Holland. The municipality of Leiden has a population of 122,565, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with around 190,000 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Old Rhine, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.
A university city since 1575, Leiden houses Leiden University, the oldest university of the Netherlands, and Leiden University Medical Centre. It is twinned with Oxford, the location of the United Kingdom's oldest university. Over 1994/95 I spent several months in the Netherlands engaged in various academic/research activities. I lived in Leiden for five weeks, which was a wonderful time for me. I spent a great deal of my spare time cycling around the city and environs visiting the grand old buildings, notable museums, beauty spots and historical sites.
Narcissus jonquilla (Jonquil, Rush daffodil) is a bulbous flowering plant, a species of Narcissus (daffodil) that is native to southwestern Europe and northern Africa, but has naturalised throughout Europe and the United States. It bears long, narrow, rush-like leaves (hence the name "jonquil", Spanish junquillo, from the Latin juncus = "rush"). It is in the Amaryllidaceae family of plants. In Spring it bears heads of up to 5 scented yellow or white flowers. It is a parent of numerous varieties within Division 7 of the horticultural classification. Division 7 in the Royal Horticultural Society classification of Narcissus includes N. jonquilla and N. apodanthus hybrids and cultivars that show clear characteristics of those two species.
N. jonquilla has been cultivated since the 18th century in France as the strongest of the Narcissus species used in Narcissus Oil, a component of many modern perfumes. Like other members of their family, narcissi produce a number of different alkaloids, which provide some protection for the plant, but may be poisonous if accidentally ingested. This property has been exploited for medicinal use in traditional healing and has resulted in the production of galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia.
People who follow this blog know that I like taking photos from the plane when I travel. Here is another such photo from archives, taken while approaching Melbourne. The tracts of fertile farmland have been blessed by a few years of good rains. I am sure that all who love to travel have missed such experiences now that we are locked down due to COVID 19! This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme, and also part of the Blue Monday meme, and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme, and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.
Butterflies reproduce the way other animals do - sperm from a male fertilises eggs from a female. Males and females of the same species recognize one another by the size, color, shape and vein structure of the wings, all of which are species specific. Butterflies also recognize each other through pheromones, or scents.
During mating, males use clasping organs on their abdomens to grasp females, as you can see in the photo. Many male butterflies deliver more than just sperm to their mates. Most provide a spermatophore, a package of sperm and nutrients the female needs to produce and lay eggs. Some males collect specific nutrients to produce a better spermatophore in an attempt to attract a mate.
Some females, however, don't have a choice -- in some species, males mate with females before they have left their chrysalis or swarm the chrysalis waiting for the female to appear. In most species, males and females look a lot a like, but females often have larger abdomens for carrying their eggs.
Miltonia, abbreviated Milt. in the horticultural trade, is an orchid genus formed by nine epiphyte species and eight natural hybrids inhabitants of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one species reaching the northeast of Argentina and east of Paraguay. This genus was established by John Lindley in 1837, when he described its type species, Miltonia spectabilis. Many species were attributed to Miltonia in the past, however, today, the species from Central America and from cooler areas on northwest of South America have been moved to other genera.
Miltonia species have large and long lasting flowers, often in multifloral inflorescences. This fact, allied to being species that are easy to grow and to identify, make them a favourite of orchid collectors all over the world. Species of this genus are extensively used to produce artificial hybrids. Despite the fact that Miltonia is now a well established genus, most of its species were originally classified under other genera as Cyrtochilum, Oncidium, Odontoglossum, and Brassia. All were discovered between 1834 and 1850 with the exception of M. kayasimae, discovered only in 1976.
These epiphytic orchids occur from Central to Southern Brazil down to Argentina. They are named after Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 5th Earl Fitzwilliam, formerly Viscount Milton, an English orchid enthusiast. These orchids have two leaves, arising from a pseudobulbs, covered with a foliaceous sheath. The inflorescence consists of waxy, nonspurred flowers. The lip is large and flat and lacks a callus at its base. They possess a footless column with two hard pollinia. The flowers have a delicate, exotic scent, some compare to that of roses. The species in this genus are sometimes referred to as the "pansy orchids", but it is the Miltoniopsis orchids that have flowers that closely resemble the pansy. Almost everyone except for the most serious orchid hobbyists use the name pansy orchids interchangeably, which may cause confusion.
The recent rains we've had have certainly made for a lush awakening of the winter growing weeds and lower plants, like this moss sprouting on the trunk of a felled tree. This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme, and also part of the My Corner of the World meme.
The Eiffel Tower (French: tour Eiffel) is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Constructed in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world.
The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world: 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010. The tower is 324 metres tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. Its base is square, 125 metres on a side. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930.
Due to the addition of the aerial at the top of the tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres. Not including broadcast aerials, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The top level’s upper platform is 276 m above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union.
Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the climb from the first level to the second. Although there is a staircase to the top level, it is usually only accessible by lift.
The willie (or willy) wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) is a passerine bird native to Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Eastern Indonesia. It is a common and familiar bird throughout much of its range, living in most habitats apart from thick forest. Measuring 19–21.5 cm in length, the willie wagtail is contrastingly coloured with almost entirely black upperparts and white underparts; the male and female have similar plumage.
Commonly known as hellebores, members of the Eurasian genus Helleborus comprise approximately 20 species of herbaceous or evergreen perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleboreae. The scientific name Helleborus derives from the Greek name for H. orientalis "helleboros"; "elein" to injure and "bora" food, referring to the fact that many species are poisonous. Despite names such as "Winter Rose", "Christmas rose" and "Lenten rose", hellebores are not closely related to the rose family (Rosaceae).
This water purification pond is in the Darebin Parklands, a nature reserve close to where I live in one of the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Some golden wattles are in bloom misled perhaps by our strange weather!
Trieste is a city and a seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city. It is also located near Croatia some further 30 kilometres south. Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste and throughout history it has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultures.
In 2009, it had a population of about 205,000 and it is the capital of the autonomous region Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The metropolitan population of Trieste is 410,000, with the city comprising about 240,000 inhabitants. Trieste was one of the oldest parts of the Habsburg Monarchy, belonging to it from 1382 until 1918. In the 19th century the monarchy was one of the Great Powers of Europe and Trieste was its most important seaport. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest, and Prague).
In the fin de siècle period at the end of the 19th century it emerged as an important hub for literature and music. Trieste underwent an economic revival during the 1930s, and Trieste was an important spot in the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs after the Second World War. Today, Trieste province is one of the richest in Italy, and it is a great centre for shipping (through the Port of Trieste), shipbuilding and financial services. Trieste is the most important port of Italy and it will be the 2020 European Capital of Science - ESOF.