Thursday, 17 August 2017

DESKTOP 1479 - CALLA LILY

Zantedeschia is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi. The name of the genus was given as a tribute to Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi (1773–1846) by the German botanist Kurt Sprengel (1766–1833). Common names include arum lily for Z. aethiopica, calla, and calla lily for Z. elliottiana and Z. rehmannii although it is neither a true lily (Liliaceae), nor Arum or Calla (related genera in Araceae). It is also often erroneously spelled as "cala lily". It has often been used in many paintings, and is visible in many of Diego Rivera's works of art (see 'The Flower Vendor', amongst others).

The Zantedeschias are rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plants growing to 1-2.5 m tall with leaves 15–45 cm long. The inflorescence is a showy white, yellow or pink spathe shaped like a funnel with a yellow, central, finger-like spadix. The Zantedeschia species are poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate. All parts of the plant are toxic, and produce irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat, acute vomiting and diarrhoea. However, in some countries the leaves are sometimes cooked and eaten after suitable preparation.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

DESKTOP 1477 - CORFU, GREECE

Corfu or Kerkyra (Greek: Κέρκυρα, Kérkyra; Ancient Greek: Κόρκυρα, Kórkyra; Latin: Corcyra; Italian: Corfù) is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the northwesternmost part of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality, which also includes the smaller islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki and Othonoi. The municipality has an area of 610,9 km2, the island proper 592,8 km2.

The principal city of the island and seat of the municipality (pop. 32,095) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University. The island is bound up with the history of Greece from the beginnings of Greek mythology. Its history is full of battles and conquests. Castles punctuating strategic locations across the island are a legacy of these struggles. Two of these castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu's capital has been officially declared a Kastropolis ("castle city") by the Greek government.

From medieval times and into the 17th century, the island, having successfully repulsed the Ottomans during several sieges, was recognised as a bulwark of the European States against the Ottoman Empire and became one of the most fortified places in Europe. The fortifications of the island were used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman intrusion into the Adriatic. Corfu eventually fell under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars. Corfu was eventually ceded by the British Empire along with the remaining islands of the United States of the Ionian Islands, and unification with modern Greece was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London. In 2007, the city's old quarter was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

DESKTOP 1475 - MANEKI-NEKO

The maneki-neko (Japanese: 招き猫, literally "beckoning cat") is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. In modern times, they are usually made of ceramic or plastic. The figurine depicts a cat (traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed in—often at the entrance of—shops, restaurants, pachinko parlours, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning.

Maneki-neko comes in different colours, styles and degrees of ornateness. Common colours are white, black, gold and sometimes red. In addition to ceramic figurines, maneki-neko can be found as keychains, piggy banks, air fresheners, house-plant pots, and miscellaneous ornaments, as well as large statues. It is also sometimes called the "Chinese lucky cat" due to its popularity among Chinese merchants.

To some Westerners (Italians and Spaniards are notable exceptions) it may seem as if the maneki-neko is waving rather than beckoning. This is due to the difference in gestures and body language recognised by some Westerners and the Japanese. The Japanese beckoning gesture is made by holding up the hand, palm down, and repeatedly folding the fingers down and back, thus the cat's appearance. Some maneki-neko made specifically for some Western markets will have the cat's paw facing upwards, in a beckoning gesture that is more familiar to most Westerners.

Maneki-neko can be found with either the right or left paw raised (and sometimes both). The significance of the right and left raised paw differs with time and place. Some say that a left paw raised is best for drinking establishments, the right paw for other stores; another interpretation is that right is for home and left for business.

This post is part of the My Sunday Best meme,
and also part of the My Sunday Photo meme,
and also part of the Photo Sunday meme.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

DESKTOP 1472 - ALMOND BLOSSOM

The almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus) is a species of tree native to the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and North Africa, classified in the Rosaceae family. The almond is a deciduous tree, growing 4–10 m in height, with a trunk of up to 30 cm in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year.

The leaves are 7-12 cm long, with a serrated margin and a 2.5 cm petiole. The flowers are white to pale pink, 3–5 cm diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs and appearing before the leaves in early spring. Almond grows best in Mediterranean climates with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

The optimal temperature for their growth is between 15 and 30 °C and the tree buds have a chilling requirement of 300 to 600 hours below 7.2 °C to break dormancy. Almonds begin bearing an economic crop in the third year after planting. Trees reach full bearing five to six years after planting. The fruit matures in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

DEKTOP 1471 - EUBOEA

Euboea or Evia (Greek: Εύβοια, Evvoia, pronounced [ˈevia]; Ancient Greek: Εὔβοια, Eúboia]) is the second-largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow island; it is about 180 kilometres long, and varies in breadth from 50 kilometres to 6 kilometres.

Its geographic orientation is from northwest to southeast, and it is traversed throughout its length by a mountain range, which forms part of the chain that bounds Thessaly on the east, and is continued south of Euboea in the lofty islands of Andros, Tinos and Mykonos. It forms most of the regional unit of Euboea, which also includes Skyros and a small area of the Greek mainland.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

DESKTOP 1465 - WATTLES IN FLOWER

Wattles, also called acacias, are amazing native plants. More than 850 species of wattle grow in Australia, ranging from ground covers and charming shrubs to giant trees that provide fine timber and screening. With this number of species and many cultivars there is a wattle for just about any garden in Australia.

Most wattles are quick growing, short-lived plants that will usually last for about seven to 12 years. Some species, however, are longer lived. If planted in a thicket, they will self-sow, which will mean that short lived plants are quickly replaced. Wattles are tolerant of a broad range of conditions.

While there are wattle species which flower throughout the year, the winter-flowering species are particularly attractive in the landscape, where their bright yellow or cream flowers bring colour to the garden at a time when many of the more traditionally grown plants are bare or not flowering. Currently, in the Melbourne Winter, the gold of the wattle flowering is beautiful in the green, wet landscape.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

DESKTOP 1464 - DESERT

A desert is a desolate and harsh place that can also be deadly for the uninitiated. However, it is also a place of great beauty and awe: The dunes stretching out to the horizon, the din of the drifting sands as the winds blow, the silence and the solitude, the heat and the dry, dismal desolation...

This post is part of the Outdoor Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

DESKTOP 1463 - BALI, INDONESIA

Bali is an island and province of Indonesia. The province includes the island of Bali and a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Its capital, Denpasar, is located in the southern part of the island. With a population of 3,890,757 in the 2010 census, and 4,225,000 as of January 2014, the island is home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority. According to the 2010 Census, 83.5% of Bali's population adhered to Balinese Hinduism, followed by 13.4% Muslim, Christianity at 2.5%, and Buddhism 0.5%.

Bali is a popular tourist destination, which has seen a significant rise in tourists since the 1980s. Tourism-related business makes up 80% of its economy. It is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. The Indonesian International Film Festival is held every year in Bali. In March 2017, TripAdvisor named the island the world's top destination in its Traveler's choice award.

Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. In this area alone over 500 reef building coral species can be found. For comparison, this is about 7 times as many as in the entire Caribbean. Bali is also home to a unified confederation of kingdoms, composed of 10 traditional royal Balinese houses, where each house rules a specific geographic area. the confederation is the successor of the Bali Kingdom. The royal houses are not recognized by the government of Indonesia, however, they have been operational since their establishment prior to Dutch colonization.

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, or Pura Bratan, is a major Shaivite water temple on Bali. The temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul. Water temples serve the entire region in the outflow area; downstream there are many smaller water temples that are specific to each irrigation association (subak). Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali. The 11-storey pelinggih meru in the complex is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvathi. Buddha's statue is also enshrined in this temple.Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to the fertility of this area. Located 1200 m above sea level, it has a cold tropical climate.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.