Hello Friends and Family,

Golden Gate Park, Part 7

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

As always, the Conservatory of Flowers delights today with floral treasures everywhere. Here, on display, is a Miltoniopsis orchid which almost looks like it was painted by an artist. I don't recall ever seeing this variety in all my visits to Hawai‘i and trips to the Maui County Fair Orchid Show. Even so, it is absolutely lovely.

More orchids, almost a cascade of them. It appears to be some type of cascading Cymbidium. Exotic and lovely.

I love this striking beauty — a white spider orchid. According to Wikipedia, it is native to Australia (why did Australia evolve so many cool species of plants and animals?). My late father used to raise orchids — I'd bet he would have loved to have one of these babies in his collection.

Ah, one of my favorites, an Anthurium, which is almost synonymous with Hawai‘i. Note that this one is unusual in that it has a two-tone flower (if you don't count the Spadix, the vertical white spike which would make it a three-tone). The flower feels stiff to the touch, almost as if it were made of plastic, which causes the first-time visitor to believe that the plant might be artificial. By the way, the flowers last a long time — which, together with the heart-shaped flower, makes Anthuriums a perfect gift for your sweetheart.

Aha, another Bromeliad, a pineapple. I love the fruit — tasty, juicy, wonderful.

Many people do not know that propagating a pineapple is easy. Simply, cut off the leafy top about half an inch below the leaves. Then remove some of the lowest leaves. Trim off the outer portion of the pineapple top at the bottom of the crown, or stem, until you see root buds. Allow the pineapple top to dry for several days to one week prior to planting. This helps the top to heal, discouraging problems with rotting. Place the pineapple top in the soil up to the base of its leaves. Water thoroughly and place it in bright, indirect light. Of course, you might have the best results with a proper climate or greenhouse to allow the place to mature fully. BTW, this is exactly how pineapples are grown commercially.

Wow. What is this flower? Even Mr. Google is not familiar with it. If you know, please pass on the info.

Here are some additional water pitcher plants. You'll recall that they "eat" insects. But they are also colorful and a beautiful addition to the Conservatory.

Next we encountered a beautiful and extremely colorful Croton plant. These are used extensively in Hawai‘i for landscaping, including as hedges. I love them.

Another beautiful flower that I was not familiar with but Google found to be a Brazilian Plume flower which, according to Wikipedia, is commonly called "Hospital Too Far" or "Blood of Jesus". It is native to Brazil and does best in a shaded part of the garden.

We end our visit to the Conservatory of Flowers with the largest flower I've ever seen — a Corpse Flower. According to Wikipedia, it "is native solely to western Sumatra, and western Java where it grows in openings in rainforests on limestone hills." Not only is the size remarkable but also it's "perfume" is said to resemble that of rotting flesh. Again referencing Wikipedia, "As the spathe gradually opens, the spadix releases powerful odors to attract pollinators, insects which feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat. The potency of the odor gradually increases from late evening until the middle of the night, when carrion beetles and flesh flies are active as pollinators, then tapers off towards morning". Fortunately, while I was there, the plant had not yet matured to gross us out. Incidentally, the Conservatory had a sign-up sheet for those wishing to be notified when to return to smell that aroma of rotting flesh.

In case you are interested, the Chicago Botanical Garden posted a time-lapse video of the growth and blooming of this freak of Nature. Click here.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com