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7 Apr

Depending on who you ask, the color orange brings to mind many things: amusement, danger, encouragement, energy, enjoyment, enthusiasm, extroversion, fascination, fire, happiness, heat, sunshine, and warmth.

It is one of my favorite colors, because it is so cheery (and because it goes so well with blue, its complementary color). I particularly like that it is associated with joy and creativity, and I love this description: “Orange oozes with delight.”

Interestingly, people did not have a good way to describe the color at first, sometimes calling it (in English) “yellow-red” or “saffron.” It wasn’t until oranges made their way around the world from their native Southeast Himalayan foothills that the color began to be associated with the ripe fruit. The first recorded use of orange as a color name in English was in 1512.

This week’s color, orange, appears on the six stamens of an Asiatic Lily ‘Tiny Sensation.’ The stamens are the male reproductive organs of flowers, consisting of anthers coated in pollen resting atop slim filaments. The female part of the flower, the pistil, can be seen rising blurrily in the back. Though not visible in the photo, the top part (the stigma) has three lobes and is sticky, to better catch the pollen.

Here is a better view of the pistil and its three-lobed stigma, surrounded by the six stamens. This photo is from a different lily, but luckily the pollen here is also orange, fitting in with this week’s theme.

Pollination occurs when bees, butterflies, and other pollinators carry the pollen from the lily’s anthers to the female parts of other lilies. Successful sexual reproduction leads to seeds that ripen in pods and are dispersed when the pods start to open in the fall. Unfortunately, I do not have any good photos of lily seed pods (though will now be on the lookout this fall), but did stumble upon iris seeds one autumn, as described here.

And of course, as lilies come from bulbs, another great way to get more lilies is via bulb division.


30 Mar

In recent months, I’ve thought a lot about the color wheel and the classic rainbow of colors, most recently from having to organize my fabric weaving quarters and yards in some kind of logical way, but also from repainting our new house (after pondering split-complementary and tetradic color schemes until my eyes crossed).

At the same time, I also have a LOT of photos of colorful things that have caught my eye over the years, so I thought to start posting a weekly “ROYGBIV” photo, following the red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet sequence. But I had to ask myself, what exactly is the difference between indigo and violet? Indigo and violet are both “purple,” but indigo is a very blue-purple and violet is a red-purple. It helps if you think of the colors on a wheel: violet eventually morphs into red, and most people can distinguish red-purple.

Indigo is far more controversial, thanks to Isaac Newton. He realized white light is actually made up of a spectrum of many colors, where each color blends into the neighboring color. He designated seven colors as being in the visible color spectrum; it was he who included indigo. There are many theories as to why he chose seven colors: Was he following the pattern of sevens (seven musical notes, seven days of the week, seven planets, etc.) or did he simply observe that seven colors had large-enough wavelengths to make the list? We may never know, but what is certain is that the human eye is notoriously insensitive to indigo; it is a hard color for most people to identify. Bearing that in mind, I’ll try to keep indigo in rotation for as long as I can determine it’s not actually blue….

This week, however, I will start off with the first color normally found in the sequence: Red.

Oxheart tomatoes (Cuore Di Bue), taken at the Testaccio Market in Rome, Italy