Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blue Mystique Orchids - Sorta Hideous

Blue Orchids

Am I the only one to be shocked by the electric blue Phalaenopsis Orchids that have been popping up at garden centers? Though I do love blue flowers, there is something eerie if not hideous about these bluer than blue blooms. 

It's kind of like when you pass an accident on the highway and you have to slow down for a look-see even if you realize that what you are looking at is something that you should not. Some horror that will hunker down in your consciousness for the rest of your life, creeping to the surface at unexpected moments.


Blue Mystique has created a product that is not a hybridized plant, nor has it been painted with color. While the process is top secret, I imagine that it has to do with the plant sucking up some blue fluid shortly before the blooming period. Blue Mystique will eventually return to it's natural white color but the blue supposedly returns for 2 - 3 bloom cycles. 

Okay. Maybe for a little fun. Maybe for a blue themed party or (heaven forbid) wedding. Maybe your dear auntie loves the color blue and the plant would make a fun gift to use as an accent in her mostly blue home. Maybe if you need a gift for someone you hate. But if you really want to purchase an orchid for someone and you are not sure of the perfect color, why not go with white. White goes with blue. White goes with everything. 

It's not that I have anything against blue. My shutters are blue. The sky is blue. The ocean is, at times, blue. I wear blue shirts. I love the song "Blue Suede Shoes." And it's none of my business what other people enjoy, color-wise, in plants or any other venue. I am certainly no plant snob. I don't have the education, the wisdom, or the skill to boast any kind of plant elitism. But I can't help but think that I am not the only one to find these wild blue orchids anything but ugly. Maybe that's what really offends me, the fact that I find a flowering plant to be so awful. 

I love plants and flowers of every ilk. Except these monstrosities. I find myself turning away from them. I was afraid someone would catch me taking the photograph of the bloom produced by a top secret process like I was a plant spy.  I am embarrassed to be caught near them. Sorry, blue orchid lovers, but this one makes me gag.

Friday, November 2, 2012

19th Century Landscape Painting Found in the Attic

Old landscape painting by Alfred Cookman Leach

We all have our favorite old things, old dishware, silverware, old paintings. I have always loved 19th century landscape paintings, perhaps I've been looking at the one on the right for over 50 years. 

The painting features a man herding sheep on a cold, wintery day and was painted by Alfred Cookman Leach, a descendant of John Penn (a signer of the Declaration of Independence). Alfred Cookman Leach was an architect who had a hand in the design of Baltimore, Maryland's Revolutionary Monument in Mount Royal Plaza. He also designed a home at the north east corner of Saint Paul Street and 31st Street in Baltimore. 

The painting is signed, "C Leach."

I remember, when I was young, my mother and I laughing at magazine articles that featured beautiful old things that people found in their attics or basements. How could that be, it sounded ridiculous. Yet my home is filled with the artifacts of my ancestors. Nearly everything in my living room once belonged to a dead person. 

Alfred Cookman Leach on the Right
The old things are beautiful, yet are significant with memory. The old trunk, the furniture, the chairs, and books were handled by people that I never met. I touch the things my ancestors touched. I feel the gentle spirit of Alfred. I can see what Alfred wanted people to see, how he saw things and interpreted things. I never met Alfred, yet here is a representation of him here with  me always, remembered in a way that I imagine he would want to be remembered with fondness as I sit in my kitchen trying to paint landscapes that just look old, that remind me of a man long gone.

(For more on this painting and Alfred Cookman Leach, you can read my story by clicking this link)