Thursday, 8 December 2016

BLINDEYES POPPY

Papaver dubium is a species of poppy known by the common names long-headed poppy and blindeyes. It is a very undemanding species which prefers sandy soils without lime. It is widespread throughout Europe and America and is within the family Papaveraceae.

Papaver dubium is a variable annual, growing to about 60cm in height. It generally flowers in late spring to mid-summer. The flower is large (30-70mm) and showy, with four petals that are lighter red than in the similar Papaver rhoeas, and most commonly without a black spot at the base.

The flower stem is usually covered with coarse hairs that are closely appressed to the surface, helping to distinguish it from P. rhoeas in which the hairs are more usually patent, held at right angles to the stem. The capsules are hairless, elongated to more than twice as tall as they are wide, tapering slightly at the tip, with a stigma generally less wide than the capsule. The plant exudes white to yellowish latex when the tissues are broken. The species can form a long-lived soil seed bank that can germinate when the soil is disturbed.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

VANILLA

Vanilla is a flavouring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, flat-leaved vanilla (V. planifolia). The word vanilla, derived from the diminutive of the Spanish word vaina (vaina itself meaning sheath or pod), is translated simply as "little pod".

Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people cultivated the vine of the vanilla orchid, called tlilxochitl by the Aztecs. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. Initial attempts to cultivate vanilla outside Mexico and Central America proved futile because of the symbiotic relationship between the vanilla orchid and its natural pollinator, the local species of Melipona bee. Pollination is required to set the fruit from which the flavuoring is derived.

In 1837, Belgian botanist Charles François Antoine Morren discovered this fact and pioneered a method of artificially pollinating the plant. The method proved financially unworkable and was not deployed commercially. In 1841, Edmond Albius, a slave who lived on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, discovered at the age of 12 that the plant could be hand-pollinated. Hand-pollination allowed global cultivation of the plant.

Three major species of vanilla currently are grown globally, all of which derive from a species originally found in Mesoamerica, including parts of modern-day Mexico. They are V. planifolia (syn. V. fragrans), grown on Madagascar, Réunion, and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean; V. tahitensis, grown in the South Pacific; and V. pompona, found in the West Indies, and Central and South America. The majority of the world's vanilla is the V. planifolia species, more commonly known as Bourbon vanilla (after the former name of Réunion, Île Bourbon) or Madagascar vanilla, which is produced in Madagascar and neighbouring islands in the southwestern Indian Ocean, and in Indonesia.

Vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron, because growing the vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavour. As a result, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture, and aromatherapy.

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, 6 December 2016

MARSEILLE, FRANCE

Marseille, also known as Marseilles in English, is a city in France. The capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Marseille, on France's south coast, is the country's second largest city, after Paris, with a population of 852,516 in 2012, and an area of 241 km2, the 3rd-largest metropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon.

Known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Massalia (Greek: Μασσαλία, Massalía), Marseille was the most important trading centre in the region and the main commercial port of the French Empire. Marseille is now France's largest city on the Mediterranean coast and the largest port for commerce, freight and cruise ships.

The city was European Capital of Culture, together with Košice, Slovakia, in 2013. It hosted the European Football Championship in 2016, and will be the European Capital of Sport in 2017. The city is home to several campuses of Aix-Marseille University and part of one of the largest metropolitan conurbations in France, the Metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence.

The port is an important arrival base for millions of people each year, with 2.4 million including 890,100 from cruise ships. With its beaches, history, architecture and culture (24 museums and 42 theatres), Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France, with 4.1 million visitors in 2012. Marseille is ranked 86th in the world for business tourism and events, advancing from the 150th spot one year before. Marseille municipality acts to develop Marseille as a regional nexus for entertainment in the south of France with high concentration of museums, cinemas, theatres, clubs, bars, restaurants, fashion shops, hotels, and art galleries.

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.

Monday, 5 December 2016

LET'S PAINT!

This post is part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Orange you Glad It's Friday meme,
and also part of the Monday Mellow Yellows meme,
and also part of the Blue Monday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
and also part of the Through my Lens meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Friday, 2 December 2016

FRIDAY GREENS #100 - "YOU HAVE MAIL!"

Welcome to this meme active every Friday. The theme is "Friday Greens" and you can post images, art, photos where the predominant colour is GREEN!
GREEN is the colour between blue and yellow in the spectrum; coloured like grass or emeralds.
In these days of email, SMS, twitter, MSN, Talkatone, Viber and numerous other means of modern communication, it is wonderful to get an old-fashioned, handwritten letter. Thankfully we still have our postie who delivers such treasures right there in our mailbox...
If you take part in this meme:
*Please link back to this page from your blog, with the Friday Greens logo or link text;
*In the spirit of community, please visit other participants to see their photos and leave a comment;
*Leave a comment here in the comments box, which is always appreciated!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

LOVE-IN-A-MIST

Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist, ragged lady or devil in the bush) is an annual garden flowering plant, belonging to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. It is native to southern Europe (but adventive in more northern countries of Europe), north Africa and southwest Asia, where it is found on neglected, damp patches of land. The specific epithet damascena relates to Damascus in Syria.

The plant's common name comes from the flower being nestled in a ring of multifid, lacy bracts. It grows to 20–50 cm tall, with pinnately divided, thread-like, alternate leaves. The flowers, blooming in early summer, are most commonly different shades of blue, but can be white, pink, or pale purple, with 5 to 25 sepals. The actual petals are located at the base of the stamens and are minute and clawed.

The sepals are the only coloured part of the perianth. The four to five carpels of the compound pistil have each an erect style. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule, growing from a compound ovary, and is composed of several united follicles, each containing numerous seeds. This is rather exceptional for a member of the buttercup family. The capsule becomes brown in late summer. The plant self-seeds, growing on the same spot year after year.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.




Wednesday, 30 November 2016

ULURU, AUSTRALIA

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. It lies 335 km south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs, 450 km by road. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Uluru is an inselberg, literally "island mountain". An inselberg is a prominent isolated residual knob or hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and relatively flat erosion lowlands in a hot, dry region. Uluru is also often referred to as a monolith, although this is a somewhat ambiguous term that is generally avoided by geologists. The remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics led to its survival, while the surrounding rocks were eroded.

I took the the first two photos of Uluru on board a plane while we were flying to Singapore. The remaining more conventional photos were taken when we drove there in July 2002. We climbed to the top of the rock and we were thoroughly awe-struck by its sheer size and majesty. The weathering of iron-bearing minerals in the rock by the process of oxidation gives the outer surface layer of Uluru a red-brown rusty colour, making for spectacular photos at sunrise and sunset when the reddish sun accentuates the rock's colour.

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,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme.






Tuesday, 29 November 2016

COIMBRA, PORTUGAL

Coimbra is a city and a municipality in Portugal. The population at the 2011 census was 143,397, in an area of 319.40 square kilometres. The fourth-largest urban centre in Portugal (after Lisbon, Porto and Braga), it is the largest city of the district of Coimbra, the Centro region and the Baixo Mondego subregion. About 460,000 people live in the Região de Coimbra, comprising 19 municipalities and extending into an area 4,336 square kilometres.

Among the many archaeological structures dating back to the Roman era, when Coimbra was the settlement of Aeminium, are its well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus. Similarly, buildings from the period when Coimbra was the capital of Portugal (from 1131 to 1255) still remain. During the Late Middle Ages, with its decline as the political centre of the Kingdom of Portugal, Coimbra began to evolve into a major cultural centre. This was in large part helped by the establishment the University of Coimbra in 1290, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world.


Apart from attracting many European and international students, the university is visited by many tourists for its monuments and history. Its historical buildings were classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2013: "Coimbra offers an outstanding example of an integrated university city with a specific urban typology as well as its own ceremonial and cultural traditions that have been kept alive through the ages."


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.

And here is the immortal Amalia Rodrigues singing the famous Portuguese fado "Coimbra".