Time lapse video: Victoria lily flowering

Reposted from the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory and Cornell Horticulture blogs. Because I like to share work stuff sometimes.

The bloom begins turning purple the afternoon after opening. Click image for larger view.
The bloom begins turning purple the afternoon after opening. Click image for larger view.

It figures. The Victoria lily (Victoria x ‘Longwood Hybrid’) began its dramatic two-day flower display — its first since being moved to the new water feature in the Palm House this summer — just as the Conservatory was closing for the holiday weekend. Fortunately, we were able to capture the event on video.

The plant was started from seed by horticulture graduate student Miles Schwartz Sax in spring of 2015. It has much in common with the Conservatory’s titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), even though the two species are not at all closely related,

  • It’s a large plant. The cultivar we’re growing is a cross between South American natives V. cruziana and V. amazonica. The latter is the larger of the two parents, and under the right conditions it can produce pads nearly 10 feet in diameter. People often photograph small children supported by the pads to demonstrate their strength. (Obey the signage and do not try it here. It’s dangerous and you’ll injure our smaller plant.)
  • The bloom time is short. Victoria lilies bloom at dusk and the blooms last only about 48 hours or so.
  • The flowers use fragrance and heat to attract pollinators. The first evening, the flower is white and releases a pineapple-like scent and generates heat to attract beetles. It’s a lot more pleasant than the foul odor titan arums use to attract pollinators in search of rotting flesh.
  • The flower goes to great lengths to assure cross-pollination. During the first evening, the flower’s female parts are ready to receive pollen the beetles might be carrying from another Victoria lily. The flower then closes, trapping the beetles inside.  During the next day, the anthers mature and start releasing pollen that the beetles carry from the flower when it opens in the evening. The flower changes to a purplish red, signaling to beetles that their pollination services are no longer needed.

One important difference: If you missed flowering this time, you won’t need to wait as long to have another chance to view this phenomena in person. Our specimen already has another flower bud poised to open soon. Subscribe to our email updates and we’ll let you know when it’s happening.

Another flower bud to the rear of the bloom is poised to open soon. Click image for larger view.
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Sometimes not mowing works

bog grass

Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that counts.

The west edge of my water garden has subsided. That nice patch of lawn you see Jade standing on in my banner image has, for the past couple of years, been soggy right straight through the summer. So this summer, I decided not to fight it so hard and let a couple of patches go unmowed. Now I have a couple of nice drifts of not-too-shabby but unidentified grass growing there. One friend commented about how it enhanced the water garden from a distance by partly obscuring its rectilinear outline.

Shot a bunch of close-ups of the grass. (Can anyone ID it?) But I’m too lazy tonight to decide which I like best.

bog grass

bog grass

bog grass

bog grass

bog grass

bog grass

bog grass

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Imperial tofu poohbahs

Last Memorial Day at Carol and Marc’s, the theme of the day was jello. This year it was tofu, and the best in show award went to our daughter Corey and her boyfriend Noah for their tofu spring roll entry, beating out the tofu walnut balls and a load of entries in the dessert category.

memorial day 2009

Nate learned not to chase frisbees into the nettles barefoot.
memorial day 2009

Corey and Noah check out the water garden.
memorial day 2009

fredBittersweet weekend. Lots of excitement with friends and family and graduation going on here in Ithaca. But Fred the Dalmatian is very sick. He had kidney stone surgery last Tuesday and had complications that required a second surgery. We got to see him today and got him to eat a little bit. He’s weak and thin and not out of the woods yet. Please send some good thoughts his way.

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2008 Year in review (Part 2)

You might want to start with Part 1.


July started with a rare vacation away from home, to my brother’s lake house to celebrate my Dad’s 80th. On the boat with my sister Cheryl and wife Elly …

cheryl, craig, elly

With Cheryl and Alex after a good morning of striper fishing.

striper catch

Back home, it’s midsummer and there are lots of great serendipitous plant combos to enjoy, in the wet garden …

wet garden

… and front garden.

wet garden

Enough plant material to do bloom day scans in four different color schemes.

wet garden

Out in the garden, lilies

wet garden

The rusty favorite, Digitalis ferruginea

wet garden

Exploring backlighting.

wet garden

Lots of gaudy flowers to shoot. Hibsicus at Cornell Plantations …

weekend pix


weekend pix


Plus my 15 minutes of fame in USA Weekend.


Jade rolling under a double rainbow ’bout sums up my feelings about August.

Larger image.

They say things start slowing down in the garden in August. Can’t say I’ve noticed that. There’s lots growing around the patio, but still not much time to sit.

sunday walkaround

Still plenty of flowers to shoot, including Daylilies, purple …

sunday flowers

… and yellow …

bloom day aug 2008

Rosa ‘Princess Di’ …
bloom day aug 2008

… buttonbush …

sunday flowers

…globe thistle …

sunday walkaround

… water lily …

sunday walkaround

One of the bloom day scans for the month.

bloom day aug 2008

I also defended heucheras.


August has nice sunsets, too.



OK. The pace does start to slow in September. But it’s still one of the best times of year in these parts, if not the most floriferous.

The colors are more subtle, like this anemone.

purples and violets

My favorite bloom day scan featured grasses, not blooms.

sept bloom day scans

I featured my four (that’s a stretch) water gardens in the month’s Garden Bloggers Design Workshop.

water garden stuff

And on a rainy day, I discovered blingee.

blingee from scans


October is the month of frost and fall color. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some flowers around, like my fall favorites, anemones.

secret garden anemones

Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’

some warm colors

Grasses carry the weight in October.

grassy border

Fall colors start coming with Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’

Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'

Ivy outside campus store.
campus color

First frosts provide great photo opps …
Asian pear in the veggie garden.

2008 frost

Pitcher plant

2008 frost

Backlit grasses usher in brown season.
fall pix


Fall color is where you find it, like this pitcher plant …

Sarracenia purpurea and Vaccinium macrocarpon

… and this bittersweet and borrowed scenery.

borrowed scenery

When there’s less to see looking down, you appreciate more the view looking up.


January came in November [impressions | the real thing]

jan in nov impressions

I visited the Winter Garden at Cornell Plantations as the light was waning.

winter garden


Check out the student projects from Cornell’s Art of Horticulture class.

Glowing greenhouses make leaving work after dark a little less depressing during these SAD-inducing months.

ugly mix

And I’ve now got a passable scan for December for my planned 2010 garden scan calendar.

december 2008 scans

Thanks for visiting and commenting. Best wishes for the New Year.

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