Thursday, February 14, 2008

Late Christmas or Early Easter?

click photo to enlarge
I'm thoroughly confused about this cactus. Which isn't surprising because this is a pretty mixed up cactus! Let's try and unravel the confusion by starting with what I know. This plant is a direct descendant of one that came into my house thirty three years ago. Over that time its grandparents, parents and this specimen have annually produced these pleasing pink flowers.

Now I've always called it a Christmas Cactus. And, sometimes these flowers have coincided with Christmas. But occasionally they've appeared before the season of jollity. However, more often it's been after that period, and now and then they've delayed their showing until Easter. Which has made me wonder. Is it a late Christmas cactus or an early Easter cactus? This year I've tried to find the truth. I think it's a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii), not to be confused with the fairly similar Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri) - though I'm not alone, apparently, in mis-identifying one for the other. However, in my researches I came across a description of these plants that does away with any confusion whatsoever. You simply call them all Holiday cactuses! No more sympathetic looks when you get it wrong, because you're always right! The trouble is I just can't bring myself to use the name. It reminds me too much of those cards (U.S. inspired I believe) that wish people Happy Holiday instead of including the season or particular celebration in their greeting. It's illogical I know. But then so is a Christmas cactus in full bloom on Valentine's Day!

This is my third recent attempt at a plant still life. Here I've tried to increase the deep shadow, and once again I used natural light.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f18
Shutter Speed: 8.0
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0EV
Image Stabilisation: Off