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The Stars Have Left the Galaxy

Spring has come and gone and we're at the start of a drier than normal summer. It's been cooler so far too, although with El Niño creeping around the corner, I doubt these temps will last. Anywho, I've been toiling in the garden, fighting some weeds and conceding to others. The other day, there was a piece of bread in the bird bath.

I don't feed the birds bread.


Someone had a sandwich and didn't share, that's all I'm saying.

Every year I grow--or try to grow--the same things: tomatoes, zucchini, zinnias, peppers of some sort, and lots and lots of petunias. Some years I find my favorite hybrid, the "galaxy" petunia, sometimes also called the "Night Sky" variety. This year, I grabbed the last ones at Lowe's. And then a curious thing happened.

They started to lose their stars.

Starting from the top left, you can see the galaxy in all its glory. And then the white started to seep in until most of the flowers currently are totally white.

If this isn't the start of a gorgeously rendered, lyrical SFF or speculative fiction story, I don't know what is. If you write it, can you let me know?

Searching the internet for answers, as one does, I found a Canadian blogger (The Fabulous Garden) who mentioned this concept in 2019, but her galaxy petunias went the other direction: they turned solid purple. Turns out, this hybrid is temperature sensitive. When temps drop, the flowers turn white. When temps rise, they turn purple.

More snooping on the scientific literature database PubMed reveals that our lowly annual the petunia is actually a very popular choice in the lab for very complex genetic and molecular studies. A 2016 review paper by Vandenbussche, et al, in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science even has the title: "Petunia, Your Next Supermodel?" And no, they're not talking about Vogue:

"Next, we highlight how the revolution in sequencing technologies will now finally allow exploitation of the petunia system to its full potential, despite that petunia has already a long history as a model in plant molecular biology and genetics."

I'll admit, I have a greater appreciation for this little flower now. And this ephemeral quality of the galaxy variety makes me like them even more. This suggests that as temps rise as the summer wears on, they will turn back to galaxy and then totally purple. I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, this was an unexpected little discovery. And now to write that story . . .

Also, here are a few items to put on the shelf in the Curio Cabinet. This time, we have some vocab from the enjoyable 2022 novel Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.

  • Maneki-neko: The Japanese welcoming cat. I didn't know it had a name!

From Wikipedia, public domain

  • weltschmerz: a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness. It's fun to say, though.

  • kenophobia: an abnormal fear of empty spaces

  • susurrus: a soft murmuring or rustling sound

  • portmanteau: a word blending the sounds and meaning of two others, like "spork" for spoon and fork; "mockumentary" for mock and documentary; "brunch" for breakfast and lunch; "cog" for cat and dog. OK, the last one may not be a thing. Yet. A portmanteau is also a suitcase that opens into halves. And no, I didn't make that one up.

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D.M. Domosea
D.M. Domosea
2023. aug. 10.

I have GOT to get these flowers in my garden next spring! That is the mission.

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