Sunday, September 8, 2013

More Lady Slippers, and a Lesson about Using Images in Blogs

As you know, I am more than a bit obsessed with wild orchids, specifically with the Lady Slippers that grow in our region.  Lady Slipper season is pretty much over by the start of August, but my obsession never ends--such is the nature of obsessions!  This summer, I started reading up on other kinds of Lady Slippers and found that Slipper Orchids grow all over the world.  Many of the Slipper Orchids from South America and Southeast Asia have been cultivated by orchid growers and are now available as houseplants, albeit houseplants that need a certain amount of special care.  

Just before school started, I made a trip to Orchids Limited in Minneapolis, one of the largest orchid greenhouses in the state.  I spent a little time talking to the owner, who's been growing orchids since the 1970s, and I asked him to help me choose an Asian Slipper Orchid to take home with me.  

Paphiopedilum victoria-regina,
with bud ready to open and a
second bud forming on the stem
He picked out a nice Paphiopedilum that grows wild in Sumatra, but which has been cultivated by orchid growers for a long time now.  It had a bud on it, and it's the kind of orchid which is supposed to keep producing flowers for months at a time.  He said it might blossom all winter for me, if I'm lucky.  (This particular orchid is named after Queen Victoria, and if you've been reading the captions of my previous photos, you'll notice that the Latin word for Queen is also part of the scientific name of our state flower.)
Paphiopedilum victoria-regina in bloom

With all the hot humid weather we've had lately, that bud quickly plumped up and burst open, just as classes were beginning.  You can see the family resemblance to our local Lady Slippers, but it also has its own special features--the flower itself is smaller, but much less fragile, than North American Slipper Orchids.  Its petals are thicker and rather waxy in texture. The petals on the sides are not covered in peach-fuzz, like the Showy Slipper, but they are very hairy!
Petal, with lots of hair!

Some folks think these orchids look a bit scary, or even ugly, and they certainly are strange, exotic, and almost other-worldly.  I think they look kind of primitive, and indeed, orchids are among the oldest flowers on the planet, and some people think they may have existed along with dinosaurs.  

OneEighteen / Foter / CC BY-NC
I, of course, think of them as sublime, not beautiful in an ideal or classical sense (I'm using the word "classical" to refer to the notions of beauty developed by the ancient Greek and Roman thinkers), but beautiful in the same way that a thunderstorm can be beautiful--beautiful, scary, and maybe a bit dangerous.  Notice that the photo of the thunderstorm to the right is one that I did not take myself.  I went looking for a free stock photo on the internet.  I found a website called that helps bloggers find free photos and, more importantly, helps them give proper credit to the original source of the image.  

When you find an image on Foter that you want to use, you click on it, and get access to lots of info about the source and details of the Creative Commons license that makes the image available.  There's also a handy "Add to Blog" button you can click.  When you click that, you have the chance to format the image a bit, and then you hit the "Get the Code" button, which gives you the embed code that you paste into your compose window on Blogger (though you have to hit the HTML button in the upper left of the compose screen).  I'll show you how to do this in class very soon!  

The embed code comes with a pre-made caption that gives proper credit (and links directly to the original source).  You also get a "Photo credit" line to copy and paste at the bottom of your post (see below).  This should be a very useful tool, so bookmark  You should also take a look at this infographic that explains the various kinds of Creative Commons licenses and how bloggers can use CC images responsibly.  

As you compose your blog posts, I hope that most of the time you'll use photos you've taken yourself, but I'll give you assignments from time to time that require you to include photos taken by others.  I want to make certain that we do this properly and responsibly, as good digital citizens, and I think is one tool that will help us.  I also want to give credit to the Langwitches Blog, which is where I found out about  I think that's where I also found out about Open Attribute, a browser extension that you might find useful.  (For now, I'm also posting image sources and tools in the "Miscellaneous Links" section of  "Basics, 2" on

One important note:  Not all the images in are completely school appropriate.  So behave like an adult and choose wisely!

Photo credit: OneEighteen / Foter / CC BY-NC


  1. In my backyard on The Big Island, orchids grow like weeds, in much abundance and without cultivation. Come with me next summer...see Hawaiian orchids!

  2. The petals on this orchid are so lovely. You will be lucky if they continue to blossom through winter! Is there an orchid belonging to Queen Grimhilde, as well?

    1. I'm not aware of a Queen Grimhilde Orchid, but if there were one, I'd probably want it!