Category Archives: Nature’s Geometry: Flora

When you wish upon a star….

Did you know?

It’s no secret that the world loves stars. After all, “When you wish upon a star….” More:

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet.
—Stephen Hawking

Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground
—Theodore Roosevelt

The sight of stars makes me dream.
—Vincent Van Gogh

I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.
—Og Mandino

Look at the stars. See their beauty. And in that beauty, see yourself.
—Draya Mooney

There wouldn’t be a sky full of stars if we were all meant to wish on the same one.
—Frances Clark

I would be willing to stake my reputation (what reputation?) on stars being the number one shape of Mother & Father Natures beautiful flowers. Indeed, stars are a significant portion of my book, Nature’s Geometry: Succulents.

Cover of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" by Russel Ray(Book is being sent on Monday to publisher for printing
and should be available for purchase around November 1, 2019.)

I am not ashamed to admit that stars happen to be my favorite flower shape, especially when the star is extraordinarily well pronounced, as in these two pictures from this past week of star flowers in my gardens:

Stapelia gigantea
Stapelia gigantea

Stapelia grandiflora
Stapelia grandiflora

Stapelia gigantea by far is my favorite flower ever. The flowers are up to ten inches in diameter, somewhat hairy, feel leathery, and just look like something that an alien Mother & Father Nature might come up with on a star millions of light years away from us.

These two flowers, particularly Stapelia gigantea, attract flies for pollination like today is going to be the last day on Earth for pollination opportunities. They do this by smelling horrible, like rotting flesh. As a friend of mine said, “Lovely….”

Although mine attract flies, I have not yet smelled any rotting flesh, and I even have stuck my nose deep into the flower, after shooing the flies away, of course. I used to think my nose simply wasn’t working properly, but I can smell pizza, Mexican food, and margaritas from miles away. Maybe I just don’t have any “rotting flesh” sensory cells in my nose. Yeah, that’s it.

Stapelia gigantea flowers are so big that it is easy to sit and actually watch the big flower buds open and attract flies. In 2019, I had 23 flowers on my one Stapelia gigantea (there are 17 so far this year), so I started doing time Stapelia gigantea flower lapse photography last year.

Following is my best time lapse video from last year. Note the number of flies enjoying their time at the buffet. This video is 5 hours of photos taken every 5 seconds (3,500 photos!) and condensed into just 1 minute and 4 seconds. The flower on the left opened the previous day, and the middle flower will be opening in the video.

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Nature's Geometry: Succulents, by Russel Ray

Nature’s Geometry: Succulents

It looks like I finally am finished doing the final editing and design layout for Jeff Moore’s fourth book, Spiny Succulents. It only took all of February, March, April, May, and June!

Now that I’m finished, I am endeavoring to write my own book. Originally I was going to title it Nature’s Geometry: Flora. However, after doing a presentation on Nature’s Geometry: Succulents on June 22 for the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society in Escondido, California, I realized that I actually can make three books out of the Nature’s Geometry subject: Succulents, Flora, and Fauna. I could even exclude people from Fauna and do a fourth book on People & Their Creations.

I have started fifty books previously. Chapter 1 is complete in all of them. I just couldn’t decide where to go with Chapter 2, so I gave up. With Nature’s Geometry: Succulents, I don’t have that problem because my Powerpoint presentation for Palomar C&SS is my outline. So it’s just a matter of writing the text, which was my narration for the Powerpoint presentation, and formatting the text and pictures for an 8½” x 8½” square book.

I already created the cover, which I think will help me go forward. Looks like this:

Nature's Geometry: Succulents, by Russel Ray

I also have written the Dedication. Many readers probably know who I am dedicating the book to.

Dedication, Nature's Geometry: Succulents, by Russel Ray

I hope to have this book completed by August 1, which I think is possible since I have the Powerpoint presentation as my outline. I’m letting BookBaby do the publishing and printing because they can do print on demand, which means I don’t have to order many thousands of books with the subsequent shipping charge. I can order 250 softcover books with an ISBN, printing, and shipping, for just $11.76 per copy. The only reason I’m ordering that many is because I already know what my initial demand and my promotional give-away total is. One can order as few as 10 books or so, but the price per copy goes up, of course. This enterprise should keep me busy for a little while.

Of course, Olivia also is keeping me busy, or at least entertained with her photogenic antics.

Nature’s Geometry: Flora—Who is Russel Ray?

Since January 28, 2019, I have been doing the final editing and design layout on a 350-page book titled Spiny Succulents: Euphorbias, cacti, and other sculptural succulents, and (mostly) spiny xerophytic plants. I finished it yesterday. It will be on sale in late October or early November, and is the fourth book by the author, Jeff Moore, on cacti and succulents. As with his first three books, there are lots of beautiful pictures, over 1,340 of them.

Seeing how easy it is to publish a book in today’s world—one can even get an ISBN for as low as $4.95—encouraged me to do what I have always wanted to do: write a book. I actually have two books in mind, Nature’s Geometry: Flora and Nature’s Geometry: Fauna. They basically will be picture books, with a little writing thrown in for good measure, and will allow me to combine a lifelong love of photography, nature, writing, and mathematics. My first task, then, was to ask myself, “Who is Russel and why does he get to write these two books?” In other words, “About the Author.” I sat down last night while watching the movie “Silent Hill” and wrote about Russel (that’s me!), a long diatribe that obviously will be edited for brevity for the final book. Following is what I came up with, still in first person:My Heartleaf Ivy

I was born in 1955 in Kingsville, Texas. After my dad died in 1961, mom moved us to northern Utah where her family was from. It was in Brigham City, Utah, where I became fascinated by nature. Our neighbor next door was Mrs. Larson, my first grade teacher. She had beautiful plants in her yard, and one day she gave me a “heartleaf ivy,” Philodendron cordatum. That started my fascination with plants.

My paternal grandmother adopted me in December 1965 and took me home to Kingsville. In September 1966, the principal of the grade school was going around to home rooms and asking for volunteers to learn photography. The school provided Nikon cameras, a darkroom, supplies for the darkroom, adult supervisors for the darkroom, and, most importantly, free entry to all school events, including football, baseball, basketball, and tennis (my four favorite sports). I was an easy sell, and that was my start in photography.

In September 1968, my first class in eighth grade was botany. My teacher, Mrs. Bajza, presented a slide show of many beautiful plants, all growing in her gardens. When I got home that afternoon, I asked my grandmother if I could have a small garden in her yard. I was Cooling condenserexpecting a loud and definitive, “NO!”. However, granddad and I had installed central heating and cooling earlier that year, and grandma gave me the 100-ft square section where the cooling condenser was located. If you’re familiar with cooling condensers, nothing had been growing around ours for about six months because of the hot air blowing from that condenser. I was depressed and went over to visit my best friend, Richard. He and his parents listened to me complain and invited me to go with them to the Rio Grande Valley the coming weekend to visit nurseries, which turned out to be specialized cactus and succulent nurseries. I was mesmerized. Richard’s parents allowed me to pick out plants that I liked and they bought them for me. I created a rock wall surrounding the cooling condenser to force the hot air up, allowing me to plant my cacti & succulents on the other side of the rock wall, protected from the hot condenser wind. Eventually the plants grew and bloomed, and that was the start of my fascination with cacti & succulents.

My math addiction came about because I had been good with numbers from a very early age. I was quite adept using a slide rule when I was in first grade.

Slide rule

In twelfth grade, I won a math competition in South Texas for my presentation, “Tips & Tricks To Help You With Math.” That allowed me to go to a statewide competition a few weeks later, where I came in second. First place was taken by a girl in twelfth grade in Dallas for her presentation, “Fibonacci Numbers & Nature.” Her presentation resulted in me combining my three loves of math, nature, and photography.

This book will explore nature’s geometry using math, specifically the golden ratio created by the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, but also the golden angle, the reverse golden angle, the golden rectangle, and the golden spiral, all derived from the Fibonacci number sequence.

Throughout these pages are pictures, most of them my pictures of plants in my collection, showing how the Fibonacci number sequence expressed itself in our cacti & succulents as the number of ribs on a gymnocalycium, the number of spines in a cactus areole, and, of course, the spirals prominently displayed in many species, most notably in the center of the sunflower (Helianthus) and the spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla).

Sunflower

Aloe polyphylla - Spiral Aloe

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