Pieris Forest flame commonly, known as the Lily of the valley shrub.
If you are looking for a colourful evergreen shrub, Rhododendrons would possibly be the first choice of most gardeners.
However, go and take a look at Pieris Forest Flame, what a show off it is. In fact, some may find this shrub garish and not quite in keeping with their sophisticated idea of gardening, I say, bring it on.
Lets start off with this shrub in late Winter, the dark green glossy leaves in themselves prevent the garden from looking naked.
Come Spring, the whole shrub explodes with bright red new leaves which gradually fade to pink and then turn a peachy cream colour. In early Spring the shrub often displays panicles of white flowers which resemble Lily of the valley blooms.
This one in our back garden, magnificent as it is does not bloom every year. The blooms shown below are of another type of Pieris which is in our front garden, just showing as an example.
The flowers of forest flame are white and don’t have this hint of pinkish brown. I will change the picture at a later date.
This year the Pieris Forest Flame has behaved itself extremely well.
Some years, when late March and early April happen to be unusually warm the young red leaves start to appear, only to get blackened with a hard frost. Annoying as it may be the shrub recovers and the process starts anew.
The picture below shows Forest Flame in late May of this year, after the red explosion the creamy leaves look quite subtle.
The particularly healthy appearance this year is well and truly down to April remaining in the grips of Winter for most of the month. Ah well, nice to know it made life easy for the Pieris.
Taking a step back with these two pictures below showing Forest Flame in the second week of May when the leaves have just gone past their brightest.
Just as with Rhododendrons, Pieris require an acidic soil and will look rather sickly if this is not provided.
The first time I came across Forest Flame was in the early 70s. The garden centres were jam packed with them in Spring. We had never seen the likes before and thought it was some tender plant that would not see through its first Winter.
Well here in Aberdeen this shrub is fully hardy and if left to its own devices will eventually reach eight feet tall.
I don’t like to see it getting much taller than six feet/180cm in height.
Pieris lends itself very well to pruning. I wait until the leaves have turned green and then give it a general tidy up. If you have allowed the shrub to get too tall then rejuvenating by pruning hard should be quite acceptable. A top dressing with ericaceous compost in late Spring will be beneficial.
• Hardiness*** Fully hardy in Aberdeen, may get leaf damage early Spring
• Position*** Full sun/part shade
• Height*** Eight feet or however tall you want to restrict it
*** Pieris forest flame ***
My brother often sends me emails with interesting stories attached. Some of them are a little risque, in fact I wouldn’t get away with sharing some of them with you on this platform.
Well anyway the tale below on first glance would seem to be one such story. No such thing it is absolutely fascinating, The woman in question is of my parents generation, however she will be known to many of you who are of an age similar to mine.
If you happen to be the author of this story please get in touch so I can credit you with this.
In 1933, a beautiful, young Austrian woman took off her clothes for a movie director. She ran through the woods, naked. She swam in a lake, naked. Pushing well beyond the social norms of the period.
The most popular movie in 1933 was King Kong. But every one in Hollywood was talking about that scandalous movie with the gorgeous, young Austrian woman.
Louis B. Mayer, of the giant studio MGM, said she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The film was banned practically everywhere, which of course made it even more popular and valuable. Mussolini reportedly refused to sell his copy at any price.
The star of the film, called Ecstasy, was Hedwig Kiesler. She said the secret of her beauty was “to stand there and look stupid.” In reality, Kiesler was anything but stupid. She was a genius. She’d grown up as the only child of a prominent Jewish banker. She was a math prodigy. She excelled at science. As she grew older, she became ruthless, using all the power her body and mind gave her.
Between the sexual roles she played, her tremendous beauty, and the power of her intellect, Kiesler would confound the men in her life, including her six husbands, two of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century, and one of the greatest movie producers in history.
Her beauty made her rich for a time. She is said to have made – and spent – $30 million in her life. But her greatest accomplishment resulted from her intellect, and her invention continues to shape the world we live in today.
You see, this young Austrian starlet would take one of the most valuable technologies ever developed right from under Hitler’s nose.
After fleeing to America , she not only became a major Hollywood star, her name sits on one of the most important patents ever granted by the U.S. Patent Office.
Today, when you use your cell phone or, over the next few years, as you experience super-fast wireless Internet access (via something called “long-term evolution” or “LTE” technology), you’ll be using an extension of the technology a 20- year-old actress first conceived while sitting at dinner with Hitler.
At the time she made Ecstasy, Kiesler was married to one of the richest men in Austria . Friedrich Mandl was Austria ‘s leading arms maker. His firm would become a key supplier to the Nazis.
Mandl used his beautiful young wife as a showpiece at important business dinners with representatives of the Austrian, Italian, and German fascist forces. One of Mandl’s favorite topics at these gatherings – which included meals with Hitler and Mussolini – was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes. Wireless weapons offered far greater ranges than the wire-controlled alternatives that prevailed at the time.
Kiesler sat through these dinners “looking stupid,” while absorbing everything she heard.
As a Jew, Kiesler hated the Nazis. She abhorred her husband’s business ambitions. Mandl responded to his willful wife by imprisoning her in his castle, Schloss Schwarzenau. In 1937, she managed to escape. She drugged her maid, snuck out of the castle wearing the maid’s clothes, and sold her jewelry to finance a trip to London.
(She got out just in time. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria . The Nazis seized Mandl’s factory. He was half Jewish. Mandl fled to Brazil . Later, he became an adviser to Argentina ‘s iconic populist president, Juan Peron.)
In London , Kiesler arranged a meeting with Louis B. Mayer. She signed a long-term contract with him, becoming one of MGM’s biggest stars. She appeared in more than 20 films. She was a co-star to Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and even Bob Hope. Each of her first seven MGM movies was a blockbuster.
But Kiesler cared far more about fighting the Nazis than about making movies. At the height of her fame, in 1942, she developed a new kind of communications system, optimized for sending coded messages that couldn’t be “jammed.” She was building a system that would allow torpedoes and guided bombs to always reach their targets. She was building a system to kill Nazis.
By the 1940s, both the Nazis and the Allied forces were using the kind of single- frequency radio-controlled technology Kiesler’s ex-husband had been peddling. The drawback of this technology was that the enemy could find the appropriate frequency and “jam” or intercept the signal, thereby interfering with the missile’s intended path.
Kiesler’s key innovation was to “change the channel.” It was a way of encoding a message across a broad area of the wireless spectrum. If one part of the spectrum was jammed, the message would still get through
on one of the other frequencies being used. The problem was, she could not figure out how to synchronize the frequency changes on both the receiver and the transmitter. To solve the problem, she turned to perhaps the world’s first techno-musician, George Anthiel.
Anthiel was an acquaintance of Kiesler who achieved some notoriety for creating intricate musical compositions. He synchronized his melodies across twelve player pianos, producing stereophonic sounds no one had ever heard before. Kiesler incorporated Anthiel’s technology for synchronizing his player pianos. Then, she was able to synchronize the frequency changes between a weapon’s receiver and its transmitter.
On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent No. 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and “Hedy Kiesler Markey,” which was Kiesler’s married name at the time.
Most of you won’t recognize the name Kiesler. And no one would remember the name Hedy Markey. But it’s a fair bet than anyone reading this newsletter of a certain age will remember one of the great beauties of Hollywood’s golden age ~ Hedy Lamarr. That’s the name Louis B. Mayer gave to his prize actress. That’s the name his movie company made famous.
Meanwhile, almost no one knows Hedwig Kiesler – aka Hedy Lamarr- was one of the great pioneers of wireless communications. Her technology was developed by the U.S. Navy, which has used it ever since.
You’re probably using Lamarr’s technology, too. Her patent sits at the foundation of “spread spectrum technology,” which you use every day when you log on to a wi- fi network or make calls with your Bluetooth-enabled phone. It lies at the heart of the massive investments being made right now in so-called fourth-generation “LTE” wireless technology.
This next generation of cell phones and cell towers will provide tremendous increases to wireless network speed and quality, by spreading wireless signals across the entire available spectrum. This kind of encoding is only possible using the kind of frequency switching that Hedwig Kiesler invented.
Hedy Lamarr born November 9th 1913, died on January 19th 2000 at home in Orlando Florida.
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