Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017 — Flower Show


Today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon presents us with a plethora of lovely blooms to take our minds off the deep freeze in which we currently find ourselves.

As was the case with some who have already left comments, it was the northwest quadrant which held out the longest in my grid today.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- yet to be solved

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (& lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).


1a   Promise broken by English poet with red /and/ purple flower (10)

H(ELIOT|R)OPE — HOPE (promise) containing (broken by) {ELIOT (English poet) + (with) R (red; abbrev. used to label video cables)}

T. S. Eliot[5] (1888–1965) was an American-born British poet, critic, and playwright; full name Thomas Stearns Eliot. Associated with the rise of literary modernism, he was established as the voice of a disillusioned generation by The Waste Land (1922). Four Quartets (1943) revealed his increasing involvement with Christianity. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

The heliotrope[5] is a plant of the borage family, cultivated for its fragrant purple or blue flowers which are used in perfume.

6a   Stretch of quasi-arid // land in the East (4)

_ASI|A_ — hidden in (stretch of) quASI-Arid

9a   Top // eleven embraced by mother with flower (7)

MA(XI)MUM — XI ([Roman numeral for] eleven) contained in (embraced by) {MA (mother) + MUM (flower)}

The chrysanthemum[5] (informally mum[5]) is a plant of the daisy family with brightly coloured ornamental flowers, existing in many cultivated varieties.

10a   Tie up an unruly // flower (7)

PETUNIA* — anagram (unruly) of TIE UP AN

The petunia[5] is a South American plant of the nightshade family which has white, purple, or red* funnel-shaped flowers, with many ornamental varieties.

* I would say that plant breeders have vastly expanded the colour range of this plant

12a   Likings /for/ swan songs? (9)

PEN|CHANTS — PEN ([female] swan) + CHANTS (songs)

13a   Blossom // with a Top-Fortyish sound (5)

POPPY — double definition; the second being an adjective one might use to describe a tune on the Hit Parade

The poppy[5] is a herbaceous plant with showy flowers, milky sap, and rounded seed capsules. Many poppies contain alkaloids and are a source of drugs such as morphine and codeine.

14a   Tip of tulip eaten by female deer /and/ fawns? (5)

DO(T)ES — T (tip [initial letter] of Tulip) contained in (eaten by) DOES (female deer)

Scratching the Surface
Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa/Gatineau

The tulip[5] is a bulbous spring-flowering plant of the lily family, with boldly coloured cup-shaped flowers.

The official tulip for Canada’s 150th anniversary

16a   Ron’s album, sadly, // not up to par (9)

SUBNORMAL* — anagram (sadly) of RONS ALBUM

19a   Assuming failure, get “Uncle!” out /and/ go down on one knee (9)

GENUFLECT — anagram (out) of GET UNCLE containing (assuming) F (failure; result on a pass/fail academic exercise)

20a   Flower // our group planted behind parcel of land (5)

LOT|US — US (our group) following (planted behind) LOT (parcel of land)

Nelumbo nucifera, sacred lotus
Lotus[10] may refer to either:
  • any of several water lilies of tropical Africa and Asia, especially the white lotus (Nymphaea lotus), which was regarded as sacred in ancient Egypt;
  • a similar plant, Nelumbo nucifera, which is the sacred lotus of India, China, and Tibet and also sacred in Egypt.
21a   Going back, expose the weakness of // potato or dahlia root (5)

TUBER< — reversal (going back) of REBUT (expose the weakness of)

The dahlia[5] is a tuberous-rooted Mexican plant of the daisy family, which is cultivated for its brightly coloured single or double flowers.

23a   Black African writer’s // good fortune (9)

B|LESSING|S — B (black; abbrev.) + LESSING (African writer) + S ('s)

Doris Lessing[5] (1919–2013) was a British novelist and short-story writer, brought up in Rhodesia. An active communist in her youth, she frequently deals with social and political conflicts in her fiction, especially as they affect women. Notable novels: The Grass is Singing (1950); The Golden Notebook (1962). She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.

26a   Brave person holding ace is // go-between (7)

LI(A|IS)ON — LION (brave person) containing (holding) {A (ace) + IS (†)}

27a   California wine for an Italian // novelist (7)

CAL|VINO — CAL (California; abbrev.) + VINO (wine for an Italian; Italian word meaning 'wine')

Italo Calvino[5] (1923–1987) was an Italian novelist and short-story writer, born in Cuba. His later works, such as If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (1979), are associated with magic realism.

28a   Add grass to a // drink from a fountain (4)

SOD|A — SOD (grass) + (add ... to) A (†)

29a   Bugs on Grandpa’s // flower (10)

SNAPDRAGON* — anagram (bugs) of ON GRANDPAS

The snapdragon[5] is a plant bearing spikes of brightly coloured two-lobed flowers which gape like a mouth when a bee lands on the curved lip.


1d   Shorten // segment of The Muppets (3,2)

_HEM UP_ — hidden in (segment of) THE MUPpets

Scratching the Surface
The Muppets[7] are an ensemble cast of puppet characters created by Jim Henson in 1955 who are known for their self-aware, burlesque, and meta-referential style of variety-sketch comedy.

2d   Show that you know about crossing // place in Kentucky (9)

LE(XING)T|ON — LET ON (show what you know) containing (about) XING (crossing; as seen on road signs)

Lexington[5] is a city in central Kentucky; population (with Fayette) 282,114 (est. 2008). It is a noted horse-breeding centre.

3d   Energy // reading from a broken speedometer? (5)

OO|MPH — a broken non-metric speedometer might display 0.0 mph (miles per hour)

4d   Breaking ice, miners // talk about the old days (9)

REMINISCE* — anagram (breaking) of ICE MINERS

5d   English diarist // chirps out loud (5)

PEPYS~ — sounds like (out loud) PEEPS (chirps)

Samuel Pepys[5] [pronounced 'peeps' (1633–1703) was an English diarist and naval administrator. He is particularly remembered for his "Diary" (1660–9), which describes events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London.

7d   Dawn // spun out of control around horseshoe curve (3-2)

{SUN-(U)P}* — anagram (out of control) of SPUN containing (around) U (horseshoe curve)

8d   Everything is interrupted by Mary/’s/ blooming plant (9)

A)MARY)LL|IS — {ALL (everything) + IS (†)} containing (interrupted by) MARY

The amaryllis[5] is a bulbous plant with showy trumpet-shaped flowers and strap-shaped leaves.

11d   Dirt // spot ruined painting (7)

TOPS*|OIL — anagram (ruined) of SPOT + OIL (painting)

14d   Go for it—boxing champ’s // glove-shaped flower (9)

DIG|IT|ALI|S — DIG (go for; have an intense attraction to) + IT (†) + ALI (boxing champ [Muhammad Ali[5]]) + S ('s)

Digitalis[10] is any Eurasian scrophulariaceous plant of the genus Digitalis, such as the foxglove, having bell-shaped flowers and a basal rosette of leaves.

15d   Wilderness trips // to a distant place taken by member of the fam (7)

S(AFAR)IS — AFAR (to a distant place) contained in (taken by) SIS (member of the fam)

Note that the setters shorten 'family' in the clue to correspond with the shortened form of 'sister' needed in the solution.

17d   Flower /is/ flatter when getting cold (9)

BUTTER(C)UP — BUTTER UP (flatter) containing (when getting) C (cold; abbrev. seen on faucet handles)

The buttercup[5] is a herbaceous plant with bright yellow cup-shaped flowers, which is common in grassland and as a garden weed. All kinds are poisonous and generally avoided by livestock.

18d   Sort of bean, including very small one, // rising up (9)

MU(TINY|I)NG — MUNG (sort of bean) containing (including) {TINY (very small) + I ([Roman numeral for] one)}

The mung[5] (also mung bean or moong) is a tropical Old World plant that yields mung beans, commonly grown as a source of bean sprouts.

22d   Carry down // feature of some irises (5)

BEAR|D — BEAR (carry) + D (down; abbrev. seen in crossword puzzles)

Bearded Iris
The iris[5] is a plant with showy flowers, typically of purple or yellow, and sword-shaped leaves. Irises are native to both Eurasia and North America and widely cultivated as ornamentals.

23d   Kingsley in // West African land (5)

BEN|IN — BEN (Kingsley; English actor Sir Ben Kingsley[7]) + IN (†)

Benin[5] is a country of West Africa, immediately west of Nigeria; population 8,791,800 (est. 2009); languages, French (official), West African languages; capital, Porto Novo. The country was conquered by the French in 1893 and became part of French West Africa. In 1960 it became fully independent. Former name (until 1975) Dahomey.

24d   Sort of energy // loss in skyrocket (5)

SO(L)AR — L (loss; abbrev. seen on the sports page) contained in (in) SOAR (skyrocket)

25d   Disdain // second lame attempt at humour (5)

S|CORN — S (second; abbrev.) + CORN (lame attempt at humour)


I am sure that the theme of this puzzle is self-evident. There is also a mini-theme present with a trio of emigrant writers at 1a, 23a, and 27a.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Having some difficulty in the north west quadrant today. Also 23a. I have a word that means "good fortune" that fits all the cross letters, and accounts for "black" but I just can't make African Writer fit.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I had a problem in the north west today too because of 1a. It's a new one to me. But found it eventually with the help of Google. And I'm having trouble parsing 2d thought the answer seems obvious enough. Re 23a: Doris Lessing is (was?) an African novelist with whom I'm familiar. But I'd never heard of the one at 27a. I wonder what theme Falcon will find in today's puzzle?


    2. 2d Take the middle 4 for crossing, like Christmas kissing.

    3. Thanks. Now I get it.

  2. Not the easiest offering from C&R I thought. Bottom right held me up. 18d last in - didn't know bean. Re 23a I think that means a writer who wrote about Africa.

  3. I also found today's puzzle really challenging - probably because I don't know much about flowers.

  4. 3d and 9a lasr in, with much laughter over 3d. 19a was my favourite. Disappointed that they didn't use the other meaning for flower.

    1. Chris, they would have to have had some rivers to use alternate meanings?

  5. Hi everyone today on this really cold Saturday. The bottom half was tougher for me today, but with Google and a bit of thinking, it wasn't too difficult. Over par, for sure. Many of the clues I could only parse after I figured out the solution. I laughed at 27a, because the answer seemed to be too obvious to be true, but it was!

  6. Spent more time on this than usual early this morning before heading out to start a volunteer income tax clinic.

    Nice to see on checking that I did get them all but I did have to use google for help.

    Like Chris, I was surprised that with all the flowers we did not get at least one river!

  7. Hello Falcon and all,
    I've been away from home and from cryptics for a couple of months and my lack of practice was evident in this slow - but enjoyable - solve. I, too, finished in the NW; while I had 1a early, I was left at the end with 2d, 3d, and 12a, which I then solved in that order.

  8. The lotus flower may very well be one of the most amazing wonders of the plant kingdom or nature as a whole Lotus flower