Sunday, June 04, 2006

One Red Blanketflower

What’s blooming in the area: Fern-leaved globeflower, golden hairy aster, wooly loco, wooly plantain, goat’s beard, local dandelion, yellow sweet clover, downy chess grass, three-awn grass, June grass, catalpa trees.

What’s blooming in my garden, looking north: Red hot poker, golden spur columbine, lance-leaf coreopsis, red rose rootstock, chocolate flowers, perky Sue, Hartweg evening primrose, miniature roses (Rise and Shine, Sunrise).

Looking east: Winecup, creeping baby’s breath, coral bells, cheddar pink, rock rose, peony, coral beardtongue, floribunda rose (Fashion).

Look south: Remains of spiraea.

Look west: Catmint, purple beardtongue, blue flax.

Animal sightings: The power line bird, a brownish bird smaller than a robin with a light belly; when it flies it has light colored bands on its wings and tail; I usually see it when it calls from the line. Also, geckoes, grasshoppers, ants, flies, bees around coreopsis, small green hummingbird feeding on red hot poker and beardtongue.

Weather: Summer has arrived, house no longer stays cool during the day, winds have died down, no moisture.

Weekly update: Blooming in my bed of pinks and coral bells is one red blanket flower. I didn’t put it there, nature did.

When a summer is tough on plants, like last year with a drought and grasshoppers, I let nature tend itself. I don’t cut dead stems in the fall, don’t pull up unwanted seedlings in the spring. I rationalize my natural laziness as providing tools for nature to reestablish decimated colonies.

So, this year, there are coreopsis, columbines and blanket flowers in my pink bed, a blue flax in my front walk, and coral beardtongues in my yellow garden. They’re all blooming when nothing else is, because the plants that should be blooming were attacked so severely last summer. If they weren’t in flower, little would be.

The red gaillardia could have come from anywhere. It could be what they call a sport, a random genetic mutation from the plants in the north bed. It could be a stray seed from one of the packets I planted there which blew east.
This spring, my neighbor planted blanket flowers along her drive that she bought from some place like Wal-Mart or a big box. They’re large bushy plants, covered with buds, but I think still the dwarf variants. Most of her’s are the usual yellow petals with a red center, but a couple look like mine, red petals with touches of yellow.

It’s not the prettiest flower in my yard, and certainly not a candidate for the county fair. It has several buds, but so far the one flower is malformed, with missing petals. They may have been knocked off by the wind, or the plant may be weak, or the grasshoppers may have gotten it early. The color is a deep red, not burgundy, and there’s a thin line of yellow at the tips of the petals.

But there it stands, one ragged, gap-toothed tribute to nature’s disdain for gardens and a monument to the persistence of life in this hostile desert.

Grasshopper watch: Grasshoppers are still active in areas not treated, but I haven’t seen as many insects in the garden. My peony flower was almost completely eaten in one afternoon, and other plants leaves have holes.. The insects I’ve seen are approaching ½" in size, and are green, rather than brown like the ones I saw earlier

No comments: