Sunday, July 02, 2006


What’s blooming in the area: Yucca, datura, white evening primrose, velvetweed, white sweet clover, golden hairy aster, hawkweed; goatsbeard, horseweed, wild lettuce, milkweed, bindweed, buffalo gourd, purple coneflower, sweet pea, roses, daylilies, bouncing Bess, Russian sage, trumpet creeper, silverlace vine, grama grass, rice grass, three-awn grass.

What’s blooming in my garden, looking north: Black eyed Susan, blanket flower, golden spur columbine, lance-leaf coreopsis, chocolate flowers, perky Sue, Hartweg evening primrose, fern-leaf yarrow, Mexican hat, miniature rose (Sunrise).

Looking east: Biennial yellow evening primrose, California poppy, winecup, coral bells, cheddar pink, small and large flowered soapworts, coral beardtongue, hollyhock, sweet alyssum from seed taller than bedding plants.

Look south: Butterfly gladiola, rugosa roses.

Look west: Asiatic lily, perennial four o’clock, white spurge, catmint, blue flax, purple ice plant.

Bedding plants: Dalhburg daisies, marigolds, sweet alyssum, snapdragons, petunias, profusion zinnias, supersweet 100 tomato.

Animal sightings: Power line bird, small green hummingbird, geckoes, squash bug, aphids, ants, grasshoppers, bees, black widow. Sheep are still down the road. Something, either the rabbit or gopher, is attacking the tomatoes; seedlings to west sprout in night, disappear by afternoon.

Weather: Afternoon storms blow over, keep days from getting too hot; rain late Monday and Saturday evening. Pulled out foot high Russian thistles; neighbor’s pigweed has sprouted a foot since it was cut down last weekend. Should be good day to weed.

Weekly update: Now the heat’s set in, and the flowers of June are gone, replaced with what Lady Bird Johnson called the dang yellow composites. I’ve done all I can to plant and sow, and now must wait, provide water and eliminate weeds. I’ve turned my attention to my grasses, which are so dry they crack when they’re stepped on.

When I bought my land, the upward, northern section was primarily ring muhly grass, while the downhill area to the south was fairly pure needle grass with scattered clumps of blue grama or rice grass. After the house was relocated, I reclaimed the land to the west by moving needle grass that was in the way of the garage.

Over time, winterfat grew along the driveways and June grass crept in along the brick edging of the western border. Otherwise, the native vegetation was fine until the drought after the Cerro Grande Fire, when the ring muhly died. Yellowbrush and stickseed whitebristle moved in. Last summer, the needle grass to the west died, and winterfat and stickseed threaten.

About two years ago, people started using the prairie land to the south for ATVs, and Russian thistle is colonizing the bare spots. This spring, my wire fence was solid with dead tumbleweeds waiting to blow in. I figure I had only a short time to avoid losing my last section of prairie.

A couple weeks ago, I replaced the farm fence with cedar board. The fence builders churned up the soil, and stomped on most of the grass within 3 feet of the fence. In two days, they did more damage than the ATVs in as many summers. I immediately started hosing the area along the fence late in the day to revive the grass that was stepped on.

Interestingly, the ring muhly is coming back on its own. Apparently, it needs cool weather to grow, and this is the first year since the drought after the Los Alamos fire that conditions have been right.

The bunch grasses, on the other had, seem to need water. In good years, the seed stalks get to 4' and wave in the wind. This year they’re about a foot high, with far fewer seeds. Before the rain on Monday, the area by the fence already showed signs of recovery. Now, we’ll see if last night’s rain is enough to save the rest.

Note: Actually, Lady Bird was more colorful in her description of the DYCs, and was quoting one of the experts she hired to help her with her roadside wildflower program. See, Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers across America (1989).

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