Sunday, August 26, 2012

After the Rain

Weather: Last rain 8/23/12; 13:08 hours of daylight today.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid perpetual roses, buddleia, bird of Paradise, silver lace vine, trumpet creeper, red yucca, rose of Sharon, datura, Heavenly Blue morning glory, sweet pea, alfalfa, Russian sage, purple garden phlox, single sunflowers, zinnias.

Beyond the walls and fences: Leatherleaf globemallow, ivy leaved morning glory, white and pink bindweeds, white sweet clover, silver leaf nightshade, knotted spurge, prostrate knotweed turning red, goat’s head, yellow and white evening primroses, a few bee blossoms, pale blue trumpets, pigweed, ragweed, Russian thistles, snakeweed coming into bloom, Hopi tea, gum weed, horseweed, wild lettuce, golden hairy asters, Tahoka daisies.

In my yard, looking east: Bouncing Bess, Jupiter’s beard, hollyhock, winecup mallow, large flowered soapwort, Autumn Joy sedum.

Looking south: Rugosa, floribunda and miniature roses, Dutch clover.

Looking west: Caryopteris, Siberian and Seven Hills Giant catmints, calamintha, leadplant, David phlox, perennial four o’clock, sea lavender, ladybells, Mönch asters, purple coneflowers peaked.

Looking north: Larkspur, California and Shirley poppies, nasturtium, chocolate flower, coreopsis, blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, Mexican hat, chrysanthemum, yellow cosmos, bachelor buttom.

Bedding plants: Petunia, nicotiana, snapdragons, sweet alyssum.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small brown birds, geckos, bumble and other bees, hornets, harvester and small black ants; several different large flying insects on the prairie I don’t recognize.

Weekly update: We’ve had two weeks of off again, on again evening rains, beginning with one a week ago Thursday that caused the far arroyo to roar. I had thought then about getting in the car, and driving over the new bridge to see what could be seen. But, at heart, I’m not a wet water creature. This Friday, I finally walked out.

The sands had not been disturbed much since the last rain, and the ground was still wet. It was possible, not just to see how the water had moved, but more important, how the water’s movements feed the vegetation.

The center was still wet, where chamisa takes root and forms islands. The edges were also damp. Between the areas the soil looked drier on the surface. However, this wasn’t because there had been less water, but because these are the main paths, the lower channels, that become covered with gravel and lighter colored sand from upstream.

The water reached at least a foot along the far wall, and in a few places washed out some of the bank. In other places, it left series of water marks.

The islands are scoured, only deeply anchored trees and shrubs remain. The tamarix provides shade for annuals and shrubs which germinate in the mulch of its seeds and branches.

Those seeds are gone, washed downstream where they may start another copse. Bare sand reamins.

Down stream, water apparently washed over the edge of the arroyo bank, or rushed down breaks made by ATV tracks. But that annual fall of water has carved a basin, so the water washing off the prairie does not reach the arroyo. Instead, it puddles,

and creates an environment where most of the bottomland ephemeral plants grow

Photographs: All taken in the arroyo, 25 August 2012, except the tamarix island taken 19 July 2012, and the last one, taken 19 May 2012.

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