Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wind in the Willow

Weather: Sun, wind, less smoke as fires smolder; last rain 6/17/2013; 14:37 hours of daylight today.

Local ditch now only has water available two days a week.

What’s blooming in the area: Dr. Huey and hybrid roses, lilies, daylilies, silver lace vine, Jupiter’s beard, bouncing Bess, purple salvia, blue flax, alfalfa, brome grass.

Beyond the walls and fences: Trumpet creeper, tamarix, cholla cactus, scurf and sweet peas, wild licorice peaked, showy milkweed, buffalo gourd, purple mat flower, leather-leafed globe mallow, bindweed, greenleaf five-eyes, prairie white evening primrose, scarlet bee blossom, velvetweed, common dandelion, goat’s beard, Hopi tea, Tahoka daisy, horsetail, rice grass.

In my yard, looking east: Snow-in-summer peaked, baby’s breath, coral bells, pink evening primrose, winecup mallow.

Looking south: Rugosa, floribunda and miniature roses.

Looking west: Johnson Blue geranium, Rumanian sage, catmints, purple and Husker’s red beardstongues, sea lavender, Shasta daisy; buds on ladybells.

Looking north: Golden spur columbine, coral beardtongue, Hartweig primrose, butterfly weed, chocolate flowers, anthemis, yellow yarrow.

In the open, along the drive: Dutch clover, hollyhock, Shirley and California poppies, white yarrow, blanket flower, coreopsis, yellow, red and mixed Mexican hats; buds of black-eyed Susans.

Bedding plants: Wax begonias, pansies, snapdragons, French marigolds, gazanias.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, hummingbird, goldfinches and other small brown birds, small bees, grasshoppers, harvester and smaller ants.

Weekly update: Some trees are drama queens. At the first hint of wind, they throw out their flexible branches to shoo it away.

Most stand with their leaves inverted. A few refuse to notice, and rock from their roots.

Forest managers have learned more is happening. Deciduous trees that constantly are blown from one direction, develop extra strength on that side, then are damaged when a severe wind comes from another direction. Those blown from every direction develop wind firmness on all sides.

Here, the winds generally come from the south or southwest. The tamarix are constantly bombarded from that direction. However, when they blow along the house, they swirl around the corners. The black locust gets tossed about the most.

Some species have narrow leaves that let the wind pass, while others like those of the catalpa are wide. They shred.

The drama queens do more to use their leaves as protective armor. The leaves on the globe willow lay flat along the branch when the winds blow. The ones closer to the tree are different heights. The impacts of the wind are slowed by the wing flaps.

The ones on the black locust are spaced along their branches.

When the winds pick up, they fold like butterfly wings.

My new cherries haven’t been in the ground long enough to adapt. They came from some kind of nursery plantation where they were grown close together.  Now they're isolated along the drive where winds come from the south.

Forest managers have learned trees in close stands vary by their location. The ones on the edges that get the most wind are shorter and shaped more like pyramids. The ones in the center grow tall and thin. The outer ones have greater wind firmness. The mass of the inner ones deflects the wind.

It’s been a tough year for the cherries. The winds have shocked them. The leaves have not expanded from their initial tight clusters.


Spaces have opened in the soil around the trunks where they have rocked from the roots. I suspect if I kept filling the holes, the grafting joints would take the stress, and they probably are less strong than the roots. Also, those openings may channel water downward.

Wind worthiness is in the eyes of the beholder. Homeowners are warned, cottonwoods are brittle.

Cherries and red maples are among the least wind resistant. They say gingkos are among the most wind resistant. Have they ever been around a ginkgo when its fruiting?  They may have medicinal virtues, but cherries are edible.

My locust has been invaded by borers. Every year, some trunk snaps in the wind.

They definitely are not something to have near a building. Every year, when the tree cutting service comes out, they wonder why I don’t just have them cut it down completely. I remember the winds, and can’t imagine anything else surviving the twisting. Besides, I know, even if they cut it to the ground, it would be back the next week. Copsing is another wind strategy.

1. Globe willow in the wind, 21 June 2013.

2. Tamarix in the wind, 19 June 2013.

3. Bing cherry in the wind, 22 June 2013.

4. Black locust in the wind, 15 June 2013.

5. Catalpa leaf shredded by the wind, 22 June 2013.

6. Globe willow leaves, 25 May 2013.

7. Black locust leaves after wind has died down, 22 June 2013 at 7:45 pm.

8. Black locust leaves in the wind, 22 June 2013 at 1:30 pm.

9. Bing cherry leaves still clustered around the trunk, 20 June 2013. The needle grass exaggerates the wind the leaves are ignoring.

10. Base of same Bing cherry, 22 June 2013. It’s worked itself loose from rocking in the wind.

11. Downed cottonwood branch, 29 June 2012. The men who cut it down though there might have been insect damage.  My neighbor got a bit hysterical.  The fence broke the fall, so it wouldn’t have damaged my car if I had parked a bit more forward.

12. Downed black locust trunk, 9 August 2011.  My neighbor continually warns about this tree and the power lines. Whenever its branches even begin to get that tall, the borers attack. So far, it is only a threat to my drive.

13. Fragrant black locust flower, 25 May 2013.

14. Fragrant catalpa flowers, 12 June 2013.

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