Sunday, July 28, 2013


Weather: Some rain in the nights; last rain 7/26/2013; 14:08 hours of daylight today.

The weather has been more threatening than rainy. I do get tired of turning on a hose when there’s lightening in the area, but if you water when the sun is low, that’s what you do.

The wild lands still are brown, but the cloudy, humid afternoons favor plants that get irrigated. Bermuda grass lawns are finally bright green. The brome grass still hasn’t recovered, but the alfalfa is blooming.

Late summer grasses, like barnyard grass and Nebraska sedge, are coming up in my garden. Dormant seedlings that had germinated when the weather warmed, are growing, especially the columbine. Baby hollyhocks are appearing everywhere.

Annuals are beginning to show themselves, though the usual wild ones - the native sunflowers, áñil del muerto, Tahoka daisies - are still waiting for some rain. Even, the pesky pigweeds, ragweeds, and Russian thistles are subdued.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid roses, bird of paradise, silver lace vine, Russian sage, roses of Sharon, purple garden phlox, fading bouncing Bess, zinnias from seed, cultivated sunflowers, alfalfa.

Beyond the walls and fences: Trumpet creeper, sweet peas, whorled milkweed, buffalo gourd, purple mat flower, stickleaf, leather-leafed globe mallow, bindweed, greenleaf five-eyes, silver-leaf nightshade, scarlet bee blossom, velvetweed, Queen Anne’s lace, goat’s beard, Hopi tea, Tahoka daisy, golden hairy aster, native Mexican hat; buds on gumweed.

In my yard, looking east: Baby’s breath, coral bells, pink salvia, winecup mallow, sidalcea, reseeded morning glories.

Looking south: Rugosa, floribunda and miniature roses, Illinois bundle flower.

Looking west: Caryopteris, Johnson Blue geranium, David phlox, catmints, sea lavender, ladybells, white mullein, white spurge, bachelor buttons from seed, Mönch aster.

Looking north: Golden spur columbine, coral beardtongue, chocolate flowers, anthemis, yellow yarrow, chrysanthemum.

In the open, along the drive: Fern bush, Dutch clover, hollyhock, Shirley and California poppies, larkspur, white yarrow peaked, Illinois bundle flower, black-eyed Susan, lance-leaf and prairie coreopsis, yellow, red and mixed Mexican hats, Sensation and yellow cosmos.

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

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Hummingbird, geckos, dragon flies of several types, sulphur butterfly, small bees, hornets, large and small black ants.

Weekly update: Tools have this way of hurting as much helping. Usually, fatigue is the problem. This week it was a sharp point that caught in my sleeve and pierced my hand.

It’s actually fairly difficult to find stem clippers that are sharp and stay sharp. Whether it’s the metal alloys are too cheap to hold an edge, or manufacturers are afraid of lawsuits from parents whose children get injured, most garden tools dull quickly.

The change is gradual, and I only detect it when my wrist starts to ache. It tires more quickly when more pressure is needed to cut through a stem.

The ergonomic solution is usually cushioned handles. That really is no help. Thicker handles force the hand open wider and cause pain sooner.

The real culprit for me are the springs they use to reopen the blades. They often are too vigorous. My wrist feels the kick.


I have two pairs of clippers. One is intended for cutting rose buds. I bought it because the ergonomic trend has made it harder to find clippers with handles that don’t hurt. I use it when I can, simply to vary the motions of my wrist.

I’m not sure why the tips are so sharp. I’m sure their advertising agency has some explanation. I suspect it's simply manufacturing efficiency. Adding a step to round the tips would increase the cost.

The only useful idea manufacturers have introduced is the use of bright colors. I really do spend more time than I should looking for tools I’ve laid on the ground. I finally added a band of yellow tape to the green handles of one’s I bought this year.  Unfortunately, the orange didn’t stop the small nippers from getting lost and hurting me when I was searching for them.

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