Sunday, August 04, 2013


Weather: Rain last Sunday, with showers since; last rain 8/03/2013; 13:52 hours of daylight today.

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

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

In my yard, looking east: Baby’s breath, coral bells, 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, calamintha, sea lavender, ladybells, white mullein, white spurge, bachelor buttons from seed, Mönch aster.

Looking north: Blackberry lily, golden spur columbine, chocolate flowers, blanket flowers, anthemis, yellow yarrow, chrysanthemum, dahlias.

In the open, along the drive: Fern bush, Dutch clover, hollyhock, Shirley and California poppies, larkspur, 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: Rabbit, geckos, small bees, hornets, large and small black ants.

Weekly update: It finally rained last Sunday. There had been occasional five minute showers the week before, but this was the first really rainy day. Nothing much happened in Los Alamos or Santa Fé. The clouds must have been moving at a lower altitude than usual.

When I went out Monday, there was green under my tree. People’s yards that had been brown when I went to the post office Saturday were glimmering. Even the hills had a new sheen.

The peculiarities of the land and people’s habits determined which plants germinated.

The ideal prairie grasses are needle and black grama. Only one area had sprouted them yesterday: the great hill that collects water from great distances to the east. The charcoal tufts had captured water and new growth was coming up from the roots.

Across the road a tiny grass was up. The inch or two long blades grow at a low angle to the ground. They’re stiff and a bit coarse, a little like quack grass.

Two years ago, after the Las Conchas fire, I saw something that was even shorter. The seed heads were inch-long, black, horizontal spines with seeds below. I though maybe black grama had revived. They were gone the next time I walked out. Nothing has been there since.

I think they must be six weeks grama grass, Bouteloua barbata. The annual form comes with the monsoons, then disappears. Its stubble remains to protect the ground from winds.

Up the road, a great cone must block the movement of water. Its ridge must keep the water moving toward that prairie bowl where the needle was coming up. The six weeks grama dominated the grasslands downslope from it, but the area directly in its shadow was still dry. Between the dark tufts, the bright green was Russian thistles.

My one neighbor, who keeps his yards bare, has a bright green patch on the far side. I suspect a new crop of thistles. Goat’s heads are flourishing in the yard of my other neighbor. They stay shorter than his mower.

The ditches vary. One person who burned everything this year has been rewarded with toothed spurge. This must need more water. It hasn’t come back in its usual places, but is bright in some ditches.

Another who destroys the whorled milkweeds and morning glories to get to the Russian thistles and pigweeds, has goat’s heads and golden hairy asters. But scrambling over them are the newly germinated ivy-leaved morning glories.


In my own yard, the area that has been barren is still dry. A little ring muhly is greening on the uphill sides of the formations. The area near my peach that got overwatered a few weeks ago is now solid prostrate knotweed.

Few flowers are blooming yet. The áñil del muerto is up in a few places. Wild sunflowers are still rare. Pigweed and cheat grass haven’t arrived yet.

1. Six week grama grass growing between tufts of dormant or dead grasses, 2 August 2013.

2. Russian thistles growing between the tufts of dormant or dead grasses, 2 August 2013.

3. Black grama and needle grass reviving, 3 August 2013.

4. Six week grama grass growing on the sheltered side of a road cut, 3 August 2013.

5. Six week grama grass in seed after the Las Conchas fire, 25 September 2011.

6. Six week grama grass head getting ready to bloom, same location as #4, 3 August 2013.

7. Russian thistles growing across the road from #2, 2 August 2013.

8. Toothed spurge on the uphill side of a ditch (left), golden hairy asters blooming on the road side, 2 August 2013.

9. Ivy-leaved morning glories coming up through goat’s head in ditch, 2 August 2013.

10. Knotweed coming up in area already wet, 31 July 2013. The area behind did not get watered. It’s still barren.

11. Green amaranth (front) and pigweed in ditch, 2 August 2013.

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