Sunday, August 17, 2014

Late Locusts

Weather: Cloudy afternoons, sometimes windy; last rain 8/1.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid roses, silver lace vine, trumpet creeper, rose of Sharon, datura, rose purple morning glory, bouncing Bess, purple garden phlox, sweet pea, Russian sage, zinnia, cultivated sunflowers.

Those who carefully prune their shrubs were working this past week on forsythia and snowballs.

Beyond the walls and fences: Velvetweed, buffalo gourd, yellow evening primrose, purple mat flower, pink and white bindweed, Queen Anne’s lace, goat’s head, leatherleaf globemallow, pigweed, horseweed, wild lettuce, Hopi tea, golden rod, plains paper flowers, áñil del muerto, tahoka daisy, golden hairy asters, black grama grass.

In my yard, looking east: Large-flowered soapwort, garlic chives, Jupiter’s beard, hollyhocks, winecup mallow, pink evening primrose.

Looking south: Betty Prior, Fairy and miniature roses.

Looking west: Caryopteris, Johnson’s Blue geranium, catmint, calamintha, David phlox, ladybells, sea lavender, Mönch aster, purple coneflower.

Looking north: Yellow potentilla, golden spur columbine, Mexican hat, black-eyed Susan, chocolate flower, blanket flower.

In the open, along the drive: Buddleia, white yarrow.

Bedding plants: Snapdragon, sweet alyssum, blue salvia, moss rose, French marigold, gazania.

Seeds: Larkspur, reseeded Sensation cosmos from last year’s plants, yellow cosmos, bachelor buttons.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, geckos, small birds, bees, grasshoppers, large and small black ants.

Weekly update: The early, wet monsoons have brought lushness. I’ve seen velvetweeds reaching the middle of traffic signs and pigweeds rising above five foot walls.

Bright green marks new growth on my black locust. Down the road, a copse of new sprouts has formed near the base of a towering tree near the road.

At the post office, new growth on the purple-flowered locust shrubs are pushing up in cracks where the pavement meets the curb.

Those Robinia neomexicana didn’t bloom this year. Last year they had flowers from the middle to the end of May. This year, we were still in drought conditions exacerbated by high winds. Now that conditions and sun angles have changed, some of those dormant buds are opening.

My Robinia pseudoacacia is undergoing its annual locust borer cycle. When the winds came in July one trunk collapsed onto another one. The heavy rains weighted them down until both reached into my drive.

In the past I’ve called someone to remove the trunk before the next generation of goldenrod-fed adults laid new eggs. The first year the company passed the job onto one of their employees who did a good job. I called him the next year. He showed up Saturday morning with no tools.

The following year I called a man who cut away the locust and a fallen branch on the cottonwood. However, he only cut the part that was in the drive, leaving the broken branches in the tree.

Last year I tried another company who finished trimming the cottonwood, or at least part of it, and removed the fallen locust. I believe they are also the ones who introduced the aphids which attacked the peach and flower bed in other areas where they worked.

This is northern New Mexico. I’ve run out of names in the phone book. I’m waiting until winter to call someone who can’t do too much damage.

Meantime, the two trees reach into the drive. The one started putting out white flowers this week.

More interesting, the trunk that lost all its leaves is reviving. It must still be connected to part of the vital cambium where the xylem and phloem flow. Most of its new buds aren’t leaves, but flower clusters.

I don’t know if the roots have redirected its efforts to producing seed or if it was this branch’s turn to be the one covered with flowers. Not every branch blooms every spring. This year, none bloomed in late May.

I’m not sure if it does any good to remove the diseased wood before it infects another trunk. I’m not convinced the locust borers even bother to leave the copse to feed before they lay their eggs and die.

All I’ve learned is, that despite the annual cost of a tree cutter and the constant need to remove thorny suckers, these legumes are worth the trouble. They can adapt.

1. Black locust flower on live trunk in my drive, 17 August 2014.
2. New Mexico locust flower at post office, 17 August 2014.
3. Black locust copse down the road, 17 August 2014.
4. New Mexico locust sucker at post office, 17 August 2014.
5. New Mexico locust at post office, 17 August 2014.
6. Two downed black locust trunks in my drive, 20 July 2014.
7. Black locust flower in my drive, 16 August 2014.
8. New growth on downed black locust trunk, 16 August 2014.
9. More of the black locust copse down the road, 17 August 2014.

10. Flower cluster of downed black locust in my drive, 16 August 2014.

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