Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Fields of Flowers

Weather: Weekend rain dropped water from hurricane Marie off the west coast of México; it coincided with a storm center off the south coast of Louisiana.

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, zinnias from seeds, cultivated sunflowers.

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

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

Looking south: Betty Prior, Fairy, rugosa and miniature roses.

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

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

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

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

Seeds: Heavenly Blue morning glories, larkspur, reseeded Sensation cosmos from last year’s plants, yellow cosmos, bachelor buttons.

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

Weekly update: Fields of flowers appear in advertisements and movie backgrounds. They’re less common in real life.

The only time you usually see a field of flowers here is late summer when the yellow-flowered áñil del muerto bloom.

This year is different. Fields are covered with Tahoka daisies that resemble heather from a distance. The lavender flowers rise in waves across fields that usually sprout prickly pear or Russian thistles this time of year.

I wonder where all that seed came from. We had a lot of wind this spring which would have redistributed the parachuted seed, but I’ve never seen the plants growing densely anywhere in the area. I’ve seen no reports of the composite’s seed lasting in the soil.

Perhaps this year’s inflorescence may be attributed to the early monsoon which dumped water in the middle of July, when the sun’s rays were strong. The one’s growing downhill from irrigation canals may have gotten extra water when ditches overflowed the night it rained so long.

It may be the relatively constant moisture since has nourished seedlings. Rains have come every couple of weeks, not the usual couple of months.

It also may be the result of last fall’s heavy rains when plants were going to seed that produced the seed for this year’s flowers.

One other plant is enjoying a similar blooming period this year, but in more limited conditions. Stickleafs cover the area near one of the arroyos. There the flowers dominate the wettest area, the ones in the flood plain. Away from that area, the white flowers merge with those of Tahoka daisies and paper flowers. Along the road, golden hairy asters replace the paper flowers.

They’re in the same field, but they don’t bloom at the same time. The lavender petals of Machaeranthera tanacetifolia are closed in the early morning, but open wide in late morning to show their yellow centers. At that time, the white petals of Mentzelia nuda are shut. They only open late in the day.

Scattered flowers appear on Tahoka daisies in mid-summer. This time of year, plants may be covered with flowers. Members of the Laosa family only open a few flowers at a time. Even in late day, the mass of gray-leaved, two-foot high plants resembles a light-colored field of grass or clover.

It’s possible these plants have flowered like this before. When you work, you only see things during commuting times. Early morning and late afternoon are not the best hours to see Tahoka daisies.

One thing I do know. They’ve never grown in the dry area of my yard before. That I would have noticed.


1. Tahoka daisies in field on main road, 29 August 2014. Trees line the main acequia at back.

2. Áñil del muerto in field on farm road, 31 August 2014. Tree in back is probably on a lateral.

3. Tahoka daisies in another field on main road, 29 August 2014.

4. Tahoka daisies in my yard, last fall, 15 October 2013.

5. Stickleaf blooming in field near an arroyo, 31 August 2014.

6. Fully open tahoka daisy and partly open stickleaf near arroyo, 31 August 2014; plains prairie flowers are in back.

7. Tahoka daisies blooming with winterfat on dry hill in my yard, 29 August 2014.

8. Plains paper flower blooming, 31 August 2014. They also are having a good year. The line the banks of the road, but only in this one area near the arroyo.

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