Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Greens

Weather: Rain after dark several nights this week; when I went out to see the darkening sky Thursday around 7 pm, there was a full rainbow. last rain 4/16. Ditches are running.

What’s blooming in the area: Apples, crab apples, cherries, purple leaf sand cherries, purple leaf plum, flowering quince, red buds, daffodils, moss phlox, donkey spurge. New leaves visible on apples and crab apples.

The local big box is now carrying pink and white flowering cherries and pink and white dogwoods. It’s getting more and more difficult to know which trees actually are blooming.

Beyond the walls and fences: Tansy mustard, alfilerillo western stickseed, and dandelions blooming. Scurf pea, green-leaf five-eyes, velvetweed and first round of pigweed coming up. Seeds blowing from Siberian elms. New leaves on Russian olives and cottonwoods.

In my yard: Sand cherries, Siberian pea, grape hyacinth, and vinca blooming. Raspberries, hostas, lilies of the valley, David phlox, sea lavender, catmints, blue flax, Saint John’s wort, Rumanian sage, tansy, anthemis, coreopsis, purple coneflowers, Maximilian sunflowers and Mönch asters emerging. Leaves opening on apricots, snowball, and beauty bush.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbits, small birds, ants, bees around Siberian peas, bees and smaller insects around sand cherries.

Saw a quail walking in the drive Wednesday morning. Later they were trying to colonize my back porch. Years ago they disappeared when my neighbor’s dogs were running loose. It’s the first I’ve seen them since other neighbors insisted he keep them inside his fence.

Weekly update: I visited a friend in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco last week. I expected things to be greener. What I didn’t expect was the green would look like a thick covering of algae.

The clouds cleared enough as the plane entered the state that Mono lake was visible. Snow fields in the Sierra Nevada followed. Then, as we traveled west and the mountain elevations decreased, a bright green appeared at the tops of ridges with the darker evergreens below.

Even when we landed, the same green covered the tops of hills along the road, both inland and along the coast. It was even the same color in the grasses in the vineyards and on the vines. It had to be grass, but it couldn’t be the same grass in all the locations.

I was only able to take pictures at a turnoff near the coast. By then the clouds had returned, and the lowered light exaggerated the colors.

When I got home, a walked up the road a bit to look at the equivalent kind of ridge. The junipers were scattered, and the just greening grass didn’t reach the tops.

Our bright greens come from newly emerged leaves. Among the earliest and most brilliant are the globe willows that can be seen across fields and arroyos.

Now the cottonwoods are beginning, but the green isn’t the same. It’s partly the difference in species, but it’s also the difference in bark. The willow trunks and branches are dark, and the cottonwoods nearly white.

I was told all that green I was seeing in California would turn golden in a few weeks, and look just like our grasslands. That part of the state had warmed earlier than usual, and there had been recent rains.

Here, it’s not just the grasses that ripen and dry. The Siberian elms, whose flowers were so chartreuse a few weeks ago, are now tanned by their seeds.

1. Rainbow over the prairie, 14 April 2016.

2. Algae in a settling pond on the north side of town, 10 October 2014.

3. Coastal hills in Sonoma County, California, 7 April 2016.

4. Grasses growing on a cone and ridges down the road, 14 April 2016.

5. Globe willow across the arroyo, taken with a telescopic focus, 14 April 2016. Badlands along route 30 in the background.

6. Cottonless cottonwood in my yard, 16 April 2016.

7. Siberian elm seeds, 14 April 2016.

8. Another picture of California, 7 April 2016.

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