Monday, May 30, 2016

Church Roses

Weather: Another week of feeling battened down, while the elements play out overhead. Sun, wind, low humidity and last rain 5/15. It’s been too windy to put in seeds, but some that planted themselves last year are coming up.

The cold of late spring has pleased the locusts, spirea, privet, snowballs, and peonies. Roses, which often spread their flowing over weeks, are showing everything at once.

What’s blooming in the area: Austrian copper, hybrid tea, pink and yellow roses, Dr. Huey rose rootstock, spirea, yellow potentilla, beauty bush, snowball, white (black) and purple flowered locust trees and purple locust shrub, sweet peas, silver lace vine, Dutch iris, broad leaf yucca, datura, peony, oriental poppy, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, snow-in-summer, Canadian columbine, purple salvia, Shasta daisy, yellow yarrow.

Beyond the walls and fences: Apache plume, Russian olive, tansy and tumble mustards, tufted white evening primrose, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, western stickseed, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, yellow sweet clover, green amaranth, fleabane, goat’s beard, plains paper flower, native and common dandelions, brome, June, cheat, rice, needle and purple three awn grasses.

In my yard: Woodsii and rugosa roses, skunkbush, privet, chives, vinca, Maltese cross, pinks, coral bells, golden spur columbine, baptisia, Johnson’s Blue geranium, Rose Queen salvia, catmints, chocolate flower, white yarrow.

Bedding plants: Pansies, wax begonias, moss roses.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, hummingbirds and other small birds, geckoes, cabbage butterfly, bumble bees on black locust and baptisia, hornets everywhere, ants.

Weekly update: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe has been associated with roses ever since Juan Diego asked for proof of her existence to show the archbishop in 1531. She told him to gather flowers from a barren hill in December. When he went there he found roses, which he gathered in his cloak. He took them back to the church where he discovered they had stained the fabric with her image.

The description of the roses has changed with retellings. At first they may have been some other flower that was called rose by Spaniards from the Estremadura who had a limited botanical vocabulary. Once called rose, they became Castilian roses. Now, they often are large red hybrid flowers, like the ones shown at her feet in a local mural.  However, when Pope Francis visited the shrine he took yellow ones.

Guadalupe began as an icon for natives. She did not become a symbol for Spaniards in México until 1737 after prayers to her in a great epidemic coincided with its retreat. By then, Santa Cruz was isolated from the capital and rarely had a resident priest.

It’s only recently, that her image has appeared on walls. The ones around the closed Hunter Ford dealership were painted in 2014. One person installed a tiled image in a wall in the village in May of 2015 and another added an mosaic this past winter. That one has pink and white hybrid roses at three corners, and a yellow one at the fourth. The shells are symbols of Santiago de Compostela.

The main Santa Cruz church has no roses around it. It’s grounds are a cemetery that has been graveled over. Where you see the flowers is in front of the house next door. There hybrid roses line the walk. The deep red ones are the Dr. Huey rootstock that survived with the scions failed.

There are fewer roses at the church built across the river in the early 1950s. The grounds are a brick-paved plaza with trees marking the boundary between pavers and the dirt. There’s one yellow hybrid rose on the north wall, that may have been added by a parishioner.

Most of the local Catholic churches that get a mass one weekday night a month have grounds striped to bare dirt. People living in the area of the one nearest my house have laid a paved walk and graveled the area surrounding the church. In another, the paved path is wider but the area beyond is dirt. There a few roses have been planted by each of the walls. Two hybrids, a red and a yellow, share an area on the north side.

The churches where roses are grown are not those founded by the original settlers or by those who moved west of the river after World War II. Santo Niño de Atocha is a settlement near Riverside that appeared on the first maps made in the 1930s. That church has hybrid roses along the street (north) and parking lot (west) sides.

The church with the best roses belongs to a Protestant sect on the west side of the river. They line the north side between some iris at the east end and an arborvitae at the west.

The fact most of these roses are growing of the north side is probably a consequence of eas-west orientation of the churches. Water condenses off the metal roofs and keeps the roses watered between visits by their caretakers. Spigots for hoses probably were not available until city water lines were extended. Once they survived on the north, the location took on a meaning of its own.

All these roses are recent hybrids, suggesting roses weren’t part of church landscapes until after World War II when Jackson and Perkins and others were making new varieties available and LANL wages could be spent on what had been luxuries. If the churches had had roses before, they would have been older yellow or pink varieties like those near the top that were blooming across the plaza from the Santa Cruz church this week.

Photographs: Except where noted, all photographs taken 27 May 2016.
1. Red climbing rose on south wall of the local Catholic church.
2. Pink roses at a house across the plaza from the Santa Cruz church.
3. Mural on a building that fronts part of Cook’s lumber yard.
4. Tile image of Guadalupe in the village.
5. Hybrid roses and Dr. Huey rootstock in front of house next to the Santa Cruz church.

6. Yellow hybrid rose on north wall of Sacred Heart, 20 May 2016.
7. Hybrid roses on the north wall of church in #1.
8. Hybrid roses along the north wall of Santo Niño de Atocha.
9. Hybrid roses along the north wall of a Protestant church on the west side of the river.
10. Tile image in a different wall in the village with red roses at the corners.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cemetery Iris

Weather: Sun, wind, and none of the forecast rain; last rain 5/15.

What’s blooming in the area: Austrian copper, hybrid tea, pink and yellow roses, Dr. Huey rose rootstock, spirea, snowball, white (black) and purple flowered locust trees and purple locust shrub, silver lace vine, Dutch iris, broad leaf yucca, peony, oriental poppy, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, snow-in-summer, Canadian columbine, purple salvia.

Beyond the walls and fences: Apache plume, Russian olive, tansy and tumble mustards, tufted white evening primrose, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, western stickseed, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, green amaranth, fleabane, goat’s beard, native and common dandelions, June, cheat, rice, needle and purple three awn grasses.

In my yard: Woodsii and rugosa roses, beauty bush, skunkbush, privet, chives, vinca, pinks, coral bells, golden spur columbine, Johnson’s Blue geranium, Rose Queen salvia, Shasta daisy.

Bedding plants: Nicotiana, pansies, wax begonias, moss roses, marigolds.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, geckoes, butterflies, ants.

Ground squirrel dug a hole in the center of my drive.

Rabbits have multiplied. A young one was nibbling the flax plants I just planted to replace they ones the adults destroyed last year. With two days, they ate most of the nicotiana plants.

Hummingbirds built a nest in a tree I bought to keep on the porch when it was out of the wind by the house. At first they left when I was around. The trees back in the wind, and the mother just looks at me when I try to water it. I believe they’re the small ones I saw a week ago; the male had a red band on his neck.

Weekly update: Symbolism is nice, but the most important trait for a cemetery plant is its ability to live without water or human kindness. I mentioned in a post years ago that people here used iris. This week I visited the local cemeteries to see how they were used.

Our cemeteries weren’t laid out in the neat grids one sees in those influenced by the cemetery park movement of the early nineteenth century in Anglo America. Many graves have boundaries instead. Some are iron rails, some are concrete curbs, and some are iris.

Iris often are planted inside the boundaries, sometimes near the headstone.

If they get established, they can expand to fill the space.

Iris bloom for a few weeks, and many were already gone. That doesn’t matter, because they leaves stay green most of the year.

They’re used with every kind of grave marker, and in some cases have outlasted whatever originally was erected.

And very often, they don’t survive either. But even in the worst situations, they’re resilient.

Notes: Post on use of iris in cemeteries was 20 March 2011.

Photographs: Cemetery pictures taken 20 May 2016. Identifying features have been blurred. Hummingbird nest photographed 17 May 2016.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fickle Spring Continues

Weather: Hard rain Sunday afternoon.

What’s blooming in the area: Austrian copper, pink and yellow roses, spirea, snowball, Dutch iris, peony, donkey spurge, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, Canadian columbine.

Beyond the walls and fences: Tansy and tumble mustards, tufted white evening primrose, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, western stickseed, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, green amaranth, fleabane, goat’s beard, native and common dandelions, June, cheat, rice and needle grasses, mushrooms.

In my yard: Woods and rugosa roses, beauty bush, skunkbush, chives, vinca, snow-in-summer, pinks, coral bells, golden spur columbine, Johnson’s Blue geranium.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, gecko.

Weekly update: Some years ago I had a friend who had spent a year teaching at some university in one of the prairie provinces. He couldn’t get over how many there could only talk about the weather. I made sympathetic noises. Now, after years in New Mexico, my sympathies are entirely with the Canadians.

This was the week we left spring behind. We had some rain a week ago, the morning temperatures weren’t as cold, and early summer plants started blooming. The fleabanes, whose seeds must drift in with the irrigation water, covered large areas.

Lawns were suddenly green, but they were still patchworks of color. Seeds planted to repairs holes are never the same variety, and for a week or two this time of year the history is revealed. In a bit, they’ll all be the same greens.

Even though the weather had changed, I still couldn’t put out any of the plants I’d bought. The winds came up every afternoon and sucked out whatever water I’ve managed to put down in the early morning. I felt like a six-year-old trapped in the house.

When I did get out, I saw the remains of spring. I could find only one peach on three trees.

That was one more than the sweet cherries or apricots had produced.

Of course, the cherries I don’t eat were doing fine. The sandcherries were covered with fruit that the birds or ground squirrel will take.

The choke cherry had put out small fruits that already were disappearing.

Even the sour cherry had managed to survive the bad spring. Other people tell me it’s fruit is good, but whenever I tried it, it was too bitter. The birds take them as well.

1. Spirea has had a very good year, but then it’s more of a northern plant; 14 May 2016.

2. Siberian pea pods aren’t eaten by me or the birds; 15 May 2016.

3. One lone peach, 15 May 2016.

4. Bing sweet cherry, or what they label claimed was a Big; 15 May 2016.

5. Sand cherries, 15 May 2016.

6. Choke cherries, 15 May 2016.

7. North Star, sour cherry, 15 May 2016.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Fickle Spring

Weather: High winds Friday sucked spread weed seeds, especially dandelions and tansy mustard; had many more Russian thistle carcasses to remove that had blown against the inside of the fence. Last rain was 5/1.

What’s blooming in the area: Austrian copper rose, spirea, lilac, Dutch iris, donkey spurge; roses of Sharon, forsythia, and grapes leafing.

Beyond the walls and fences: Tansy and tumble mustards, tufted white evening primrose, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, western stickseed, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, green amaranth, fleabane, native and common dandelions, June and cheat grasses; trees of heaven germinating, Virginia creeper leafing.

In my yard: Woods rose, tulips, grape hyacinth, lilies of the valley, vinca.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbits, small birds, gecko, bumble bees, ladybugs, butterfly, ants.

Weekly update: Pioneer life sounds so exciting when you’re a child and reading Laura Ingalls Wilder. When you get older and read about plagues of grasshoppers attacking Mormon crops and winds driving women insane who lived on the plains, you begin to think maybe settled life isn’t so bad after all. This year’s spring has thrown us back into an unknown environment where things look familiar but nothing can be trusted.

In the winter I cleaned dead brush from areas I’d neglected since I cut my hand three summers ago. It was too cold to run water, so I couldn’t burn. Then the winds came along and started depleting the pile. I’m still waiting for a weekend morning when it’s both warm and still enough to light a match.

This week we had several days when it was so warm it was uncomfortable to work outside. Then came two days of high winds, and then today the morning temperature was just above 34. I have plants I bought I can’t put out because nothing can be hardened enough to survive a week like the first one May.

Of course, it’s silly to buy plants until the weather settles, but nursery suppliers don’t respond to the weather. They have contracts made some time ago that dictate when they ship. So, no pansies available, but lots of azaleas. You either buy when things available and try to nurse them along, or you’re out of luck.

Monday I went out to dig holes for some shrubs. I knew I couldn’t put them in, but I also knew when the winds did stop, there would be only a few days before it got too warm to plant. I thought I could at least get some things ready.

It rained a week ago Friday and again last Sunday. When I started digging, I hit bone dry ground 3" below the surface. The shovel slid off the sides, shaving off dust, but nothing more. After half an hour, I quit. The next day I ran a sprinkler hose in the area for several hours. I went back out Thursday and the top 3" were dry, but the bottoms of the holes were still soft enough to enlarge.

My legs and wrists got tired after half an hour, and I quit. Then the winds came through Friday, sucking out the remaining water. When I went back yesterday, the holes were as dry as they’d been on Monday. At this rate, it’s going to take an hour to dig each hole, and that’s not counting the time spent running water.

I decided today would be a good day to fix some soaker hoses destroyed by the ground squirrel, because the area I needed to work wouldn’t be in the sun. Only, it was too cold to be outside early. When I finally went out, it started thundering. Then some rain fell. I retreated back into the house, and the rain stopped immediately. Finally, several hours later I ventured out to try again to get water to an area that has been dehydrated by the teasing dry spring.

While I was fixing the hose I noticed a rose had disappeared. I finally found a tiny leaf at the base of the chewed off stems. Don’t know if it was the rabbits or the ground squirrel, but I decided I had better buy some trunk protectors before I use those holes.

I know I’ve said some of these thing in earlier posts. That’ the thing about living in an unpredictable climate. The same things happen, but the only you thing you can learn from experience is to be wary. The sequence of winds and erratic temperatures is never the same.

Photographs: All picture taken yesterday, 7 May 2016.

1. The apple trees I bought died, and the suckers took over. They never bloomed or branched, so I had them cut down this past winter. Now their suckering in the area where I digging holes for their replacements.

2-4. The catalpa had a branch that hung over the well. I had it cut back, and now the hidden buds near the cut are sprouting what will be new branches.

5. I cut the winterfat down where the ground squirrel was lurking. It’s coming back.

6. Remains of a miniature rose chopped to the ground in the past week by the ground squirrel.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Globe Willows in the Spring

Weather: In Monday’s winds, the tops of the globe willow were waving like pampas grass. Then the blessed rains came, Friday and today.

What’s blooming in the area: Flowering quince, spirea, lilac, Dutch iris, moss phlox, donkey spurge. The last of the plants to emerge each year are leafing, the catalpas, black locusts, grapes, and my baptisia.

Beyond the walls and fences: Tansy and purple mustards, hoary cress, alfilerillo, western stickseed, fleabane, dandelions.

In my yard: Grape hyacinth, lilies of the valley, vinca.

Inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Rabbits, small birds, ants.

Weekly update: Globe willows do so well in the village near the river, I planted one. Then the southwestern trunks of the two in the yard of my neighbor to the north and west died. I got wary about mine.

This year something happened to the one of a neighbor a bit to the east and north. I’m not sure exactly what. It never was as symmetrical at the best, and had a great many trunks rising from the roots.

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad to have that habit. Whenever men come to trim my trees, they would always offer to cut it to proper form, but I shake my head no. With my tree, the basal branching happened when it died back to the ground. I’m still not sure if what is growing is what I bought, or some less desirable willow used as root stock. Maybe that’s what happened with my neighbor’s tree.

A few weeks ago I noticed a pile of brush in the wash that floods when water rushes down the hills. Some years ago that neighbor, or whoever lived there then, went out with a backhoe and scraped away all the vegetation. ATV riders turned it into a road. Ever since, the neighbor has been putting limbs crossways to block them, and they’ve moved them to reopen the passage.

The pile this year looked even more formidable. And well it should. It was a large trunk of that globe willow.

I gather the trunk must have broken loose in one of the rounds of high winds.

I went from being wary to worried. The last few years my tree has expanded in all directions because a leaking hose valve sent water down to the drive where it puddled. I’ve now fixed the leak, which will mean it gets less water this year. I fear something will die back.

I grew watchful. The first leaves were all at the top,

with the branches at the bottom left bare.

Oddly, the barren ones were over the gravel, where water collects. I remembered it was sun scald that killed the other neighbor’s trunks. These branches seemed too small to have that problem. I thought maybe it was because the gravel was warmer than the grass, and retained more heat on snowy days which damaged the thinner rods.

A few weeks age, after the top was fully leafed, I noticed the tree was filling the interior by producing leaves along the limbs, rather than the branches. Perhaps these were less damaged by heat reflected from the ground.

This morning I looked again. Now leaves were coming out lower to the ground, but they’re even closer to the trunk.

I suppose this all means that globe willows, or whatever it is that I have, adapted to an environment where snow covered the ground so heat wouldn’t rise and destroy as it went. This year, like most years, whatever snow we had melted quickly. Apparently warm ground isn’t as good for them as cold.

Photographs: My globe willow and that of my neighbor.
1. New leaves on mine, 27 March 2016.
2. Snow on the leaves a few days later, 1 April 2016.
3. My neighbor’s tree a few years ago, 27 November 2011.
4. My neighbor’s tree parts in the wash, 14 April 2016.
5. My neighbor’s damage trunk in the wash, 14 April 2016.
6. My tree a few years ago blowing in the wind, 21 June 2013.
7. Top leaves on my tree the same day I found my neighbor’s tree in the wash, 14 April 2016.
8. Bare branches near the base of my tree, 1 May 2016.
9. Leaves emerging close to the limbs, 20 April 2016.
10. Leaves emerging near the base of the trunks, 1 May 2016.