Sunday, June 26, 2016
Weather: Power outage lasted more than two hours at dawn on Wednesday. The closest sign of rain was a pockmarked surface Saturday morning; last rain 6/7.
What’s blooming in the area: Desert willow, hybrid roses, yellow potentilla, fernbush, Russian sage, Spanish broom, sweet peas, trumpet creeper, Japanese honeysuckle, silver lace vine, red-tipped yuccas, daylilies, lilies, datura, hollyhock, winecup mallow, bouncing Bess, yellow yarrow. Corn plants becoming visible.
Produce stands have signs for "sweet peas." Grocery stores call them green peas. Sugar or sugar snap peas the term used for a cross between green peas and snow peas. Sweet peas generally refers used to the flowers. Right now they’re forming pods, but the seeds haven’t developed much.
Beyond the walls and fences: Tamarix, cholla, buffalo gourd, showy milkweed, tumble mustard, tufted white evening primrose, velvetweed, scarlet bee blossom, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, goat’s head, silver edge nightshade, bindweed, fern leaf and leather leaf globe mallow, yellow purslane, yellow sweet clover, scurf peas, alfalfa, Queen Anne’s lace, fleabane, goat’s beard, plains paper flower, Hopi tea, strap leaf and golden hairy asters, native dandelions, brome grass.
In my yard: Dorothy Perkins and rugosa roses, snow-in-summer, larkspur, golden spur columbine, purple beards tongues, Johnson’s Blue geranium, sea lavender, blue flax, Saint John’s wort, annual blue salvia, catmints, sidalcea, pink evening primrose, Shasta daisy, bachelor buttons, Ozark and purple coneflowers, Mexican hats, chocolate flower, coreopsis, blanket flower, anthemis, white yarrow.
Bedding plants: Wax begonias, snapdragons, nicotiana, French marigolds, gazania.
Inside: Zonal geraniums.
Animal sightings: Two rabbits, small birds, geckoes, cabbage and sulphur butterflies, dragonfly, bumble and small bees, hornets, ants, small grasshoppers; heard crickets.
All week the young hummingbirds looked like they were filling more of their nest. They tended to sit parallel to each other with their beaks in one direction and their tails in the other. Earlier the beaks had pointed upward. Yesterday, their bodies were visible, and it looked like one was standing on the edge of the nest. This morning they were gone, and I was able to get near my tree again.
Weekly update: Technology changes, then our perceptions of the world change. When I was in graduate school in the 1960s, one of our instructors was dating a scion of the Lippincotts. He told us the textbook publisher could no longer find artists with the observation skills necessary to create medical atlases. Advances in photography have since rendered such people obsolete.
The same is happening now with cartography. As more people use Google Maps’ aerial photographs, the less they are going to be able to make the abstractions required to read or draw a map.
Such unrecognized corollaries of technology no doubt contribute to people being able to deny the existence of climate change or evolution. The more time they spend in air-conditioned rooms watching televised images, the less time they spend outdoors looked at vegetables or flowers they are growing. Distance breeds ignorance.
Some years ago I planted sweet peas, those models used for simple genetics lessons. One year the wind blew their seeds north, and a new patch developed, the same color as the original. This year the progeny of that colony appeared with my roses. This time, the flowers were white, just like Mendel said would happen 25% of the time.
The single hollyhocks appear in shades ranging from pale pink to deep rose. Last summer one had a double flower. The two subspecies of Mexican hats mingle their pollen every summer to produce variants. One sees such evidence of genetic variation so often, one becomes almost immune.
This week I noticed a pink rose with the Dr. Huey root stock. I thought, now how have those wild roses spread this far. When I got down to look, its stem was attached to a Dr. Huey. I thought, so that’s what botanists mean by a sport. More evidence of what creationists deny.
Weather is harder to judge. Were this year’s early warm spring, long cool late spring, and the current spell of daily temperatures in the 90s unusual or a pattern that recurs in long cycles? Climatologists are never ready to commit themselves, but, the insects are.
Apparently the warmth awoke the aphids and locust borers early, and what followed wasn’t cold enough to kill them. They must have had a longer growing period. This week when I went out to weed, all my columbine flowers were sticky to touch, and another locust trunk crashed across my path. Fortunately, it was smaller and I was able to remove it.
I think the bees have reacted to the heat of the last two weeks by foraging earlier in the day. Usually, I’m done in the garden before they come round. This week, the small ones in the columbines defined where I could and couldn’t work. The bumble bees in those volunteer sweet peas near a path forced me to find another way to my back door.
Water must be a problem. There seem to be more hornets this summer, and they congregate around the connections of the irrigation hose that’s running. I’m less tolerant of them than the bees, but just as wary. I’ve had to wait until they moved before I could turn off valves.
The ground squirrel is testing everywhere. Last week I cleared the remains of its mounds in the columbine bed, and put down new dirt and manure to replace the clay it had dredged up. This week, there was a new hole in the bed. The deepest place was under the drip hose. This morning I found holes under a regular hose that crosses the drive. Apparently it is making explorations to see where potable water has accumulated.
The long, cool, windy spring delayed seed planting. After a week or two the weather became so hot, things stopped growing. Even though they seeds were getting the same amount of water, the moisture disappeared in areas with no shade faster than in areas with trees. Naturally, the annual seeds are the ones that are exposed.
Whether or not the climate is changing, it is impossible not to see the consequences that the smallest variations in temperature can have on plants and animals. Unless, of course, you’re avoiding the heat by staying indoors, which, come to think of it, is the only intelligent thing to do this year.
1. Sweet pea pods, 21 June 2016.
2. Hummingbirds, 25 June 2016, the day before they left the nest.
3. Second generation sweet pea flowers, 20 June 2016.
4. Third generation sweet pea flowers, 20 June 2016.
5. Pink flower on a Dr. Huey rose stem, 20 June 2016.
6. Red flower on the main plant, 20 June 2016.
7. Dominant Mexican hat subspecies.
8. Recessive Mexican hat subspecies.
9. Their progeny.