Sunday, June 19, 2016

Unintended Consequences

Weather: Very hot with very low humidity in the afternoons; last rain 6/7.

What’s blooming in the area: Catalpas, hybrid roses, Dr. Huey rose rootstock, yellow potentilla, fernbush, Spanish broom, sweet peas, Japanese honeysuckle, silver lace vine, broad leaf, weeping, Arizona and red-tipped yuccas, daylilies, lilies, red hot pokers, datura, hollyhock, pink evening primrose, larkspur, Jupiter’s beard, purple salvia, Shasta daisy, yellow yarrow.

Beyond the walls and fences: Cholla, buffalo gourd, showy milkweed, tumble mustard, tufted white evening primrose, velvetweed, scarlet bee blossom, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, bindweed, silver leaf nightshade, fern leaf and leather leaf globe mallow, gypsum phacelia, yellow purslane, yellow sweet clover, scurf peas, purple loco, alfalfa, wild licorice, fleabane, goat’s beard, plains paper flower, Hopi tea, strap leaf and golden hairy asters, native and common dandelions, brome grass.

In my yard: Dorothy Perkins, Betty Prior, rugosa and miniature roses, Maltese cross, snow-in-summer, coral bells, golden spur columbine, smooth, coral and purple beards tongues, Johnson’s Blue geranium, sea lavender, blue flax, Rose Queen, Rumanian and annual blue salvias, catmints, bachelor buttons, Ozark coneflower, Mexican hats, chocolate flower, coreopsis, blanket flower, anthemis, white yarrow.

Bedding plants: Pansies, wax begonias, snapdragons, nicotiana, moss roses, French marigolds.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds, geckoes, cabbage, sulphur, swallowtail, and black butterflies, bumble and small bees, hornets, ants, mosquitoes.

Weekly update: Nothing ever stays simple. Once inanimate things exist they take on imperatives normally reserved for mothers-in-law.

Years ago I bought some large ceramic pots, thinking I could grow warm-climate plants like bougainvilleas in them. I couldn’t, but then I had the pots, demanding to be filled, year after year. Nothing I tried made it through the summer, but they were too large and too heavy to throw out. I finally treated them as architectural elements on my back porch.

The one year I had any success was when I tried patio versions of small trees. They survived the summer, but died in the winter. I couldn’t give them water when they needed it because the clay pots would have shattered.

This year I thought, maybe if I used wooden baskets I could lift maybe I could get something to grow. So, I found the baskets and dollies, and then looking for some suitable small trees.

I was seduced by a weeping cherry. Only, I don’t think that’s what it is, despite its price tag. The labels gave no Latin name, and the grafts suggest some flexible, long-branched cherry was simply put on a tall piece of stock like a standard rose. On-line sources say that’s how Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ is marketed, but I won’t be sure until mine blooms - if it lives so long.

Meanwhile, the weather was so iffy this spring, I didn’t dare transplant it. And now I can’t because that hummingbird set up her nursery on one of the nice horizontal branches. I couldn’t even water it easily, without arousing her. I had to take the hose and aim from a distance. So much for trying to control the amount of water accumulating on my wooden porch floor.

A week or so ago, she disappeared. The day after I saw she was gone, I pushed the tree back towards the house. The winds were so high the leaves were being shredded.

Then, I noticed some beaks sticking up above the top of the nest. Once in a while, she would come back. I never actually saw her near the nest. She would just suddenly stand in the air or fly back and forth if I was on the porch.

Today was the first time I dared take pictures of the tree, and they’re from a distance. It looks like the two young are doing fine with their absentee parents.

Meanwhile, the plan to get rid of the clay behemoths is on hold. Before I can break them into pieces small enough to put into my trash, I have to remove the dirt from them. To do that, I have to transplant the cherry. And to do that, I have to wait for the birds to finally leave.

Photographs: All taken today, 19 June 2016, on my back porch.

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