Monday, October 03, 2016

Of Lemmings and Lummoxes

Weather: More clear skies than clouds, with bits of rain; last useful rain was 9/23.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid roses, trumpet creeper, silver lace vine, datura, morning glories, Maximilian sunflowers, zinnia, pampas grass.

Beyond the walls and fences: Bindweed, leather leaf globe mallow, áñil del muerto, native sunflowers, golden hairy, heath and purple asters.

In my yard: Large leafed soapwort, calamintha, winecup mallow, Mexican hats, chocolate flowers, coreopsis, blanket flower, French marigolds, Sensation and yellow cosmos, chrysanthemums.

Bedding plants: Wax begonias, sweet alyssum, gazania.

Inside: Zonal geraniums, moss roses.
Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, geckoes, small bees, hornets, ants, grasshoppers.

Weekly update: It’s that time again, between the first cold morning and the first hard frost, when one ponders the ways leaves respond to their imminent demise.

Some trees are dependable. As soon as they detect cold, they send signals and their leaves turn yellow. One down the road with finely cut leaves is always the first to respond.

The fruit trees are rarely so dramatic. Leaves on my peach were turning yellow and dropping almost as soon as the branches shook off the last of their fruit. An apricot down the road is showing more stress. Some branches have turned yellow, and others are green. The light color backlights others on the southeast side that had died, but weren’t visible before.

Other plants just ignore the weather, following their own internal clocks. Leaves on corn that was planted early have turned brown and their stalks have been cut. But plants seeded later are still green, and the ones I planted very late are still producing new ears though the lummoxes will never ripen.

Way too many plants just never recovered from the heat of summer and like lemmings are continuing their slow walk to oblivion. My friends tell me his tomatoes still have done nothing. My melon plants only put out some more leaves and flowers, but never grew. The one person I think had squash just tore his out when he cut his corn. As near as I could tell, they finally did start to vine, but I never saw any squashes.

Catalpas never grew comfortable. The leaves were smaller than usual so bare branches showed through. At their best, they looked like newly shorn poodles. The leaves never became fully green, but always kept a hint of yellow. Now, at the first sign of fall, that green is retreating.

Bedding plants also continue to nurse their grievances. The French marigolds died about the time some reseeds came into bloom. The snapdragons have finally started to blossom, but only one flower at a time. The moss roses only recovered when I brought them inside.

But then they rarely have a chance to thrive. Growers always put too many seeds in a cell to make single threads look like full plants. They fight one another for water, and lebensraum for their roots.

Photographs: Most taken in the area on Saturday, 1 October 2016.

1. Heavenly Blue morning glories are another seed that simply didn’t grow this year. What morning glories are blooming are mixes from reseedings. I put some seeds in when I planted the corn in a shaded area, and, perhaps because it didn’t go through the harsh transition to July as a seedling, it has started to bloom.

2. Virginia creeper is one of the most predictable plants; it always turns maroon. This one is near the village.

3. The unknown trees with finely dissected leaves down the road.

4. An apricot with patches of yellow that reveal its dead branches.

5. My experimental corn plant.

6. My cantaloupe plant plants with leaves and recent flowers, and nothing more.

7. The prematurely yellowing catalpa.

8. Moss rose plants bought early in the season that finally are blooming indoors. The number of colors indicates how many seedling fought with one another. 3 October 2016.

9. I bought some single plants a few weeks ago, mainly because I was checking out with one brick, and needed something more to make a credit card charge They cost much more per plant, and it remains to be seen if they truly are what they claim. At least they are blooming in clusters, not single strands. 3 October 2016.

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