Sunday, October 26, 2008

#31 Sage Brush

I could probably name two dozen "cokes" but not that many kinds of "kleenex," and the general name for this type of growth is "sage brush." Of what is technically sage brush, there's more than one kind. Probably some of what's in the picture is and some isn't. Because I'm neither a botanist nor a landscaper, "sage brush" is close enough for me.

This photo is across the valley from my house, but there are things like these within a mile of my house.

Chamisa (#30) would be lumped in the "sage brush" category by me if I didn't know it's name.

#30 Chamisa

In Española, where I grew up, this stuff was all around. Not in people's fields or yards, but in the wilder parts and the no-longer-farmed parts.

This one is growing behind the tire store behind us, on a part of their lot they've had landscaped. There's a little watering tube coming up from the ground there, so the plant is unnaturally big. It's nearly 5' tall and bigger than that around.

#29 African Violet

When I was 13 and 14, I was in a 4-H club based on botany. We did crops judging, flower arranging, and the care of houseplants. I loved the flower arranging and remembered years later how to use the wires and tape to make coursages and head wreaths and boutonnieres. We each had an African Violet to take care of, and that I didn't much like. I remember a great fear of the presence of mealy bugs, or of watering incorrectly.

Last winter, there were two African Violets in a batch of plants given to me. I didn't figure they would live, and I didn't take very special African-violet care of them. In Spring I put them out in the yard with other plants, in a shady place where they could be watered easily.

I was sometimes careful to put the water on the dirt and not the leaves, but they were outside and sometimes getting some sprinkler water and rain (not much rain this summer).

Then one day in late September there was a bloom!

It lasted several weeks.

I know the leaves look terrible. They had too much sun and too much water. (They greened up after a few weeks in the kitchen.)

So African violets aren't local, but this one came to my house and bloomed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

#28 Moonflowers

A couple of years ago I had moonflowers all up the high side of the end of our house. I think that wall is about 17' tall.

I skipped a year, from social obligations and schedules. They really are difficult to get started here.

This year there were a few, and those in a pot did better than others.

And here's a moonflower that didn't every fully open because the days are still warm but the nights are cold.

More on my moonflowers here, with photos of the HUGE seedlings (and I'll add seed pod photos there in a couple of months):

I forgot to make photos of the seed pods. I'm writing in April 2009. The few seeds I got last year didn't germinate, but I still had bought seeds, and I have seedlings started in peat pots.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

#27 Fruitless Mulberry

In our back yard there are two fruitless mulberries. When we first moved here eleven years ago, it seemed they might both die. The west tree is very near the house, and it seemed some roots were destroyed by an addition to the house, and then the others were driven and parked on when our house was used for several years as a halfway house for University of New Mexico hospital treatment facilities. Employees would park in the back up near the door, it seems.

Those rings show the early years of the tree, then the nine years it was totally unwatered, and this part of the central trunk was cut when we first moved here.

The place from which it was cut is shown (but in a current photo). That central trunk had dried up entirely.

Other branches came back, though, and it's a big tree now again. The photo below is three years old. It's doing even better now.

The leaf that appears on the main page of the Always Learning list is from that tree. It grew swirly for some reason. I thought it was pretty, and stuck it into the scanner with blue paper behind it:

Here's a 2008 Robin's nest Holly could see from her bathroom window, in the western tree:

The other tree is on the east side of the back yard, not so near the house, but the upper branches come onto the deck which is outside the library (the room above the garage). Keith put beams to catch water, and we have drained the hot tub here many times, so it continues to recover. Holly has always liked to climb it, and swing on the large, soft rope Keith put up in there years ago.

The top of that tree still has dead twigs up top, but the birds don't mind. Here are some doves Holly photographed in the eastern tree this summer:

One year all the leaves fell off that tree in a single day, from some odd cold snap, without wind. They were just on the ground in a circle. Our yard has benefitted greatly from compost made of the leaves of these trees.

And it can hold a piñata!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

#26 Storm Lily


It hasn't fully unfolded yet, and I wouldn't know what it is, except that I discovered one (from the same bulb, probably) in full bloom in my yard a few years ago and people on the internet told me what it was. "Surprise Lily" or "Storm Lily."

The last time was also September, in 2005:

I'll bring a photo of the new one when it's opened up.

I bought a dozen bulbs of that and put them in the back, but none has come up yet. Judging by this one, having come up twice in ten years, I'm not expecting them every year.

It took until Friday afternoon for it to open, and I wish I hadn't missed the half-way point. Holly took these photos and that's her hand, for scale. This one was shorter than the one in 2005, and it didn't open as quickly.

Monday, August 25, 2008

# X Stinkhorn

This one isn't getting a number. They don't "grow within walking distance," though one did come up in my yard at our old house a few miles and a couple of decades from here.

I will give you an image (not my photo), a link (which leads to another link, too), and a warning.


Those posts, as a set, are rated R,
for language, suggestive simulated nudity,
and special-effects grossness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Commentary the First

Twenty five. That's a stopping place. I do have some other photos from my first day of walking up to the big patch of goat heads. There are lots of weeds whose names I don't know.

I'm really enjoying seeing the other participants' lists and photos, and if you go to any one of them you'll probably get to others still. Some people live right next to wild-growing incredible beauty. I guess I do too, but I'm used to this stuff, and theirs seems as exotic as something from another world sometimes.

I think I can get to fifty. I will have to do some research to get to a hundred, so I'm thinking of conceding right now to the original charge (quoted at the bottom of the blogpage) that I might be one of the most people who can't name 100 plants within walking distance.

My "failure" in this area, though, reminds me of Howard Gardner's theory of intelligences. This plant naming is an intelligence called "Nature Intelligence." It's a sorting and naming intelligence, so it applies to bugs and automobiles and heraldry and Magic cards too—the ability to categorize and recognize things. When Kirby was a toddler, we could show him something we found on the floor—a piece of plastic or a knob or a game piece or a screw—and he would know what it had come off of or fallen out of or belonged to in the house. He totally has that.

This is not my talent, but I do enjoy learning about these plants, and I kinda surprised myself with the stories that come with them. I like that too, that each plant is connected to places and people, for me. To history, and geography, and particular neighbors.

In Henry V there's a speech in which he says there are things he can do, but mushy love-talk isn't one of them.
Marry, if you would put me to verses, or to dance for your
sake, Kate, why you undid me; for the one, I have neither
words nor measure, and for the other I have no strength in
measure, yet a reasonable measure in strength. If I could win a
lady at leap-frog, or by vaulting into my saddle with my armour
on my back, under the correction of bragging be it spoken, I
should quickly leap into a wife. Or if I might buffet for my
love, or bound my horse for her favours, I could lay on like a
butcher and sit like a jack-an-apes, never off. But, before God,
Kate, I cannot look greenly, nor gasp out my eloquence, nor I
have no cunning in protestation; only downright oaths, which I
never use till urg'd, nor never break for urging.

there's the rest of that scene

He's saying he's no good at poetry or music or dancing, but he's good at strength and fighting and horsemanship, and he can keep an oath, but can't speak romantically.

Had someone asked me to name 100 musical instruments, I could—and could play several of them. If someone asked me to quote from 100 movies without looking anything up, I could. Name 100 books with their authors. I could do that as fast as I could type them down, I think. "Sing 100 traditional ballads or songs." I could do that. Identify 100 traditional ballads from a snippet, heard or read. Out of all the ballads in the world I could identify 100. Out of 100 someone else chose, maybe 70.

I've been inside more than outside in my life. I used to get grief for it. "Put that book down and go outside." That probably served to keep me in more than to get me out, in the longrun. My sister said something about my late-blooming green thumb recently. I only started really caring about my yard and wild plants fairly recently.

So this blog is fun but I concede the race. I might not be posting so frequently here for a while, but I did take a bunch of photos yesterday and will get to cataloging those. And I haven't done my onions yet!

If anyone wants to share the URL of another 100 Species site that's not listed in the sidebar, please leave it and I'll add it.

#25 Day Lilies

This is a hybrid daylily called "Pardon Me." I ordered three bulbs in 2006 and now I have lots more. They're pretty happy here. I have five kinds of daylilies. These were the last blooming this year, and this photo is a week old. I have some other photos from other seasons of the others. I'll add them as I come to them, or maybe add some next summer if I don't come across any.

This video is from last year, and these are called "Fulva" daylilies:

The darker ones above are just behind and to the right of these tall orange ones.

Monday, August 18, 2008

#24 Juniper

This was here when we moved here, but it's healthier now. It's growing up around the mailbox. I don't know exactly what type of juniper this is, except it's the kind that's been planted in lots of yards in Albuquerque! (We had some at our old house.)

The lighter green at the bottom is morning glory, and you can see it climbing up toward the mail box. There's some on the other side. There's no way morning glory can hurt this big old juniper bush.

The odd-angled wood plank to the left is a bridge over a hole that fills up when it rains a lot. So usually it just looks like an oddly placed ramp, but those few times it rains hard, it's an important bridge. The house that shows is where Harry and Betty live, who have the trumpet vine in back, and who have some of our Virginia creeper on their front porch. You can see it, in the photo, looking kinda squarish in front of their door! And to the right of their house (in the photo) there's a bigger juniper that hasn't been chopped back (or not lately, anyway). To the right of that, the plum trees from #6. So... I'm hardly walking outside my yard, so far!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

#23 Mimosa

When I was little (the theme of a lot of this!) we had two mimosa trees in front of our house in Texas. When we moved to New Mexico (to Española) my mom kept trying to transplant some there but they wouldn't live. Nobody there had one.

Ninety miles south, though, in Albuquerque, they will (and do) grow.

This is a baby of our neighbor's mimosa. We had some at our old house, also offspring of our neighbor's tree there, and we moved them to the back after they came up in the front flowerbed. They're big, at our old house, and healthy. At our new house, smaller but last year and this year there were blooms.

When I was in a verdant southern state I commented on mimosa trees growing wild in low places and said I thought they were wonderful, and a local said they were trailer trash trees. Maybe where trees are plentiful, they're not in the top ten. But here where trees are rare and valuable, if one of those comes up on its own, I'm personally going to water it and try to keep it safe from foot traffic and lawn mowers!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

#22 Honeysuckle

I bought two plants at Lowe's (which is walking distance, but it still doesn't make them native) a few years ago, hoping they'll fill up this part of the fence. They've gone high but not spread out too much. It's pretty shady in this little corner of the yard. They bloom white and yellow, but not right now.

There used to be honeysuckle around the outside a round lecture room at the college of education at the University of New Mexico. in the late 60's and 70's.

Friday, August 15, 2008

#21 Mint

For this we need some html for scratch'n'sniff, and I don't think that's available yet. Just walking through it or touching it stirs up the wonderful smell, though.

There was a bunch of mint growing in front of my friend Jeff's house and they were going to move, so I dug some up. They didn't like it. It kept coming up under the border, on the lawn, because it spreads by roots. I think that's fine!

This has some of the mint from the photo above (lower right) and some vinca (#11 below, near the tree trunk):

Here are some clickable enlargeable ones. The tallest plants get to be 2 and a half feet tall or so (75 cm or a little more). The babies come right up from spreading roots, and there are some near a New Mexico quarter and a Flair pen (sorry for those without full famliarity with Flairs and quarters). Oh! And one of those, I noticed when I saw the full size image, has some dead bug parts. Grasshopper and maybe a spider? One of those with the quarter.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

#20 Bermuda Grass

This little patch of grass was dug out of the middle of some Bermuda grass. That patch grew in already and this one has about doubled. By next year it will be about nine times more than itself right now (whatever that is mathematically... it will spread out its own width in every direction, or maybe even more if it's really rainy and I remember to loosen up the soil.

Here's some that was growing between a wooden deck and the concrete step outside the back door. It was long because it had no ground to stick into and it's not in a place that gets mowed. So you can see the details.

I did pour water on it, but didn't give it time to soak before I dug it up with my fingers impatiently to bring it in and scan it. The roots are pretty strong, and it won't hurt much that I broke them off. I'll stick all this in a pan of water, and in a week or two there will be roots coming out at every joint in that grass, and I can just dig a trench with anything like a screwdriver and lay the rooty grass in there and cover it. Sometimes it dies and sometimes it lives, but when it lives it can live and spread for years.

I know that people in very wet places sometimes consider Bermuda grass an invasive weedy thing, but here where grass from seed is hard to grow and has to be watered every other day or so, grass that can thrive in the desert is pretty exciting stuff. Green is valuable here. Shade is valuable here.

When I pass through places like eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas.... I see the yards and people with ride-on mowers and my first thought is that they must be RICH to have a whole acre of lawn! Then I was told once that if they leave home for a month, their whole driveway can turn to grass. In New Mexico if you leave home for a month, your lawn will die in your absence, unless you've persuaded a house-sitter to water it at least twice a week (and more if there's new grass or it's really dry).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

#19 Chinese Elm

In the 1940's and 50's the city of Albuquerque brought a bunch of fast-growing shade trees for the city parks. Lots are still there, but the city doesn't want people planting any more. We're waiting for those to die, but they keep reproducing and they're very hard to kill. There's one between our house and Angela's (neighbor to the east), on her side of the wall, and we have some little ones on the west side of the house that come back if we forget to try to thwart them.

#18 Sunflowers

I do get to the sunflowers, but I got distracted at first.

In October 2006, Holly and I visited relatives in northern New Mexico. I took these two photos of round things in my nephew Elijah's yard:

That squirrel did not lay those eggs, y'know... And he wasn't eating them either. He was eating the grain.

And this sunflower, still on the stalk:

I told him I had photographed it, and he cut it off and gave it to us.

By the ditch, in a field belonging to one of his other-side uncles, he had planted big sunflowers on the side of the ditch, and was selling the flowers at the organic growers' market in Santa Fe. This one might have been even bigger had it been near the ditch and not in his yard!

So we brought it home and I set it out on the deck for us to look at and for birds to peck at. Later in the year I broke it up, put the seeds out for birds, and put the rest of it in the back compost.

Near the compost there grew one huge sunflower—not as big as its mama, but big. That one, I saved the seeds from. This year I planted them and the video above is one of the results. So it's the grandbaby of Elijah's giant sunflower.

Here are some others. Elijah saw them a couple of weeks ago and said they were planted too close. I'm sure he's right, but we're in the rocky sandy foothills, not in an irrigated river valley. I'm surprised they grew at all!

We also have smaller sunflowers growing, that make little black seeds. Those just came in the birdseed we buy from Costco. We planted it birdseed in three places in the yard. The bottom ones in the image above are the smaller ones. Here's the patch I tried to point out in the video up top, too. They're in the front corner of the yard where there used to be rocks and weeds, taken from the sidewalk, toward the house.