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.

Monday, August 11, 2008

#17 Virginia Creeper

I like the shadow of it, too.

I didn't know what this was called, though quite a bit came up when we first moved here and started watering our yard. Then we got new neighbors. Harry is an old guy who grew up in Pinos Altos, near Silver City, and told me it was all around his house when he was little and it was Virginia Creeper. I asked if he wanted some and he said sure, yes, that would be great. His wife was less enthusaistic. But when we had some well rooted, Keith and I asked Harry where he wanted it, and we put it there, and though his wife grumped some (as she does), there's a fence kind of in front of their front porch that's all covered now in Virginia Creeper.

There are seasonal features not showing now. Blooms. Fall colors. Now, in August, it just has the green.

That biggest pile of vines is growing up on a tripod of steel conduit covered in chicken wire on two sides. It was to have been temporary. There was a tree there and in a storm it leaned over so far I was afraid it might fall on Harry's house, so I persuaded Keith to have it removed quickly so we wouldn't hurt someone or be sued for damages. But that tree had vines on it, and so we gave them a "temporary" home. There's another pipe that goes from the tripod to the nearest tree, and so I wrapped plastic netting around it loosely and it's covered over with vine now too. The temporary solution has become longterm, but that's okay.

#16 Snake Grass

This is a reed that grew wild on the sides of the irrigation ditches in Española when I was a kid. What's in my yard right now was transplanted in early Spring and hasn't taken good hold yet. It's alive, but not thriving. I put it by the catalpa tree, where water collects, and I hope next year it will come up for real. A few new shoots came up, but I'm sure it was traumatized by being moved. I tried to pull some of the dead 2007 stalks, but it disturbed roots so I'm leaving them alone now.

When it's busy and healthy, some of the stalks grow a top that looks like a rattlesnake rattle (kind of), which might be where the name came from, or not. If and when it's well hydrated and spreads a little so it's worth sacrificing some, I'll try to make a video of how you can take a section and make a noise-maker (double reed... sounds like a kazoo). Each one will only make one note. My cousin Nada and I used to find two that harmonized and blow them at the same time. One person can make a chord.

#15 Lilacs

The first photo is from mid-May. Below is what they look like this week (August).

These were from my sister, and they were very small when she gave them to us, when we moved to this house eleven years ago this fall.

We had lilacs in our yard when we were kids, too. Some people's are white, but this is the same color we had when we were little, and that my sister had when she lived in Chamita.

#14 Tulips

These came from the grocery store, which is walking distance. They bloomed when they were new last year and in their pots. I put them in the yard and they came up and bloomed again, early this spring! Hooray!

I like the way the sun came through and lit them up.

2009 update:

Five this year! Six!

2012: Eleven blooms (and one small one maybe going to open), but they're crossing paths with the ever-larger chamisa that's a few feet from them, and if the wind blows hard, it's going to beat them up. I could cut the chamisa... or move the tulips before next year, maybe. Or let them co-exist awkwardly.

There are some pink tulips next to them, also originally from the grocery store, also thriving.

2012 (the pink ones came from the grocery store, too, and are peacefully coexisting).

#13 Strawberries

My friend Laine (Viviana) moved to Arkansas (Calontir) in the winter, and Keith and Ben helped her load up. So she gave them, to give me, some pots that had been on the patio, in the yard, somewhere. Outside plants. So when Spring came and they got some water, things came up in a couple of them. Early on, this made one biggish strawberry which I ate. Then in early August it made two, and Keith and I ate them. There's one little stunty one that seems to have stalled out small.

That was a fun surprise.

When I was little, we used to find wild strawberries up in the mountains. My dad would take us camping fairly often and we'd climb around and eat the strawberries we would find, but they were like the end of your little finger (if your hand is small) and there wouldn't be more than four or five on a plant.

So this is not native, but it also came up in my yard without my expecting that it would!

strawberry blossom, March 2009:

#12 Potatoes

These grew in a flowerpot in my back yard. How's that? They're not native and local, but they're for real potatoes!

On the Radical Unschoolers Network I blogged about these the day I dug them up, which was August 2, 2008.

A couple of years ago, a potato bloomed in the compost pile:

The flowers were so beautiful I've grown others. So I don't mind if potatoes are growing eyes in my kitchen. That could mean flowers (or baby potatoes). Here are my remaining plants:

I planted sprouting potatoes in a half-filled pot so I have room to add more dirt as the season goes on. Whatever grows grows. I'm not farming potatoes, I'm just messing around.

#11 Vinca

The vinca we have blooms with little flat purple flowers, but not right now. It spreads like crazy, and is a beautiful dark green. It was all along the front of our old house. I didn't know the name of it for years; didn't even wonder. I was busy with the SCA and having babies.

The very same kind of vinca is in several spots in our current yard. We didn't bring it here. It's here and it's healthy. I chop it back so other plants have a chance too.

Here's some near Marty's bedroom window:

late March 2009:

#10 Western Catalpa

When I was a kid we had a catalpa tree in the front yard and it was beautiful. So when I was grown I wanted one. I've brought babies from the yard of a friend, and we had one at the old house, and brought two to this house (we moved here nearly eleven years ago).

The big leaf in the water is from the catalpa,and the flowers around it are vinca (#11) on the left and morning glories on the right, but I'll go around and show you the tree.

The seed pods always looked like cigars to me when I was little, and the blossoms looked like giant popcorn.

Here's the tree from below one early spring day when the leaves were still coming in:

and here are the blossoms.

#9 Morning Glories

I have had morning glories in my yard nearly every year since I was little, and usually they come from seed from the same yard. Below is one growing out onto the sidewalk. It won't last, but I am pointing to it with my shadow nose and finger:

In three places, we have compost piles enclosed by hogwire bent onto itself into a circle like a bin, a couple or three feet across, and staked to the ground. Then there's plastic net fastened with bag ties from the top edge of that up to the roof gutter in one place, and into the trees on two others. There are two great benefits: The flowers cover up the compost pile, and the presence of the flowers gets the compost watered (or watering the compost benefits the flowers). Sometimes we go a long time without rain here, and compost won't work when it's really dry, but it can seem a shame to just water the compost pile. So this creates symbiosis, and lack of guilt, and beauty. The lump on the right is the compost bin, but the plastic goes both straight up to the branch, and over to the tree, and there are flowers planted all around the tree too.

Here's the one by the back door that goes up to the gutter, and some close-ups of blossoms.

There are photos of seedlings and a video of the way they look for a wire or string or branch and then twine (not a video I made) here:

#8 Trumpet Vine

These hang over the wall from Harry and Betty's back yard, next door to us. I really like passing by them but sometimes there are bees.

#7 Century Plant

These are behind the tire store off the alley behind us. These kinds of plants send up tall shoots of white flowers, but certainly not every year, nor even every decade. In southern New Mexico where there are fields of them (or desertscapes full of them--nobody planted them there), there are always some in that state, but I might never see these two do anything. I think that's why they call them "century plants." Very slow cycle.