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!