Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Archive for the tag “flora”

Wildflowers — Spring 2016

Taking a break from the excavations 🙂 Here are some wildflowers I found around the yard this spring.

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This first group is Parry’s penstemons (Penstemon parryi). Every spring I see little clumps of these along the road to town, but had never caught them blooming in my yard until this year. Here’s a close-up:

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See the orange brush running up the throat of the flower? That bit glows brightly in ultraviolet light. So if you were a bee, that would look like a landing strip.

Next, I have a Desert Hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum). They grow all by themselves or in groups of up to three, between the rocks all over the scrub part of the yard.

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Doesn’t that name sound nice? Desert hyacinth. That’s the alternate name, though. Which I prefer, because the more common name is Blue Dicks. When I went out to mow down some of the bunch grass that grew so well with the rains last year, it sounded so much better in my mind to say I should “Leave the desert hyacinth growing” rather than to keep reminding myself “Don’t cut off the blue dicks”.

I haven’t been able to identify this flower at all. I’ve looked at hundreds of pictures, and I just don’t see this one in the databases. I’m sure it’s there, but my exemplar is probably some kind of mutant. The closest thing looks like a wild American carrot. Maybe.

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Many of the wildflowers bloom for only a few days or maybe a week, and if I’m not out there, I’ve missed them for the whole year. When I do get a picture of them, I look them up and write down their names and file the pictures by month, with a bit of the leaves too, so that next year I know which plants to look for and when, which makes it easier to catch them again. Here are some flowers I’ve shown before, but this time not so close up, and you can see what they look like when you’re just walking by them. So I have some of this year’s Smooth Threadleaf Ragwort (Senecio flaccidus):

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And these are the Caliche Globemallow (Sphaeralcea laxa):

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It doesn’t look like much from far away (and by “far away” I mean 5 or 6 feet) but they’re really pretty, and visible from quite a distance, since they’re such an unusual color around here.

And lastly, another Fiveneedle Pricklyleaf (Thymophylla pentachaeta), and kinda close-up because I couldn’t resist 🙂

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For fun, I’ve been kinda sorta loosely participating in a photography “class”: in the sense that some guy online has a weekly “try this technique & post your most interesting result”. The object of this particular lesson was to manipulate a picture you already have, to emphasize texture & depth. I took one of my (many) pictures of fairy duster flowers, removed the color and sharpened the contrast a bit.

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I really like it. It came out like a kind of 3D, time-compressed explosion. Or, y’know, whatever you saw… 😀

Opuntias All Look the Same

It’s not really true, but it seems true.

One of my neighbors has a small planting of various kinds of Opuntia cacti at the end of his driveway, and at some point I should go down there and take pictures to show you how much Opuntias can differ from each other, but today I’m just talking about the ones on my property. Mine are boring, and they all look the same (to my grossly uneducated eye). And there are thousands of them.

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Garden Update & Root Harvest, June 2015

So the spring garden is coming along nicely. We have new tomato plants:

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Mesquite in Recovery

OK, this is more like it!

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Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 2

Greetings from the wet and wonderful Sonoran Desert!

I mentioned that I moved to the desert because it was supposed to be dry and sunny most of the time. Clouds make me sad. I like to see that endless blue sky, day after day all spring, and the whole Milky Way at night. This year, though, not so much of that.

OK, it’s mostly sunny, most days. But we’ve been getting a shower about every two weeks — which means there are three days out of every 14 with clouds, and a half hour of light rain. Clouds! And Rain! In May! Yeesh.

As of the end of April (latest figures available), we’re six tenths of an inch above normal, making this the 36th wettest of the last 120 years! Well, yes, we measure rainfall in the hundredths of an inch here, and when the totals are so small (3.48″ average YTD), there obviously can’t be much variability. The wettest of all those years (1905) only had a bit over six inches by the end of April. Woo. Shoot, once when I lived in Florida, it rained 36 inches in a single day! Sure, it was a hurricane that day, but still. I honestly think most of my yard would wash away if it ever did that here.

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Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 1

I specifically moved to the Sonoran Desert for the weather, or at least what I imagined the weather would be: hot and dry. That’s how I like it. Other places, such as Sweden, Denmark or even Canada seem like better places to live in general, but they all look so cold and gray (in my imagination), and cold and gray sounds depressing. Besides, it’s going to become increasingly expensive to heat a house to my comfort level (say, 80°F) in any of those places, so here I am.

That said, Arizona is probably heading for a much hotter and much drier climate later in this century, and I’m supposed to be thankful for whatever rain does happen here, and rain it did this winter! I would prefer less, but then my garden likes the rain just fine. I already mentioned that we’re ahead of normal precipitation this spring, and that translates into a bumper crop of wildflowers, many of which were new to me this year.

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Midwinter Blues

I knew it would come to this, and I prepared ahead.

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These are Desert Tansyasters (Arida arizonica), and there are almost always some of these blooming around the yard somewhere. Since I get pictures of these almost every month, I hadn’t been showing them, since there was always something else to show you. January, though, is flowerless this year — dreary and cold. OK, not cold compared to other places, but enough to make me feel a bit cranky. And I so miss the sunshine.

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August Wildflowers

It’s another gray, rainy day, which gives me an excuse to wander the interwebs, checking on the names and habits of the little plants I found while wandering in the yard last month. OK, some are not so little.

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July Wildflowers

July was not a big month for flowers this year, but I suspect that’s normal since July starts with intense light and heat and then proceeds directly to lightning, rain and high winds alternating with intense light and heat. Baby plants that pop up at the first sign of moisture are regularly beaten down and/or washed away every three days or so.

Vines do a little better, because they have some other plant to hold on to. In the shelter of the mesquites grows this little gem: Slender Janusia.

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Purple Sage and Honeybees

The summer monsoon started on schedule the first week of July, and it’s been a pretty good monsoon this year. The NWS has my neighborhood marked at 4.88″ of rain over the last two months, and although it’s slowing down some, there may be a couple more storms before it’s finished.

Between showers, the sage bushes put on another good show.

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