Friday, July 26, 2013

More Baja Plants

I have previously written about my interest in Baja plants for the garden, but I did not cover all the species I have. So today I will describe the other Baja species in my garden, starting with Mammillaria cactus. I love all cacti but if I had to choose one genus that I love the most it would be the Mamms. Their diminutive size makes them great for either containers or any size garden. They can tuck underneath larger shrubs and be perfectly happy there. Like all cacti they are extremely heat and drought tolerant, but not very tolerant of cold or wetness. But above all, when they bloom the tiny flowers can be extravagantly beautiful. Below is one that is blooming right now, a Mammillaria blossfeldiana which is a Baja endemic found in the vicinity of Santa Rosalillita and on Cedros Island.

I took the above closeup shot early in the morning and there was still dew on the plants. This species stays very small, typically about 2 inches in height. It is reported to bloom in April and May in its native habitat, but here it is in my garden near the end of July.

Another Baja Mamm is fraileana which is found in the Cape region. It also has lovely pink flowers, but mine has not bloomed yet. It has been in this container less than a year.

Yet another Mamm in my garden is albicans which is found from Loreto to the northern Cape region, primarily along the coast. In the background is a Ferocactus viridescens which if found both north and south of the border.

Cochemiea is another genus of small cacti, and the entire genus is endemic to Baja. They used to be lumped together with Mammillaria but now they are considered distinct. Like the Mamms, they have very interesting, beautiful flowers. I have two of them and I'm anxious to see them bloom. Cochemiea halei (below) is a rare species found only on Magdalena and Santa Margarita Islands and a very few locations on the immediate coast of the adjacent peninsula. It is somewhat taller than other Cochemiea and has only straight spines.

Cochemiea poselgeri has a more sprawling habit and strongly hooked spines. It is common throughout much of Baja Sur. I have mine in a container with another Baja succulent, Euphorbia (Pedilanthus) lomelii, commonly known as Candelilla or Slipper Plant.

To finish up the cacti, I have a small specimen of Echinocereus maritimus var. maritimus which is a clumping or hedgehog cactus from the Ensenada area. It is reported to be the only species of Echinocereus in California or Baja that has yellow flowers. Although I've had mine for several years it has never bloomed. I'm hopeful that it will one of these years.

Moving away from the cacti, one of my other favorite genera is the Dudleyas in the Crassula family. I have a couple of Baja Dudleyas. First is Dudleya brittonii, endemic to the coast from the border south to the Ensenada area.

Below is a new acquisition, Dudleya Candida,closely related to brittonii but reported to be endemic to the Coronados Islands which are just south of the U.S. border. 

To wrap up the Baja natives, below is a plant that I know little about called Burroughsia fastigiata in the Verbena family. The Baja California Plant Field Guide ( Rebman and Roberts) does not mention it, but the SD Museum of Natural History web site says it is found in central Baja. So for it seems to be happy in my garden.

I am frankly more nuts about Baja plants than I am about California plants, especially the succulents. I plan to get more for planting in Fall.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Back from Vacation

I was on vacation for 3 weeks and it has taken me some time to get back into my normal routines. When I got home there was quite a bit to be done in the garden. Some plants had gone to seed and I wanted to collect the seeds for spreading around the yard, especially the Delphinium cardinale.

You can see that the Delphinium has a 3 chambered fruit. Each chamber is filled with numerous small, black seeds. It's very easy to collect the seeds by turning the fruits upside down into a cup. I'm going to hang onto these seeds until late summer or early fall, at which time I will sow them around in places where I'd like to get it established. When storing seed remember to keep them in an envelope, paper bag or some other porous container. The seed is a living organism and needs to breathe, although at a slow rate. If sealed in a plastic bag they will eventually suffocate.

My new pond got rather green while I was gone, but it also seems to have attracted a lot of insect life. This week there was a squadron of dragonflies and damselflies cruising around the pond. I could only get a picture when one of them would land.

There was also one that I believe was a female. She was more brownish-red, and she was flicking her tail in the water which I believe was egg laying. It was hard to get a picture of her, but I did manage to get one. It's pretty blurry because she was moving so fast. I expect that next year there will be baby dragonflies emerging from the pond.

Damselflies are much smaller than dragonflies and usually rest with their wings folded rather than straight out like Dragonflies. The ones around here are blue. I couldn't get a picture of any adult ones. They must reproduce very quickly because there are already damselfly naiads (nymphs) in the pond. Very cool.

That's all for today.