Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An Even More Lengthy Hiatus

My last post was in September. Since then I've been busy planting new stuff and weeding. I don't know why I didn't get around to posting anything, but now I'm going to get caught up.

I'm getting some nice seedlings coming up from some of the more established plants. Below are a small Dudleya lanceolata and a Euphorbia misera. Actually, there are a number of E. misera seedlings coming up around the mother plant. This is always gratifying to see because it means these plants are really happy where they are.

I've had a Baja Ocotillo (Fouquieria diguetii) in a container for several years. I think it has probably put roots out through the bottom of the container and into the ground, which is fine with me because it is now showing lots of new growth. It has never bloomed but I'm hopeful that it will this year. The more familiar Ocotillo species is F. splendens which is found from the California deserts to west Texas and into Baja. In fact there is a small area in Baja where both species are found together. Both share the trait of having two types of leaves. The first type forms on new stem growth and they have a very stout petiole (small stem that the leaf is directly attached to). The petiole makes these leaves look like tiny shovels. When the leaf dries and falls off, the petiole remains and becomes a woody spine.The second type of leaf then develops at the base of the spine and has no petiole. All of this can be seen in the photo below.

Another aspect of my garden (in addition to the plants) is the places I have made for pollinators and other critters. I'm glad to see that the bee nesting blocks that I made are being used. These are simply wood blocks in which I drilled a number of holes of different sizes. I attached a couple of these to my pepper tree in the front yard.

The honey bees that we are all familiar with are imports from Europe. They live in colonies and produce honey. In contrast, most native North American bees are solitary nesters and do not produce honey. You can see in the photo that some of the holes have little pieces of wood sticking out. This is the work of the native carpenter bee. The female lays eggs in holes in dead wood, either pre-drilled holes or ones she has chewed herself. She then plugs the hole with wood chips which she has chewed off. She provisions the nest with "bee bread", a mixture of flower nectar and pollen. The larvae develop in the holes until Spring, at which time they eat the "bee bread", then chew their way out and fly off to find a mate. I'm very happy to see that they are using the blocks.

Among the new plants I bought are some small Baja succulents that I put into a planter. The rear left is a F. diguetii that I bought from San Diego Botanical Gardens. They must have some seedlings coming up in their Mexican section. Mine is showing a little transplant shock but I'm confidant it will recover. The cactus on the right is Ferocactus chrysacanthus which is native to Cedros Island off the coast of Baja. In the foreground is Dudleya arizonica which I bought from Tree of Life. It is found from the California deserts into Arizona and southwards into Baja. All of these plants like rock mulch and very porous, sandy/gravelly soil, full sun and minimal water.

That's all for now.

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