Wednesday, December 17, 2014

And More Rain

The plants are REALLY responding now. The rain we have been getting is in nearly ideal amounts and interval to get everything greening up fast. Here's what's been happening in the last week.

Mystery Mushrooms

I moved some trash cans that I use for yard waste, and these things were underneath. Very interesting because the cap is asymmetrical. This area is always in shade and has a couple inches of d.g. on it. Usually only stray weeds pop up there. These mushrooms show that there is organic material in the soil that is feeding this fungus. I love these because it shows the presence of a mychorrhizal network.

Miners' Lettuce

A few years ago I sprinkled some seeds of Miners' Lettuce (Claytonia perfiolata) under the oak tree in the front yard. They germinated quickly and really liked that spot, so now they are re-seeding themselves every year. They look like a grass at this stage, but later they will develop a single round, clasping leaf that looks like a tiny water lily pad. Miners Lettuce is edible and is common in oak woodlands and other shaded places throughout the state.

Soap Plant

I have a number of corms of the geophyte Chlorogalum pomeridianum which is commonly known as Soap Plant, Amole, and a few other names. The name Soap Plant comes from the fact that native people used the corm to make a soap. They also used the fibrous outer coating of the corm as a brush or whisk broom. It isn't often grown in the garden because the flowers are really tiny and hard to see. However, I wanted some as part of my ecosystem approach to gardening. I always forget where they are until they start to come up, as below. Overall, this plant tends to hide among other plants, making itself known only to its preferred pollinators which are most likely a very tiny insect.

Silene Laciniata

Commonly known as Catchfly, this plant is the opposite of Soap plant in that it proclaims its presence in the garden or the wild with stunning red flowers. This is a flower that apparently wants to look beautiful for people. It has a lengthy bloom time, from now through April. I got two of them from the last Recon plant sale and I want more, more, more. Perfect for a border in front of more rugged chaparral plants.

Ribes Speciosum

Commonly called Fuchsia-flower gooseberry, this rather brambly vine is a great one to have if you can give it some space. It goes totally dead-looking dormant starting in late Spring, but with the first rains it starts shooting out green leaves so fast that it seems like you can watch it happening. A month from now it will be covered with red, tubular, pendant flowers that have a sort of firecracker look.

Cochemia Halei

One of the most unexpected results of this rain is that one of my Baja cacti has decided to bloom. I can't really explain what's going on here because its sisters only a foot away are not blooming. It just shows once again that plants don't tell us what they are doing or why. They just do it.

Native Plant Wreath

Anyone that knows me will testify that I am not a holiday lover. However, my wife (Sheila) likes to do Christmas decorating. This year she made a wreath for the front door from springs of plants from the garden. I must admit that it's a nice idea, even though I think wreaths are generally stupid. It smells good because it has some white sage and cleveland sage in it, so it's not all bad.

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