Saturday, November 24, 2012

Rainbowtastic Fall Colors...

Who says that fall is boring/monochromatic here in SoCal? We have a multitude of deciduous trees, both native and otherwise, that are or will be manifesting their striking, senescent fall colors just about now. And so long as you plant the right stuff, they will bloom and go to town for you in the fall season. Proof positive, check out these fall blooms happening in the garden:

11/18/12 View from the back patio. Leaves of the cottonwoods are turning yellow - Southern California's version of Aspens.

11/1/12 Blue Texas Ranger/Blue Ranger (Leucophyllum zygophyllum). Texas Rangers are tough, drought tolerant, frost tolerant denizens of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico. They have stunning bluish flowers, cupped leaves, and a smaller growing habit (around 3') than most Texas Rangers. This beauty is growing next to a 'Burgundy' Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) just off the driveway.

11/1/12 'Rio Bravo' Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum langmaniae), next to a youngish Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia), just off the driveway.

11/1/12 'Heavenly Cloud' Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum langmaniae x L. frutescens).

11/1/12 'Sierra Bouquet' Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum pruinosum). One of the most fragrant of the Texas Rangers, growing next to 'Lutsko's Pink' Manzanita and 'Tassajara Blue' Ceanothus.

10/30/12 'Green Cloud' Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens). Next to Hana's dog run.

10/27/12 Spice Islands Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis cv).

10/27/12 Argentine Hedgehog/Red Torch Cactus (Echinopsis huascha). A shrubby cactus from N. Argentina, with beautiful scarlet flowers. Bought this one from the UCR Botanic Garden's spring plant sale earlier this year. Seems to be doing ok so far in our DG. 

10/27/12 California Aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia). Native to the property.

10/30/12 Mimulus Purple Hybrid.

10/30/12 Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lemonii).

10/30/12 'Aguirre' Turpentine Brush (Ericameria laricifolia) next to a clump of Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens).

11/1/12 Baccharis 'Starn Thompson' (B. sarothroides x B. pilularis). A neat, roundy-moundy Baccharis hybrid intro (1998) from Mountain States Wholesale Nursery. 

10/27/12 Wedgeleaf Goldenbush (Ericameria cuneata).

10/27/12 Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus).

11/10/12 Pine Siskin. Lots of these guys are flocking with the Lesser goldfinches this year and feeding off of our niger seed socks. I used to confuse them with the goldfinches until I realized they were really streaky and had a raspier call.

11/10/12 Pine Siskin

11/10/12 Lesser Goldfinch

11/17/12 Female Bushtit on the San Gabriel Fremontodentron.

11/18/12 Sticky Phacelia (Phacelia viscida).

11/18/12 Beautiful fall colors along the driveway.

11/24/12 Toyon/Christmas Berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

11/24/12 Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet). About 4 years ago, Mom gave me a seedling of a Brugmansia that had sprouted from a larger plant growing next to their apartment in West Covina. I planted it next to our front entry which, with its northern exposure, is a tad shadier and cooler than the rest of the grounds. It is chock full of blooms right now, emitting a heady, heavenly fragrance in the late afternoon/early evening hours.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Prospect of El Nino. To be or not to be...

Summer flew by and now it's Fall. That was quick. Anyhoo, we're apparently under an "El Nino Watch" per the Climate Prediction Center, but we'll never know the precip outcomes until when and if the rain events actually happen. Basically, we're at the whim of mother nature. Go figure...We did not benefit much from the seasonal monsoonal thunderstorms back in August-Sept., so the landscape here is bone dry except for the areas on drip irrigation. Even some of the supposedly drought tolerant stuff (our 4-year old Shore Pine - Pinus contorta, 'Allen Chickering' and 'Deer Spring Silver' Cleveland sages, 'Vicki Romo' White Sage - 'S. apiana x S. clevelandii' and the formerly super hardy Australian Golden Wattle-Acacia latifolia) just gave up & croaked. What a bummer! Despite the parched state of affairs though, we did have a few lovely late-season blooms, fruits and berries.

8/25/12 'Aurora Gold' Sunflowers growing next to tomatoes in the veggie garden.

8/25/12 'Red Courtesan,' 'Autumn Beauty,' 'Aurora Gold,' and 'Lemon Queen' sunflowers.

8/25/12 'Red Courtesan,' 'Aurora Gold,' and 'Lemon Queen sunflowers.

9/16/12 'Tropic White' guava. These are very similar to the guavas we used to grow at home in Taiwan. Should be ready to harvest in 3-4 weeks.

9/16/12 Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora), covering part of the fence around Hana's dog run & also up around a nearby Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis). The flowers have a lovely light vanilla scent.

9/16/12 Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora).

9/16/12 Ripe berries on one of our Mexican Elderberries (Sambucus mexicana). Birds will probably get to these soon.

9/16/12 Haye's Iva, aka Poverty Weed, aka San Diego Marsh Elder (Iva hayesiana). A rather nondescript native, but makes for a nice ground cover under the sycamores.

9/16/12 Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos alba).

9/16/12 Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens). 

9/16/12 Ashyleaf Buckwheat (Eriogonum cinereum).

9/16/12 'Ghostly Red' California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum).

9/29/12 'Route 66' California Fuchsia.

9/29/12 Catalina Island California Fuchsia. A hummingbird magnet.

9/29/12 'Dana Point' California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum).

9/30/12 Broom Matchweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae).

8/26/12 San Diego Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus minutiflorus). 

In early August, I noticed these shrubs off of Clinton Keith Rd. between the Bear Creek Fire Station and entrance to La Cresta. At first I thought they were chamise or greasewood in bloom, but that didn't seem right. The white 'blooms' reminded me more of the feathery seed plumes of a Geum or Apache Plume. Besides, chamise are late spring, not summer bloomers. After checking a couple floras along with the Jepson manual, I concluded these were Cercocarpus minutiflorus, which are native to the chaparral of the S. Peninsular ranges/San Diego County. The flowers themselves are nondescript. but the white feathery seed plumes are extremely showy. I actually bought a 1-gallon plant a couple years ago from the Fall plant sale at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, but it's still on the small side and hasn't yet flowered. Otherwise, I might have recognized and ID'd these chaparral shrubs sooner.

8/26/12 San Diego Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus minutiflorus). Clinton Keith Rd., Murrieta.

9/23/12 Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) on a Sycamore tree in the orchard. 

8/27/12 Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin).

And, here are some cool moon, sunset and cloud shots from our back deck:

8/31/12 Moonset around 6:30am. This was on the eve of the Blue Moon.

9/8/12 Sunset.