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.