DAD VISIT 9/17 – 9/27
Downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, Donna and David.
On the drive from LAX to Little Tokyo, once we got on surface streets near downtown, three things struck me: the increase in destitute people, used to be confined to cardboard night cities around the Mission on Main Street; the increase in yuppies (still a viable descriptor); the increase in trees. A limo will pull up in front of a hot shitty restaurant and You Tube stars will pile out, influencers dressed and plucked, barely stepping over the skinny old woman collapsed on the sidewalk. Tall planter boxes of Equisetum are the standard street space definitions. I lived downtown 1982-1986, in the Jewelry District at 7th & Hill. The Garment District was seven blocks West. Most of the high-rises downtown were empty above the third floor or renting to garment manufacturers, sweat shops. In 1982, I paid $200 mo. for the entire second floor of an old department store. I had to build in my own place, 2000 square feet, luckily encompassing the old men’s room. I had fourteen-foot ceilings, four toilet stalls, four urinals and four sinks, all with good pressure. For an American male, a glimpse of Paradise. Now, 600 square feet of level drywall and flat eggshell paint, some kitchen granite, and a bidet-toilet starts at $3,000 a month, before coop fees. So much money is pouring downtown, so many more people are slumping on the streets. But plants are everywhere, there has been plenty of funding for greenery. Used to be only Spring Street had trees.
Donna walked me over to Olvera Street, where “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles” germinated, just across from Union Station. Had coffee and guacamole for breakfast, fed chips to the same bold sparrows. Caught the Pacific Surfliner south at noon.
Dad’s roses, mostly Tea, all unknown to me.
Growing Tea roses against a wall in any climate is said to encourage black spot. These poodle roses must have good wind.
Enough for now. Part 2 in a few days.
A final note about Ambrosia trifida: It blooms at the same time as Goldenrod, Solidago sp., and because the Goldenrod is showier, it is falsely accused as the allergen. Ragweed makes you sneeze, Goldenrod feeds the bees.
For the third year in a row, Spring is getting shorter, June and July are much hotter, August wetter. Bitter cold last Winter but only three inches of snow. More bugs, more rabbits, busier voles, and poison ivy everywhere, even in gravel. Lantana over-wintering at minus 15.
We’re all talking about the heat. Unprecedented fire and drought all over the world. We all can’t afford my spending as much water next year as I did in 2018. On July 30, my accounting confirmed that my vegetable garden expenses exceeded the cost of buying the same produce from the farmers market. That’s a moot argument: it isn’t the gardening game and there aren’t enough small farms. We have to become sincere phenologists, we have to think ahead. I’m planting Forestiera, Opuntia and Portulaca for 2019, and reading up on swales and dry farming.
He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise. – Paul Klee
Archaeologists discover bread that predates agriculture by 4,000 years
The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period.
Mouse Melon or Mexican Sour Cucumber, Melothria scabra
The white, crisp interior flesh has a crunchy texture. The flavor is generally described as cucumber-like with a hint of sourness.
Master Gardener Program, University of Wisconsin Extension
I was introduced to the concept of toxic nectar thanks to a species of shrub quite familiar to anyone who has spent time in the Appalachian Mountains. Locals will tell you to never place honeybee hives near a patch of rosebay (Rhododendron maximum) for fear of so-called “mad honey.”
In Defense of Plants
Jamaican Ackee, Blighia sapida
Consumers of the unripe fruit sometimes suffer from ‘Jamaican vomiting sickness syndrome’ (JVS) allegedly caused by the unusual amino acid components, hypoglycin A and B.
Department of Chemistry, UWI, Mona, Jamaica
The case of the spiny eggplants
My first experience with this botanical genre came early in my gardening career. I had just taken up seed-starting, and had yet to discover the wonderful world of online seed trading. …Among the many curiosities I ordered were balsam pears, hairy-leaved chiles, and bundleflowers, some of which still inhabit our garden. But the one I remember best was Solanum atropurpureum, whose description included a quote from a botanist proclaiming the majesty of this ferocious plant, ending in, “I call it ‘Malevolence’.”
Olive trees (Olea europaea) have long represented wealth, abundance, power and peace. The olive has been a symbol of the Mediterranean since time immemorial and has a reputation for long life, nourishment and its ability to thrive in tough conditions.
As with many underutilized fruit crops, relatively little breeding work has been done with American Elder. There are few named cultivars, and those that exist are not genetically diverse. But this may change through a concerted breeding effort at the University of Missouri.
Okra, or “Gumbo,” from Africa
One of the earliest accounts of okra is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216. He described the plant in detail, as cultivated by the Egyptians, and stated that the pods when young and tender were eaten with meal. (Southerners in our own country know how to cook it with corn meal — slice the pods, dip the pieces in meal, and fry them.)
A Bloom Day Walk About
I have a lot of ground to edit when the entire three plus acres of wild cultivated gardens are taken into account. So it’s ok with me that the leeks went wild in the roadside vegetable garden.
Perennials Proliferate in Three Year Old Garden
Summer is generally not considered a time to work on garden planning, but it is in summer that many of the problems of our plant arrangements reveal themselves with painful clarity.
Sound waves reveal diamond cache deep in Earth’s interior
There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earth’s interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities.
Astronomers discover 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter – one on collision course with the others.
Astronomers describe the twelfth new Jovian moon as an “oddball”.
Botany, the science of the vegetable kingdom, is one of the most attractive, most useful, and most extensive departments of human knowledge. It is, above every other, the science of beauty. – Sir Joseph Paxton
“No occupation is so delightful to me than the culture of the Earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” – Thomas Jefferson
Thunder woke me at 3AM, June 4. Opened the front door to strobe lightning and fierce winds, another Kansas storm. Went back to bed. For eight years I’ve been eyeing the massive branch of the 60-foot hackberry, Celtis occidentalis, overhanging my bedroom. Four years ago, the tree started to rot. At 5:30AM, I woke again to that “train sound,” a sustained gust of wind, then loud cracking noises. I went on the front porch again, the lightning revealed a significant event, but the storm forced me to retreat indoors. Made coffee. At 6:30, I took the photo above. No damage to the house. The forked branch on the left even managed to straddle the lamppost and the flowering spikes of the Yucca (first storm photo).
Notes on Rabbits
– Rabbits, hares and pikas are in the Order Lagomorpha, more closely related to elephants than rodents.
– A female rabbit is a doe, a male is a buck, babies are kits. The word “bunnies” refers to rabbits in general, not just kits.
– Most active feeding at dawn and dusk.
– Does are able to breed at four months of age. 30-day gestation period, four to 12 kits per litter. A single doe can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in one year.
– Kits can care for themselves after five weeks, only 15% surviving to their first year.
– Average lifespan of eight years.
– Rabbits do not hibernate, eating bark, roots and buds in Winter.
While I have the space for long sentences, I prefer to use color as punctuation. Garden mavens generally disapprove of “dot planting,” single plants sprinkled around, but it depends on the plant and the bloom display. Color isn’t the only consideration: foliage size and texture also come into play. A single Castor Bean is an exclamation point; a green Hosta, a comma; a fresh lily flower, full stop. Above all, my garden is my creation, my gathering of friends. I favor a Pointillistic manner, welcoming many and sundry to good relation.
I’m too old to be a plant snob anymore. A “right” plant is happy and long-lived in it’s place. I care less and less about the Color Wheel, a human notion rejected by Nature. Those who preach that orange with pink is heresy have never seen miles of California poppies cozying with pink Gilia. Those who say orange is vulgar in the garden are rejecting genuine thrills.
I wonder if humans are a failed species.
My favorite gardens are mostly green, truly peaceful.