Monday, October 20, 2014

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness







Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

Ode to Autumn --John Keats












Linked to Harvest Monday, October 20, 2014  and Mosaic Monday.
Nota bene: We are harvesting dozens of lemons and the last of the apples this week.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Great Day







Put away the portable fans, took down a few screens, checked the pilot light on the heater ...... arranged winter squashes and oak-leaved hydrangea.




Saw a new bird species at the feeder, what I used to call the nutmeg mannikin or spice bird, officially known on eBird as the scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata). It's not just flowers that get their names changed!





Leaves from yesterday's tour of the backsides of the mountains transmontane San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains. Red leaves are mountain dogwood at Lake Arrowhead.


Today's post is more for the record than the pictures, most of which are not mine. Sources are unrestricted usage photos from the Internet.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Beautiful Weeds ... and an Early Bloomer




Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. ~A.A. Milne


These flowers are blooming in mid-October in southern California.

They have received no supplemental water and, this year, only 5.4 inches of rain since September 2013. Unseasonal heat waves with daily highs above 90 degrees Fahrenheit began in April.

All these plants have been in place for many years. Soil is clay and the roots run deep. If not pruned annually, they would take over the landscape.


This is called, ahem .... morning glory  ... by me. It just  "Grow'd like Topsy"

What's the story, morning glory?

Hey, a purple star with a luminous moon in the center, I didn't see that before

Change of color in senescence

Snippet from Wikipedia  #1: Morning glory is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae
Snippet from Wikipedia  #2: The morning glory represents "love" according to the Victorian language of flowers




Plumbago, Plumbago auriculata; see those little hooks on the calyx at the base of the tube? Never try to prune this bush with a sweater on; it will take years to remove all those sticky things! I know!

I've heard the flowers called "little bits of sky" since they match in color

Ready for pruning



Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, hardy blue-flowered leadwort, also known as plumbago; valuable in the garden for late summer flower color and autumn leaf color


Wonderful red leaves and purple stems starting now and lasting until chopped back in winter



Red trumpet vine (Distictis buccinatoria

Interesting floral structure

Climbing the Italian cypress




These flowers are a favorite with hummingbirds

Iochroma, grows about 15 feet a year



These honeysuckle flowers are a favorite with children who sup the sweet nectar

Honeysuckle draping over the dry stone wall

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so

Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
O how I love thee! How I dote on thee!

attributed to Shakespeare



More shooting stars; this time on ivy

A nice addition to winter bouquets

Ivy enringing the barky fingers of the oak

 

The early bloomer, 'Pink Perfection' Camellia japonica, somewhat smaller than usual




This is for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day October 2014 at May Dreams Gardens posted early.




Friday, October 10, 2014

Approaching Weather Changes



The Italian cypress guarding the approach to my driveway appear dark and somber

Yes?
Yes!
I can smell the ocean!
Twenty-five miles away, it is a rare and fleeting treat lasting only until the sun rises and warms the land.






The valley in fog


Howard Sheckter, the MammothWeather.com guru states:
At the same time, upper ridging will develop off shore and expand eastward into this weekend, allowing temperatures to recover a bit Saturday and Sunday as the 588DM iso-height visits California one last time?
As mentioned in past discussions….the tropical western pacific is quite active producing strong typhoons now. Typhoon Phanfone last weekend hit Japan and hits energy is now wrapped up in a deep low over the west central Pacific.  A stronger Cat 5 typhoon VongFong is currently re-curving to the NW and continues to spin up with sustained winds of 165MPH and gusts near 200MPH predicted before the end of today. VongFong is the strongest tropical storm in the world so far in 2014.  Why do the Dweebs mention these tropical storms in it discussion’s? Because in October, there is a link between tropical storms in the western pacific, their phasing with the westerlies and west coast weather.

It appears that this time, the phasing effects of VongFong will bring cooler unsettled weather to the central west coast the second half of next week with even the chance of precipitation and below normal temperatures.
Bold italics mine.


Slight changes in color of plants round the house

'Anna' apple

Cotinus coggygria, smoke bush

Cotoneaster dammeri 'Coral Beauty'


Oak-leaved hydrangea

Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia creeper; the leaflets never stay together long


Vitis californica 'Roger's Red'; "The dull green and gray leaves of this cultivar are transformed into great draperies of rich, scarlet red leaves in autumn." --San Marcos Growers


And a white-crowned sparrow, harbinger of  cooler weather






At the same time, Upper ridging will develop off shore and expand eastward into this weekend, allowing temperatures to recover a bit Saturday and Sunday as the 588DM iso-height visits California one last time?
As mentioned in past discussions….the tropical western pacific is quite active producing strong Typhoons now. Typhoon Phanfone last weekend hit Japan and hits energy is now wrapped up in a deep low over the West central pacific.  A stronger Cat 5 typhoon VongFong is currently re-curving to the NW and continues to spin up with sustained winds of 165MPH and gusts near 200MPH predicted before the end of today. VongFong is the strongest Tropical storm in the world so far in 2014.  Why do the Dweebs mention these tropical storms in it discussion’s? Because in October, there is a link between tropical storms in the western pacific, their phasing with the westerlies and west coast weather.

It appears that this time, the phasing effects of VongFong will bring cooler unsettled weather to the central west coast the second half of next week with even the chance of precipitation and below normal temperatures.
- See more at: http://mammothweather.com/2014/10/08/slow-cooling-trend-the-next-few-days-then-back-to-the-mid-to-upper-60s-this-weekend-changes-still-in-the-longer-range-next-week/#sthash.E0Gpil63.dpuf
At the same time, Upper ridging will develop off shore and expand eastward into this weekend, allowing temperatures to recover a bit Saturday and Sunday as the 588DM iso-height visits California one last time?
As mentioned in past discussions….the tropical western pacific is quite active producing strong Typhoons now. Typhoon Phanfone last weekend hit Japan and hits energy is now wrapped up in a deep low over the West central pacific.  A stronger Cat 5 typhoon VongFong is currently re-curving to the NW and continues to spin up with sustained winds of 165MPH and gusts near 200MPH predicted before the end of today. VongFong is the strongest Tropical storm in the world so far in 2014.  Why do the Dweebs mention these tropical storms in it discussion’s? Because in October, there is a link between tropical storms in the western pacific, their phasing with the westerlies and west coast weather.

It appears that this time, the phasing effects of VongFong will bring cooler unsettled weather to the central west coast the second half of next week with even the chance of precipitation and below normal temperatures.
- See more at: http://mammothweather.com/2014/10/08/slow-cooling-trend-the-next-few-days-then-back-to-the-mid-to-upper-60s-this-weekend-changes-still-in-the-longer-range-next-week/#sthash.E0Gpil63.dpuf

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Garden Visitors



Voracious turkey vultures roosting in a pine tree in friend Graham's garden, later found to be feasting on a nearby dead buck. This vulture is often seen standing in a spread-winged stance. The stance is believed to serve multiple functions: drying the wings, warming the body, and baking off bacteria. Photos by Graham Bothwell.





On the other end of the size scale, a cannibalistic caterpillar, Susan, friend Tom's wife, found this on her miniature rose bush. Photos by Tom Chester




Sparrows in my yard today; more species than ever before. I wanted to record them. All pictures in public domain from Wikipedia Commons


White-crowned sparrow: so welcome because of  its beautiful song and as a herald of cooler weather



Song sparrow: a garden first this year, cismontane California form, a beautiful bird with heavy black streaks on the chest and a strong facial pattern


Slate-colored fox sparrow, the migrant form from the Great Basin with gray head and shoulders; double-scratches like the California towhee. This photo from All About Birds.



Golden-crowned sparrow: the gold is less prominent in winter



Lincoln's sparrow: missing in action so far this year in over 15 years of observation, this little guy is usually found skulking in the bushes



And I mustn't forget the ever present California towhee with its cinnamon rump is a sparrow, too; dear to my heart because it was the first bird I learned



And the more often heard than seen rufous-sided towhee or whatever it is called now, spotted towhee



Winter project: Learn how to take bird photos. Can this be done with a point-and-shoot digital camera?