Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'Allo? Aloe!

Aloe 'Buena Creek', two forms, and an unknown Aloe 'Blue something' in the frog

This morning's stroll is all about aloes, common aloes that are holding their own.

Why do some aloes like A. arborescens bloom around Christmas time and why are some blooming now in June?

I couldn't find an answer on the Internet. Most references are for how to make Aloe vera bloom indoors.

Blooming now (June bloomers)


Aloe 'Buena Creek'
I like 'Buena Creek'. I'm using it as a sort of ground cover, it is healthy; but what I like most is there is always some rosy color on the leaves. What you see pictured are siblings, one type planted a year later than the other.  One has red teeth and upright green leaves. The other older type is broader with light teeth and more reddish leaves. It is blooming today for the first time.

Aloe nobilis, gold tooth aloe
Dependable and showy when the sun hits the teeth; grows very tall inflorescences; it has recovered very well from a mite infestation of a few years ago

Aloe brevifolia, short-leaved aloe
Another first time bloomer this June, this is the last flower for this season

Winter (in the northern hemisphere) bloomers

Aloe arborescens
Above as it looks today, midsummer, and below in midwinter

Aloe 'Blue Elf'
I think it is, many nice flower stalks in January

I-can't-remember or don't-know-when  bloomers

Aloe 'Blue something'
Same as in the frog

Aloe vera
Just recently repotted, no flowers this year; they are yellow when they bloom; showing one stripey leaf like the plant below

Pretty stripey aloe, a favorite
Maybe 'Snowflake' or something close to it?  Came back from nubbins and is now doing well with more TLC; not a blurry picture, it really does look vertiginous

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Morning Stroll on June 21, the Summer Solstice, and Fog Harvesting

A foggy morning in the valley

The mountains appearing two hours later

The Morning Stroll

My usual way of celebrating the Summer Solstice is to wake up before the sun rises and then watch it flood the flanks of Mt. Baldy, 10,064 feet high, with golden light. In the evening, I watch it sink, bronzey-reddish from all the wildfires, into a small valley to the north of Mt. Lee where the Hollywood sign is.

But not this morning. As is usually the case this time of year, there was fog.

Fog Harvesting
A Moroccan inspects fog fences in a hamlet on the outskirts of the southern coastal city of Sidi Ifni, on June 7, 2015
Yesterday, I read about fog harvesting in places like us such as Chile and Morocco.

Fog harvesting is not a new technique -- it's already used to pull drinking water out of the air in at least 17 different countries. Systems generally consist of some sort of vertical mesh, a little like a large tennis net. The technique is inspired by specialized plants and insects that survive in some of the world's driest regions by drawing water from the air in this way.

In the Garden

Today I saw plants and animals collecting dew in the garden.

Texture, texture and more texture
(Nothing to do with fog harvesting, just pretties)

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Morning Stroll June 19

Thriving yellow alpine strawberry as a breakfast treat.

Many gardeners find that the best time of day is when they take their coffee and their cameras outside at day break and stroll through their gardens.

I most heartily agree.

The Essentials

I haven't yet figured out how to have a camera take a selfie. So here is a mirror image.

The Garden at Day Break
There's something about fruit trees that I love ....

Seedless ruby grapes being protected with leftover luminarias bags.
Luminarias are a southwest holiday tradition. The best are made from a brown paper bag, a votive candle and sand.

A control on ripeness to tell me when to peek into the bags

I thought this persimmon would be heavy bearing this year, but the fruit is falling off. How many fruits can you count in the  photo?

Same thing with the usually prolific Asian pear, but something is helping to knock the green fruit off.

The 'Improved Brown Turkey' fig is new.

Between the warm winter temperatures, the lack of winter rain, and the resultant hungry, thirsty urban wildlife, fresh fruit production has been highly reduced these past few seasons.

A pluot without fruit.
So I thought to get some more southerly Mediterranean or subtropical trees. Thus fig. I am also considering a shrubby Persian or Pakistani black mulberry and Hawaiian Solo papaya. What these trees have in common is that they are early bearing. At 74, I can't wait for HoneyCrisp apple to mature enough to bear fruit. My kids certainly aren't going to live here on the Eastside.

That's my early morning! Lovely day out, isn't it?

Do you take a morning stroll?

Tell us as a comment or show us on your blog what catches your eye, warms your soul, gives you mental and moral courage on your morning stroll.

Addendum: Today is Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.  -- from Wikipedia

Friday, June 12, 2015

Squirrels are the worst
Found on the Internet from, error 404 page not found (archived)

From a garden blogger's post this morning a comment and a reply:

"I didn't realize you have visiting rabbits--they're worse than raccoons, I bet (even if they are very cute)." 

"No, they are not worse than raccoons. Squirrels are, though. Grrrr." 

Too true.

I once had an almond tree when trying to grow trees from around the Mediterranean basin figuring they might be successful here in SoCal considering the climates are similar. Gorgeous in the springtime. First of all deciduous trees to bloom. Totally covered with white blossoms. Sweetly scented as well.

I am not the only one who appreciates almond blossoms, Van Gogh did, too. He writes, "The weather here is changeable, often windy with turbulent skies, but the almond trees are beginning to flower everywhere." --from Wikipedia
Flowering almonds, Tinerhir Oasis, Morocco
Almond orchard with beehives, Yolo County
Almond orchard in summer, Madera County

My sister paints them, too.

The squirrel eats them. Ate every single green almond there was. One hundred and eighty in one sitting. A munching machine if ever there was one. I never saw a ripened almond.

This went on for a couple of years then I gave up. I let a climbing rose 'Belle of Portugal', a blue plumbago and a Roger's Red grape go unpruned.

Will I get a ripe grape this year?

Red coloration in the leaves showed up very early when the weather turned cooler in May than in March

It's a banner year for grapes. Look at all those bunches. This vine is never watered.

Now I have a grape tree. But never yet have I had a ripe grape!

My neighbor's avocado tree about 8-10 years old with a deodar cedar behind it

Offset so you can see both trees, but not the base of the avocado

Omigosh! the squirrel missed one. Can you find it?

Same story for my neighbor's avocado grown from seed. All we ever find are the pits. Are the pits are too big for the squirrel's mouth?

Squirrels also destroy apricots, pomegranates and oranges. And jade trees.

From a Los Angeles Times article by Steve Lopez,  June 20, 2011:

In 1904, when soldiers from the Civil and Spanish-American wars settled into the Veterans Home in West Los Angeles, they brought Eastern fox squirrels with them as pets (or possibly as future dinners) from Kentucky and Tennessee ... The squirrels got loose ... The vets' squirrels had to eat, and that became a problem ... Eventually an overzealous hospital administrator noticed that they were being fed table scraps and, deeming this illicit provisioning a misuse of government support, turned the squirrels loose ... The squirrels have since marched north to Oxnard, south to Orange County and east to Ontario.
Link to Eastern Fox Squirrel Research Project, 2004,  with a picture and maps of historic distribution in Ventura, LA and Orange Counties