this kind of tree is the tallest tree in our yard.(other than the locust.)
Douglas iris August 11, 2014
We have these in our parking strip!
They are very pretty when you look at them.
The superfriend: the family dog August 25, 2009
I’ve never met a person that was not obsessed with social status in one way or another; each of us is constantly checking the way that certain other
monkeys humans are reacting to the things we’ve said, ways we’ve walked, pieces of clothing we’ve sported, and so on. Oh sure, maybe you’re not concerned about what some people think of you. But there’s somebody out there who you show off for, suck up to, etc. Some pack you are always jostling for position in.
I’m not saying people are superficial — this is simply the way we’re built as social animals. It takes another social animal to give us a respite.
Notice the palpable quiet in these photos. Historically dogs have the most wonderful and amazing symbiosis with people — serving as guards, pest control, hunting companions, besides being vectors for other pests themselves — but their most amazing ability in this day and age might be not talking, not tweeting, not blogging, not judging you for much of anything other than whether you have a piece of Virginia ham in your hand. And for such a friend, yes, I do have that ham.
Summer’s monster: the cat flea August 9, 2009
Every summer the basement, where the cat spends most of her time, starts feeling funny. If I’m down there for more than a minute or two, there are odd little scratches and tingles on my legs — and then a few days later, marks on my ankles that seem to be bug bites. But I can’t see any bugs — what’s going on? The answer is always the same: it’s cat fleas like these, sucking my blood. Left undealt with, they soon grow to visible size:
This is one product of evolution I really just have no appreciation for. Leave it to Hooke to make something so annoying so beautiful. Drawings like his, and these, give me something to ponder as I vacuum, launder, and (most hopeless aspect of any flea-fighting campaign) try to catch the cat to give her a treatment.
I don’t get no respect: crabgrass August 5, 2009
You really need to give crabgrass (Digitaria sp.) some props. It comes up out of the cracks in my (permeable, pavers-in-sand) driveway in the middle of the absolutely dry Oregon summer, in the midst of a weeklong 100+F heatwave. It’s green, pliable, even moist underneath, like nothing unusual is going on.
Why not just convert the whole lawn to this and be done? Or, alternatively, convert the driveway to a giant Scrabble board.
There will be plenty of time to pull weeds while your opponent agonizes over what to do with EEQAGIE.
Hopeful stinker: flowering currant July 30, 2009
As a gardener I haven’t been too successful at growing food for humans — I might get up the energy to plant some lettuce or something, then I always forget and it bolts or dies — but I’ve got a great record at feeding insects and birds. All I need for that is some tough-ass native plants neglect just can’t kill, especially ones with flowers and fruits that come out especially early or late. Case in point: Ribes sanguineum, or red flowering currant.
It is absolutely the first sign of spring around my property, with the leaf buds sometimes starting to break in late December — adding an atmosphere of hope to a most dismal time for the weather. Then the spring brings huge collections of bright pink flowers, and those bring hummingbirds, especially Anna’s, right to my kitchen window.
Just don’t try to bring that magic inside by making cut flowers. Leave these stalks in a vase in a closed room and you’ll discover what your grandmother, in discount perfume, would have smelled like if she lived in a high school locker room for two months. The hummingbirds don’t mind, it seems, or maybe they do — those Anna’s are pretty testy.
Monster magnet: Ceanothus ‘Victoria’ July 29, 2009
In the woods of the Pacific Northwest, Ceanothus shrubs are pretty common and unassuming members of the understory, squatting resentfully beneath glamorous firs — like federal employees toiling at their desks below the shiny flagpoles of their elected bosses.
Ceanothus does grunt work, fixing nitrogen at an impressive rate. Then, one day, it gets its chance, its big break: a forest fire that wipes out most of those trees. Ceanothus burns, but it regenerates fast from roots and grows thick and tall, making those once-lovely forest stands thick and impassable with 10-foot-high tangles of evergreen leaves. They become the landscape for a while before the trees get the upper hand again.
Or at least that’s how I’ve seen it happen, in one burned area where natural regeneration was allowed to proceed.
Now in the garden, cultured varieties like ‘Victoria’ are popular, because of the spectacular purple flowers. But Ceanothus’ wild properties are still lurking there. A small bush can turn into a huge impenetrable green blob fast — which for several weeks each year will turn into a huge purple blob, especially impenetrable because it is serving as a kind of Burning Man for bees.