Thursday, January 30, 2014

Signs of an Early Spring?

The weather has been unseasonably warm for most of this month, with several days of 80 or above, but we haven't seen a drop of rain in 40 days, so I've had to water more than usual for this time of year.  The warmth has tricked some of the plants into activity that doesn't usually start until mid-February, so hopefully we won't have a freeze like we did last February.  The new irises are poking their heads up and since they're a mixed bag of rhizomes I received from my friends Nina and Marie, I'll have to wait until they bloom to see what's what.  One of the grapevines has started to leaf out, as has the Babcock peach, and the potatoes I planted three weeks ago are already poking their heads up.  Once they're all up and 4"-6" tall, I'll add the next layer of soil to the bed.

First grape leaves of the year.

Babcock peach leaf bud opening.

Potato sticking it's head up.

The celery experiment is working out well and the oldest one is looking really good, while the other two are holding their own but haven't started to really show new growth yet; I have a fourth one rooting on the kitchen windowsill that should be ready to plant in a few weeks.

The oldest one has tripled in size.

I added two new beds this week, one in the front yard under the birdhouse and one in the side yard behind the new gate.  The one in the front yard required a pick axe to remove what was left of the old palm tree stump which was there when we moved in 18 years ago and had finally rotted enough in the center to make removal feasible.  I'd planted sunflowers inside the stump in the past, and now that it's gone, I have a sunflower bed that's about 4' in diameter and sown with over a dozen different varieties of sunflower.  If they all come up, it should make for an impressive display.  The other bed is a raised one that I planted three blueberry plants in that are a early harvest variety called 'Misty'.  I'll also build a bed on the other side of the gate, and it will be planted with a late harvest blueberry called 'Legacy'.  Even though it's recommended that they be planted in full sun, I decided to try a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade due to our intense summer heat.

The new sunflower bed

Blueberry 'Misty'

I sowed some seeds in one of the hanging planters on the shed and forgot what they were until yesterday, when I got the first bloom of viola 'Helen Mount', and what a sweet little flower it is!  I also noticed a skipper butterfly on the lawn yesterday and try as I might, I couldn't come up with a positive ID for it, but it's still a welcome visitor.

Who can resist that face?

The birdcage I bought at the flea market got a new coat of paint and was planted with Senecio radicans glauca, the second senecio I've bought this month, and quite different from Senecio stapeliiformis.  I also bought a Cremnosedum 'Little Gem' to fill the vintage Pacific Pottery pot I bought two weekends ago at the flea market and it's already blooming!  The male and female Euphorbia obesa 'Basketball Plant' look like they're going to bloom at the same time, so maybe I'll get some seeds this year, even if I have to try hand-pollinating.  The Pleiospilos nelii 'Split Rock' is either growing a new set of leaves, or is getting ready to bloom, or both, but either way it's encouraging to know it has adjusted to its' new home.  Lastly, the stapeliad cutting I got at the last Spring Swap finally bloomed, after teasing me for over two weeks, allowing me to identify it as Orbea variegata, formerly known as Stapelia variegata.  Whether a Stapelia or an Orbea, it's a really interesting looking flower and another bud is already forming!

Senecio radicans glauca; It has several flower buds, which should open soon.

Cremnosedum 'Little Gem'; I can't wait until it starts cascading over the sides of the pot.

Euphorbia obesa; female on left, male on right.

Pleiospilos nelii 'Split Rock'

Orbea variegata flower

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