I've got that old Led Zeppelin song in my head - "Dancing Days are here again, as the summer evenings grow" - you know the one. I'm feeling it. We've had glorious weather, as the photo above shows. This was my Weeds class hike yesterday, and we did see a lot of terrible weeds (do you see that yellow flower on the hillside? That's French Broom - Genista monspessulana - which causes sane people to tear their hair out). I'm loving Weeds class, because we get out there and see the plants in nature. Below is a picture of a very prevalent weed here - Vetch - Vicia - which is beautiful but a bully for sure. This particular one we looked at had a couple of ants feeding on the plant's Extrafloral Nectary. Check it out.
Many plants have these; they are a way to attract insects that are not pollinating the plant, but are willing to protect the plant because it's their food source. Ants are very typical visitors at these nectaries; so are wasps. They will defend the plant against things like caterpillars, who would eat it. It's pretty neat to see in the wild.
We also saw plenty of native plants, including trilliums, by an honest-to-God rushing stream with waterfalls. Unless you live here, you can't imagine how cool that is. To have rushing streams where they are supposed to be, where they haven't been for twenty years, is totally euphoria-inducing.
I've tried, with no success, to find a nursery that sells native CA trilliums. I love everything about them, from their shape, to their mystery, to their common name (Wake-robin, if you please), to their delicate scent.
Dancing days are happening in my garden, too. This warm weather has caused all my Asian greens to bolt. Which is ok - both the bees and the chickens like them, and there's plenty of other greens for the Boegels to eat.
Speaking of chickens, I know you'd like an update on Ginny. She's alive, and she seems to be ok, but she is still limping around. I've witnessed her pooping, and she also laid a huge egg, so she's not eggbound. Her foot and leg look fine, so I think it must have something to do with her wing. Our vet, who makes housecalls, is coming tomorrow to give the cat her once-yearly exam; I'll have him look in on Ginny too.
Back to the garden... Here's a few highlights.
The tomatoes are going crazy in the 'greenhouse.' I leave the door open all day, and shut it at night, and I'm going to have to pot these suckers up again soon. I'm so glad we got this greenhouse built because plants LOVE IT.
Our Asian pear is blooming! This is exciting, as it's now in it's second year and looks like it will bear. I don't think you can beat these blooms for beauty. Those pink anthers on the stamens against the white petals? So gorgeous.
The hop vines (bines) have begun their push to the heavens. Tom will need to get some guide strings up for them this weekend - these babies want to GROW. I planted fava beans in these planters over the winter, and cut them down before they set fruit, so hopefully this soil is full of nitrogen for the hops and they will be very vigorous this year.
I just ate my first strawberry of the year! Well that's not exactly true, California strawberries have been back at Whole Foods and the Farmers Markets for a couple of weeks now, but it's especially fun to have the first one from the yard. I recently learned in my basic Landscape Hort class that strawberries aren't really berries, according to botanists. True berries have seeds on the inside, like blueberries. Strawberries have seeds on the outside - but wait - those are actually the ovaries, or achenes, or the actual fruit. The berry itself is an enlarged receptacle, the part of the plant that connects the flower to the stem. You can sort of see this in a strawberry blossom:
All those yellow dotes in the center are each a pistil attached to an ovary, which will become the black 'seeds' on the outside of the strawberry. The green round pillow in the center is the swollen receptacle, which will continue to swell and become red.
Harlequin flowers (Sparaxis) surprise me every year, with their Dr. Seuss insides. Crazy.
And the bees are very very busy, totally recuperated from their brush with concentrated thyme (although I'm going to have to apply it again this weekend), and they are often all over this Ceanothus.
I've had far too much homework to get into the hills and see the wildflowers, but I keep hearing and reading reports that they are astounding this year. Have any of you been to see them?
Rain is on tap here for next week, which is just what all these thirsty sun-drenched plants need about now, so I'm happy about that. Meanwhile, I'll be humming Dancing Days, because those long summer nights are coming. Nothing beats Led Zeppelin, of course, but I've always secretly preferred the Stone Temple Pilots version of this song, which I just happened to find on YouTube. It's especially poignant to listen to this, knowing how Scott Weiland ended up.