a new rule, and a milkweed

I have this new rule. No gardening if the humidity goes over 15 percent. Steam baths are not for me. With all the rain, the humidity is an almost unbearable 20 percent, and so I’m staying inside.

I am a humidity wimp. Fortunately for me, as the temperature rises here, the humidity goes down. Give me a hundred degrees and five percent humidity any day of the week. I’ll be outside working.

Anyway, it gave me an excuse to race outside, cut this flower and bring it inside to photograph it. I know, it looks like something waiting for you at the bottom of a pit in a science fiction movie. It’s the flower of the showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa.

There’s some interesting information on the relationship of milkweeds to the monarch butterfly on the Monarch Watch website and photos of many (not all) of the native species. Some, like the showy milkweed, will survive on our natural precipitation, since it grows right around here. The Antelope Horn, Asclepias asperula, is one of the coolest-looking, and will accept very dry conditions (I think mine isn’t going to bloom this year; it must have its reasons), and I’m still waiting for someone to give me seed of A. pumila; I’m to lazy to drive anywhere to collect it. There are spine-tinglingly desirable dryland species for the rock garden like A. cryptoceras and A. ruthiae, but they’re as difficult to keep in the garden for any length of time as they are desirable. (I don’t want to hear from anyone who has drifts of them in their garden.)


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