Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you up to date on all the happenings around here. You may remember me from such posts as “Fencing Lessons”, among so many, many others.
Here I am in a characteristic pose.
I’m busy protecting the garden, as you can see.
Today was our first day without wind in about two weeks. The wind has been driving both of us crazy, with “fire weather” warnings every day. I guess it’s supposed to be windy again tomorrow, but maybe there will be some rain this weekend. The guy I live with just rolls his eyes when they say things like that; the weather here has changed from what it was last century, or so he says.
One thing that’s odd; the weather people have said there’s no evidence that it’s windier this year than any other. More rolling of the eyes. I think even on this blog I’ve reported the complaints of endless days of no wind, just the same air every day. And now the wind blows almost every day.
He says people should get outside more.
He was going to go up to Boulder with his friend, to Harlequin’s Gardens, his favorite nursery here, now, but he called her and canceled because he thought neither of them would have a very good time standing in freezing cold wind, looking at plants. She agreed.
On the other hand, he was kind of disappointed, because he would have driven with her in our “bossy” new car.
It tells him what to do. Like drive carefully and stuff. And the other day, when he went to the store, a car in front suddenly slowed down, and so our car slowed itself down. It has a camera in the front, as well as the rear.
Anyway, there isn’t all that much in flower, because the wind hasn’t been warm. We see ice in the birdbath every morning, and even though the plants haven’t been affected, much, some of them seem reluctant to grow more.
The fritillarias are flowering away. This is Fritillaria sewerzowii. Maybe not the greatest picture.
This is from places like Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
If you’re wondering how the guy I live with pronounces the specific epithet (not that it matters) he says “sev-ert-SOFF-ee-eye”, because it’s a German transliteration of the name Severtzov.
Some botanists place it in a separate genus, Korolkowia, which he would pronounce “kor-ol-KOFF-ee-a”.
This is probably the only instance where he would try to pronounce the botanical names like the people they were named after, because he took German in college. And because if the botanists who named them had been English speakers, instead of Baltic Germans, the names would have been spelled differently, and maybe more easily pronounced.
The fritillarias have been here for a number of years, and now they’re producing seedlings.
Behind these plants are a couple of Fritillaria eduardii. This is a fairly crummy picture.
The flowers have been slightly damaged by the freezing cold winds.
This plant is related to Fritillaria imperialis but doesn’t have the skunky smell. I know what skunks smell like, believe me.
We have a lot of imperialis in the garden, and the guy I live with says he can smell them when they’re in the ground, right before they emerge from the soil. I don’t know if that’s creepy or not, because I can smell a lot of things that humans can’t.
Like if we have a visitor, I can tell it’s them if they return two weeks later. You wouldn’t believe all the things I can smell, but maybe you wouldn’t want to know.
I can smell mice in the garden. The guy I live with, who now claims to have super hearing, can hear them rustling around, but I can hear them breathing. I tried to catch one the other day, but the guy I live with, as usual, said not to.
The native bluebells are flowering. This is Mertensia lanceolata. If you drove west a few minutes from our house, to Red Rocks Park, you could see them there, along the road up to the amphitheater.
It’s a dryland plant, and will go dormant fairly soon after flowering.
And Viburnum farreri is flowering. This normally flowers here any time from mid-December onward (the guy I live with used to make pilgrimages with his wife to Denver Botanic Gardens to see it in flower in winter there), but, obviously, it’s late.
Better late than never, I guess. It’s one of the few plants here that gets extra water in the summertime. The flowers are scented of heliotrope.
And the guy I live with loves it because he loves the writing of Reginald Farrer.
So, the other thing I have to report, is something I guess I only partly understand. I get that the guy I live with didn’t want to leave me alone on a scary windy day, because he likes me, and maybe this is similar.
I hear about the guy I live with’s wife, all the time. He sometimes cries when he thinks about her. I know they were happily married for twenty-seven years, and I guess I understand that in a relationship there has to be some give and take. He lets me do things he wouldn’t ordinarily like, because we also have a relationship.
She wanted feverfew in the garden, and Allium aflatunense, too. The feverfew is now a weed in the garden.
The allium is from Kyrgyzstan, and ordinarily the guy I live with would be very interested in something like that, similar climates and all, but in this case, well, let’s just say it’s worse than the feverfew.
I think someone has a lot of digging-up to do.
I know he does better, day to day, if he has something that needs to be done, although he constantly keeps telling me he has a hard time getting motivated to do things, but in this case, if the alliums aren’t dug up, there will be “zillions more”, so he has a lot of work ahead of him.
I plan to help in my usual way.
It turns out that even though there was a huge amount of complaining about the constant snow cover this past winter, it had an effect on the plants here, that of dramatically increasing the populations of a number of plants. Some good, some not so good. I may talk about that in another post.
But that’s all for now. I’ll leave you with a sort of atmospheric picture of me looking out into the garden. Yes, the pipe on the chiminea is leaning; it’s almost completely rusted out. You can also see that there’s now a baffle above the suet feeder, to keep the squirrel from stealing all the suet. It’s for downy woodpeckers and nuthatches; not squirrels. It’s my job to chase the squirrel away from things like this. I’m very good at it.
Until next time, then.
“sev-ert-SOFF-ee-eye” sounds like something from Foster’s Freeze. “kor-ol-KOFF-ee-a” sound like something from Starbuck’s. In school, we learned that ‘ii’ is pronounced as ‘ee-ee’ rather than ‘ee-eye’, but that sounds even sillier than Old McDonald had a farm. Nomenclature is all so weird anyway. Well, the Fritillaria are neither silly nor weird, regardless of their names.
When I considered acquisition of some sort of Allium, I wanted one that would be reliably perennial. Now that I got my first two, I find that they are a bit more than reliably perennial in other gardens, and can actually multiply somewhat readily. I doubt that they will be as prolific as yours, but will watch them nonetheless.
There are some nice native Californian alliums. Mostly small, though.
The guy I live with says that pronouncing the genitive singular ending “ii” like “ee-ee” is how Marcus Aurelius would have pronounced it, but only pronouncing the ending as though it were Latin makes no sense at all.
Botanical names, with exceptions like rosa, prunus, etc., aren’t real Latin words, and some can’t even be pronounced at all in Latin. There’s no W in Latin. And no aphthongs, so a specific epithet like “wrightii” is not only unpronouncable in Latin, it wouldn’t even have been recognized as Latin by ancient Romans.
The simplest solution, instead of trying to pronounce botanical names like Latin is to pronounce them like they were English words. (For English speakers, of course.) The Oxford English Dictionary agrees.
We learned Ceanothus and Acer with the ‘c’ pronounced as ‘s’. Although I know that they should be pronounced as ‘k’, I still pronounce them as ‘s’. It is what works for me. I know of no one who pronounces them as ‘k’.
The only native Allium here is quite weedy. However, I will likely relocate a few into my garden, just to grow as a vegetable, and for pickling. The flowers are pretty if there are only a few of them, but they get mundane in large quantities.
There are a number of alliums from California in the garden here.
The guy I live with says that everybody pronounces “acer” to rhyme with “pacer”. Because that’s right, for native English speakers.
He pronounces “ceanothus” as “see-a-NO-thus”. The correct pronunciation, for those who insist, wrongly of course, that botanical names should be pronounced like they were in the original language, is “kee-AN-o-tuss”. Nobody says that. Fortunately.
The other thing that annoys him is when people write stuff like “I planted forty Penstemon in the garden today”. When the name Penstemon is capitalized, it only refers to the genus Penstemon, so the sentence makes absolutely no sense at all. “I planted forty penstemons in the garden today” is correct.
I typically get the capitalization right, but my editors very often change it. One would think that professional editors are familiar with the rules of nomenclature. To clarify the difference between Latin and common name, I may preface something like Eucalyptus with ‘various species of’ , such as ‘various species of Eucalyptus’. For a particular species or individual tree, I write something like ‘blue gum eucalyptus’. I have written ‘Yuccas’ with capitalization, which means various species of Yucca, although that could also be incorrectly capitalized plural for a bunch of the same yucca. Recently, I wrote ‘Elm’, without an ‘s’, to mean collective species of Elm. I probably should have clarified.
The guy I live with says “Yuccas” really doesn’t mean anything, because there’s only one genus Yucca.
“I know someone who wrote a paper on Yucca”, means the genus Yucca, not plants called yucca.
There are about fifty species of Yucca. I would describe a group of more than one of these species as ‘Yuccas’, capitalized. Alternatively, I would describe a bunch of specimens of the same species as ‘yuccas’, uncapitalized. ‘Yuccas’ could be a Yucca elephantipes, a Yucca arizonica, a Yucca necopina and a Yucca rostrada. ‘yuccas’ could be five specimens of Yucca necopina (although it would be capitalized at the beginning of the sentence).
The guy I live with, who did a bit of editing in the past, would change all those upper-case Yuccas to lower-case yuccas, because “Yucca”, capitalized, only refers to the genus Yucca. The word “Yuccas”, capitalized, can’t exist in English, because there’s only one genus Yucca. The exception, of course, as you mentioned, is at the beginning of a sentence. “Yuccas are hardier, for their provenance, than agaves.”
But, “There are twenty species of yuccas in the garden here.” Note that in this sentence “yuccas” is plural because it’s used as an everyday word in the language, because it’s gardening talk.
The guy I live with once edited the title of an article, “Growing Penstemon in the garden” to English: “Growing penstemons in the garden.” There was some objection. The guy I live with said “Growing Penstemon” means “Growing the genus Penstemon” which makes less than zero sense, because a genus is a scientific concept, not something that can be grown in a garden. The plant is called a penstemon, and the plural is penstemons.
It’sthe difference between talking botanical language and everyday language.
Goodness, you have had a lot to report on today with weather, plants, pronunciation, weather, feeling miserable, lonliness, the new “Noldmobile”, chimineas, garden animals etc etc and, of course, the essential part you play in the life of the household. Twenty seven years is a long stretch of life and loss after that time is remarkably saddening. We are approaching our 43rd anniversary and have discussed how life has been – generally, very good I must say despite my regular grumbling – but also that sense of two being one and how life is unimaginable alone so I have some little grasp of those feelings. On plants – I generally avoid alliums though Mary buys a number of those big cultivars most years but they don’t spread to any extent, certainly not to the extent of being a bother. On the other hand, we did grow Viburnum farreri and, don’t tell himself, we dug it out and dumped it for it became a nuisance as it suckered around vigorously. I adored the flowers and their fragrance but it was a real bother especially when suckers came through plantings of good snowdrops – we all have our limits! On the other hand – that makes three hands, I think! – I would love to grow that mertensia! Be good, keep an eye on the squirrels, and ear to the mice and all your attention on himself!
The viburnum here doesn’t sucker, maybe because the soil is so dry.
There are a few nuisance alliums here besides aflatunense. Allium caeruleum (another one his wife wanted, and planted), A. flavum, and at least one other.
As you can imagine, the guy I live with prefers the rarer alliums, a lot of which do very well here.
While the holidays can be rough, the guy I live with says that spring is the hardest time for grief. The sense of renewal and all that. He says that the first lines of The Waste Land don’t have anything to do with weather, like people seem to think. Chess, the purebred border collie who lived here before me, talked about that in his post, “Memory And Desire”.
I find your native bluebells very interesting – we have native bluebells here in Virginia, also, but they are happiest in moist creek bank type places, very different than what yours prefer. The foliage is totally different.
I understand that almost the very first thing the guy I live with did when he and his wife moved here was to plant a whole bunch of what he calls “traditional garden plants”. Very few lived long, including Mertensia virginica. That, like most of the other plants, needed more water than he thought they would.
There are maybe a dozen species of Mertensia in the West, including a little alpine one on Pikes Peak (Mertensia alpina), but only some of them like the kind of dry conditions in the garden here.
I understand completely about the wind. It has been excessively windy this year so far. Dries everything out and is really annoying when trying to do anything outside. Also sympathize with the alliums. Mine are way too happy with beds full of grass-like seedlings through everything growing around them. Way too weedy. Mani, I have noticed your characteristic pose more often than not seems to be sleeping. What gives?
No, that’s me guarding stuff. I only pretend to be asleep. I spend a lot of time guarding things in the garden while the guy I live with works away at whatever it is he does.
The guy I live with has been sort of looking for help in the garden, and if we ever get some, the first instruction will be to dig out all the alliums we don’t want. (Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find help.)
The wind here has been awful. Not so much today, but they say another critical fire day tomorrow.
We have been very dry too but Tuesday brought a 2′ dump of snow and it is snowing heavily again today. Need the moisture but would be nice if it spaced itself out.
We can get snow at this time of year, too. Maybe not that much, though. Also in May.
The guy I live with said he would be happy if it started to snow right now, even if it spoiled some of the plants in the garden.
It has been windy here a lot. I hate the wind. Your flowers are lovely. I have not grown bluebells and I am pretty sure it is to hot for them here. I do have a couple alliums. I guess they are not happy here because I have had a couple for years. I love the huge globe type. Mine are not that type.
When the guy I live with saw the word “bluebells”, he immediately thought of the bulbs, English or Spanish bluebells. There might be some of those here, still. (They need lots of water.)
But the others, which I guess are called bluebells too (or chiming bells), that depends. Our native one goes dormant pretty quickly. There are mertensias native all over the west, though maybe not to low deserts.
The alliums that seeded all over are the globe type. There are too many of them here, specifically, Allium aflatunense. There are other globe types that exhibit more self-control.
It wasn’t windy today, which was nice.
I was terrified when I read your weather prediction for tomorrow. Maybe a little east of you but fire is so frightening. It sounds just awful.
It’s pretty scary, though the only things I know about it are when the guy I live with dragged me up the hill, February before last, when there was a fire across the highway, which I talked about in the post “Still Here”, and that we walk by the local fire station, and training center, fairly often, when we walk all the way down the canal road to the east. And that the guy I live with’s nephew is a firefighter.
We had some rain back in March, so it’s not as dry as it was, say, last autumn and winter, until the new year began.
The guy I live with said something I didn’t quite understand, that at least now we have a car that starts. When he put the new battery in the old car, it didn’t start the first time, but started the second time, so he would always be thinking about that first time, when it didn’t start. Now he doesn’t think about that at all.