sunless spring

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to talk about the endless gloom of May. You may remember me from such posts as “The Terrors Of Spring”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.It’s been ultra gloomy here for some time now, and the forecast calls for yet more gloom, with some rain, I guess, and (I hope not) scary thunderstorms.
The guy I live with won’t tell me if my whole summer is going to be one day of terror after another, because he said it’s hard to tell, and, anyway, there’s no sense in getting me all depressed.

The rain has turned everything green; everything that’s not dead, anyway.
There are a lot of dead plants in the garden. Mostly woody plants; the “desert bamboo” (Fontanesia fortunei; it’s not a bamboo but related to privet) looks about half-dead. It’s been here for thirty years, but apparently this past winter was too much for it. The lilac ‘Annabel’, which would be done flowering by now, is mostly dead, too; it’s been in the garden for a very long time.
And some of the bulbs aren’t going to flower this year.

To add insult to injury, they sprayed more herbicide in the field. All along the creek. We could smell it all over our part of the neighborhood.
Maybe you can see the dying plants along the canal bank, here.
The guy I live with won’t let me go on the sprayed side of the canal road.
What I’m standing on here is really a levee. The levee did break once, like the Memphis Minnie song, when there was a big flood, and the water rushed over the levee and cut a huge gash. It sounds pretty scary. So many things are.

I can walk along the coyote path behind all the houses; they didn’t spray there. I saw a hawk a couple of days ago.
I forgot to show the picture of the time I saw a coyote, about three weeks ago, so I’m including it here, even though you can really see the difference in how much the grass (smooth brome) has grown since then.
The coyote is on the canal road, just below the last tree on the right. You probably can’t see it, but I could. If you embiggen the picture, you can probably see the coyote.

You know what else? There are “zillions” of mice in the garden. I can be lying in my kitchen fort, just looking out, the way I do, and all of a sudden a mouse will race across the flagstone, maybe getting a drink from the bird bath, then hiding under the birch tree.
Because there are so many mice, there are also a lot of snakes. I like hunting for snakes, even though the guy I live with says not to. He said if we ever have a tour again I would have to caution visitors that there are snakes everywhere. Snakes and mice.

Just the other evening, a mouse walked into the kitchen. The guy I live with shooed it out, but it probably didn’t actually go out. There’s a live trap in the kitchen, baited with peanut butter.
The instructions on the trap say to release the mouse at least two miles away. The guy I live with releases them on the patio.

Despite what the guy I live with describes as the worst winter he’s ever seen here, there are a lot of things in flower, and I’m going to show you some of them.

Phlox longifolia.

Ephedra monosperma.

I didn’t know there were such things as tuberous geraniums, but there are. They’re mostly from places like Iran. This is Geranium transversale subsp. linearilobum. (A big name for a little plant.)Speaking of things from Iran, this is Allium elburzense (we think):Then there’s the tiny allium from western North America, Allium brandegei:
This is Ornithogalum nutans, which Graham Stuart Thomas called “a study in oyster-gray and soft green”. The guy I live with likes this plant a lot, but it doesn’t seem to be all that happy here.
And Amsonia jonesii, flowering in the front yard. The clump is one-third the size it used to be, but it was run over by the backhoe when the sewer drain was replaced.
A box was delivered the other day. It had hens and chicks in it. I wondered if we really needed more hens and chicks, but the guy I live with said we did. They need almost no care at all, which is why there are a lot of them here.
I know I show hens and chicks pictures a lot, but the guy I live with said to show them again.
That’s pretty much it. I suspect that we’ll just be sitting here all next week, while it rains and thunders and stays gloomy for days on end. But at least we have bedtime, and more Q.I.
We watch that show over and over and over again. The guy I live with says there isn’t much of anything else on that isn’t gross, or dumb, and we learn stuff. I could probably be a panelist on that show; there aren’t any squirrels to distract me.

Until next time, then.

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rain, rain, rain, rain

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to talk about the weather, the nature of which you might be able to guess from the title of today’s post. You may remember me from such damp posts as “The Night Rain”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.You can’t tell how chilly it was outside today, but it was chilly. There was even a little snow, around noon. It snowed last night east of here, like in Denver, and it snowed south of here, like in Colorado Springs and elsewhere.
It’s supposed to get down to freezing tonight. The guy I live with said it might not actually freeze, though.

Whatever, huh. It’s been raining and raining. Not constantly; on and off.
One time, it rained so much that the creek almost flooded; it goes into a culvert under the canal, and then the water pours down into a little valley or something. There was a huge pile of foam there, the day it rained a lot.
Like there was soap in the water. The guy I live with said it was just from the air bubbles in the water.

I get dried off with a special towel, a really old towel that’s mostly just for drying off purebred border collies, after my walks in the rain. I didn’t like that when I was little, but now I do. It feels really pleasant.
The guy I live with said that when I get dried off, I also get checked for ticks. That’s nice, too.

In between the spells of rain, there were flowers.
This is a seedling of the tulip ‘Queen of the Night’. The large-flowered tulips are perennial here, and sometimes they cross, and produce seedlings like this one.
The guy I live with showed pictures of Fritillaria pallidiflora on Facebook, but this is a different picture.The guy I live with said it’s native to Xinjiang Province in China, and Kazakhstan, but is farmed in northeastern China, for medicine, to be used for coughs and things like that. I guess they use the bulbs.
The guy I live with had one experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine; cold pills. They worked very well, but I think they had ephedrine in them, which wasn’t great.
Oh, there was one other experience, which if you’ve been following the blog for some time, you would know. Chess, the purebred border collie who lived here before me, took some, to help with internal bleeding, just before he passed away. We don’t know if it gave him a couple of extra weeks or not.

The juno irises have had a spectacular year, and here’s a picture of the last ones to flower; two forms of Iris bucharica.
Bukhara is an ancient city, now in Uzbekistan. A lot of plants native to the “stans” do very well here. But they’re mostly very difficult to get, which is frustrating.
Those aren’t weeds in the picture (for once); they’re bulb seedlings.

This is Fritillaria obliqua, native to Greece:And Cyclamen repandum. This is native to Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, and parts of Croatia along the Adriatic Sea.
The trick here, if you want to call it that, is to plant the tubers deeply, which you don’t need to do with most other cyclamen. Hard winters can kill the leaves (if the soil freezes, the leaves lose all their water and can’t replenish because of the frozen soil), but they grow new leaves in spring.

If you think that May, here, looks gloomy, that’s because it pretty much is. Rain, sometimes snow, and hail.
And it’s not the guy I live with’s favorite month. He met his wife in May, but she died in May, and I can tell that that weighs heavily on him, at this time of year. I try to cheer him up with my general overall excellence.
It’s extremely pleasant lying in bed with him, late at night, watching Q.I., too. The guy I live with is addicted to that show; I can hear him laughing, sometimes, while I’m drifting off to sleep, surrounded by my toys.

Because it’s been so cold here, for so long, a lot of the bulbs aren’t going to flower this year. I’ll leave you with a picture of me looking at Allium nevskianum; these don’t look like they’ll flower. That’s my diagnosis, anyway.

Until next time, then.

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