Few plants mark the change from Summer to Autumn as well as Acer rubrum. The red color is a bit of a mystery, however. If you were to pull a green leaf, it turns yellow or brown, not red. The red color of some species of tree leaves in the Autumn is theorized to be a way for the trees to protect their leaves from sun damage as the nutrients are recovered from the leaves and moved to the roots or other parts of the tree. Small amounts of the red and orange hues are in the leaves the entire growing season, but we can't see them in the summer because they are masked by the chlorophyll. In some trees, Acer for instance, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops, which through the power of the sun and cool Autumn nights, turns red.
|Full moon, Sept. 27th|
The Tycho Crater, the large conspicuous crater in the center right of this photo, always draws my attention with it's extended rays. For lunar features, it is young. It is estimated to be only 108 million years old, evident by its highly defined rim, unlike many of the moon's other craters that have been degraded by subsequent impacts.
|Antirrhinum majus with a Tettigoniid (katydid)|
One of the most reliable and easiest plants in my garden, snapdragons grow in the most challenging of garden situations without any strife. The flowers are produced in early Spring and last until, well, now and on to the first hard frost I suppose. However they are deficient in attracting pollinators, the large flowers too difficult for most bees to open. Only once in five years have I seen a single queen bumblebee force her way in. Other times I have found bite marks towards the base of the flower, signaling nectar thievery. I am interested in acquiring different species of Antirrhinum, does anyone reading this grow other species?
Here I have found a katydid in the act of eating the flower itself. Though I have occasionally found them feeding on the nectar and/or pollen of a few flowers (Nepeta, Achillea), they are omnivorous like the earwigs, but having an overall benign presence in the garden that is likely more beneficial than harmful.
|Calendula officinalis with Bombus|
|Hylotelephium spectabile with a sweat bee (Halictus?)|
Purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, a native of the Eurasian and African continents, is a highly invasive in the Pacific Northwest (listed as a noxious weed in Washington and Oregon). They grow in wet places such as ditches, marshes, riparian habitats, and anywhere else water is plentifully available. It spreads readily by seed as well as clonally by an extensive woody root system. Besides pollinators, it does not offer food to wildlife (unlike Rubus), so large stands lack the necessary accommodations for waterfowl or other marsh dwellers.
Though the plants reproduce asexually, they have a complicated and interesting strategy for sexual reproduction. They are one of many species to exhibit sexual polymorphism. This species is tristilous, meaning there are three different types of flowers (each on separate plants) that are marked by differences in style and filament length. Two different morphs must cross pollinate to produce seeds.
A native goldenrod, there was a small group of these in the undergrowth, interwoven with other riverside herbs and shrubs. This plant is occasionally offered through specialty nurseries as a good plant for damp places, good for erosion control, and as being attractive to many pollinators including honeybees. Together with the other riparian species in flower now, I imagine this small wildflower patch (along with the invasive purple loosestrife) was alive with pollinator activity during more palatable weather.
|Aster sp. in the afternoon shade|
|Aster sp. in an elevated pot|
|Aster sp. in the morning light|
|Aster sp. in Crescent City, CA|
|Ambrosia chamissonis, natural light (slow shutter speed & a tripod)|
|Ambrosia chamissonis, flash (automatic shutter speed)|
Sometimes there is a blur that isn't visible on the camera screen. For this reason it is best to take as many photos as possible when photographing plants, especially if the location is far from home. Using different settings and experimenting with flash is also good. Avoid a "one setting for everything" approach, it will lead to disappointment. Remember that deleting a bad photo is easy if you have many other good photos to choose from, not so easy if you only have a handful of disappointing pictures.
Our second day in Crescent City we took our daughter to the beach. There was a breeze but it was warmer than predicted. She loved it! Though most of the beach time was spent literally chasing after Zia as she decided to just run in a straight line down the beach for several hundred yards (easier for little feet than for me!), I did spend a few minutes admiring the sandy flora. Cakile maritima, European searocket, is a mustard relative native to the continental European coastline, naturalized (invasive) here in the American West. It colonizes sandy beaches, in my observations growing far closer to the water than any other plant. It must have an extremely high tolerance to salt! I am curious, if anyone knows, how it became introduced to the United States? Did seed wash ashore after floating across the ocean?
|Cakile maritima with a honeybee|
|Abronia umbellata, coated in sand|
This species shares the feature of fleshy foliage with other beach dwellers like Cakile maritima and Plantago maritima, a good adaptation for a place that requires some moisture retention yet doesn't experience freezing temperatures. This species also shares the feature of resinous trichomes like those of many species, for example: Madia elegans and Nicotiana sylvestris (coming into flower in my garden as I write); the trichomes help the plants retain water by slowing or interfering with evaporation. Abronia umbellata is well equipped for resisting desiccation, but I wonder if it is deficient in it's methods of water collection by having a relatively weaker or inefficient root system as compared to the other beach flora?
|Clintonia andrewsiana seeds|
|Monardella odoratissima seedlings|
|Mixed Lavendula seedlings|
|Allium senescens ssp. montanum seedlings|
These seeds have been the source of a fair amount of amusement and education for me. They were received as Allium tanguticum, a Chinese species that is not currently in cultivation. The selection 'Summer Beauty,' most likely an A. montanum hybrid, but also sold as a selection of angulosum, tangulosum (not a real species), and lusitanicum, is no exception and is definitely not a selection of A. tanguticum. The species that is often passed on as tanguticum is actually A. senescens ssp. montanum according to the onion man Mark Mcdonough. Allium tanguticum grows from a bulb while A. senescens ssp. montanum grows from a rhizome, so the two are easily distinguished. The leaves and flowers are also a bit different, the leaves of senescens ssp. montanum being substantially wider and slightly twisted. Time will tell, but I'll trust Mark on this one and I probably have A. senescens ssp. montanum.
|Allium subhirsutum seedlings emerging|
|Second year Muscari "bulblings"|
|Rosa, a long way to go|
|Geranium sanguineum freshly opened flower|
|Geranium sanguineum aged flower|