Saturday, February 21, 2009
Suddenly, after days of rain, it's warm and sunny. It seems like spring. Much has started to bloom in the past few days. Our Apricot tree on the 19th, the higan zakura cherry (for the first time ever), and one of our two Franciscan wallflower (Erysimum franciscanum) plants on the 20th.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The new Osmanthus x burkwoodii we planted last summer is now in bloom, the first flowers having opened yesterday, February 18. It's not as fragrant as its relatives, the kinmokusei (Osmanthus fragrans) and ginmokusei I know from Japan, but very pretty and has a nice scent up close (kinmokusei is partly so attractive because its perfume can be detected a remarkable distance from the plant.) In English, these appear to be called "fragrant olives," although they don't seem to be well known here. I believe they are native to the Himalayas, China, Taiwan, and Japan. Kinmokusei has orange flowers, ginmokusei white flowers. The orange variety--I believe these two plants have the same species name--is much the more fragrant. The flowers are tiny and borne all over the plant. Here in Sonoma County--nursery heaven--I've been able to find the white variety and this x burkwoodii, but I have never seen the more fragrant, orange-flowered kinmokusei in the United States. Shown in the photo is Osmanthus x burkwoodii.
I have recently been listening to music by David Hykes. I had never heard of him before, but he appears to be well known for his explorations of harmonics. This is haunting stuff. Not the sort of music that can be turned on and used as a sound track to other activities. It demands full concentration. It can be mesmerizing. In turns, it sounds like Gregorian chant, the chanting of sutras by Japanese priests, bombs whistling to the ground, musicians tuning their instruments, doppler effects on the sound of passing vehicles, or whalesong.
In some places it's reminiscent of the Tuvan throat singing I had previously been aware of, and, if I understand correctly, it uses the same phenomenon--the sounding of tones in the throat that are then modified by the singer changing the shape of his mouth and throat cavity, to produce two tones simultaneously. Very interesting. There appear to be several YouTube performances available if you are interested in getting an idea of what this music is like. The CD I've been listening to is pictured (Ocora C. 558607).
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Our double flowering plum tree (Prunus blireiana) started blooming the day before yesterday, February 15. Buds on the new apricot tree we planted last spring look set to start opening in the next day or two--probably as soon as we see the sun again. Today has been the fourth straight day of heavy rain--which is good. We have made up for some of the dryness of January, but we are still about seven inches below normal rainfall for this point in the season.