Saturday, May 9, 2009

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Salvia Cacaliifolia and Opuntia Basilaris

First blooms today on Salvia cacaliifolia and Opuntia basilaris. The Opuntia is in a pot. Another one, planted in the ground below the kitchen window, has buds, but none are close to blooming yet. The potted one gets considerably more sun.

I first saw this attractive Opuntia, or prickly pear, in the area around Boulder Dam, where California, Nevada, and Arizona come together. It was early April and many of these were in bloom on rocky, well-drained slopes along the roadsides. About a year ago, I bought two pads from a specialist cactus nursery in Arizona. They rooted easily. This is the first time either of them has bloomed. As you can see from the photograph, the one in the pot is putting out new pads as well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Books I'm Reading: The 48 Laws of Power

Just finished Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power. It's not the sort of book I would have bought off the shelf (If I were the power-hungry type, I imagine I'd be powerful by now; I lust after other things), but it was 25 cents at a San Francisco garage sale. I don't think I've ever come across anything published by Penguin that wasn't worth reading, so, I didn't think twice about buying it, despite having little idea what it was about. Any good book is a bargain at 25 cents.

I occasionally found myself laughing out loud at the sheer audacity of the things the author suggests. Basically, this is a guide to deceiving, manipulating, and taking control of friends, family, colleagues, and enemies, drawing on the lives of many illustrious powerful people through the ages for examples. I hesitate to say the book was instructive, because it is so utterly ruthless in places--in fact, so ruthless that it sometimes left me at a loss as to whether to take it seriously--but the book was, in fact, instructive, and the moral ambiguity was half the fun of reading it. In the end, I really enjoyed this. Recommended.

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Salvia Chamaedryoides and Yarrow

First blooms of 2009 today on the yellow yarrow (Achillea millefolium) called "Moonshine" and on Salvia chamaedryoides (pictured). This salvia is one of the few true blue varieties. It's a bit temperamental, but very attractive when it's happy. "Moonshine" is a stalwart: dependable and beautiful.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Sulfur Sprayed

Re-sprayed the vines today because the sulfur from the initial spraying was washed off by the recent rains. The forecast is now for clear, sunny skies for at least a week. Barring another big storm, I shouldn't have to spray again for a few weeks.

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Coreopsis (May 7, 2009)

First blooms yesterday on some of the Coreopsis varieties in the garden.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Plants I'm Growing: Yellow Rose, Other Roses, Scabiosa, Ceanothus "Skylark"

Yellow rose today, but blasted by the rain--unseen perhaps. Other roses the same. We've had more rain today. A bit melancholy, but it's a good thing. Following the two inches we got Friday through Sunday, it looks like we'll get at least another inch or so today. Very welcome indeed.

First blooms today also on the "Skylark" Ceanothus, the pink and purple Linaria purpurea, and on Scabiosa farinosa (pictured). This is an unusual Scabiosa in that it has thick, leathery leaves and it's quite drought tolerant once established. It's extremely easy to propagate from cuttings. It has a tendency to die out in the center, but if you clip away the dead leaves, the bare stems will sprout as soon as they see regular sunlight again. Forms round mounds about two feet across. 
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