Sunday, June 4, 2023

Writing History to Better See the Present

This January I published an historical novel, I Have Seen Marvels, A Journey to Paraguay 1630. As the angst and excitement fade and I move on to other projects, I am reflecting on the experience. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Plant Story - Horsetails, Equisetum species, Doing Just Fine

Horsetails are odd enough that long ago when I knew very few plant names, I saw one and asked "what is this?" The hollow jointed stems are not like much of anything else. I learned not just that it was a horsetail, but that its an ancient plant. My college textbooks spoke of fossiles from the Carboniferous, 300 million years ago, that are virtually unchanged in structure; the genus Equisetum might be the oldest surviving genus of plants on earth. There were horsetails 60 feet (18 meters) tall. Today there are still some in Mexico and Central America that grow to 20'. Wow. 

Equisetum, horsetail
Equisetum, horsetails

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Patience...and the Gardener

Patience is an important virtue for gardeners, one that is not praised enough. 

Winter ends when winter ends. The last frost is months after it is nice enough to wish to plant marigold seeds and tomatoes. I can't speed it up. Planting too early just kills the plants. So I wait. Like it or not.

garden, early spring
nice weather but plants not up much (March)

Patience would make that easier.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Plant Story-- Side-oats Grama, Bouteloua curtipendula, Attractive Native Grass

When I was first introduced to the important native prairie grasses, I knew nothing about grasses and had no eye for distinguishing characteristics. Side-oats grama was one of the first ones I could recognize. The seeds (technically single-seeded fruits, achenes) hang suspended on a 6-9-inch stalk, different from all the other common prairie grasses. Then there was the mnemonic; I always said to myself, "Them's side-oats, gra'ma." Learning Bouteloua curtipendula was less easy, but there are several important species also in Bouteloua, the word has a nice rhythm to it, and curtipendula means "short-hanging" describing the seeds.

sideoats grama, Bouteloua curtipendula
sideoats grama, Bouteloua curtipendula

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Travel Story--Rocky Mountain Hike, Early May

It was early May at 7000' elevation. We walked out on a trail in Three Sisters Park, a Jefferson County Park, in Evergreen, Colorado. The temperature was in the 50's, the sky overcast with a prediction of rain--very pleasant, actually. 

forest, Three Sisters Park, Evergreen CO
forest, Three Sisters Park, Evergreen. CO

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Beach Lettuce, Fan Flower, Beach Naupaka, Scaevola taccada, Native and Ornamental

This is the story of a successful native. Beach lettuce, fan flower, Scaevola taccada, grows on beaches across the Pacific Ocean. Called beach naupaka in Hawaii, it is one of about 600 species of plants native to Hawaii, having reached the islands, the most remote in the world, without human help. Since it is found on beaches all over the Pacific, Hawaiians call it indigenous rather than endemic. It is a conspicuous plant to beach-goers, growing abundantly just above the tide line. 

beach naupaka Scaevola taccada, Honolulu
beach naupaka Scaevola taccada, Honolulu

I want to praise it for its role as an ornamental. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Plant Story--Wild Lettuces, Lactuca species, Common and Widespread

Garden lettuce, Lactuca sativa (sunflower family Asteraceae) is just one of about 125 species in the genus. (See earlier post on garden lettuce.) Thus, there are many lettuces, most living independent of humans.
wild lettuce in a disturbed field
 wild lettuce, probably prickly lettuce, Lactuca serriola