Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Early Signs of Spring
One of the first signs of impending spring (technically it's still considered late winter here) is the appearance of flowers on the Brittle Bush (Encelia farinosa). These are the first flowers on one of the younger volunteer plants that popped up in my garden in the past year.
In the foreground is a Yellow Emu Bush (Eremophila maculata 'Aurea') that is covered with yellow flowers. The tall bush is Tecoma Stans 'Orange Jubilee', which is surprisingly bereft of flowers. It is over 10 feet tall, so it looks more like a small multi-trunked tree. As long as we haven't had temperatures below 32°F, foliage remains and there are flowers. This bush has just a few small flowers right now, but as the weather warms, they will become plentiful.
Ferocactus cylindraceus flowers bloom in July-August and then form seed pods that dry over the course of months. In the wild, the pods will dislodge as they dry and become loose, spilling seeds on the desert floor. These are not dry as they can't be pulled from the cactus yet. Sometimes it takes six to nine months before they can be removed. At this stage, I think they are quite decorative.
Early flowers on Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) stalk, which also contains a still-green seed pod from an earlier flower. The stalks usually appear in spring and fall. This one is early, and the only one among the several Red Yuccas I have in my garden.
This tiny young hummingbird rests on the branch of a budding Chinese Elm tree. The hummer (probably Anna's Hummingbird, but when young it's more difficult to identify them for sure) had been feeding on the few open flowers on the Red Yucca shown above.
Good old reliable Desert Marigold plants decided to grow all in a row along the edge of the patio. The seeds probably washed off the patio and planted themselves here last summer. I can always count on this wildflower to add spots of color throughout my garden all year. These wildflowers can last up to a year if the conditions are right. It's fun to see where new plants pop up. They seem to situate themselves in places where they complement the surrounding plants.