Monday, September 15, 2014

thunderstorm101° with 42% humidity.  Best of both worlds.  (Baked and boiled.)  Hope we get that storm tonight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It rained here very early Tuesday morning, then most of last night, but no dramatic thunder and lightening.  At 2pm today, it’s 81° with 68% humidity.  The city is preparing for worse:

Historic flood potential for portions of southern Arizona
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for all of southern Arizona, expiring late Thursday afternoon.
Remnants from Tropical Storm Odile are poised to enter southern Arizona over the next 72 hours.1

tucson weather


As part of my personal study of Landscape Architecture, my two recent books have been Landscape Plants for Dry Regions by Warren Jones and Charles Sacamano (Each plant contains Specifications – “cold hardiness,” “landscape value,” “cultural requirements,” “possible problems,” and a short description of potential size, growth habits, etc.), and Landscape Plants for Western Regions by Bob Perry (with 1100 color illustrations of plants for landscape use in the Western United States), which is especially good for California and the backyard of a friend there for which I am developing a landscape plan.

sacamanoBoth have color photos of all of the plants they list, which my old Sunset Western Garden Book did not.  Probably books that one should own, rather than getting them from the library for thee weeks and trying to commit each  genus to memory.   Oh, and I found an interesting article on Sacamano from the 80’s2: with this cute photo.

BTW – had an interview with Master Gardeners Monday morning to see if they will allow me into their program, classes for which start in January.  Will get a letter within the month.

Pima County Master Gardeners are university-trained volunteers who serve as community educators. They work with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension to provide researched-based information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping to the public.

Services to County residents include:

  • Free Plant Clinics to answer plant and gardening questions by phone, walk-in or online
  • Presentations and Classes on gardening and landscaping
  • Information Booths at various farmers markets and libraries
  • Bi-Annual Plant Sales – next one is Saturday, October 11th 8am-11am
  • Public Demonstration Gardens – offering free tours led by Master Gardeners
  • Technical Assistance to educational organizations and institutions

There are currently approximately 150 active Master Gardener Volunteers here in Pima County.

One of the many functions of Pima County Master Gardener Volunteers is to staff the Plant Clinic. They answer landscape and gardening questions over the phone or examine plant samples brought into the clinics.

Persons qualify to become Master Gardener Volunteers by completing a 50 hour training course and giving 50 hours of service to one or more of the approved Master Gardener Projects. Classes are conducted in Tucson. Following the course, graduates enter an intern period for up to one year during which the initial 50 hours volunteer service is given. When the internship has been completed the intern receives full Master Gardener Volunteer status.

To maintain Master Gardener Volunteer status, a volunteer must participate in 50 hours of service activities and complete 10 hours of continuing training annually.

Back to books.  A friend of mine has lent me a few.  Just finished The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, which has four chapters: The Apple, The Tulip, Marijuana, and The Potato.  This book was a lot of fun.

johnny appleseedFirst, found out that the American fruit (as American as apple pie) originated in China.  Then found out that Johnny Appleseed has been Disneyfied.  Because the apple seeds he planted across the US produced barely edible apples, most people made hard apple cider from them.  So he was distributing alcohol across the country.  He did wear a tin pot on his head, and went barefoot twelve months of the year (in the snow!), but he wore a flour sack, not a white shirt, pants and vest.  He slept in hollow trees or logs when no one invited him in, and he did want to marry a 10-year-old girl (!) but got jealous when she spent too much time with kids her own age, and called it off.

tulipTulips (natives to Persia and Turkey) were favored by the upright Calvinists in Holland, the author surmises, because they have their sex hidden.  Tulip Mania hit in the 17th century, with tulips of variegated colors, caused by a virus.  So the prized tulips were actually diseased.

Tulip breaking virus is most famous for its dramatic effects on the color of the tulip perianth, which helped to cause the speculative price of rare tulip bulbs during the period of so-called “Tulip mania” in the 17th century Netherlands…  At the peak of tulip mania in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

The chapter on Marijuana was enlightening, as I had no idea that the Cannabis Sativa L., known to us in the 60’s’, has been crossed with Cannabis Indica, and Indica dominant strains are are short dense plants.

The Indica and Sativa subspecies differ in their medicinal properties. Sativa strains produce more of a euphoric high, lifting the consumer’s mood and therapeutically relieving stress. Indica strains relax muscle and work as general analgesics, also helping with sleep. A cancer patient hoping to relieve the pain from chemotherapy would benefit greatly from the effects of an Indica plant bud, whereas an individual dealing with depression would better benefit from a Sativa plant bud…3

Word of the day: chthonic – of or relating to the underworld.  Pollan referred to chthonic spuds.

The potato, indigenous to the Andes, is a perfect food4, especially when mashed with milk to add protein.  The English looked down on the potato because they thought that it made the Irish lazy, only tending their potato crops to feed their families, thereby not needing to work, so they could spend their time procreating.  Of course, when the Irish Potato Famine hit in 1845, a million people, dependent only on the potato, died.

During the famine approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%.

But what got me was the amount of pesticides and herbicides with which Big Farma drenches their monoculture potato farms.  One farmer interviewed grew his own organic potatoes so he didn’t have to eat those drenched in poisons that he sold to the public.  From now on, I will only buy organic potatoes.


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2 Responses to “Plants”

  1. Jim Says:

    Plants and torrential rains are such a natural delight.
    The Irish started off at bottom of the social hierarchy, and worked their way up to being equals, with St. Patrick’s day, “Kiss me, I am Irish”, “The Fighting Irish” and “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country!”; despite a period of producing notoriously violent and politically corrupt gangs. An ethnic group, by its behavior, earns and deserves the praise or contempt it receives.

  2. Jim Says:

    Has the glorious thunder and lightning occured as predicted?
    Are the toads croaking for a mate?
    Are the grasses starting to spring up?

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