Saturday, August 15, 2009

Isn't this supposed to be a desert?

While out in the Hidden Garden this morning, sitting at the table on the phone with Caro, a strange black and yellow fellow about 10" long slowly crept out from behind the big stuccoed box that houses our obsolete water filtration system. When I first saw its head, I thought, "snake." But soon it waddled out with four fully operational limbs. It certainly was moving cautiously, not in the speedy little jerks I'd expect from a skink or lizard. When it turned towards me, its flattened head and widely sprawled shoulders and hips gave it away as a salamander.

Now what's a salamander doing in the Hidden Garden? I guess that's proof positive that we've got a healthy ecosystem. Plenty of plants grown thickly together, probably lots of WUGs (wiggley, ugly grubs) to eat, moist understory, no predators (you think Bella is going to eat a salamander?).

However, we're a good 1/4 mile from the Alameda Drain and fairly permanent water. There's a landscape pond maybe 1/5 mile away. Either way, its a long crawl in a hot, dry world for a critter like Sammy Salamander to make it to the moist haven of our Hidden Garden.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Perhaps the Worst Heat of Summer is Past

Terrance weighed in at 13.5 oz this morning, his heaviest ever. That's a great sign as we head into the final 10-week push before hibernation. For awhile there he was going after watermelon, shrimp, and strawberries, but today he turned his nose up on the melon and went hunting in the Hibiscus... after he warmed up.

Last night a dry air mass moved into NM and, with nothing to hold the heat in, it got down to the low 60s. That's a welcome relief from the humidity and heat of the last few weeks. Last Monday the pump on the front swamp cooler failed, so the box fan just pushed 100+ degree air off the roof into the house all day. I came home to a kitchen hot enough to melt lead. Luckily, Lowe's is open late and had a suitable replacement.

In the garden the 8" Hibiscus blooms look like something you'd see in Alice in Wonderland. The Agastache is nearly 5' tall. Monarda has almost finished flowering. The Solidago is just getting ready to start. The various sage species are doing fantastic. Alas, the Crocosmia were weak this year with only a single one flowering.

My bonsai are hanging tough, with the Ginkgo doing well in the heat. With the little seedlings added in a forest arrangement ("Journey" style), the canopy effects a nice isosceles triangle. Lost a big but untrained Cotoneaster in July--it was new this year. Took the year-old wire off my little Sanseveria but will have to soon rewire the new shoots. Might consider repotting it in root-over-rock style while the weather is warm (only for tropicals, too hot for other transplants). The dwarf holly is doing fine and breaking back very vigorously.