Yesterday's garden

Here are some pictures I took yesterday. Since then we've gotten another inch of rain. This is predicted to be an exceptionally dry La NiƱa year. So far, not so much. It's common for us to have a lot of rain in October and then no more until December or January. We shall see.

In the meantime, here is my one leaf of fall color. Thank you, Vitis californica 'Roger's Red'. The whole vine should color up soon enough.

This is my one leaf of fall color in the garden.

From now until around April the garden gets very, very green.



Large-leafed, giant aster Bartlettina sordida in the foreground in the pictures above and below.


The strappy beschorneria seems to get bigger every time I look at it.


Fuchsia fulgens is a flower-making machine in my garden.

Fuchsia fulgens

So is the aster whose name I can never remember. (Thank you cloverann for ID'ing it for me twice now!)


The pot of dead Muhlenbergia rigens behind the manzanita spoils this shot.


Train your eyes on the leaves instead.


This is Arctostaphylos pajaroensis 'Lester Rowntree'. Definitely not the best A. pajaroensis you could have. I think the interesting colors in this species are more pronounced in other cultivars. I got this one as a freebie from my time at the SF Botanical Garden.


Asclepias curassavica went to seed.


Calling all ladybugs! All you can eat buffet on aisle 5!


Some of the other nerines are finally budding out.


For awhile now, it's just been this one.


'Caroline' did not give me a heavy fall harvest.


Oh, and my Gravenstein dropped both of its apples before they were quite ripe. Have I mentioned that? I ate them anyway and they were not bad. The second one which dropped a few weeks after the first one tasted a lot better.

That's pretty much it down in the garden. The mishmash of containers on the roof is, well, it's a mishmash.






Half Moon Bay Day

Carri and Jason from Read Between the Limes accompanied us on our 2nd annual trip to Arata's Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay today. You may recall our trip here last year, on October 3. I recommend going the first weekend in October. It was packed today.


Plenty of pumpkins tho'.






A little background:
The Arata Pumpkin Farm is the oldest working pumpkin farm in San Mateo County, California. Pumpkins have been a way of life at the Arata Farm since 1932...

About 3,000 tons of pumpkins are grown each year by 15 or so commercial growers in the Half Moon Bay area who ship them throughout the US. The Arata Farm distributes pumpkins to Rite Aid Stores nationwide.
How much water is in 3,000 tons of pumpkin?




In addition to the pumpkins, Arata has a 2-2.5 acre straw bale labyrinth that changes every year. That's one of its outer walls.


Admission to the labyrinth is $7, but you can enter it as many times as you want. I believe it's also open most of the year. And you can do it at night with flashlights. The walls are about 7' high but I managed to take this picture from inside with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone, holding it over my 6'2"-tall head.

We're lost in the straw bale labyrinth!

Inside the labyrinth you'll find a minotaur dispensing small, golden pumpkins. Which I think is pretty darn cool. There are also tractor rides, a petting zoo, a haunted barn...and gladiator fights.


And corn, which was much taller last year.


Alas, we did not stay for the gladiator fights.

Half Moon Bay is a troubled town. I'm not sure how it all went down but city leaders deliberately, and very foolishly, flooded a large piece of land to create wetland for birds. Unfortunately, the land was owned by a developer who sued in federal court and won a judgment for $38.6M. As the town's annual budget is only $10M, I believe they get to vote this November on whether to raise taxes to settle the judgment, or declare bankruptcy and disincorporate. The federal judge in that case, by the way, is the same federal judge who recently found California's anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8 unconstitutional. He recently announced his retirement.

We stopped in town to visit the little garden furnishing store, Half to Have It. Quelle surprise--I took pictures.



These glass faces are cool.



We bought one of these fake floats last time.


Maybe we'll have one of these in the next garden:


Michelle at From Seed to Table makes pizza in hers--among other things, I'm sure.


The grounds are mulched with tumbled glass.




Mammies for Christopher C.! I think he once said he has a collection of these things. I think I said I did not approve... Ha, ha! Well, you don't see these for sale in California very often.


I like the hands, but the rest of my group said, "Um, no."


We all agreed on the passionflower tho'.


"It's a flower in a flower," said Jason.


Palm Springs, Part 4: Cholla Garden

Part 4 is the final part. We made one other stop at the famous Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree National Park.


Cylindropuntia fulgida.


Fulgid, for sure.




I wonder about how these plants photosynthesize. Wikipedia says the leaves have been reduced to spines, but the spines don't appear pigmented, so where's the chlorophyll? In a unique sheath that covers the spine, apparently:
Part of the cacti family, the cholla uses CAM photosynthesis; an alternative pathway to convert energy from the sun into food. Mesophyll cells in the leaves convert carbon dioxide into organic acids. This allows the cholla to conserve water by keeping the stomata closed during the day; the traditional pathway for photosynthesis. It is the only cactus with sheaths which cover the spine.
The green pad is a conventional Opuntia's leaf. I would have guessed in the desert's constant, radiant light enough of it would reach the cholla's pad under the spines to drive photosynthesis but that does not appear to be how it works. Maybe one of you brainiacs will explain it in the comments.


This is the closest I've come to seeing cholla flowers, which I understand bloom in mid-summer. The flowers make fertile seeds, but most propagation happens asexually. Growing tips of the plant break off and blow around or get carried off by an animal until they find a spot to root. Hence, the dense stands.


Once, several years ago, I put my shoe too close to one of those little bits and sure enough, it hopped right on. There was a moment of slight panic when my attempts to kick it off caused it to dig in deeper. I managed to extract it without too much trouble using the edge and sole of my other shoe.

Paths through the "garden" make it a safe visit for the less clumsy, but there are still signs up to warn you about the danger of these plants.