Category Archives: Flora

SNIPPETS (5/17/2019)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

I finished my second video of the two Union Pacific steam locomotives, this one titled “They’ll be coming round the mountain when they come. They’ll be high up on the mountain when they come.” The scenery is just as beautiful as the train!

SNIPPET 2

The lead locomotive, Big Boy #4014, recently restored after sitting in static display at Rail Giants Museum in Pomona, California, from 1959 to 2014, derailed yesterday. The public didn’t know the extent of any damage for about thirty minutes. Fortunately, the train was entering the yard in Rawlins, Wyoming, so it was going rather slow. It took them a little over three hours to get Big Boy up on the rails again. We rail fans were tense for a time there.

SNIPPET 3

All the cacti that had bloomed in my gardens two days ago bloomed again yesterday. However, someone was late to the party but finally made it, but it was worth the wait. It’s a Trichocereus grandiflorus Thai hybrid.

SNIPPET 4

My neighbors have a huge loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) in their back yard which I can see from my kitchen window. It is in full fruit right now, and the ground squirrels are all over it, seeming to forget that they are ground squirrels, not tree squirrels. Here’s one who has found an all-you-can-eat buffet about thirty feet up in the tree:

Ground squirrel eating loquats in the tree

SNIPPET 5

It rained all day yesterday, so I drank some macho juice and went outside to take macro pictures of raindrops on flowers. The first picture below is raindrops on the flowers of Asclepias physocarpa, a type of milkweed called the “Balloon Plant” because it’s seed pods look like balloons, albeit hairy balloons. The second picture is of the seed pods, of which this plant had three last year when it was just a wee plant; it’s now about ten feet tall.

Asclepias physocarpa

Asclepias physocarpa seed pod

SNIPPET 6

My road trip to Promontory Summit and Ogden, Utah, comprised five days and covered 2,282.9 miles (yes, I’m a little detailed). My two favorite scenic parts of the drive were the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona and Interstate 80 from Echo, Utah, to Evanston, Wyoming.

I bought a dash cam last July on that eight-day road trip, so eventually I’ll be able to share these two drives on YouTube. They were that great.

SNIPPET 6

Based on state license plates over the 2,282.9-mile drive, here is my considered opinion of drivers, best to worst:

  1. Wyoming drivers were the best but perhaps only because there were so few of them, right in line with Wyoming being the least populous state with a mere 544,270 people spread out over 97,000 square miles.
  2. Arizona—Interstate 15 went through the northwest corner of Arizona for only about 35 miles so I might not have a large enough sample to truly say anything definitive about Arizona drivers.
  3. Nevada—The speed limit was 70 or 75 mph, and Interstate 15 goes right smack dab through the heart of Las Vegas. I do believe most Nevada drivers also were gambling while driving.
  4. Utah—The speed limit on Interstate 15 in Utah is 70 to 80 miles per hour, mostly 80, only dropping to 70 in construction zones. Sadly, speed limit laws apply equally to the smart and the stupid, but I think the number of stupid people is far greater than smart people. The fact that so many stupid people are driving 80 miles per hour, and often up to 90 miles per hour, in heavy traffic, was a constant source of worry.
  5. California drivers were the worst. I think each person believes all roadways within 10 miles belong to him or her; female drivers were far worse than male drivers.

SNIPPET 7

Speaking of speed limits, it was interesting how each state handles them. California was 65 mph in or near cities and 70 mph in boondocks areas. Arizona was 70 mph and 75 mph, as was Nevada. Utah was 70 mph in construction zones, 75 mph through cities, and 80 mph in the boondocks, which was basically all of southern Utah. Wyoming was 80 mph. My thinking would be that California needs to get with the program!

SNIPPET 8

Gas prices were another issue of mine. When I left the confines of California, gas was $4.799 a gallon for the cheapest grade, usually something like ARCO 87 octane. In Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, gas was $3.049 to $3.159. Interestingly, almost all the brands were the exact same price, so instead of doing ARCO, I went with Shell, Union 76, and ExxonMobil.

As I determined back in the late ’70s when I got my first car, the major brands brought better gas mileage. What was weird, though, was that the major brand cheap gas was 85 octane. Theoretically, 85 octane should give you lower gas mileage than 87 octane.

Gas mileage using California ARCO 87 octane gas ranged from 30.9 mpg to 33.8 mpg. Using Shell, Union 76, and ExxonMobil 85 octane gas provided 35.2 to 40.7 mpg.

A new item this morning indicates that certain entities might be manipulating California gas prices, which I would believe since California gas prices usually aren’t $1.80 higher than surrounding states.

I filled up with Shell gas at a truck stop just south of Las Vegas where I paid $3.089. A few miles later I passed the first truck stop in California where the gas was $4.999. I saved $1.91 a gallon, calculating to $22.92 for my
12-gallon tank. That would buy a lot of margaritas!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

An explosion of color in my cactus gardens

I live in my own little world

There currently is a flower explosion happening in my cactus gardens.

Here are some pictures of today’s color:

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

Flowers in Russel's cactus garden

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Picture of the Moment—Trichocereus grandiflorus Thai hybrid

Picture of the Moment

This is one of my favorites of the Trichocereus grandiflorus Thai hybrids growing in my gardens.

I see Mama wearing a beautiful hat and with all her children gathered around.

I think they are going on a spring outing to a botanical garden somewhere.

Trichocereus are some of the most popular cacti because of their huge, magnificent blooms.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—The top 10 most important trees in Balboa Park

Out & About The World

Now that I’m retired, I have more time to go exploring each day.

This past Sunday I took a walking tour of the ten most important trees in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Number 8 on the list is one of the four Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) in the Desert Garden just across the street from the San Diego Zoo, the tallest one in the following picture.

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

These four were planted in 1914 for the Panama-California Exhibition of 1915-16. That tallest one is about 25 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 3½ feet. It has been named Frank Allen Jr. in honor of the man in charge of designing and installing the landscape for the 1915 Exposition.

Dragon trees are members of the asparagus family.  They are indigenous to the Canary Islands where the Guanche people used its sap in their mummification process.

Quite popular in Southern California landscapes in the 20th century, they rarely are planted today.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Double R Creations—The Spiral Aloe

Double R Creations

I grew one of these in Houston & College Station from 1977 to 1993.

Aloe polyphylla - Spiral Aloe

It is awesome, especially when it matures, which is when it will look like this:

Aloe polyphylla - Spiral Aloe

Those are Aloe polyphylla, the Spiral Aloe. They seem to be hard to find in the age of the Internet but one now has joined my collection.

People say I won’t be able to grow it out here in the East San Diego County boondocks because it gets too hot and dry. I don’t think it gets any hotter and drier than Houston or College Station, but I guess we’ll find out.

As an aside, my birth mother also told me when I was 10, and she was giving me up for adoption to my wise old grandmother, that I would never amount to a thing…………..

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

….stuck in the kitchen

I live in my own little world

If the weather is good in the morning, I pot or plant in the ground at least one plant. The big ones first. This morning I got quite a few planted in the ground. Here they are.

Cactus

Cactus

Cactus

Cactus

Trichocereus sp.

Mammillaria magnimamma

Mammillaria hahniana

Mammillaria pilcayensis

Oreocereus species

Notocactus leninghausii

Echinocereus reichenbachii v. albispinus

When I came in from the gardens, planning on working in the office, I found an unknown creature at the end of the hallway giving me the evil eye.

Zoey the Cool Cat

There was no way to get to the office, so I was stuck in the kitchen, but at least that’s where the margaritas were.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Four new members to the family

I live in my own little world

Yesterday at the Holiday Party of the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society, I was rewarded for all my volunteer work and plant showings with four free plants.

One for outstanding volunteer,

one for outstanding plant exhibitor throughout the year,

one for outstanding plant exhibitor at the Fall Show & Sale in October, and

one as a paid member.

As if I needed more plants.

Alas…..

There were over 100 plants to choose from. Here are the ones I chose to come live with me, Jim, and Zoey the Cool Cat:

Sanseveria

Gasteria 'gGeen Ice'

Mangave 'Bloodspot'

Crassula muscosa 'Big Form'

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post