The bells toll for the potatoes this past week.
Good weather makes for bad blogs, unpredictable weather makes for no blogs!
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Thursday, May 3, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Cammisonia brevipes- desert evening primrose
This shot was taken above the Wildrose canyon campground where I spent one of the windiest nights of my life, every gust seeming to flatten the fiberglass pole reinforced dome tent. The next morning the sun was out, the wind was calm and the snow capped peaks of the Panamint mts. framed nicely in the distance.
This is the mono lake tufa formations, man what would you giv to have that in your backyard to grow Androsace, and crusty Saxifrage on? So a little geology here: These deposits were formed when the water level in the lake was much higher and calcium rich springs seeped to the surface, the calcium formed deposits like these and they only became visible when Mono lake was tapped into as a water source for communities around LA and agricultural interests around the area.
Just an up close shot of the tufa with some crazy lichens making a foothold on the former spring water turned rock. As an aside, I saw my first Jack rabbit at this site and while I chased it around for the better part of a half hour I never did get a clear photograph....amazing creature though, bigger than my cat and twice as mean looking.
Botanizing the Death Valley region is only for the sure footed, one tumble onto this beast and you would regret ever having ventured out of the comfort of you own abode.
Of course tamer cacti do abound like this beaver tail specimen.
So the Fritillarias are starting to finish, the Allliums are just coming on and it will be a few weeks before the Calochortus start to peak. So if you are here strictly for bulbs......bugger off! I'm going to do a few more installments of my desert section, because I like diversity and I'm still figuring out what recessive alleles might have passed from purdyi to biflora and what dominant traits may have led Jane to believe the parentage should be marked as such.......I'm also stuyding backcrossing as I believe a breeding program is in order for this complex.....bear with me and I will enlighten you about my education in the coming weeks.....but for now, please enjoy the ongoing saga of death valleys 100 year bloom.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
We are going to have to take a brief respite from bulb blogging tonight. In the interest of me refreshing my memory on the intricacies of plant breeding and to sort out the complications of Jane's bee hybridized Fritillari purdyi and Fritillaria biflora crosses. I'm going to stop and gloat a bit about my greenhouse full of death valley monkeyflowers.
The Famed Death Valley Monkeyflower
At last, blooming in my greenhouse, among the rarest in the genera and found only in the Southern California region of Death Valley and the Sky Island mountains. I looked for this plant for so long, through all the seed catalogs. I asked Ron Ratko if he could make a special trip. Then I made the trip myself to Death Valley to look for it, but it always eluded me. I searched Hanupah Canyon for a whole day, climbing from 300' in elevation to well over 3000'. Picking my way through barrel cactus and huge patches of the gleaming white Encelia farinosa. I never could find the preferred habitat of craggy limestone cliffs.
Death Valley is an old rift, once a giant lake, now split into the Panamint Mountains and the Amargosa range.
This still goes down as one of the most magnificent campsites I've ever had, and I've camped a lot of places. All alone on the Hanupah alluvial fan, looking over the salt flats to watch the sunset on the Amargosa range.
I thought I was looking in the right habitat, but all I found was Salvia dorii and Echinocerus engelmanii....and a ton of other cool plants, but not the monkeflower I was looking for.
This picture was actually taken just north of Death Valley in the White Mountains outside of the town of Bishop, California.
Astragalus laynae or funereus.
I think you have to see the pod to be sure, this is in Death Valley proper.
A selection of must have reading material for any botanizing trip to Death Valley.
The Charcoal Kilns
So bizarre to drive all the way up Wildrose canyon, in one of the most inhospitable places on earth and come across these giant, beehive looking structures. They seem completely alien in the making. Built in the late 1800's these structures were used to convert Juniper to charcoal to fire silver ore smelting operations in the valley below.
End of Part 1
I have so many pictures and reminiscing about this great trip and the rewards of now growing Mimulus rupicola is making me nostalgic so I'm going to continue this chapter tomorrow.