Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sticky Monkeyflower

Orange Bush Monkeyflower

Sticky Monkeyflower: photo by Cliff Hutson
Sticky Monkeyflower: photo by Cliff Hutson

The author Elmore Leonard  gave the advice that a writer should never open with the weather. So, I am not going to talk about the drought in California and how it has played havoc with the list of plants I intended to write about this year. However, one of them has held its own.

Orange Bush Monkeyflower, or Sticky Monkeyflower, Diplacus aurantiacus (aka Mimulus aurantiacus), is a plant that is native to California and is found only slightly beyond our borders. It is common in disturbed areas of coastal sage scrub, and also found in the chaparral and live oak woodland communities. It is fairly abundant in my local foothills, so it is a personal favorite when it comes to wildflowers.

Once placed in the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort family), most references now have it in the Phrymaceae (Lopseed family). It is a perennial shrub which flowers March through June. The blossoms are two to three inches long and can be white, yellow, or red; as well as the namesake orange. The name monkeyflower comes from the flowers which, some say, look, like small faces when viewed from the front.  I have never seen a face. May be it is a lack of imagination on my part, but I am willing to take their word for it. The leaves are one to two inches long, dark green with deeply impressed veins, and are sticky to the touch. The stickiness is due to a phenolic resin which helps the plant retain water in dry environments.

The plant is shrubby and may be sprawling, but can grow to four feet tall. It is attractive to bees and hummingbirds; in Southern California, monkeyflower's most frequent visitors are Anna’s hummingbirds and Allen’s hummingbirds. Also, it is a forage source for the larva of Variable Checkerspot and Common Buckeye butterflies.

Birds, bees, and butterflies help make our world function. I am not a gardener, but I am tempted to plant a few of these monkeyflowers at home to help make up for the huge hit these creatures have taken due to changes in their habitats.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Another Milestone

Over a Million Views

Basil: photo by Cliff Hutson

Last week while I was at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, observing a major milestone in my life; a minor event occurred as well. My Flickr account (where I am known as "The Marmot") received  its one millionth view.

I joined Flickr in 2005, and am not certain if reaching this number was all that timely or not. But, it is what it is. My most viewed viewed photograph over the majority of the intervening years was of a sprig of basil my late wife grew in her garden back in July 2007. It was linked to quite a bit as a definition of the plant, and to illustrate articles on herbs and the Mediterranean diet.

May 2014 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson

November 2014 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
However, it has been greatly overtaken by photos of books I read in May 2014 and November 2014. This surprises me. They are both decent photos, but I think that there are many stronger ones in my photo stream. But, one them has been linked to, and they both have both appeared on Flickriver; I guess that helps. 

Field Notes: photo by Cliff Hutson

The fact that the Field Notes Mixed Three Pack has also surpassed the basil is less of an anomaly. There are a lot of Field Notes fans out there, and it has also received some links.

Field Notes, Too: photo by Cliff Hutson

The photo I call "Field Notes, Too" has a chance of moving into the top four. It is currently my favorite of the photographs that have been viewed in five figure numbers, fond as I am of the basil. I clearly put some work into the composition. And, think that it demonstrates my odd sense of humor as well.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Hope Realized

The Graduate

Becca: photo by Cliff Hutson
Becca: photo by Cliff Hutson
One of things in life that I hoped to be around to see was my granddaughter graduate from college. And, she has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University. I spent the last few days in Tempe attending Becca's commencement and convocation with other family members; celebrating the culmination of her hard work and academic achievement. A great time was had by all.

The Graduate and Me
The Graduate and Me
My wish for her now is a rewarding professional and personal life. She already has landed a very good job in her field. But, I feel that the world she faces will be one wherein she will have to reinvent herself time and time again. However, I am very certain that she has the skills and knowledge to achieve success as she defines it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016