Friday, May 7, 2010

The Birds and the Bees!

When I was a biology teacher, (a hundred years ago, in another life), I used to love announcing to the kids, “Today we are doing reproduction.”  Their collective, poorly hidden excitement soon turned sour as I put up a diagram of a flower.  Plant reproduction was seemingly not that titillating for a teenager, yet who cannot gaze in wonder at these amazing reproductive organs – and right now they are everywhere!

My garden has surprised me with a burst of blossom.  Some of these plants I’ve inherited, like these fantastic Irises, that seem iridescent in the glow of the evening sun,

Even the wild root stock from a poorly pruned rose is beautiful and makes a nice indoor display.

Some of the plants I’ve grown especially for their blooms, yet their beauty still surprises me.  This sweetpea flower looks like it is made from satin.

Some I planted not expecting flowers – like the fabulous white orbs that my onions have produced.

Their cousins the chives have a smaller purple version of the same

The broccoli blossomed one day I didn’t get out to harvest for a while.  They made an attractive posy.

Tomato flowers are exquisite if you care to look closely.

Apparently, you can eat zucchini flowers – this early one surprised me.

Over the fence, the neighbors’ exotic bottle brush plant, a native of Australia that does well in the dry Californian climate, attracts lots of humming birds.

And where would all these gorgeous flowers be without their pollinators?  
Yesterday, whilst hiking in Rancho Canada del Oro we saw a swarm of bees.  The noise was incredible.  Having recently read “The Secret Life of Bees” I knew immediately what the sound was – it resonates through the air so that you can feel, not just hear, the hum.  I wasn’t as scared as I thought I might be to see so many bees in one place.  Sometimes you see something so awesome in nature that you forget about being afraid.  As it turned out, I had nothing to fear anyways – not a single person was stung.

They were right across the trail at one stage.

There were a few butterflies out that day too – this little Checkerspot looks like he’s just taking in the scenery!
I have a stack of photos from my hikes too, but I must stay on task and pull myself back to the garden.  And right now there is plenty of fun to be had there too.   This week I watched our resident mocking birds dive bomb crows who were trying to muscle into their territory (our front yard).  They chased it off towards the neighor’s and then came flying back at top speed – they in turn being chased by none other than two little humming birds!  These little guys are so brave – sometimes they “buzz” me if I’m in their way!

But love is in the air. Even the hummingbirds have stopped hovering long enough to gaze into each others eyes!  I took this through the kitchen window...

The mocking birds were it putting out there too!

And the squirrels – well, I nearly had to put my hands over my eyes with these guys – but here’s some that made it past the censor!

Byddi Lee