Monday, 3 May 2010

Our climate is changing

I had planned to write a blog about the exponential function today.  In fact,  I'd been thinking about it all week, and I had even begun,  but this morning it was beautiful outside.  The weather forcast predicted a warm sunny day, but just for today.  Tomorrow is supposed to be colder and raining.  Consequently,  I decided to do the washing,  then some weeding....  but first,  the trip around the yard...

Here are the five same blood lily plants.  They are quite surrounded by stinging nettles... and when those get bigger they will become fertiliser.  Meanwhile,  the lilies are doing well, though nowhere near as large as they will become eventually...
... there is still some water trapped in the bottom of these funnels... clever plants!  Saving rain from one wet day to another.

Further down the back,  the first of the wattles is flowering...  it must be winter!  Wattle is a winter flowering plant.  As I got closer,  the whole bush was buzzing...   loudly!
It was absolutely covered in bees!  (You might have to click on these to see the bees more clearly.)  They must be gathering food for their babies.

Most amazing was this....
... the lemon verbena has just begun to flower.  It usually flowers in the spring or into the summer,  but this year the spring was so hot that the tips of the shoots were burned off.  Later in the summer,  the tips were completely dry and crispy.   So here we are and there are spring/summer flowers in the autumn/winter.  These new complicated seasons are going to be very strange.  It's not such an issue for plants like this that we only expect to produce leafy flavourings or vegetables,  but fruit production might be another matter!   Climate change may be more advanced than we know and flowering fruit trees might be a serious matter.

The broccoli....  still small....
... I'm cheating,  this is a very close-up picture,   but it is definitely on the way.

The big succulents (I think that they are some kind of aloe)  are about to flower.  The flowers are really big and seem to come at any time of the year...  and I'm unsure what actually provokes them...
... the buds begin as tiny lumps and grow into large red flowers.

Just beside those aloes is one of the vege patches.   I noticed something else there....
... the potatoes are just about to flower too.   This is even more strange.  Apparently potatoes are supposed to be planted at the end of the winter (so that they come up before the last frost.)  I have grown them like that,   but in the past two years it hasn't worked.   I planted these about two months ago.  I couldn't get any seed potatoes at that time,  so I planted the peelings of some potatoes that we ate for dinner one night.  With the warm weather and some addd water, they have grown quickly into very healthy plants.  The warm weather has continued and they are trying to flower.  Once that happens,  I can expect that they will produce potatoes.  Last year I had my best crop of potatoes even later than this.
The problem with potatoes is that they require a lot of water when they are growing.  That's hard to manage when the evaporation is so extreme in the hottest part of the summer (or even in a November like the last one... with temperatures in the high 40's for a couple of weeks at a stretch.)
I think that the climate has already changed.  I know that it's a lot more variable,  but it's been several years since it has been cold enough to grow brussels sprouts in the winter,  and the potato crop has been better in winter for the last two years that I know of...  I think we are living with a changed climate already.

On around the yard....   and the cactuses are looking really clean and green.  It's a good time of the year for these too.  (I'm planning to grow more edible ones as well.)
Then I noticed something that I hadn't seen before.  Each of those clumps of prickles has eight spikes in each clump.  Not only that,  but there are always seven around the outside of a single one in the middle...
... and things like this always make me wonder how the plants know how to count.  There has to be some mathematical reason for this and I am reminded of D'Arcy Thompson's book entitled "On Growth and Form"  that describes a lot of these shapes and forms of living organisms.  The book was published in 1917 and the author was apparently a zoologist and a mathematician.  I am always reminded of him when I see things like this.
The last living thing that I remember with seven parts growing out at the same time was a cycad plant that I grew some years ago.  It produced leaves in a kind of corolla,  all at once,  seven at a time.  It is almost as if the plants could count!

Down the pathway,  and the first signs of the grape hyacinths that grow wild.... they are coming up...  it must be going to rain.


All the way around the garden, as I walked along the weedy paths, the birds were fighting... mainly the honeyeaters... and they are often loud and agressive among themselves... but today they were fighting non-stop.  
Then a group of Adelaide Rosellas (about 5 or 6... though they only usually hang about in pairs)  flew past with a lot of squawking and agro!  My assumption is that the recent rain has been enough to prompt breeding activity and competition for mates.  Australian birds don't fly somewhere in the spring to breed... they breed opportunistically when it rains.  And so they are.
By mid afternoon, the gusty wind dropped,  the clouds moved in and the air felt heavy.  I heard the crowd of galahs come "home" early.    They sleep at night in one of our gum trees....
... but today they all came home by the middle of the afternoon.  

I decided to take the washing from the clothes line when I saw them!  There were ants everywhere around the clothes line.  And within minutes, there were raindrops on the stones outside the back door...  not many,  but they were there....
On the weather predictions tonight, there was a warning of thunder storms and rain overnight and showers for a few days.  I find it interesting that the birds and animals seem to be well aware of all of that too.  I wonder how they will find the changes in the climate that I am noticing.




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