Sunday, February 27, 2005

A backlit bloom

The picture below was taken on 2 August 2000, representing the third time the cereus plant had bloomed -- both in that summer and during its existence. (The first bloom appeared during June, a story related in my cereus FAQ here, in the third question.) I was experimenting with backlighting, trying for an eerie effect. Since that time I have become slightly more proficient with Photoshop, resulting in a somewhat improved picture, thanks in part to an online tutorial entitled "Instant Photoshop". I have a gentleman named Al Moller from tne National Weather Service to thank for that; Al presents wonderful slideshows of his photographs (not all concerning weather phenomena) at Severe Storms conferences.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Heavy rains in this so-called desert

We experienced several episodes of heavy rains here in Los Angeles, particularly in the mountains north and west of the city. In the Thousand Oaks area where I live the rains last night and this morning (21 February) were exceptionally persistent and intense. The image below shows radar-estimated precipitation accumulation for this storm, as of 20 UTC on 21 February (12 noon PDT). The estimate is as high as over 9" north of Los Angeles. I live close to one of the 6-7" blobs seen on the image.

The cereus plant suffers always from some kind of infection or other ailment that causes its older leaves to rot away. It is worst in the winter season, and may perhaps result from exposure to cold weather. (The plant remains outdoors year round, and we characteristically do get several incidents of frost per winter as well.) Here are some pictures, taken today. I would like to know what causes this problem and how it might be avoided.

Luckily, the affliction has not affected all of the plant's leaves, and has not kept it from growing and blooming.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Joshua Tree National Park

So, I created this cereus-inspired blog and by the second post already wander afield. Here are a few recent pictures from Joshua Tree National Park (JTMP), a world's end kind of place located in the desert east of Los Angeles. It's named for the ubiquitous Joshua Tree, so named by the Mormons and a (decidedly overgrown) relative of the lily (if memory serves). The rock band U2 released an album entitled "The Joshua Tree" some years ago.

Joshua Tree National Park holds interest for me owing to the fact that it straddles two distinct deserts, the Mojave (or high) desert and the Colorado (or low) desert. The difference between the deserts is striking; it's amazing the effect that several thousand feet of altitude can have. The Mojave desert is located at a higher elevation and is far from the barren wasteland one usually associates with the word "desert". Indeed, the Mojave comes alive with wildflowers in the spring, especially when conditions favor massive blooms of the state flower, the California Golden Poppy. In contrast, the Colorado desert south of the park is more desolate, being substantially hotter in the summertime owing in part to its lower elevation. South of JTMP is an area where General Patton's tank brigade trained prior to deployment. It is said the tank treads are still visible.

JTNP is bisected by a northwest-to-southeast road that gradually descends from the Mojave to the Colorado deserts. At its start, there are plenty of Joshua trees. Along the road, however, one notices the Joshuas becoming both scrawnier and more scarce. Yucca and ocotillo appear as the Joshuas fade away. Along the road is the Cholla cactus garden, home to some very interesting succulents.

Here is a picture of Joshua trees at sunset:

A Joshua tree near sunrise:

From the Cholla cactus garden:

Ocotillo from the low desert:

More of my photographs from Joshua Tree National Park at this link.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Welcome to "Are you cereus?"

I've made this page as a companion to my website concerning photographs of the Epiphyllum oxypetalum, one of the cacti popularly known as "night blooming cereus". The site draws many visitors, particularly during (Northern Hemisphere) summer, and generates a fair amount of email. Some of my emailers describe (or show) their own plants or impart growing advice, while others pose questions I cannot answer. A weblog might provide a useful avenue for sharing comments, questions and pictures from other cereus owners, and those interested in this special plant.

I'll probably also include pictures that, for whatever reason, didn't make it to the cereus website. Here's one to start off the blog. It was taken on 27 September 2004, in my backyard like all the others.

Thanks for visiting, and please feel free to leave a comment!