Friday, May 30, 2008

Day Trip!

Today we took a day trip to the Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg, AZ. One of the translations of Hassayampa is "the river that flows upside down." Most of the its 100-mile course though the desert is underground, but within the preserve, its crystal clear waters emerge and flow above ground year round.

The above photo looks like Herba Mansa. it is usually grown around ponds and water features. Cottonwood trees line the riverbed floor as well as palm trees and mesquites. The lush stream side is home to a lot of wildlife.

We hiked along the many trails within the preserve. My granddaughter is the one on the right, walking with her friend.

Click to enlarge the cholla spines. This year, after our heavy winter rains, the spines are white and thick. Most years they are a dingy yellow, dry and brittle looking.

Saguaro, cholla, and prickly pear stands.

Going home the back way is the most beautiful desert in Arizona--well, almost. They receive a little more rain than we do--and it's only 50 miles away. Everything there is still blooming and green, and where I live, the desert is already getting dry and dormant, and will remain that way until fall.

Chaparral (grease wood ) is still in bloom. This is the plant that releases the odor we associate with the smell of desert rainfall.

Had to add the windmill photo. A lot of our cattle ranchers graze their cattle in the desert and they find enough food to keep them well-fed, fat and happy. Windmills dot the desert landscape throughout Arizona. The windmills fill the water tanks for the cattle in these remote areas.

We will be taking a lot of day trips this summer--plane trips, hotels and restaurants are out of budget this year! But, I don't mind at all as this is my most favorite place of all! I did love Hawaii though, and Oregon, Ohio, and oh yeah--Switzerland was wonderful!!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good Eating Tonight!

Just picked the tomatoes this morning. One plant, all sizes. One was about 3 inches across- the birds had that one eaten in a few minuets! The skin is tough on some of them- but just as delicious as the others.

One lone chili pepper--but it is perfect ! I think I will try to find room to plant more vegetables next fall.

This plant came up in one of my planters. I don't have a clue as to what it is. I had other flowers growing in the pot when this started to take over. I liked it and pulled out the rest to give it room to grow. Seems like I always have a strange plant come up somewhere in my garden. Any idea what it is?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A 17-Year Wait

Remember the Indian Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica I wrote about recently? The one that had not produced a single bloom in 17 years? Well...................

Tahdah! I saw two buds yesterday, and this morning one had opened!!! I am soooo happy! There are only the two buds on the pad--not sure if it will produce any more. These two came up suddenly, so maybe more will come.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Too Old For Unpredictability

Life has been busy the past week! Parties, graduation, and unusual weather! We had record heat on Monday--110 degrees F. and then rain and hail on Thursday with a high of 72 degrees F. We set a new low--the lowest in history on the 22nd of May! It was 55 degrees F. that night! First time in 33 years that it rained on my hometown's graduation night. Usually it's hot, hot, hot.

The beautiful green and red bell peppers and the chili peppers are from my daughter's garden. They were grilled for the graduation party. The graduation was held outside on the high school's football field. The wind blew in the second storm of the day and soon we were drenched! We were freezing! With nowhere to get under cover, everyone braved it out, soaking, until their kids received their diplomas.

At the end of the week we are still cool- in the 80's. Summer 's normal hot weather will return by Thursday and we will be back to the triple digits. I think I will welcome the familiar. I'm getting too old for all this excitement!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Feeding My New Addiction

This is my favorite--Gymnocalycium megalothelos from Paraguay. My east back patio provides just the right amount of light shade for it. This one needs to be kept on the dry side in the winter. The flower on the right that just closed was pink, as opposed to the peach colored open bloom. I just purchased these two cactus and will have to find the perfect pot for this one! This hobby is becoming very expensive!

Mammillaria saboae ssp. haudeana is a miniature from Mexico. It takes light shade here in my area. It clumps, and has pale lavender flowers about 1 inch across. It will grow to about 1.5" and about 3/4" wide. If you enlarge the photo you can see some a neat spine arrangement on this tiny cactus. Three more buds are forming right now, and then, once those are spent, that should be it for the season.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pine cones and Gingham

Euphorbia obesa or Gingham Cactus, but it's not really a cactus. It's a succulent. It is wanting me to groom it for next year's Cactus and Succulent Society show. I have had this little guy for about 3 years. The little cyathia on the top are an uninpressive yellow, but I love they way it looks like a hot air balloon. It will grow to about 3-5 inches across. I keep it outside year round on my partly shaded, east patio. Hopefuly now that I have decided I will enter it in next year show-it won't end up like the Melocactus!

Tephrocactus articulatus--Pine Cone Cactus is ready to bloom. It bloomed! The bee in the center of the flower is just loaded with pollen. He rolled around this flower for at least a full minute . This cactus is full grown at 2' x 3' This one is planted in full west sun and is a great Xeriscape cactus. Our wet winter has this cactus bursting with blooms--the most ever! My potted one hasn't even started to bloom. This one is about 4 years old. It can get larger, but the segments usually fall off. If left in place, the segments will root.

Sweet the Pleasure

A picture is a poem without words.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Miscellany

Lots of new pads but not a single bloom in 17 years! My Indian Fig came from the family farm that had been planted in 1917. Each family member received a pad after the farm was sold. My daughters' cactuses both had blooms for the first time this year.

I have been in a funk because my cactus and succulents have not bloomed! But...while watering this morning, I discovered a little bloom on my Huernia schneiferiana growing near the base. I am sooo excited!!! It is dime-size and a beautiful magenta.

Yes, I broke another expensive clay pot! Cheap ones last for years, but the minute I pay an exorbitant price, that's a sure sign of impending doom for the pot!

Euphorbia obesa chistata- I'm not sure if this one will flower. The convoluted ribs swell as they absorb moisture--and although I rarely water it, the ribs always look full. I keep this one somewhat shaded from the west sun. After my newly planted Desert Museum Palo Verde produces enough shade, I will plant it in the ground.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Adjectives and Adverbs

This is my Mother's Day hydrangea plant. Wish we could grow hydrangea here--they are so gorgeous.

My son-in-law crafted this unique art piece as my Mother's Day gift. Every morning he treks into the desert to take his five dogs for a run and while they dig and play he takes photos and finds unique stones. He is an avid rock collector and recently he started crafting these mosaic pieces. The carefully selected stones are arranged on a piece of 18" x 18" tile, and then grouted. The stem is made of cactus skeleton. I love it!

I am blessed with two flawlessly beautiful daughters and wonderful sons-in-law, a fabulous son and his remarkable wife, and five perfectly incredible grandchildren! These are all the adjectives and adverbs that I can think of to describe my family. I had another glorious mother day!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Good Stuff For Arizona Gardens

Look closely.....First Lady Bug of the season!

Nerium Oleander

I planted this years ago to much needed shade for my turtle. It takes most any kind of weather we have, and blooms from March until November. I haven't watered it in two years. I think my neighbor across the block wall has a plant on a drip system and the oleander is getting water from that--saving me from using water. Another great Arizona plant.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Red Bird of Paradise is a must in the Arizona desert. It will bloom March to October, although mine just started blooming this week on a north wall. It is almost impossible to kill it! I have had mine for over 10 years, and it keeps getting better!

I have tried for years to get Purple Heart to grow. I have had numerous cuttings from friends and family, but it just would not take! In February, my SIS brought a cutting from her garden. I planted it without much hope that it would make it. It's growing now and even has the first bloom!

I guess now that it's growing, I'll have to worry about HOW MUCH it will grow, but since it's in a small pot, it won't matter much.

Another must for the garden. Deep, evergreen aromatic leaves of the Trailing Rosemary thrives in our intense summer sun. It survived the deep freeze we had here 2 years ago.. It is now two years old, and another one of my favorites!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Garden Highlights

Turr Tull woke up today--couldn't wait for his first meal in over 7 months! He ate the hibiscus first, then on to watermelon and lettuce. He drank k a little water and promptly went back home.

Prickly pear

My first sunflower of the season. I scattered seed everywhere-They are even coming up in a few pots--I know I didn't plant them there!

Hibiscus in full bloom--they should go on and on....

Still have a few wildflowers standing, but most are going to seed. Can't wait for next year's crop!