Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pink and White

Just when I thought that my cactus would never bloom again...these opened this morning! I don't know the name of this one because most of the name tags were lost after the wind blew over a lot of my potted cactus (and destroyed my swing last monsoon), and I never bothered to match up the rest. This is the first time this one has bloomed. There are two more buds left to open!I am soooo happy, it is soooo beautiful!

This is the only one in the stand of rock rose or Oriental poppies. I had one bloom last year also. It looks so delicate, and has the same coloring as the cactus flowers. I love this one as much as the cactus bloom!

A giveaway at the CACCS meeting this past weekend. It's called a Zipper Plant. It is some kind of Euphorbia.

Monadenium Ritchei

I bought this one at the same meeting. We always have a silent auction, but occasionally a vendor brings in a few cacti and succulents for sale. Every month I tell myself that I will not buy, bid, or take any freebies home, and every month I come home with at least two! Same thing happens every Monday when I tell myself that I will start a diet and I don't listen to that one either!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Trunk Keeper

I am the keeper of the old family trunk. My Grandfather born in Switzerland, and saw the wonders of this country in 1884 when, at age 19, he arrived in New York on a Swiss government business errand. On this visit he met and formed an acquaintance with Teddy Roosevelt, then a police commissioner in New York City. It was due to this acquaintance that, after several trips to the US, he decided to immigrate. On the last trip in 1895, he brought my Grandmother with him and they married in New York the day after arrival. After living on the California coast for a few years, they moved to Arizona, living in Mesa and Tempe before moving to west Maricopa County. In 1919 the family homesteaded on 160 acres of desert land. In just a few years, the desert wasteland blossomed and bloomed into an oasis and showplace.

The farm lane leading to the house was lined with almond trees, acres of wine grapes, fields of alfalfa for the Holstein dairy cows, an acre of citrus, black walnut and pecan trees, fig, pomegranate and date palms all surrounded the home. A screened porch wrapped around three sides of the home, and the on the last side, was a root cellar entrance. Canned vegetables, jams and the homemade wines from the grape harvest lined the cellar shelves, along with anything that needed to be kept out of the hot, dry heat. That included all the grand kids who loved to go into the dark, cool, scary place on the hottest of days. That musty smell of damp vegetation in the cellar, the distinct odor of cottonwood tree fungus, carnations, fig leaves and citrus blossoms are just a few odors that evoke so many childhood memories.

A vegetable and flower garden grew in the front yard, and another next to the dairy barn. They raised chickens, turkeys and calves, and after mowing season, they rented their fields for sheep to graze for a few weeks. I was born in a small house on the farm and lived there until my dad bought a dairy farm a few miles away.

Over the years, this old trunk and most of its contents survived the dry hot desert climate with only minimal damage. As children we looked forward to going though the old trunk, and I'm certain we destroyed a few things.

This old button bag that my aunt made as a child in the early 1920s held all the family's new and used buttons.

My grandparents had three healthy sons born at the very beginning of the twentieth century, then set of twin girls--deceased very young, another daughter who died in infancy in 1909 and then, another daughter in 1913 and a set of triplet boys in 1916. The triplet story later....

The trunk was filled with old books, pictures mostly unnamed, scarves, dollies, monogrammed hankies, dish towels, letters, postcards, and calling cards in beautiful cases.

A still intact Edelweiss, the national flower of Switzerland, was pressed and has been in the trunk for over 100 years! Remember the song from The Sound of Music?

Now and then, I rummage through the old trunk, and in those moments, I am home, a child once again!

Friday, April 24, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Just a few of my favorite things, in and around my backyard garden. To see the sunrise each morning is by far my greatest joy! Or, maybe it is...

My most favorite of all. I bought this wind chime because it sounded like the church bells that I heard and loved on my trip to Switzerland. This chime is tuned just like them. Or maybe it is...

The fast growing Orange Jubilee that keeps the hummingbirds coming back to my garden day after day. Or...

Maybe it's this stained glass sun catcher created by my friend. But then, it could be...

The "weeds" that I almost pulled up last year, knowing I didn't plant anything where they were growing. I let them go, and...they turned out to be beautiful flowers! This is a large stand of them that reseeded from last year. They are either Oriental Poppies or Orchid Rock Roses. Don't know which for sure.
I just saw another favorite thing! It's...

One of this year's birthday gifts. It is is getting a good workout with all the winds we are having! This year we've had a record number of days with wind.

But, the best of the best is being surrounded by all my family, enjoying a tranquil spring day, eating my favorite home cooked meal, my favorite birthday cake, and wondering .... Lord, how did I get here? I never dreamed I could be so blessed, and I am so thankful for all my blessings!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pudgeduck's Garden Update

Just one year after planting, my Desert Museum Palo Verde tree has shot up to over 10feet tall and it is now in full bloom. It's also full of bees!

The Bush Morning Glory has blooms for the first time this year. I once tried Mexican Evening Primrose in this spot, but it just didn't grow. The stuff is usually a bit invasive, so when you can't even get it going, let alone to get it to spread, it's frustrating. I do like the Bush Morning Glory though. The spring flowers don't last long, but the plant stays green (actually silvery gray green) all year.

My Queen Victoria Agave will get needed light shade this year from the Palo Verde tree. This is one Agave that can't take a western exposure of the summer sun. I have had this one for over seven years. Since I don't have any of my front yard desert plants on drip irrigation, my plants are slower growing than most. The only pruning I have to do is to keep the palo verde thinned out to keep it from becoming top heavy and prone to toppling in monsoon winds.

This Mexican Bird of Paradise is 13 months old and has tripled in size. It will become a small multi-trunked tree to provide shade to the small courtyard area. It has just began its summer bloom.

My Indian Fig Pricky Pear produced two flowers last year after seventeen years of nothing, and this year it has seven buds. Maybe it just finally reached puberty, or maybe it is what's called a late bloomer!

This Maternity Plant will start soon start draping over the pot (I hope). Aiyana gave me this potted plant after I commented on how I liked hers because it draped over and then up in the pot.

We recently had a couple of days of wonderful soaking rain. April is one of our driest months, and can't wait to see what changes this late rain will bring for the summer!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I took these photos though my new 80% sun-reduction screens. During the day you can't see through them to the inside of the house, so I had time to get the camera and take a few pictures without him seeing me. I thought he may have buried a few seeds under the Agave in the planter, and he was digging them up to munch on. As I watched him dig deeper with dirt flying everywhere, I opened the door to scare him off. When I looked into the planter, I found that he was eating the Agave roots!

I guess we will have to set a trap, and if we catch him, we'll take him to a desert wash area down the block from the house. Hopefully that will be far enough away for him not to find his way back. Or, maybe he will remember the trap scare and not want to come back! As Sarah Jessica Parker once said, "You can't be friends with a squirrel! A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Neighborhood Updates

This photo updates the destruction of the mountain I wrote about before. They are putting in some retail stores in my community. They've cleared the construction area by blasting and grading the mountain, and actual building construction has started.

The store walls are going up, despite the slowing economy. It looks like the fall opening is still on target. Everyone is excited, even though it will bring more traffic and people to the area. Right now, we have to drive 13 miles just to get groceries, so in one way the retail center will be a good addition.

Our little community has been somewhat isolated for nearly 20 years. The community started just before the savings and loan debacle of the late 1980's, which slowed down progress because the owner of the project was, ta--da--Charles Keating! After the development's subsequent bankruptcy it was sold a couple of times, and then more home builders came in, but it's been slow. Just before this recession, building was at an all time high, and then it all went bust. It seems we take one step forward and then fall two steps back. The slowness of the development has been nice because it has remained so peaceful and beautiful, but we can't stop change or progress!

The railing on the side of the mountain must be for safety--maybe to prevent falling rocks or falling people. Just guessing!

My neighbor's Ocotillo is in full bloom. The orange flowers are unusual, as most Ocotillo flowers are red around here. Some Ocotillo flowers are a red-orange, but these are just plain orange-orange. We rarely see yellow or white ones. In late winter and spring the flowers come alive--if they get some moisture. They will last until July. The canes are sometimes used to make fences, corrals and Ramada roofs. An Ocotillo fence of canes will sometimes come alive. When it rains, the seemingly dead canes get green leaves all over them.

Today is the first day in quite a while without wind. We've had more windy days this year than any other on record. Wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour have been frequent! It will start up again tomorrow. A lot of my flowers have just given up--blown over, burned edges or just dead! The wind just sucks out any moisture left in them.

The sweet peas are forming seed pods, so it looks like an early summer planting of Vincas are in order for this month. We're still working on the front door refinish--I am allergic to sawdust and I haven't been much help with all the sanding. The older I get the longer it takes to complete projects. I think part of the problem is that I forget what I should be doing....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sneak Peak!

Here is a sneak peak of the new block wall color. It's Sky Blue by Laura Ashley. One section sucked up a whole lot of paint! I need one more coat, but I am going to get a spray painter before I paint the other three panels. I have the three colors picked out--just waiting for the urge to paint. I'm refinishing the front door at the moment and I think painting the block wall would have been a whole lot easier! Good thing the weather is perfect--all I have for now is a security screen door. I just keep the lights off and the TV turned way down so as not to disturb the neighbors. If I had the air conditioner going, it would run up one heck of a bill! The door should be finished in a couple days.

The tomato plant that keeps on giving. I planted this Husky Cherry patio tomato last August and have enjoyed tomatoes almost every day since!

An Ice Plant in full bloom in my daughter's garden. I never had one that lived more than a few weeks.

Every Agave along the parkway has sent up flower stalks. It is quite a sight! Some are so heavy they are tipping over and lying on the sidewalks.

Need help identifying the vine from my daughter's garden. She bought this untagged, fast growing vine in a gallon container last fall from Lowe's, and it has bloomed almost every day. I love the bright orange flowers, and wouldn't it look great growing up on my Sky Blue wall? I can't find any like it, and Lowe's can't identify it to reorder! It probably won't grow for me anyway--I am very frugal with my watering. My Son-In-Law has a green thumb and a large water bill, but I would like to give it a try!

Still waiting for ANY cactus to bloom!!!! Maybe in May.