September 21, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Salvage, and rain for ten minutes

How much rain did we get? Enough to wash the dust off the leaves of the orange tree, but not enough to wash the trickle-down mud off the leaves of plants below the orange tree. Used the Dramm wand for that. But it was real rain, and that was good enough. Gorgeous sunset last night, and beautiful cloudy day today.

The dark rock in the middle of this photo has been in the family forever. Pallet is from the feed store, circular saw blade from a local salvage/recycle yard, and hanging pots from a long-ago summer in Guanajuato. The manzanita branch was rescued from a lot clean-up near the cabin in Big Bear. Plants: Opuntia 'Santa Rita' on the left, with stonecrop 'Dragon's Blood'; a little Agave bovicornuta; Aloe erinacea (one of the few survivors of an aloe purge, since I can bring him inside for the winter); a cereus monstrose cultivar, one of six pieces a nice gent gave to me after he'd pruned the parent plants; and an Agave utahensis. Below them: Agave isthmensis on the left; little Opuntia basilaris brachyclada (a California endemic native to the foothills of the San Gabriels and the San Bernardinos); and down in the lower right corner, an Agave 'Sierra Mixteca.' The bougainvillea on the right is called 'Camarillo Fiesta,' just the kind of fantasy-of-Old-California name that would pull me in, but I love it for the pink and peach bracts.

This is the first blog post I've written since I retired. I remember blog-writing as an activity hobbled by time-constraint stress, and suddenly it's calm and restful. Amazing. During my last, busy year at work I bought a tablet, which is great for news and Instagram and falling asleep in an armchair at the end of the day, but unimaginable for blogging, at least for me. I want to get back to this.

I mentioned Instagram: you can see my photos here, or of course via the app. The IG crowd now includes Denise of A Growing Obsession, Loree of Danger GardenPam of DiggingReuben of Rancho Reubidoux, and Gerhard of Succulents and More, to name just a few familiars. It's a good bet that your favorite landscape designers, nurseries, nursery owners, shops, national parks, botanical gardens, potters, bird lovers, photographers, and garden authors are on Instagram, along with many other terrific accounts. Warning: time sink.

The Wednesday Vignette meme is hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum, where she writes today about life's fluctuations. Perfect!

May 20, 2016

Not drowning but waving

Everything is crazy busy right now, but in a few weeks I'll be tacking a "re" in front of the just plain "tired," and the pups, the garden, the birds and the blogs will, I hope, be glad to see more of me. I've certainly missed them all. In the meantime, a couple more shots from Instagram.

February 24, 2016

Wednesday vignette: #AtTheH

I noticed a while back that all the cool kids were tagging their Instagram photos of the Huntington Desert Garden with #AtTheH, and slave to fashion that I am, I started doing that, too. (Yep, I'm @weezette on Instagram.) Turns out that the Huntington folks started the tag themselves, clever souls. And now a photo of mine is on display at the H itself! I about died of delight.

Instagram is chock-full of gardeners and plant nerds (gardenerds, as Piece of Eden puts it), and great for fast posts when you've been under the weather and tired from the day job, *cough*whoopingcough*cough*. Not that I'm counting the days until spring break or anything. So looking forward to getting back into the swing of things — tons of stuff to do in the garden, and the weather is beyond perfect right now.

More vignette goodness hosted by Anna over at Flutter & Hum.

December 12, 2015

Maguey with Virgen de Guadalupe

Maguey with Virgen de Guadalupe

It's her day. (Read up on Mayahuel here.)

And Chet is eleven! Read Julie's wonderful post here. "Get outside. Smell the air. Look around. Cover ground." Heartfelt amen to that. Happy Birthday, Chet Baker!

December 1, 2015

Cold snap, and two new opuntias

Opuntia sulphurea, on a roll.

With temps below 30F for a few nights, many of the new and/or not-so-hardy plants were crammed under the patio roof...

and covered with frost cloth each evening. Old nursery pots came in handy as covers, too (see far right).

The sun room (odd name, since its windows face north and east) is filled with tender plants, and the garage holds a few more.

Nighttime temperatures for the next ten days or so are expected to be in the 40s F. No rain expected until late next week.

I brought two new opuntia species home from the Mexican Hat nursery. The first is Opuntia sulphurea, shown in the top photo. It's native to Argentina and Bolivia, and has stout pads with long, twisted spines. It's not supposed to be frost hardy, but a Gates C&SS friend who lives a few blocks from me has a big potted O. sulphurea that shrugs at our occasional mid 20F temps and snow. (If it grows in the "high Andes Mountains" one would imagine it to be at least frost tolerant, but several sites rate its hardiness only to zone 9b [25F].) After I bought the plant you see in these photos, the good folks at the nursery tossed in another sulphurea for free — thanks, Mexican Hat! Those twisty spines:

Wiggly: Opuntia sulphurea.

A few links:

Opuntia sulphurea at CactiGuide.
First page of an article from the C&SS Journal on O. sulphurea (October 2013).
Photo of a beautiful plant at the Huntington, via Dave's Garden.

My other new opuntia also has amazing spines, but in this case they are long and straight as knitting needles. The parent plant was growing in the ground at the Mexican Hat nursery, and a kind helper sliced off these paddles for me:

Opuntia quimilo, drying out in the garage with some cholla sections. Weird blue tint on spines produced magically by garage window.

The quimil is another native of South America. Cold hardy to zone 8, maybe. Spines are reported to reach from 8 to 16 inches in length. (Longest spines in the photo above are >4 inches.)

Lots of cool information about the quimil in this post (in Spanish). To wit:

O. quimilo is said to be a favorite hideout of black widow spiders.

The paddles are used as a folk-medicine treatment for venomous snakebites. (Paddles are also used to make a poultice for healing wounds.) It'd be kind of depressing if a black widow bit you while you were trying to break off a paddle to treat your venomous snakebite.

The quimil is a staple of this creature's diet. The pecarí quimilero was apparently known to science only through fossils, and was thought extinct until it was "rediscovered" in the 1970s. From the Wiki link: "It uses its tough snout to roll the cacti on the ground, rubbing the spines off. It may pull off the spines with its teeth and spit them out. The kidneys are specialized to break down acids from the cacti."

Are there any popular North American songs that employ cactus as metaphor? Here's a good one from Argentina. Free translation:

I'd like to be a quimil
rough and stiff-spined
so that no one would shake me
looking for ripe fruit.

It was 38F when I took the dogs out this morning. Spring can come anytime, if you ask me. Thanks to blogger and plantswoman CHACO from Argentina, whose post provided such a wealth of information on the quimil. How intertwined are the lives of plants and people...