Posts Tagged ‘cacti’

When all those flowers are gone, we’ll still be here. (If you’ve seen “The Three Amigos”, your mind is saying “I’m still here, El Guaopo.” 🙂 But I digress.

Ask what sort of plants grow in the desert and “cactus” will likely be the first answer for almost everyone. Cacti have been designed specifically to thrive in an environment where water is at a premium, heat at a maximum. The saguaro is the iconic cactus despite only growing in the Sonoran desert between sea level and 4,000 ft. Above that they’ll only grow on the southern, sunny side of a slope.

How best to capture and use water when there is so little? A long taproot and a plethora of wide-spreading roots just belowe the surface enable the saguaro to tap (pun intended) water well below the surface as well as whatever water just begins to soak into the ground. A thick waxy coating and hard spines prevent water loss and as the cactus accumulates water, the outside expands to store more and more water. That means a full cactus might weigh as much as a ton.

Some saguaro have many arms, others have none. Saguaro serve as favorite apartment buildings for birds and in spring and early summer are topped with beautiful white flowers. It’s not easy to get photos of them, though, because flowers are so high above a standing person. But don’t mess with a saguaro! Besides it being a class-four felony to cut one down, at least one saguaro has been know to take its own revenge:

In 1982, a man was killed after damaging a saguaro. David Grundman was shooting and poking at a saguaro cactus in an effort to make it fall. An arm of the cactus, weighing 230 kg (500 lb), fell onto him, crushing him and his car. The trunk of the cactus then also fell on him. The Austin Lounge Lizards wrote the song “Saguaro” about this death. ~Wikipedia

Remember that teddy bear cholla are NOT cuddly, despite their appealing name. The silvery spines are actually leaves but rather deadly ones Don’t cuddle with this teddy!

The prickly pear (focus on the prickly part) have long spines and fruit that is eaten in many countries and cultures. We had prickly pear lemonade once, the fruit giving it a beautiful deep pink color.

Six-Word Saturday 5.21.22

Once we joined the Desert Botanical Garden, I figured we should take advantage of the reciprocal membership option, good at botanical gardens throughout the US. Tuscon’s Tohono Chul was on the list and as some of you know, we fell in love with its slice of Sonoran desert plant life.

The variegated plant in the front left is a century plant but don’t get too excited. As the Gardening Solutions website points out:

The plant’s common name is a bit misleading; while many people think it means these plants live for—or bloom after—100 years, it actually matures much faster. Century plants generally take between 8 and 30 years to flower.

Once the plant has reached maturity, a central stem grows up to 20 feet tall. Pale yellow or white blossoms appear atop this branched flower spire during summertime. Most century plants will die after they flower, although the spineless century plant (Agave attenuata) flowers multiple times a year.

Our rental house had one of these which blossomed last year. Eventually the tall, thick stem began to list and had to be cut down and put out for bulk pickup along with the rest of the dying plant. We were underwhelmed. Still looking for something to replace it.

I love Tohono Chul’s large amount of signage for their vast number of desert plants. “Red Spike Ice Plant” is a great name even though ice is unlikely to occur anywhere in its vicinity.

Fire sticks is a perfect name for this plant.

Although the century plant is a type of agave, this agave is probably more easily recognizable as such. There are over 200 types of agave. I must say that this one is pretty impressive. These leaves serve as catchalls for all sort of desert detritus or, every so often, rain. The edges have little sharp protrusions, making them look a bit like saws.

For me there’s nothing quite as attractive as a well-built stone wall but having a planter spot for a cactus elevates this one.

Thus endeth our walk for today. But don’t despair. There will be more.

FOTD 3.8.22

When there’s a Chihuly exhibit on at the Desert Botanical Garden, it’s easy to forget that his creations are just visitors and when they leave, the natives will still be there, patiently waiting for their recognition. If they don’t get their moment in the sun, well, let’s just say they can be a bit prickly!

The name “Creeping Devil” should give you some idea of how insidious this type of cactus is. You might say you’re looking at a plethora of cacti. Or would you be seeing a lot of cactuses? I decided to look it up online and found that either is acceptable. More than a few sources mentioned that “cacti” is the Latin plural while “cactuses” is English. See? You now know a little Latin.

This one reminds me of a plant version of a boa constrictor.

And then we have the cactus with the unusual shapes. Of maybe it’s more than one cactus. Hard to tell from this shot. But that’s it for this addition of the Cactus Chronicles. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend. And since I was plunging into the morass of English/Latin/forms/etc., I began to wonder where “meantime” came from. It’s not, as you might think, related to Greenwich mean time but, long explanation short, comes from “mean” (in the middle or in a middle place) and of course “time.” Hence a time between now and later. 🙂 Aren’t we just learned as all get-out today (and no, we’re not exploring “all get-out.”) Sounds as if it should be related to the current “Shut the door!” (not meant in the literal sense.) But if you shut the door, you can’t all get out, so… 🙂

Tohono Chul featured cacti of all sorts but sometimes even a hardy cactus dies, sometimes leaving an intriguing looking skeleton such as this one.

SquareOdds 2.15.22

I’m off today to California to take part in the baby shower for our older daughter. This will be our first grandchild. 🙂 I’ve been taking care of my mom and dad, with much appreciated help from my wonderful husband, and it’s been tough. My mom moved into a care home, less than two days later was in the hospital with an infection, and is now back in the care home in hospice care. I’m definitely ready for a break!! I can’t wait to get into the van and get on the road. You can be sure I’ll enjoy my six days, even if two are mostly on the road.

The good news is that Becky’s back with her Squares challenge for 2022, the subject being “odd”, and although I won’t be blogging while I’m gone (at least I don’t plan to), I’ll start you off with an odd entry from the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix where I’ve been sharing the Chihuly installation over the last weeks. These give me that Dr. Seuss vibe that I so enjoy or maybe something from the Muppets.

See you next week.

The Square Odds

It’s easy to take photos of the sculptures themselves, but remember that these beautiful interlopers were dropped into a beautiful desert setting. (I initially typed “dessert” setting. That “s” makes all the difference. But the desert view is as sweet in its own way as dessert.) So let’s take a look at what you might see if you were walking along with me. Some of the inhabitants are as amazing as the glass and certainly a lot more dangerous.



Into view.

Tomorrow we’ll take some different looks at these sculptures that look for al the world like glamorous matches all alight at the same time.

Almost at the end of the trail, literally and metaphorically as far as the Chihuly installation is concerned, we came across a number of these creations which turned out to be neon. At night they’ll be lit up, another thing to enjoy when we visit after dark. Imagine how striking they’ll be then!

To the left in the next photo, with the sun behind it, you’ll see one of our favorite things in the garden: a boojum tree. The “tree” is actually a succulent that Dr. Seuss would have been proud to have created. Who knows? Perhaps he did. Click here to view a couple funky giant boojums.

Never forget that the Chihuly sculptures are only beautiful guests in this garden. Here are a few more of the inhabitants. Don’t let the soft look of these deceive you. The little spines can hurt!

No subtlety here, just “stay out of my face” spines surrounding lovely, small flowers.

That’s our walk for today. Unfortunately you’ll have to provide your own refreshments but think of all the virtual calories you burned! 🙂

Where I live, “spiky” and “flower” are often found side by side. In this case, we’ll just add “orange” for the trifecta. Happy Friday!

Ann-Christine has set us the task today of find spots and dots, and shares three examples from the amazing work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, whose ‘Infinity Mirror Room’ Installation we saw at the WNDR Museum in Chicago. As we only had a minute in the room, you can understand my slightly demented look as I strove to both enjoy and photograph what was around me. You know how cool it is when you get several mirrors just right to appear to go on forever? Multiply that by a factor of a million and you might be able to imagine this.

My life is a dot lost among thousands of other dots.
— Yayoi Kusama

But let your eyes rest, look at some other examples and enjoy some random dot quotes.

Bird spots and dots and not of the droppings sort…

Purpose is the thread that connects the dots to everything you do that leads you to an extraordinary life.
— Oprah Winfrey

Prickly desert spots and dots…

Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path. ~Steve Jobs

Frozen spots and dots…

Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation. ~Lois Wyse

And at the other temperature extreme, some almost-boiling spots and dots.

I don’t think Seurat would have been aware of the dots – he would have been aware of what he was trying to do. The dots were an instrument.
— Frank Auerbach

Happy mid-May! I hope wherever you are that you’ve gotten at least one vaccination shot and are able to spend time with friends and family in person.