Friday, March 5, 2010

Ramblings on Spring

Spring is coming to the desert southwest.  There's no doubt about it.  

No one has seen any baby quail yet, but there are a lot of fully grown ones scrounging in my front yard right now - gathering foodstuffs for newly hatched chicks or fattening themselves up before they lay the eggs themselves?  I don't know, but I love sitting here at my desk, typing to you, and watching them. 

There's a yellow finch nibbling at the ground, which is surprising since they are usually on the crepe myrtle branches.  His friend just landed on the pathway and between the two of them they've managed to scare away the lone quail inside the courtyard gate.
Dr. DeA and his lovely wife hosted the Xeriscapists for a luncheon amongst the flora this noon, and I am still floating.   Their house is truly old Tucson, with decorative cement tile flooring and lots of alcoves

and nooks and spaces in the outdoors

with a brand new veggie garden enclosed from the predatory bunnies.  Gardeners are probably the only people who don't think bunnies are cute.  Not only did she feed us gorgeous and healthy and tasty delicacies - with recipes she swore came straight from the new edition of Joy of Cooking - but they sent us away with goodie bags filled with corms to plant.

Don't you wish you'd been with us?
Greg Corman was consulting with Not-Kathy's parents on a landscaping plan for their home under the shadow of the UofA's stadium.  It's an historic neighborhood, with possibly the most potholes per human in Tucson.  There's a dynamic (I'm being kind) mix of students and homeowners and, block by block, you can tell pride of place or two-semesters-and-gone.

The plant list was organized, the investigation had been done, and, we thought, the plan was set.  I was there for comic relief, and to bask in the aura of one of Tucson's treasures.  Greg understood the need to shield the kitchen windows from the neighbor's nakedness (he's a nice guy.... we don't want to embarrass him.....  that's what they said when I asked why they didn't tell him that they could see.... I thought you'd want to know that I was there for you, asking the questions which needed to be asked).

Greg's able to create a balance between edible plants and bee-friendly plants and fruit bearing trees and cacti with flowers for jellies and syrups and pads for starch and Not-Kathy has a list as long as her imagination of uses for that garden.  All the while, they are using only harvested rainwater.

It's really an impressive plan, and we're all very proud of it.  It is useful and beautiful and xeric and then her mom decided she needed a covered car-port.

Exit Ashleigh, stage left.
Part of the fun of being a Master Gardener is that there is invariably something on a table labeled "Free To A Good Home."  Today I brought some aloes and grasses to grace the homestead.  I know...... I know..... I promised that I wasn't planting anything new except pots-for-color this year.  But they were free.  And they were right there.  And I had a space for each of them.

Sometimes a plan must be amended.
In the past, the roads have been much too crowded, and the restaurants much too busy when March came to Tucson.  Following February's Rodeo (for which the schools are closed... this is the southwest, after all...) and Gem Show, March used to bring Spring Training tourists and snowbirds spending a month around all their kids' Spring Breaks.

This year, I turn out of my neighborhood with impunity.  We go out to dinner on Saturday night and there are empty tables in the trendy restaurant.  There's a paucity of shoppers with wine, cheese, crackers and chips in their baskets in the 10-or-less-items line in the upscale market near the resorts.

As a local, I love it.  As a taxpayer, as a citizen, as an American, I'm sad.
The beautiful photographs were taken by Cynthia Reid, who remembered to bring her camera this afternoon.  Visit her at her website and be impressed with the company I keep.  She's an artist, a gardener, a physician, a yogi and a very nice person, too.


  1. Ashleigh, thanks for stopping by my blog. I am in awe of your master gardener expertise! We in New England are just starting to see the bulbs peek out. It will be while, but I'll eventually have some garden photos posted when we are in our spring glory!

  2. Gardening and me = disaster but I admire those who do. Lucky I live in the desert. Cactus love me.

  3. Thanks for reading, ladies. My gardening is hit or miss, but I've given up feeling sad when I fail. I just toss the wretched thing in the bin and move on to admire those that have decided to grow well in my yard. I give myself no credit... everything that "takes" is a little miracle in and of itself.

    Glad the cacti love you, Mary. I can put them in but they don't seem to thrive for me. Can't wait to see your spring New England garden photos, Meg. I miss those tulips and hyacinths and crocus bulbs.



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