Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brightening Up the Desert

It's summer, and I want to be outside in the garden.

It's summer, and I want my knees to be covered with soil and I want my fingernails to be blackened and broken by the earth I'm pushing aside as I place the transplants gently into their new homes.  

It's summer, and I'm sitting inside, typing to you, because it's just too hot to be out there.  We've turned off the heating elements feeding the pool and it's still 95.  That makes for a relaxing bathtub, but doesn't do much to cool off a suffering gardener.

I tried.  I really did.  I went out to water the plants which aren't reached by the irrigation system, and I nearly drowned in my own perspiration.  Dragging hoses across the desert - even a 50' hose reaching just across my driveway and into my front yard - is more exertion than I'm looking for these days.
Mattie offered a yoga hike on Saturday morning, and I signed up without thinking much about it.  As the temperatures rose along with the humidity I began to doubt the wisdom of my choice, but Saturday dawned and there were clouds in the sky.  At least I wouldn't fry.  The forecast was for afternoon showers, and the drops held off, perhaps not wanting to interfere with our vinyasa flows.  By the time we finished our silent, meditative walk back to the parking lot, our hearts and our souls were full.  There's something wonderful about practising yoga in the great outdoors.  Downward dog really does give you a different view of the world when you're outside.  Instead of looking through my legs at a mirrored reflection of the rest of the class, or seeing others doing the same, on Saturday morning I stood up facing the Rincons and my inversions presented the Santa Catalinas.  I wasn't focused on my tight hamstrings; I was watching a wren perch on a branch, a wrren who was watching the silly humans.  It was a wonderful smile.

But it's still summer, and the gardener in me wants to plant.  Since the soil is not accepting applications at this time (it's too warm for new root shoots, and all but cacti which are planted now run the risk of becoming compost before September ends) I was forced to find my camera and commune that way.

Share the joy, with me, if you'd like:

The crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) blooms at the hottest part of the season.  It's always a surprise.  Just when I think that I, along with every other growing thing in my yard, will be wilted and unproductive, out come the blooms.  The hummingbirds just love them, and so does my water bill.  Neither the two crepe myrtles nor the bougainvilla (a rare instance of where the common name is the latin name)
are on the drip system, yet they bloom profusely.
The crepe myrtle is deciduous, and that led me to believe that it would be a thirsty devil.  
But, no..... the sporadic monsoons are just enough to keep them happy.
Apparently, the bougainvilla displays a richer color with less water.
Who knew?

The Texas Rangers (Leucophyllum frutescens) are in full bloom

and the individual petals are as pretty as the whole bush.

Lest you think that the only summer color comes from these more familiar leafy flora, I'll leave you with my Fishhook Barrel cactus (Mammillaria microcarpa)

You can see all the stages of the blooming cycle right on this one plant.

Up close and personal, you get this:

It's pretty.  It's colorful.  But it's summer and I want to be gardening.  Guess I should have thought about the psychic disconnect before I moved to the desert southwest.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Madam,

    I am a final year botany student studying at Sacred Heart college, Thevara, Cochin, Kerala. My primary interests are lithops, cacti and other succulents. I have been collecting cacti, lithops and other succulents for about an year and have a few in my collection, but I can't find any good collections here in Cochin and most nurseries don't stock mesembs or lithops here. I was wondering if you could give me a few seeds of Mammillaria microcarpa or any other cacti that you can spare. It would be really great if you could tell me about cactus potting mixtures since I'm new to this.
    My address is:
    Sebastian Devassy Cherian
    C/o Mr. Gopinathan (Contractor)
    Kalappurakkal House
    Maradu P.O Kundannoor
    Cochin, Kerala
    India 682304
    Phone: 9746603949/7736476687

    Eagerly awaiting your reply.

    Yours faithfully



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