Friday, May 21, 2021


There was no monsoon to speak of this year.  Our winter rains were pretty much non-existent.  The oleander across the street receives no supplemental irrigation; its owner has a row of dead and dying plants behind his fence, but directly in my view.  All over town, there are trees barely holding on to life.  

Our oasis (the areas closest to the house) is well irrigated, and everything is fine.  The irrigation drops off toward the street, where the plants are drought tolerant and the water hasn't flowed in years.  New plantings get a deep soaking, and everything gets really wet down two or three times during the summer, but for the most part, what's out there must fend for itself.

I lost a few little cacti and one barrel cactus early in Pandemica.  I thought of them as dying in sympathy for what was happening to their humans.  They were outside the view from my desk window, so their absence didn't make a dent in my life's experience.

But yesterday I came home to find this:

Fallen. Dead. Sad.

It's right by the driveway so I see it all the time. 

The gardeners are on hiatus until July.  It's too heavy and too prickly to be moved by anyone I know and love.  

I heard Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist, talk about trees on NPR.

Simard says that trees have been known to share nutrients at critical times to keep each other healthy. She says the trees in a forest are often linked to each other via an older tree she calls a "mother" or "hub" tree.

She goes on to urge that dying trees not be culled.  Rather, they should be left in the ground until they are good and truly gone.  During that time, they are sharing nutrients via an underground fungal network.  

Now, she didn't mention the same thing happening with cacti, but I don't see why it wouldn't be true.  Go forth and multiply is the prime directive for all living things, and those things living in our harsh environment need all the help they can get.  

So, I'm not going to worry about the dessicating carcass.  I'm going to admire it and encourage it to send its potency to the other plants nearby. 

That will feel much better than being displeased by a toppled over plant in the front of my house.


  1. This drought is simply terrible, the desert plants in the wash just outside our wall just look blasted and blackened. Everything inside our wall is on irrigation, but the palms are all stressed and their lower fronds are yellowing much faster than usual, we spent over an hour removing them yesterday and we're still not done. I think I'll go put a hose on the Saguaro just outside the wall.......

    1. The Sunday paper led with an article about our stressed saguaros growing flowers (and maybe fruit) out their sides as well as at the tips.
      I feel like I'm watching the canary in the coal mine.


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