Archive for March, 2016

Cactus Flowers at the Nursery

Claret Cup Yellow (Generic Barrel) Cactus Flower

Bob and I went to a local nursery today looking for replacements for some failed sage brush in the courtyard. We finally bought some bottle brush bushes in five gallon pots that we will put in the ground in the days to come.

While we were there, I (of course) took some photos of the flowers that were opened on various cacti and other xeriscape flowering plants. I have been posting photos of pink flowers here this spring, since the pink ones seem to open first. At the nursery, there were other colors, too, most noticeably the red Claret Cup Hedgehog flowers and some bright yellow flowers on a barrel cactus that had neither its nickname nor a binomial designation, so it is a generic yellow-flower-producing barrel cactus at this point. Click on either image to enlarge.

We also bought another echinocereus cactus similar to hedgehogs that we have, that will produce red flowers. There are numerous flower buds on the cactus that will likely open soon. We need to pick a place to plant this cactus but will probably wait until after the flowers com to put it in the ground.

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Slither Hither

Young Gopher Snake

Prior to setting up the tools and dumpster on the driveway for some yard work today, this smallish Sonoran Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis) appeared on the driveway near the garage door that I had opened shortly before. It seemed to be headed toward the garage, but when I called Damsel out for this photo op, the snake suddenly decided to head off to the rosemary patch giving her a loud hiss before disappearing from view.

These snakes can be up to six feet in length as adults, but this one was barely two feet long. It had to be a youngster in snake years.

We like having these guys around the area because they prey on rats and other undesirable desert rodents. Sonoran Gopher Snakes are plentiful in the southwest. We have seen as many as ten of these in the five years of living here and only one rattlesnake, which I think is a good ratio. Also, only one Gila Monster sighting.

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Happy Easter


Easter blessings to everyone on this beautiful Easter Sunday . . .

Cap’n Bob & the Damsel

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Hidden Hedgehog Cactus Flowers

Hidden Hedgehog Cactus

I don’t usually hike up into the hill behind our house, but today, Bob told me that one of the “hidden” hedgehog cacti up near the back property line had open flowers. So, I took my camera and foraged my way through the rocks and desert brush to get to a spot under the two palo verde trees up there to take this photo.

This is one of two clusters of hedgehogs still up on the hill (we brought one down to the front of the property last winter). There is a third, but it is actually on the neighbor’s property to the north. The other hidden cluster has buds on it, but is not in bloom yet. There are also many unopened flower pods on the cactus in the photo. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Scenic Saguaro Forest

Saguaro Forest

One of the more scenic highways in Arizona is State Route 74 which connects US 60 in Morristown (10 miles south of Wickenburg) and Interstate 17 at New River, near the north end of Phoenix. The highway runs through an area dense in growth of the iconic saguaro cactus. The road goes through some flat desert and then at the east end through gentle hills and across the Agua Fria River just below Waddell Dam at the south end of Lake Pleasant.

It was a beautiful day today with temperatures in the mid to upper 70’s and a little breezy with gusts to around 15-20 mph. High thin clouds and mostly blue skies. The image above is somewhere in the middle of the road but typical of the scenery you can enjoy when out here. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Vernal Equinox

Vernal Equinox

I got this screen capture this morning over at which has probably the best depiction of the orbital stations of the Earth relating to seasonal changes. The animated graphic nicely illustrates the concept of the Earth passing through the eight stations as it orbits the sun.

Coincidentally with the advent of spring, one of the hedgehog cacti I wrote about yesterday has two flowers open this morning. Damsel took this image of one of them. Click on the image to enlarge.

Hedgehog Cactus Flower

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Spring in the Outback

Hedgehog Buds

By the term “Outback,” I mean neither the vast wilderness in Australia nor the not-so-well-known Arizona Outback, but the part of our little plot here in town up on the hill behind the house. Our outback is mostly still virgin desert with flora and fauna indigenous to the wild areas of this region.

I took a hike up there this morning to see if some of the flowering cacti were sporting spring buds - sure enough, this hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus) near the north property line has quite a few flower buds getting ready to open.

We seem to have several varieties of hedgehog cactus around the property. Two of the hedgehog depicted are in the outback and several that were either natural or transplanted to the lower part of the lot among the landscaping rocks. Most have pink flowers but some have flowers that are darker pink or purple. The Damsel will be sure and photograph the ones on the lower property and I plan to venture into the outback to capture photos of the ones up there. Click on the image to enlarge.

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