Archive for Home & Garden

Night Blooming Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers

Night Blooming Cactus Flowers

Our Argentine Giant (Echinopsis candicans) offered these two beautiful flowers last evening. This is the second blooming on this cactus this year. Since we purchased this cactus in 2011 and planted it in front of the house, it has reliably given us flowers every year. This year, it is also starting to grow “pups,” which are the three buds seen near the base of the cactus in the image at the left above. This variety of cactus spreads out as it ages with several pups, each eventually producing flowers.

About Argentine Giant from Wikipedia:

Echinopsis candicans has a shrubby growth habit, with individual stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The plant as a whole can be as much as 3 m (10 ft) across. The stems are light green, with a diameter of up to 14 cm (5.5 in) and have 9–11 low ribs. The large white areoles are spaced at 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) and produce brownish yellow spines, the central spines being up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long, the radial spines only up to 4 cm (1.6 in).

The fragrant white flowers open at night. They are large, up to 19 cm (7.5 in) across and 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in) long.

Summer is not over by a long shot and there are more desert flowers to come. Stay tuned.

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Red Bird of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise Flower

Today, the first few of the colorful Red Bird of Paradise flowers opened in our courtyard this morning. These flowers (a.k.a. Pride of Barbados) will be opening until fall. We have three of the Red Bird shrubs in the courtyard, so there should be plenty of color throughout the summer.

More about these shrubs from Texas Superstar:

Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free climates. The plant is usually tall, growing large even after freezing to the ground the previous winter. The leaves are fern like. Pride–of–Barbados has incredibly showy blossoms of orange and red. The individual flowers are bowl shaped, 2–3 inches across, with five crinkled, unequal red and orange petals, and ten prominent bright red stamens. The striking orange red flowers are an attention grabber!

The flowers get a lot of visits from butterflies, bees, sphinx moths and hummingbirds. We have seen these and more browsing the flowers throughout the summer. The sphinx moths mentioned above usually show up around dusk since they are mostly nocturnal.

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Summer Seems To Be Here

Our First Saguaro Flowers

In spite of the actual summer start date next month, we have had triple digit weather for two days now and the forecast is for more of the same for the next few days. I just went out on the back patio (4:30PM) and saw the temperature gauge showing 105°F. That’s about a degree cooler than an hour ago. We can deal with it since the air conditioner is keeping the house cool enough.

The flowers in the image above were open this morning on our big saguaro cactus out front by the driveway. These are the first two buds to open on this cactus and there are many more to come. There have been saguaro flowers open in other places in town for a couple of weeks now, but these are our first. We look forward to having a lot more of these in the weeks to come.

In the courtyard, I am expecting our Red Bird of Paradise shrubs to have flowers open any day now, and our Cherry Red cactus flowers coming shortly after those.

Despite the warmer temperatures, we always look forward to our summer flowers. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Arizona Spring Cactus Flowers

Beavertail Cactus Flower Prickly Pear Flower
Argentine Giant Cactus Flower Ball Cactus Flower

Since mid-March, the cacti in our xeriscape gardens have had open flowers. The individual flowers aren’t around more than a day or two at most, but, thankfully, the individual flower buds have matured at different times over the last five weeks providing us with almost continuous colorful flowers from day to day.

The two flowers at the top are from our opuntia cacti, a.k.a. paddle cacti. Top left is from one of our beavertail cacti and top right is a flower on a prickly pear. The bottom left is an Argentine Giant flower. one of three that were open simultaneously last week. On the bottom right is a flower from a little ball cactus that my sister in Stockton, CA, mailed to me last year. I don’t know the botanical name of this cactus, but it sure makes pretty pink flowers.

I love springtime in the desert!

All the photos were taken using my Canon EOS Rebel T6i camera or with Bob’s Canon EOS Rebel SL1, both equipped with EFS 18-135mm lenses. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

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Yard Cleanup - Feeding the Chipper

Feeding the Chipper

Over the past months (maybe over a year) we have trimmed mesquite tree branches away from the driveway and in the back and front yard areas. We also recently removed a few branches from the plum tree in the courtyard to encourage it to grow upward. When we don’t have time to break the limbs down and stuff them into the refuse bin, we sometimes drag them across the road to our lot over there to be dealt with at a future time.

Well, the future is here. Yesterday, Damsel and I took the chipper that we bought last spring over there to dispose of the branches and create some mulch for Damsel’s gardening. I took the 3KW Honda Generator in the back of the pickup so we could have power to run the chipper.

We got most of the work done in that single session and created a box full of wood chip mulch that Damsel can spread on her trees and other items she grows. There remains some thicker branches that we will chop into firewood for our neighbors that have fireplaces.

When operating the chipper, the manufacturer recommends protection for eyes and ears (pieces fly and it’s loud). I borrowed the goggles and earmuffs from the range bag for the job. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Winter Cactus Flower

Winter Cactus Flower

Damsel’s so-called “Christmas Cactus” has flowers opening about a week after the holiday. From the looks of the plant, it’s showing that many more of the flowers will be opening over the next several days. Damsel took this image today when the sun was shining into the front window where the plant sits on the sill.

We didn’t post a new year message on the eve or the day, but we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2020. We let the post slip in favor of just relaxing and doing the usual holiday things, football bowl games, food, you know - celebrating in our own way.

It turns out that the switch from the old laptop to the new one has a few wrinkles. I have slowly been transferring all my “stuff” to the new one, but need to stay on line here until the complete switch over. My laptop is also the print server for the household, and it would put a drag on things if it were to be down for too long.

Another project associated with the computer replacement is the overhaul of the desk/workstation in the office. It needs to be reorganized and updated to new stuff. I just finished assembling a three-level desktop shelf (something needed for a long time) that will hold the various devices and get a lot of the stuff currently on the overcrowded desk up and out of the way.

So, we’re making progress on everything while keeping the pace comfortable for ourselves as we move through it all. Again, may you all have a blessed and happy new year.

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Sometimes, Life Gives You Lemons

Dwarf Lemon Tree Harvested Lemons

Late last week, the Damsel and I picked most of the lemons from our dwarf lemon tree west of the house by the RV Drive. For a “dwarf” tree, I’d say, it has reliably produced a large number of lemons each year since we had it planted seven or eight years ago.

We normally give some of the lemons to neighbors and a couple of senior centers here in town, and use the rest of them to produce Limoncello, an Italian “digestivo” after dinner liquor. Damsel uses a recipe form an on-line website modified to use diabetic sweetener rather than sugar. We can’t tell the difference in the end.

This year, however, we have a surplus of both lemons and Limoncello, so we’re going to give most of the crop away and juice some for another couple of uses. We don’t have any trouble finding friends, neighbors and food banks locally to dispose of them for good uses.

Just for a lark, I put together the little graphic below to leverage on an old adage about life giving you lemons . . .

Make Limoncello

Click on any image above to enlarge.

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