Cherry Red Cactus Flowers

cherry-collage.jpg

Last October, Damsel and I separated the individual stalks from our Cherry Red (Trichocereus Grandiflorus) cactus and planted them in various pots with the hope that they would survive and produce more of the wonderful hot pink flowers that the original produced. Well, we are pleased and amazed that nearly every one of the pups and the mother all have flowers or flower pods this weekend.

Judging from the number of immature flower buds, we should be enjoying Cherry Red flowers for days to come, if not weeks. This cactus (even though we may have overpaid a bit for it) has been a joy in that it reliably produces the attractive flowers each spring. Click on the image to enlarge.

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New Shredder/Chipper

chippa.pngOver the several years we have lived here in Arizona, we have found that the natural vegetation on and around the property requires some maintenance by us. Most notably, the mesquite trees and the creosote bushes. Either of those will overtake its environment given unchecked growth. There are several other vegetation varieties which might require some maintenance, but those are mostly out away from the house and garden.

Image: Assembled Unit

We acquired a light-duty unit since most of what we will shredding is on the order of ½ to ¾ inch branches and such. The unit is capable of chipping branches up to 1½ inches, but we will be saving the larger ones for the neighbor’s fireplace.

I assembled the unit today and did a test run with some of the scraps that are still up in the wash behind the retention wall, where I threw them after maintaining one of the mesquite trees up there a while back. There is a lot to clean up there and the test sample was a tiny bit of it. The rest will come later.

I took the manufacturer’s advise and used gloves, long sleeve shirt, eye and ear protection (courtesy of the shooting range bag) and commenced to feed some of the branches through the hopper. The material I was feeding conformed to our intended use being of small to medium sizes and the chips and sawdust-sized shreddings went into the unit’s built-in catch bin. No problems were encountered. The remains of the material fed through looked suitable to use as garden mulch, although we don’t exactly have that sort of garden here in the desert.

The unit requires 15 amps of 120VAC current. It is actually quieter than would require ear protection with the stuff I shredded today, but I will be using the earmuffs anyhow just in case something comes flying out of the unit backwards which can happen. Having more cover is better under those circumstances.

We’re pleased with it so far and intend to start some more serious cleanup of the wash area and some stuff still laying across the road where we trimmed up some of those mesquites over there.

UPDATE - FRIDAY 04/26/2019: Damsel and I took the shredder, the truck with the Honda generator and a bunch of tools across the road today to clean up an old mess of cut branches and to trim some of the spring growth off of the big mesquite over there. Happy to report the mess is cleaned up and many of the low-hanging branches on the tree are now redistributed at the base of the tree in the form of mulch. The chipper worked great. There is still more to do, but since it was hot (95°) today, we knocked off after we met our initial objectives.

Shredder at work

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Grand Canyon National Park Centennial Crowding

View from Yavapai Point

We can all agree that the scenery at Grand Canyon’s South Rim is nearly unsurpassed in its spectacular views of the canyon. And, looking at the second photo below of the South Entrance traffic this morning, we can all agree that the canyon’s popularity tests its infrastructure to the limit. Also, given that 2019 is the canyon’s Centennial celebration, it has become an even more internationally popular attraction.

South Entrance Traffic Jam

Although Damsel and I haven’t been there in a couple of years, the last several times (starting in 2008) we have gone to the South Rim we have found difficult parking, overcrowded view areas and tons of inconsiderate people who seriously detract from the enjoyment of the visit. We probably will not visiting there soon, but I asked the internet to show me slow times at the south rim and I got the following hit from the National Parks Service about a South Rim Survival Guide. They address several points, not all of which are useful to us, but I’ll share them anyhow.

Visiting During Busy Periods

Like other national parks, Grand Canyon has seen a dramatic increase in visitation over the last few years. The South Rim experiences crowded conditions during busy periods throughout the year, including spring break, summer, and holiday times during fall and winter. You can expect:

  • Long entrance station lines,
  • Long shuttle bus lines,
  • Limited parking near Grand Canyon Visitor Center,
  • Large crowds at popular viewpoints.

However, there are ways to navigate and avoid some of this congestion to make the most of your time on the South Rim. Here are some tips:

  1. Park in Tusayan and Ride the Free Shuttle into the Park
  2. Planning to Drive Your Vehicle into the Park?
  3. After 10 am Parking Becomes Limited Around the Visitor Center
  4. Enter the Park at Desert View, If You Are Approaching Grand Canyon from the East
  5. Tips for Touring Scenic Hermit Road
  6. Visiting the South Rim with 3 Hours or Less?
  7. Arriving in the Afternoon with 4 or 5 Hours?
  8. Less Crowded Sunset Locations
  9. Take the Train

The enumerated tips above are all expanded on their Survival Guide. As I said, not all are options for our needs, but we may try to avoid some of the hassle by taking a suggestion or two.

As usual, click on either image to enlarge.

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He Is Risen

He Is Risen

HAPPY EASTER!

 
 
From the Holy Scriptures - Mark Chapter 16 Verses 1 through 7:

1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

2 And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

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First 2019 Argentine Giant Flowers

Argentine Giant Flowers

After being in the ground out front for over seven years, this cactus is finally showing signs of being as prolific as some of the other Argentine Giants in town. These three flowers opened late this afternoon. There are numerous more flower buds on the cactus that should also be opening soon.

There are also buds near the bottom of the cactus that will be new cactus limbs, not flowers. There is plenty of room for the cactus to expand where it sits, so we’re glad to see it starting to take off. This cactus, native to Argentina, has an unusual growth habit for a cactus. It does not get any taller than about two to three feet at maturity and has sprawling limbs that grow just as wide as the main plant.

More about Echinopsis Candicans:

Echinopsis candicans is a species of cactus from northern and western Argentina (Monte Desert). It has large fragrant white flowers that open at night.

The cactus 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).

Click on the image to enlarge.

UPDATE April 17, 2019: As mentioned in the post above, the cactus is showing a great amount of activity and growth. There are over a dozen new flower buds that look as if they will be coming out soon and all at once.

Coming soon

UPDATE April 23, 2019: Almost all of the rest of the flower buds on the cactus opened this afternoon. It’s like a bridal bouquet with a dozen open flowers.

Bouquet

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A Serious Pollinator

A Serious Pollinator

Now that the cactus flowers have started to open here at the homestead, the bees are out in force. I took this shot of a honey bee with its head, thorax and wings buried in the stamens of a hedgehog flower out front. The bee was burrowing down to gather nectar at the base of the stigma, I guess. Click on the image to enlarge.

Damsel and I have been out in the yard over the past couple of days taking photos of the recently opened flowers on both the beavertail cacti (opuntia basilaris) and hedgehog cacti (echinocereus engelmanii). There are flower buds forming on other cacti in the area and we will look forward to getting more images of those when opening.

The weather is quite pleasant this afternoon with light breezes and 93° temperature. The forecast is for more of the same tomorrow and then cooler at the end of the week with a 20 percent chance of precipitation. Gotta love the Arizona springtime weather!

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Spring Weather Finally Here

Turkey Buzzard Antelope Ground Squirrel

A sure sign that the weather will be getting warmer is the reappearance of Turkey Buzzards (Vultures) after their winter migration to Mexico is over. There have been Buzzards overhead for a few weeks now, but they now seem to be circling more frequently over our little parch. I photographed this one as it swooped over our house this afternoon.

Another more subtle sign of spring is with the squirrel above. If you click to enlarge the photo you will see that her little teats are swollen as in she is nursing her offspring hidden away in some tunnel nearby. She was venturing up to see what could be foraged underneath the bird feeders out back when I spotted her and took the photo.

As for the weather itself, Wickenburg and Arizona in general have been experiencing a cooler, longer winter this year as is most of the country. Our daytime temperatures have finally risen to high 70’s or mid 80’s with warmer temperatures to come soon. Nights are still cool, however with lows in the low 50’s.

We actually look forward to the summertime high desert temperatures. That’s one of the many reasons we moved to Arizona. :)

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