Snapshots from Germany, part 1

I just got back from a trip to Germany to visit family. I didn't do any traveling around Germany—I just spent time with my kinfolk—but I still managed to take a bunch of photos I'd love to share with you. If I had to sum up my visual impressions in one word, it would be green. No: make that GREEN . Even though California is still clinging to the last remnants of spring verdure, the signs of the worst megadrought in 1200 years are everywhere. As a result, the contrast between California and Germany couldn't have been greater. See for yourself. The first set of photos was taken at my late cousin's property on the edge of the forest.  The woods looked as inviting as can be. No Brothers Grimm fright fest here! The apple trees in my cousin's orchard were in full bloom. The white of the flowers contrasted beautifully with the yellow of the dandelions. More tree tapestries from elsewhere in town: The panorama below is my favorite photo of this trip. It was pouring when I

Visiting Agave utahensis var. eborispina in habitat

As I mentioned in my post about Agave utahensis  var. nevadensis , seeing the two varieties of Agave utahensis  native to western Nevada—var. nevadensis  and var. eborispina —in habitat was a bucket list experience. It's one thing coming across cool plants in a botanical garden or a private collection, but something else entirely being able to study them where they grow naturally.  In the case of Agave utahensis  var. eborispina , that environment is harsh in every conceivable sense of the word. It's amazing to see how well these plants have adapted. They thrive in extreme temperatures from below 0°F in the winter to above 110°F in the summer, and they make do with very little soil, sometimes appearing to grow right out of solid limestone. Agave utahensis  var. eborispina Agave utahensis  var. eborispina  differs from var. nevadensis  in leaf color (olive green vs. blue green) and length of spines: The terminal spines of var.  eborispina  are noticeably longer, sometimes twiste