End of May in the garden

There's never been a May quite like this—month 2 (and a half) of sheltering in place. The human residents are getting antsy, itching to go beyond the confines dictated by COVID-19. The plants, on the other hand, don't care. They like it here, and they never go anywhere anyway.

It was a perfect May until this past week when a short but brutal heat wave knocked humans and plants alike for a loop. After a 20-degree drop, we've had a beautiful weekend but another mini heat wave is in the forecast. The first tentacles of summer are causing ripples.

Let's take a look at the front garden:

Front garden as seen from the porch (never mind the cluttered table)

The adjective “cluttered” could also be used to describe the plantings; what can I say, I just like plants too much

Beautiful backlighting in the late afternoon (this part of the lot faces south and west)

Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi (left), Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' (middle), Yucca queretaroensis (right)

The wispy flowers seen in the top half of this photo belong to the palo blanco tree (Mariosousa willardiana)

Equally wispy are the flowers of this buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum 'Ella Nelson's Yellow'

Bambusa eutuldoides 'Viridividatta' (left), Cycas revoluta (right)

A new resident (bottom): Dudleya arizonica. The dudleyas will soon go into their heat-induced summer sleep, but right now they're still looking good.

May is a great time for cactus flowers:

Echinopsis 'Johnson's Hybrid' had 18 flowers on three stems. The tallest stem, unfortunately...

...collapsed under the weight

I will cut off the snapped stem, let the cut surface callus for a week, and then root it in pumice

Another Echinopsis, this one called 'Forty Niner', an almost pure yellow

More flowers on Mammillaria longimamma (yes, it means "long nipples")

Acanthocalycium spiniflorum, a real tongue twister of a name

Also flowering: Hechtia aff. fosteriana. Hechtias are terrestrial bromeliads native to Mexico, with one species (Hechtia texensis) native to southwest Texas. Hechtias are what's called “dioecious,” i.e. there are separate male and female plants. To make babies (viable seeds), a flowering female and a flowering male are needed—not easily achieved in cultivation unless you're a specialized grower.

I'll have dedicated post about this flowering hechtia soon

And then there's our one remaining palo verde (Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum'):

Non-stop flowers for months on end

Not all plants made it through last week's heat wave unscathed. More in my next post.

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  1. Sheltering in place with a collection like yours certainly keeps it interesting The palo verde is gorgeous. We have a very tall cactus in a very small pot that desperately needs to be whacked off and rooted. It belonged to my late father in law so we have been reluctant to do anything as we're afraid to kill it. Will try your method as we've been told repotting it would likely not work (won't root).

  2. Like plants too much? I didn't know that was possible! Everything it looking wonderful, well, except for the broken cactus.

  3. Your cactus flowers are gorgeous but I was even more impressed by the way the yellow buckwheat echoed the edges of that Agave 'Blue Glow'. That's a brilliant combination that I fully intend to copy. I've got 3 (still small) 'Ella Nelson's Yellow' in another area but I just put myself on Annie's wishlist so I can get more of these plants when they become available again.

  4. Love the river of yellow on your driveway. Lovely, lovely cactus flowers. And Dudleya, and the view from your porch.

  5. It's an impressive sight, that front garden of yours!

  6. Echinopsis 'Johnson's Hybrid' in bloom is stunning. I'm relieved you can save the broken piece. The yellow "skirt" of palo verde spent blooms in the driveway is so cool.


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