Archive for Home & Garden

First Cactus Flowers of Spring, 2022

Actually, not the first ones*, but this is the first to open on the native cacti around the yard. Verna took this photo of one of two flowers that were open today on a hedgehog cactus in front of the house.

From Wikipedia

Echinocereus is a genus of ribbed, usually small to medium-sized, cylindrical cacti, comprising about 70 species native to the southern United States and Mexico in very sunny, rocky places. Usually the flowers are large and the fruit edible.

The name comes from the Ancient Greek echinos, meaning “hedgehog” and the Latin cereus meaning “candle”. They are sometimes known as hedgehog cacti, a term also used for the Pediocactus and Echinopsis.

The article at Wikipedia lists most of the species of hedgehog cacti, but we’re not sure of which one this cactus belongs to. Click on the image to enlarge.

*There are several store-bought cacti in planters around the courtyard and other places which have already produced tiny flowers in 2022.

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Rocky

This Rock Squirrel is about two or three times the size of the little antelope squirrels that frequently appear in our desert back yard. Regardless of “Rocky’s” relative “immensity,” he is still only about ten inches in length, excluding his long bushy tail.

All of the back yard critters are interesting to watch, but this squirrel, in particular, has an edge on entertainment value. He jumps on the lower bird feeder by the RV drive out back and attempts to consume the seeds in the block inside the cage. I’m not certain how much he gets, but he persists.

If I notice him on the feeder block, I will generally go out and shoo him away since the feeders are, after all, for the birds. In the photo above, I had just run him off when he popped up out of his rosemary bush hiding place to see if the coast was again clear. After I took the photo, Rocky scampered off toward the back of the lot, among the natural and dense desert vegetation. He’ll be back, I’m sure.

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Dying Tree Removal

Landscape Crew Working

One of the Palo Verde trees on our property was suffering from root poisoning according to our neighbor, Tim. Apparently, an adjacent cats paw tree was emitting something into the soil that was slowly killing the big tree next to it. If you click on the image to enlarge, you can see one of the crew standing under the diseased tree. Note how some of the green wood on that tree has turned brown.

The tree is now gone, thanks to the landscape guys who took it and the adjacent cats paw down. Click here to see the after photo.

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Cherry Red Cactus Flower

Cherry Red Cactus Flower

Technically, it’s still spring here in Sonoran Arizona, even though the temperature has been above 110° the last week or so (today 112°). In spite of the warmer temperatures, our Cherry Red Cactus is producing new flowers and is likely to do so into the summer in a few days time.

This flower opened today and is the third one this season. The first two I posted on our other blog. These are gorgeous and I will try to post more photos as the flowers open. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Mule Deer

Western Mule Deer

I went out to the courtyard to water my little flower bed at just about dusk last evening. I looked up and saw that there was a deer in the back yard. I hurried back into the house to get my camera, went back out and took several images of the deer. This is one of the best ones I got. Click on the image to enlarge.

We don’t often see deer although there is evidence they come here frequently. Several of them (I assume) stripped our lemon tree of most of its leaves this past winter.

Don’t worry about the lemon tree, though. All new leaves have already filled in and we’re seeing little green lemons growing all over the tree. Harvest is not until next December but we expect to have another good crop of lemons then.

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Lemon Harvesting

Before and AfterJust about every year since we got our dwarf lemon tree in 2011, we have had to harvest the fruit when it’s nearly ripe in December. Today was the day we selected to start the harvest. It usually takes a couple of sessions on different days to pick all the lemons. Some of the lemons are still a little green, so we leave those.

Image: Before and After Photos of the Tree – Click on the image to enlarge.

The before image was actually taken after I picked the low-hanging first 2020 lemon from the tree. Verna came out shortly afterward to help and we made quick work of filling up the wheelbarrow with lemons.

As for the remainder of the lemons, we will delve into the interior of the tree next time to get all of the fruit left. The image below shows just a small quantity of the dozens of lemons remaining on the tree. Note that there are more lemons lurking behind those immediately seen in the image. Click to enlarge.

Small Quantity of Remaining Lemons

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Our Ocotillos Like The Rain

Green Ocotillo

In spite of the warm temperature, the ocotillo next to the RV drive is sporting a nice green coat of its tiny leaves. We credit the recent rainfall and the timed irrigation feed for the greening.

This ocotillo, not a true cactus, grows wild in the desert and can sometimes look like they’re lifeless (and leafless) until after a rainfall; then they come to life again. We have a couple of them that have been transplanted into our xeriscape here on the property. The one in the photo came from our neighbor who got it while cleaning up a construction site. We planted it and Verna babied it until it became this magnificent specimen.

The other ocotillo near the courtyard is also green and happy after the recent rainfall.

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