Home & Garden

Cactus Garden in 3D

This is a view of a couple of the big barrel cacti along the strip just west of the RV Drive. The foreground cactus is a “Devil’s Tongue” barrel cactus while the background shows a “Golden” barrel cactus. An open flower adorns the cactus in front.

In case you don’t have a pair of 3D Glasses, you can view the 2D version of the photo above here.

Delivery Instructions Signage

Because our courtyard gate latch is a bit wonky, we prefer that packages be delivered to the rear of the house by the patio. Now, most carriers allow you to specify delivery instructions, but some of the drivers don’t get the message and try to open the courtyard gate which is a bit difficult. A lot of the time, they just dump the package out front outside of the courtyard. We saw this as a minor security risk, so today we installed the sign in a location that can be seen from the driveway and courtyard walkway.

Image: Verna recording the sign installation for posterity. Click to enlarge.

The sign is installed on the electrical box where the house’s circuit breakers are located. The box is made of steel, so I needed a good drill bit for drilling four holes to accommodate #6 sheet metal screws. I also needed a center punch to locate the holes. We gave away most of my old tool collection to family when we left our old home, so I had to buy the tools again. Although this is not my first time to do “handyman” chores around the Arizona house, this was the first time that I had to get special tools.

So I went to the hardware store and bought some #6 sheet metal screws, a couple of 7/64 drill bits (they did not have a number 36 drill unless I bought a set) and a center punch to indent the locations for the drills. I previously got the sign from Amazon, so we were now ready to do the installation. It all went as planned and you can see the resulting installation in the image above.

Pod Casting

That was our morning courtyard chore today, casting the poisonous seed pods of our Red Bird of Paradise shrubs. When we say “casting,” we mean into a trash receptacle. We remove the pods, as seen growing on the raceme flower stalk in the image to the right (click to enlarge), and dispose of them. If we don’t remove the pods, they could fall to the ground in the courtyard and, while we generally don’t allow the dogs access to the courtyard, one of them might take a notion to eating a pod that has fallen, God forbid.

The Red Bird Flowers themselves, on the other hand, continue to be as beautiful as ever this year. The showy flowers dazzle our senses every spring through late fall. See for yourself in the image below.

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.

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.

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.