These new cactus specimens, plus two others that my friend Marilyn had given me now necessitated expanding my Small Cactus Garden, (cactita?) an area under an expanding blue palo verde tree that provides them some important filtered shade so they can survive the Tucson summers. Jay helped me lay it out, mix sand and soil, fill the designated area and line it with rocks.
The new additions include two Coryphantha elephantidens from Marilyn, two Trichocereus (trichocerei?) which will hopefully be two different color blooms, and one Hecho cactus with two stems. The Hecho may have been a mistake as it does not like cold, and if it does do well, it gets huge. So, we'll see about that. The Trichocereus (hybrid torch) produce the huge, glorious blooms that just take your breath away. Joining these new friends in the garden are two small pots - one with a variegated agave and the other with another Coryphantha species that is about to bloom. The agave really should be unpotted (is that a word?) and put in the ground where it can spread its roots and grow.
The poor passionvine still sits in its nursery pot, waiting for its new home, which, at this writing, is still under discussion. I'd like to plant it in the front courtyard on the shady side, with a trellis that will show off it's glorious purple blossoms. And, it's looking rather ragged at the moment as I discovered several gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillars munching happily away on foliage and flower. And, not two days after bringing it home, an adult gulf fritillary came to visit the passionvine and, if I"m lucky, deposit her eggs. After all, the attraction of these spectacular butterflies is one of the main reasons to own this species.
Another small discovery, sitting on the flower of the yucca was this interesting little creature, a leaf-footed bug.
Now blooming in the desert is the amazing creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), the most drought tolerant perennial plant in our desert, and among the longest-living of all plants. The yellow flowers occur at various times, usually following a rain. The fruit is a small, fuzzy white ball. Many insects feed on creosote bush, but few mammals do, probably only the jackrabbit.
It was a Murphy's Law kind of day when I looked out the window and saw a small lake forming in the yard, water bubbling up out of the ground. Repairing the drip irrigation is a constant, ongoing project. We dug down to expose the pipes, about two feed under the pathway.
In the process of trying to figure out which system the leaking pipe served, Jay was using the timer controller to manually turn on each system, when suddenly the display flashed ERROR and then went blank. Great. It's never just one thing that goes wrong. Must have multiples. He was able to jury-rig the system to make it run, while figuring out that he could send the defective one to the factory for repair under warranty. Well, that was one bit of good news as a new controller is about $120. Although the weather is cooler and the water demands are down, the days will be warming up again into the high 80's next week.
That little bit of distraction took my husband away from his other current project - refinishing the two aging park benches which have succumbed to the harsh desert sun. He replaced the old oak slats with that 'wood' made of recycled plastic bags, and painted the metal portions. Voila! A brand new bench.
Take a rest in your garden and enjoy the fabulous fall weather!