Sunday, July 22, 2012
A Gift for the Garden
After giving a friend a tour of my garden recently, I thought back to how many times I said, "A friend gave me this specimen," or "This came from a neighbor's yard." So, I just did a quick little inventory and I was amazed at how many of my garden plants were gifts from friends, relatives or neighbors. Gardeners love to share their passion for plants, whether for a special occasion, or just clipping off a piece of cactus to give to a neighbor. Desert plants, for the most part, are well-suited sharing, so desert gardeners are constantly trading starts with one another.
There are the torch cactus starts from my neighbor Kim, since passed away, that remind me of her every time they put forth their magnificent blossoms.
The once-tiny balloon cactus, a gift from Nancy at our annual Parker gathering. It has prospered in its bowl with other cactus friends, regularly producing a cluster of lovely yellow flowers.
Agaves from Kitty, Barbara and Marilyn. They are truly the gift that keeps on giving as most will freely produce offsets, or bulbils, reproducing themselves for an endless supply of agaves.
This little red-spined barrel was a gift from Shellie and Gary after their stay at our house. She knows how much I love the contrast of the bright red spines against the green flesh of the stem.
More barrels, the fishhook variety, came from neighbors who didn't want them in their yard. Yes, I was happy to help them out and give the cactuses a new home. Moving a fat, round, spiny cactus is no easy feat!
Former neighbor Becky was being overrun with these sharp-spined yuccas and encouraged us to help ourselves. They continue to flourish, bloom and reproduce.
Prickly pear cactus are particularly easy to share - just whack off a piece of a pad, stick it in the ground and away it goes, growing new pads and even blooming before long. Becky and Brian have an abundance of this Texas red-beard cactus, which has a stunning, red-orange flower, so they generously offered as many pieces as we wanted.
Since taking a start off a prickly pear does not harm the parent plant, I have helped myself to starts of this purple Santa Rita which was growing close to the road.
These little Coryphantha came from Marilyn, when her parent plant produced offsets. I thought perhaps I had lost the bottom one in the big freeze of 2011. It turned a reddish color and felt rather soft. But now a healthy color has returned and it sent out a funny little shoot.
Organ pipe cactus, notoriously slow-growing, was a gift perhaps 10 years ago from Gary and Shellie, and has finally sent out an additional shoot. Patience is a virtue in cactus gardening.
Daughter Cindy gave us a small pencil cholla years ago, and now it is huge and so happy.
Every gift of a plant is a living reminder of a friend. The joy of the garden is best when shared.