Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saguaro Tales

Ah, what a spring! Record breaking rains since November have changed the look and feel of the Sonora Desert in Southern Arizona. Saguaros and prickly pear are plump, weeds abound and everything looks good. So good, in fact, the Arizona Daily Star warned in this morning's paper to brace ourselves for a big wildfire season. My desert and oasis garden plots are happy and quite oblivious of the approaching summer heat.

I have included two photos of Aunt Judith (saguaro cactus) and me for comparison purposes to illustrate how fast Saguaros grow. The first photo was taken about 5 years ago and the second 5 days ago. As you can see, a saguaro is a slow grower, but can reach a height of 40 to 60 feet in the Tucson Mountains where I live. Saguaros can live to be 150 years old and its growth rate is dependent on rainfall.

Strawberries in my 3 fiberglass whisky barrels are producing faster than I can eat them. I now have completely protected them with chicken wire to keep the birds and other critters from gnawing on them. I must admit that strawberries are so cheap right now (99 cents a basket at Sunflower Market) I sometimes question my sanity. The store bought strawberries, however, are not as sweet as mine and perish quickly in the refrigerator.

I have elected not to plant a spring vegetable garden in my two raised beds this year. One, I am busier now during the week, but most of all I am not up to the challenge of fighting the oncoming heat wave that blasts Tucson in June. I find the late summer monsoon and fall growing season is much more satisfying and less frenetic than fighting to squeeze a spring garden in.

Hot air balloons greet us in the cooler spring months and the one below has become a pleasant reminder of the beautiful weather we are enjoying now. The photo below captured my wife and 5 year old grand daughter Alison wrapped in a blanket and listening to the "whoosh whoosh" sounds coming from the gas burner in frantic attempts for the pilot to keep it aloft.

In closing I have added a photo of my Mother's "Tombstone Rose" for my brothers to see. This incredible plant was planted by my Father several decades ago and continues to amaze us when it forms hundreds of blossoms in the spring. The world's longest rose bush is just down the road in Tombstone, Arizona and has a trunk 12 feet in diameter and covers over 8,000 square feet. Each spring it produces over 1 million tiny white blossoms. They say it grew from a root of a White Lady Banksia rose brought over from Scotland in 1885.


DMC Friend said...

Is the post date of April 15th significant?
We have been in Tucson a lot, but busy attending to our Mother's needs. Next time we are here I will give you a call.
The garden and blog look good.

ivegotissues said...

you shrunk! Ha! Your garden is looking fantastic!