Sunday, April 21, 2013

Second Flowers

Blooming Texas Native Claret Cup Cactus
In this picture you can see me using a bit of Cedar bark on top of a newly transplanted Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) that was starting to sunburn at the top.  The little bit of extra shade seems to be just enough to let the plant recover from sunburn and when the lighter colored sunburn spots start to green backup I remove the extra shade a little at a time.

Ocotillo, Grass Tree, Claret Cup
This cactus purchased simply as a Claret Cup Cactus seems to be some sort of hybrid Echinocereus triglochidiatus, the flowers are a bit more orange than typical and the cactus is taller with shorter spines.

My original plan was to have an "eye level" cactus bed that would highlight the back lighting effect and make viewing smaller cactus easier for casual observation.  Many of the smaller cactus and cactus flowers have fine details that can only be appreciated when your seeing them nose to nose.

The Ocotillo was about 10 feet tall and without a single root that hadn't rotted away in the wet sand in the plastic pot which it was planted in at the nursery.  I knew that if it was to miraculously grow new roots it would need to be fixed in place and not heave out of the ground with each passing breeze.  Its hard to see in this photo but my solution was to drive four stakes around the plant and then lay two sticks in an "X" pattern across the top weaving them between the canes, and then the ends of each point on the "X" were secured with baling wire to the stakes that I had sunk into the bed prior to the planting.  This configuration kept the Ocotillo steady but the magic roots never grew.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

First Flowers

Here is the cactus bed with the original 10 foot ocotillo and the first few desert plantings.  The ocotillo is blooming, sadly sort of a last goodbye for this majestic symbol of the Southwest, even worse I would fail with several more Ocotillo's before getting one fresh enough to root in its new location.

Echinopsis ancistrophora ssp. arachnacantha
Originally I planned to only purchase plants native to Texas or at least the Chihuahuan desert.  In this picture you can see several cactus purchased at the Chihuahuan Desert Research InstituteHowever as soon as I started seeing cactus with flowers I immediately lowered my standards and bought anything that had even an outside chance of being cold hardy in the Texas Hill Country.  Many times these Central and South America species were cheaper which made them worth the gamble in the cold.  Unfortunately, I quickly also learned that we had other cactus killers in Texas: extreme heat, humidity, rock squirrels, cactus bugs, cactus beetles, rain and sunburn just to name a few.  Who knew cactus growing could be so difficult.  I often wondered why with so many incredible native cactus species in Texas why the general public here is barely aware of their beauty and so few significant public examples exist.
Red Cactus Flower
I purchased this red flowered South American cactus without a label thinking I would be able to track it down later.  The best I have been able to come up with is Echinopsis ancistrophora ssp. arachnacantha but I am still open to suggestions.  I know that there are many Echinopsis hybrids out there with all sorts of flower colors.

This Echinocereus dasyacanthus (Texas Rainbow Cactus) came from One Way Nursery in Alpine, Texas.  Sort of a long drive for a few plants, but I am sure a plant of this size is close to 25 years old.  I wanted to start with large flowering plants because I figured at my age I didn't have the time or patience to start from seed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cactus Bed Ready to be Filled

Fireplace all done and enough room for roasting three little piggy's.

Possibly my favorite Texas Native - Claret Cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus).

This incredible 10 foot Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) was the largest one I had ever seen for sale and it came planted in a huge 30+ gallon pot.  My excitement diminished considerably when I got it home and discovered that it came without roots, reluctantly I agreed to give it a try with an option to return it in 6 months if no new leaves appeared.

My children helped raise money for an orphanage in Peru that was being supported by our church by growing plants and selling them in a neighborhood garage sale.  I have to say I was impressed with their final total $400 dollars.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Desert Inspiration in Fort Davis

Trip to Fort Davis State Park

Another Monarch chrysalis opening, spreading its wings and heading North before we leave for Spring Break.  Your welcome if you live up that way, I saved this one from a late frost for your enjoyment.

Overlooking the Chihuahuan landscape.

This giant Claret Cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) on top of the "mountain" was 3.5 feet in diameter and days away from full bloom, sorry to have missed it.

Cactus, cactus everywhere some more beautiful than others

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Texas Star Fungus

Texas Star Fungus

Star Fungus explained in Texas Park and Wildlife Magazine

Half a dozen stars in the woods behind my house.

Some of them looked like giant reddish spiders coming out of the trees.  I need to go to Japan some day to see the Texas fungus next of kin.

Eclosure day for the Gulf Fritillaries.

Not sure why they picked such a cold morning to come out, they stayed on these rocks getting warm for over an hour before they took to the skies.