Chollas Bloom Magenta

I was excited to see examples of these same blooming Cholla Cactus just down the road from my house last week. However I took this more accessible photo last week next to the road along the Rio Grande gorge. I was on my way to Ojo Caliente and decided to take that route since I live near the southwest end of Taos, close to Hwy. 68. I had a hunch I would find these marvels and was I ever delighted.

In this photo you can see the gorge environment of the cactus. I looked up “Cholla Cactus” on Wikipedia and learned that there are 20 species of Cholla. I read down the list of descriptions and chose “Tree Cholla” for these. Says the blooms are deep lavender to red and the range is the “Chihuahuan desert into New Mexico and Texas and the semi-arid southern areas of eastern Colorado and western Oklahoma–2,000 – 7,000 feet.” Plus they do get tall and have branches, thus the “tree” part fits. I remember staying near the Pacific Ocean in Baja, there were Chollas there. You have to be very mindful of them–very painful if you came in contact with even a tiny spine.

I was doing some watering in the garden the other day and this Swallowtail came around not two feet from where I was standing. I focused all my attention on the opportunity to observe her (?) at close range and my presence did not seem to be a problem. Of course my camera was in the house and I started wishing I had it. After several minutes I took the chance and ran into the house and was able, gratefully, to get this one shot before she flew off. This story does illustrate the idea, “build it and they will come.”

And while we’re in the garden, yes, the peas are blooming and forming those pea pods like crazy now. I forget whether I planted edible pod or shelling peas. Guess I’ll soon find out. Smartly I planted another group of peas a couple of weeks later so all my peas won’t come at once. I went ahead and planted climbing beans and they are just coming up. I was a little late on that idea but hopefully they will catch up.

Yes, this flower, some kind of garden thistle but I don’t know the name, was blooming in my garden and yet I don’t feel it’s fair to take much credit for this magical photo. Thank you dear dslr camera for the way you can focus on some areas and blur others. There are some gaillardias blooming behind it, adding mysterious colors to the background. Cosmic! Both plants are perennials that returned from last year. What joy to see flowers like this already. Last summer I planted all my flowers from seed and had to wait at least another month from now for flowers.

And yes, the alfalfa field near my house got mowed and this photo captures the baler spitting out his little bales as he traverses the neat rows left by the mower a few days ago. The “hay” is allowed to sit in the sun a few days before the baler comes. Today while I was creating this blog the owner came in his truck and (likely with some help) picked up the bales and stacked them (four high?) in the truck for the short ride around to the other side of the property where his horse barn is. He earlier predicted that because of the drought and resulting lack of acequia water this summer he will only be able to get one crop out of this field, which usually provides two.

Preview: Black Eyed Susan

June Full Moon

The garden grows.

The sudden appearance of this zucchini blossom happened right around the Summer Solstice. Well, I’ve been working up to this moment since I arrived back in early May. Pioneer gardening I call it–take the soil situation that comes with the place and build up from there. Seemed like the soil was lacking in humus basically. I found an old compost pile hidden in the bushes and started with that, then added amendments from a nearby hardware store. Looks like I got it mostly right, judging from the results. The tomatoes are looking eager to get huge and are blooming as well. Gotta love the way Mother Nature will come through if you give her a hand.

Another proof that summer has arrived in northern New Mexico is the harvesting of the alfalfa. This field is part of the property I live on and all that’s needed is an annual mow down and bale up. I think you’re looking at 30+ bales. Forget the total. This field, and indeed the entire acreage, is watered by the acequia system. The main ditch is just at the far end of the field. The header photo at the top of this page was taken from the orchard a month or so ago, looking south from our edge of Talpa along the Rio Chiquito.

Ran into these lovely girls in Taos the other day along the main street through town. These are a perfect specimen of Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite variety of hollyhock–Black. There might be a more elaborate name, but anyway I admit I also like them and was able to grow a few in my last garden in Ketchum, Idaho. I will probably make a mental note to pick up some seeds from these plants come fall.

The one thing that came back this spring to greet me here, growing next to the house, was a hollyhock. I asked the one who planted it if it was a double or a single. She thought a double. We’ll be seeing soon, which it turns out to be.

The Taos climate suits the hollyhocks. They are just now starting to bloom all around town. I love to paint them–the singles anyway. You can see the results on my Flower Paintings page (see Gallery).

Took this photo Friday, the day before that June Full Moon. I was in the parking lot where Ranchitos Road meets La Placitas looking northeast toward the traffic, which I cropped out. Shows the big and often interesting cloudy sky that Taos is famous for and, of course, the dramatic nearby mountain range.

As I recall there was a little light rain that evening. Last night there was real rain for a while and this afternoon it’s been spilling down some big drops from time to time. And the temperatures have dropped dramatically for daytime here. Could this be the beginning of the much-longed-for monsoon season?

Since I arrived in May it’s been mostly warm to hot and at the worst, windy in the afternoons. Not much in the way of rain, but I think that’s the normal weather pattern. In Ketchum, they had a very rainy May and June. I was glad to have escaped that. Tried not to feel too guilty, or brag about the weather in Taos, when talking to Ketchumites.