A Few May Flowers

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Each week there are different plants in bloom.  Some last a while, others change so quickly I can’t catch them on film.  I’d do better if I took my camera out with me on every walk.  I can’t seem to make it a habit.  Some of these pictures are plants I’ve run out to the backyard to photograph.  Others belong to my neighbors.

One of the plants in my yard which I classify as a wildflower, but I suspect many call a weed, is wire lettuce.  It is named for the fact that its leaves look like stems.  It has a very small white flower tinged with pink.  Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to capture that pink edge on film.

Wie Lettuce

Wire Lettuce

Another plant in my garden is blooming for the first time this year.  It was a volunteer; its seed must have come some distance since I haven’t seen this in any of my neighbors’ yards.  It is an acacia, and, yes, those round yellow balls are the flower, not the fruit.

Volunteer Acacia

Volunteer Acacia

I have two small desert willow plants in my yard.    They’ve only put out one or two flowers so far this year – one last year.  So I admire the mature trees in my neighbors’ yards.  On this one, you can see many blossoms, along with last year’s seed pods.   I think I have quite a few years to wait for this kind of display.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

One plant I’ve been wanting for my yard and haven’t found a place for is cholla.  It is much better behaved and less weedy than prickly pear, so I may yet find a spot.  I love the way the flowers appear among the pods from last year.  At some point in my youth I was part of a class in colors, for clothes, in which we were told not to mix purple and yellow.  Nature missed this suggestion.  I see yellow and purple flowers together every all, and here, the purple flowers among yellow seed pods.






How Native Plants Behave


primrose 2Several years ago I planted Mexican primrose.  I thought I had killed it after a year.  There was no sign of it the third year, nor the fourth.  If I had known it could still come back, I would not have planted the chamisa bush quite where I did.  But it turned out that this was just what the Mexican primrose wanted.  Native plants do not need to be spaced.  In fact, they are happier in each other’s shade.  And the Mexican primrose sends its stems in all directions to take its flowers to the sun.

Other native plants have been active.  Poppies come up where ever they choose.  This one is sharing space with a plant I know as “wire lettuce.”  It has a small pink flower, when it decides to bloom.P1000078

Yucca plants which spent years squeezed by a prickly pear cactus have taken advantage of the space in the course of the two years since the cactus collapsed in an unusually deep freeze.yucca close

The yucca is the state flower of New Mexico  There are many varieties and the legislature neglected (or perhaps refused?) to specify which one is the official one.


Another Stage of Spring

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The little mesquite tree in my backyard is leafing out.  I’ve been told this tree knows when frost is no longer an issue.  it is safe to plant out those tender plants now.  P1000064 Of course I am not ready.  The plants I started from seed two months ago are no where near large enough to transplant.P1000072 This mesquite tree is one of the triumphs of my uneven gardening career.  I bought it eight years ago in a seven inch pot.  I can no longer reach the top.P1000068Near the base of this tree I discovered a volunteer pansy.  Very small – it had sprouted with almost no water.  I was not expecting it there at all.  Most of the seeds from plants blow across the yard in the opposite direction. pansy volunteerNow I need to make it feel welcome – even though it is in the middle of a patch of sand.

Beginning Again, Again


In a recent post, Marylin Warner pointed out that today, March 25, is Old New Year’s Day. She posted this information a few days ago so that readers might think about what they would like to do over from the January 1 New Year. A New Year is an opportunity to make a fresh start, to correct past mistakes and begin again. You can read her post at: http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/unfinished-business/

I was aware that March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, honoring the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary to announce the incarnation of Jesus. What I did not know until I did some research is that there is a direct connection between the Annunciation and the old New Year.

The Christian scholars of many centuries ago understood that the incarnation of Christ marked the beginning of a new age. They set the beginning of this incarnation at conception, nine months before the birth of Jesus. Since a new age began on March 25, so must the year of the new age’s calendar, the Years of Our Lord, from which the suffix A.D. (Anno Domini) derives. To know which year it was required starting the year on the same day as the day of the incarnation.

It makes as much sense to start the year a few days after the Spring Equinox as it does to start it ten days after the Winter Solstice. Any day makes a good day for a fresh start. But I’m glad we don’t start our year on March 25. For me, the Feast of the Annunciation has a different significance. Coming as it most often does before Easter, it suggests to me that things have a way of beginning again before the last cycle is over. This is how ritual includes a whole lifetime in its rhythm of days and seasons. It is also a reminder of our human condition. We believe that one thing should end and then another can begin. Things often don’t work that way.

Whether you celebrate a new year, a new season, or a new day, take time to make something right if you are aware of something that is broken.

Spring Color

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A week or so ago I realized it was time to bring my camera on my walks.  There’s not much color in the desert, and probably won’t be until after the summer rains, but things are blooming in the neighborhood.  Of course, I didn’t remember to take the camera immediately – the purpose of walking is exercise, after all.  But a few days ago I caught up with what is happening.

Rosemary has been in bloom for some time.P1000052

One of my neighbors has two young peach trees.peach blossoms

Another neighbor lets desert marigold grow between the sidewalk and the street.P1000047

On this walk I saw my first poppy.  It’s time to watch for their feathery shoots in my yard.  I don’t expect many because it has been so dry, but the seeds will be there for next year.poppy

Marks of Spring

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Two signs that we are really into spring have appeared in my yard this week. primrose.1

One is the Mexican Primrose.  I planted this early in my gardening efforts and thought it had died, so I planted a chamisa bush in the “empty” space.  The Primrose evidently appreciated the cover and came back to life.  It blooms in spring and then is covered over by the chamisa.  In late summer or fall, thin tendrils push through the bush to produce a few more of the lovely pink flowers.  I don’t dare transplant it.  It likes its present location.



The second sign of spring is the leafing out of the mesquite tree.  I planted this tree as a wee thing out of a seven inch pot about six years ago.  I worried for two years whether it would ever tree; all it took was patience.  I have been told by more experienced gardeners that the mesquite is the best marker of spring.  Unlike the decorative fruit trees and some others, when the mesquite begins to leaf, one can be confident that the danger of serious frost is past.

What have these signs of spring to do with either freethought or metaphor?  Both freethinkers and poets are aware, though in different ways, that humans are connected to the rest of nature.  The wisdom of these plants appeals to both sides of my mind.

Happy Equinox!


It’s the midpoint on the sun’s journey from south to north.  I know it is really the earth’s tilt that causes this apparent journey, but it is hard to think in those terms.  We humans have always seen it as a shift in the sun, not in the ground we stand on.  It’s the first day of spring, and in the garden, the plants are already ahead of me.


The large grass plant has made a big start.  It has far to go, since its seed heads will reach seven feet or more.


The chamisa, which will also grow large, is nagging me about the sloppy pruning job I did on it this winter.  I couldn’t decide which branches to cut down to the ground.


The pansies, which provided a bright spot through the winter, also are happier with the warming weather and longer days.  They’d look even better if I got out to rake out the old weeds around them.

That’s how it is with gardens.  There’s too little to do until suddenly there’s too much.  If you’re still waiting for spring to reach your yard, get those tools ready and replan your days.  I didn’t do that.  I should have seen this coming!


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My “thousand words” on early spring in southern New Mexico.  A corner of my back yard.

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