garden ponderings


Death Valley National Park Flowers

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There is plenty of life in Death Valley, you just have to know where and when to look for it.  Plants in many places on earth have a dormant season in the cold of winter.  In Death Valley, as with other desert areas, the dormant season is the extreme heat of summer.  If there is enough rain in the spring, the wildflowers do emerge.

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Last May, we were fortunate to be driving by the area and stopped by to see what what the flora looked like.  It was late spring, so we saw only a few wildflowers in the north of the Park and of course, took some photos.  We found an ancient crater to walk around.  It was a challenge to keep our footing, especially when hiking uphill in the soft rocks.

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Cactus Flowers at Red Rock Canyon

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These beautiful, delicate appearing flowers grow on such unlikely and strange looking plants: Prickly Pear Cactus.  I have seen the ‘leaves’ called Nopales in the grocery store, but have never tasted one myself.
I photographed these cacti in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just outside Las Vegas, Nevada.  After years of visits to “sin city” (my mother grew up there, and I have many relatives still living in this city), my first visit to this ancient protected area was in May of this year.  I will definitely return here whenever I am in the area, it is worth visiting over and over again.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Yellow.”


White Flowers in Red Rock Canyon

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The flowers in these photos look to be the same, and the plants look similar.
In the first photo, I wish I knew if the pretty pink parts are pre- or post- flower.
Desert flowers are so fascinating to me.  They grow and thrive, not just exist, in such extreme climate conditions.   Leaves and flowers have adapted in interesting shapes and colors.

Weather was conducive this spring to a beautiful show of flowers.  Our timing was fortunate to see a variety of blooms.  The amount of moisture over a period of months or weeks determines which flowers will blossom in a particular year.

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Pineapple Express


Most often, our winter weather comes from Alaska in the north, which brings the cold and wet.  When unusually warm weather comes from Hawaii, far to the southwest, this late in the year, it is called a “pineapple express”.  We have had particularly warm weather most of this fall.  There was a brief freeze a month ago, but no extended hard cold, which would be more common at this time of year.  The grass is green and growing, the weeds are filling in everywhere they can.

This rose is trying hard to bloom.  It might have better luck, but we’ve had quite a bit of rain lately.  The most recent forecast is a diminished chance of rain for a few more days, so the rose still has a chance to open.


Mole Holes


We have a number of rows of dirt mounds that look similar to these pictured here.  We have seen so many rows of dirt mounds through the years.  I’ve always wondered if they were made by gophers, moles, digger squirrels or whatever?  An internet search (what an idea 🙂 after living here over 30 years) confirmed these are definitely mole holes.  The moles have been very good at staying in their territory and not going into the vegetable garden – yet.  I keep watching out for those pests in my territory.  We feel that they have over 50 acres to roam around and eat earthworms.  All we want is an acre or two that we humans have tamed and reside in.


Spirea in late Autumn


From the corner of my kitchen window, this plant looks to me like it is on fire.
Or it makes me think it is a large funny hat in the yard.
I had forgotten that this shrub can be so colorful in the fall.  In summer, it is an ordinary green, that merely blends into the landscape.

Deer keep the lower branches nibbled to the fence that surrounds this bush.  Surprisingly, the deer don’t bother to eat what is not at a convenient level for them.  Unless they get very hungry, when we have seen, usually an old doe, stand on her hind legs to get a morsel of food.