Sunday, August 25, 2013

IT'S HOT IN THE DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN!

As we made our way back to Texas, after 6 weeks in cooler climes, we passed through Phoenix to spend a few days with our son and family. After driving through Death Valley, with a morning temperature of 113°, it was going to be relatively cool for our visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens. We arrived around 9am with temperatures hovering around the 95°.


Even in such searing temperatures there is color. The Santa Rita prickly pears with their pink glow and for the first time we catch the Fishook barrel cactus, Ferocactus wizliseni, in flower.


Several years ago we visited the gardens following the installation of these display beds. How these plants have grown! The generous edging allows the cactus to spill over without interrupting passage between the beds.


How can the photographer go wrong!


Tunas are ripe on the prickly pear cactus.


One thing I noticed this year was an increase in the number of plants being protected from the sun. Possibly this resulted from recent unusually high temperatures. These golden barrels are exposed to the full sun and need a little help to protect them from sun scald. I think I should be doing this with my Whale's tongue agave. They always end the summer looking a little sunburnt.
For some cactus it is because they come from places of higher altitude where air temperatures are cooler or where they receive less sunlight.


Many cactus grow at the base of trees and bushes, their seeds having been dropped there by birds. There are many trees in the garden but new structures are being erected where trees are absent.


Here's their solution to tempering the sun's rays in the vegetable garden. Further along vines are trained onto a sturdy arched arbor.


Larger structures are ready for the fence post cactus.


We welcome the filtered shade ourselves. Another time we might relax in this inviting spot - but not today.


Metal posts, their tops wrapped with sturdy rope, have been constructed to support the length of this yucca. I was just thinking of cutting off a similar Spanish bayonet Yucca. It does give an interesting sculptural effect.


I would never have guessed that this plant was a milkweed.


Until I saw the seed pods.


And the familiar orange aphids.


This is Asclepias subulata, the desert milkweed.


If you have ever wondered how the saguaro supports itself just take a look at this. This is how the saguaro looks when all the soft tissues are gone.


The last stop was at the shop where I was hoping to purchase my usual take-home plant. I was disappointed to find little of interest. I left empty handed. I had a similar experience at Baker's nursery where I planned to buy several bags of pumice. In the past they would bag their own at a local quarry and sell it for less than $5 bag. Now, because the quarry has closed it comes from Uni-gro and is $18 a bag! I left with one.

17 comments:

  1. I've been to that garden several times--it's always a joy to see. Funny, though---my pictures never turn out that good-LOL!

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    1. I agree Sue. This is one of my favorite Botanical gardens along with Denver.

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  2. I'm very intrigued by the black fabric covers on the barrel cactus. I may be able to apply that technique to protect my succulents from the birds. I can't seem to grow ghost plant or sedums without the birds eating them. Could you tell what kind of fabric they were using?

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    1. It is just the regular greenhouse shade cloth material. I recently removed mine after 10 years. It was really looking the worse for wear. Now I need to replace it for the spring season. hey had just cut up pieces of the cloth to cover the individual plants.

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing your visit.

    Intriguing ideas to help beat the heat/sun's rays. I'm especially entranced with that vegetable garden set-up. I'm wondering if we couldn't put something like that into play over the lone grassy area out back by the pool. Shade on demand with a limited footprint. I really love that!

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    1. I loved the veggy garden shade arrangement too but so expensive to do this.

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  4. This looks like a well designed garden.
    Love all those prickly things. I keep moving more and more to those. They stand the drought and the deer don't eat them.

    Thanks for the tour.

    Be safe on your way home.

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  5. One of my very favorite places ever...magical! Thank you for braving the heat, and I'm sorry to read you didn't get a take home plant. The DBG gift shop is where I bought my long tweezers for cleaning up around the spiky plants, but surely you've already got a pair of those?

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    1. Mine too. They have changed their shop taking a large area and turning it into a restaurant. The gifts were nice but I don't remember seeing any tools and I don't have any of the tweezers you talk about although I should get some.

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  6. Your post reminds me how I must soon make my 2nd ever visit to that great botanical garden. Great images. Their summer protection for some plants is a great idea and educational tool...where I lived and especially where I do now, while not nearly as hot as Phoenix, are still sunnier and hotter than where many of our higher elevation SW natives come from. People forget that.

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    1. I have seen them coverd before but never quite so many. They did have a spell of unusually high temperatures.

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  7. Whew, the heat sounds bad, but your pictures make me want to go anyway. I like their permanent shade structures, but it seems like natural shade would, well, be more natural looking -- an airy desert tree, for example. And I really don't like the shade cloth draped over the barrels. Do they leave them covered for weeks at a time, do you think? The saguaro skeleton is just as cool as the green plant.

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    1. There are plenty of airy trees Pam-Desert willow and mesquite. This is a very large garden. I think that these structures serve a double purpose adding structural interest as well as shade. The herb/vegetable garden really needs some kind of shading which can be drawn over during really hot times. I now my veggy garden would benefit from this in the summer and so would my A. ovatifolia. I expect to find it looking very bleached when I get home.

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  8. Gorgeous photos! I'm putting this on my must-see list.

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  9. A great pumice for a succulent soil mix is available at farm supply stores. It's sold under the name Dry Stall, It's used to absorb moisture for horse stalls. It is great stuff and not expensive.

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    1. I did a check for this product but failed to find a supplier in Austin. Will ask around when I get home.

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  10. Aren't those gardens WONDERFUL?????

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