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.
Design it your way: Austin Garden Conservancy tour
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