Friday, December 30, 2011

Buffalo Bill’s Exotic Cactus Ranch

I just couldn’t get inspired to write the post I’d planned for today, so instead we’re going back to the Desert SW and a stop at Buffalo Bill’s Exotic Cactus Ranch, yeeha! I realize the sign just says ‘Exotic Cactus Ranch’ but trust me on the name, after all there is a buffalo on the sign. And isn’t the phrase “cactus ranch” just the best? I want to own a cactus ranch! That way Andrew could say things like: “nope Loree’s not in town this week, she’s out at the ranch, the cactus ranch”….ah that would be the life. I also love this little scene, just look at those fabulous old street lights… Anyway, the Cactus Ranch is located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, also home to my in-laws (click here if you wonder how Truth or Consequences got its name). Last time we visited T or C the nursery was closed, but we still poked around, looked at the plants outside and peeked in the greenhouse. Remembering that visit I was disappointed to see how small their selection was this time. I assumed it was the economy causing them to scale back, but I was wrong. Turns out it was the weather…a one two punch of a freak cold winter and a freak wind storm. The cold took out a lot of the large potted Agaves which sat outside, and the wind storm was so powerful plants ended up across the street. They had a very old and huge Pachypodium lamerei which was snapped in half. So sad. Still I found plenty to gawk at… These guys looked like they’d been rescued from a construction site or maybe a gardener who didn’t appreciate them, can you imagine planting these? You’d need excellent gloves. This Euphorbia trigona v. Rubry stopped me cold (hot?). If I’ve ever seen this color on this plant before (I’m used to see a dark green) then I don’t remember it. Gorgeous! They had smaller sizes too; one of those came back to Oregon with me. What a tall Kalanchoe! And babies… Euphorbia horrida 'Snowflake' Spikes! And flowers… And fur! So many wonderful things! One of these little Aloes came home with me too; I couldn’t resist the powdery blue color combined with the pink stripe along the edge. Of course now I can’t remember what it’s called! I had to leave these tall Aloes behind. Here is evidence of a past Agave bloom (A. vilmoriniana perhaps?). If I remember right they said a friend or neighbor had a plant bloom and offered them the little "plantlets" (or bulbils) that formed along the spike. The tiny white tag has 11/5 written on it, which would mean these little guys are almost one year old, we visited on 10/15. Well I guess it was fitting that I wrap up 2011 with a spiky post from the desert and pictures of baby agaves. Hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve, be safe…and I’ll see you in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The neighborhood message board

I post this as a warning to anyone who lives on a corner lot and is considering a landscape redo. If you plant like this: Then the poor little shrubby plant on the corner (sorry I have no idea what it is) is destined to become the neighborhood message board, for the dogs. I can’t walk past here without Lila having to stop and catch up on the gossip; it seems that every dog that passes must leave a message. Being a gardener I am extra sensitive to the possibility of her disturbing a landscape. She isn’t allowed to squat in a yard, she can sniff for information from those that have gone before, but can’t add a message of her own. You can tell from the bark dust on the sidewalk that many other dog owners have had to pull an unwilling canine way from the lil’shrub. I’m not sure what would have been a better choice for the corner, maybe a tree? Its trunk would be popular but might withstand the constant assault a bit better. Lawn, while never being an ideal choice in my book, would most likely go unnoticed by the four-legged set, maybe rocks? I just hope this little plant can “weather the storm” so to speak…I fear come spring it will show signs of too much "attention."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

There were succulent stamps in my stocking!

My Christmas stocking that is.

On December 11, 1981 in Tucson, AZ, the USPS issued this se-tenant (se-ten•ant; a block of commemorative stamps printed together on the same sheet but differing in design, color, value, or overprint) of four stamps depicting U.S. desert plants. The stamps were designed by Frank Waslick. The dealer who sold Santa Andrew the succulent stamps also sent along these ‘11th International Botanical Congress’ stamps as freebies… Only 6 cents, I wonder when stamps were that cheap? Research time…

“On August 23, 1969, the U.S. Post Office released a set of four stamps to mark the meeting of the 11th International Botanical Congress in Seattle, Washington. Portrayed on the 6-cent stamps were famous plants associated with the four regions of the country.

Northwest: Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii
Northeast: Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium reginae
Southwest: Ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens
Southeast: Franklinia, Fanklinia alatamaha

First day of issue ceremonies were held in Seattle on the day prior to the opening of the Botanical Congress. The Franklinia, now extinct in the wild, was once native to Georgia.” (source) "The International Botanical Congress (IBC) is an international meeting of botanists in all scientific fields, authorized by the International Association of Botanical and Mycological Societies (IABMS) and held every six years, with the location rotating between different continents. The IBC has the power to alter the ICN (International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants), which was renamed from the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) at the XVIII IBC. Formally the power resides with the Plenary Session; in practice this approves the decisions of the Nomenclature Section. The Nomenclature Section meets before the actual Congress and deals with all proposals to modify the Code: this includes ratifying recommendations from sub-committees on conservation. To reduce the risk of a hasty decision the Nomenclature Section adopts a 60% majority requirement for any change not already recommended by a committee." (source)

Good to know they have safe guards in place against hasty decisions isn't it?...

When I went looking to learn what went on at this International Botanical Congress in Seattle I stumbled on the photo below (source) taken during a field trip of the Seattle Botanical Congress goers to Oregon. They look like a fun bunch don’t they? I wonder where they visited; it looks more like Eastern Oregon than Western. By the way I’m not a stamp collector...there was a theme running through many of the holiday gifts from my husband this year, images of my favorite plants. I've got a several vintage photograph reproductions and a couple of new art prints to get framed. I see a great succulent wall grouping in my future!

Oh and this was going to be a simple Wordless Wednesday post with just images of the stamps, but I’ve never been any good at the wordless thing. I hope some of you found this interesting!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Signs of Spring, on the Winter Solstice

Last Week on Winter Solstice, or as I like to think to it “the day the promise of light returns to the sky” I saw definite signs of Spring in the garden. What’s that? A bit early you say? Well it doesn’t get much more “Springy” than Daffodils right? And those are Daffodils just starting to emerge… Since this small patch is on the north side of the house, out of sight, it’s been allowed to remain over the years. Truth be told I really enjoy it. Buoyed by the Daffodil sighting I went off to see what other signs of life I could find. Ah! Ceanothus flower buds! And Manzanita flower buds! Even a few small buds on a Grevillea… And the promise of pendulous greenish-yellow flowers on the Willlow Leaf Stachyurus. Inside the “greenhouse” the Acacia is covered in buds… And back outside the Edgeworthia blooms are starting to form… I pray some freak weather event doesn't come along and damage these buds before they have a chance to fully develop. Only 85(ish) more days until the first day of Spring!