Friday, January 6, 2012

More from T or C, New Mexico

Last Friday we visited Buffalo Bill’s Exotic Cactus Ranch, today I thought I’d share a bit more of Truth or Consequences with you. T or C is kind of a hardscrabble little town with a population of approximately 7,289. The average high temperature is 91 in August and the average low is 27 in both December and January. The month with the smallest percentage of sunshine is December where it’s sunny only 76% of the time (compared with June’s 89%). I don’t even want to know what that statistic is for Portland…seriously. That would be just too depressing.

In the past my in-laws (who live in T or C) have tended quite the vegetable garden and enjoyed a healthy harvest of pecans too (we’ve been the lucky recipients of a couple shipments over the years). As they’ve gotten older they've naturally cut back on the gardening and much has been done lighten the maintenance load in the yards and garden. Here’s the front of their home, with a few happy Yuccas and a Mesquite tree. There used to be a few huge Agave americana dotted around the landscape but after the last bloom fell towards the house, and did a little damage, they had them all removed. I try not to think about that too much. They have a wonderful private courtyard with a covered area to relax in the shade. A vine (whose name I can’t remember) covers several of the arched openings with lush green leaves and bright orange flowers. An early piece of my husband Andrew’s artwork leans in the corner. He’s always a little unnerved by the amount of past artwork his parents have hung onto and would rather they burn it all. I however enjoy getting to see this bit of his past, if your parents can’t hold on to the things you’ve created then who can? Across the street a neighbor was enjoying the final, grand moments of their Agave. Are you surprised when I say I didn’t peek over the wall to see what the Agave looked like and what other plants were on the other side? Two words…’barking dog’ an angry one at that. I didn’t want to take a trip to the local hospital. I did get close enough to enjoy their polka dot Opuntia… While I was hard at work scouring the neighborhood for available Agave pups I discovered this group in the alley behind another neighbor. Downtown I spotted this survivor. Views around town and beyond… I wish I could have captured the sunset, the colors went on forever. Across the street from the Geronimo Springs Museum I spotted this pretty blooming Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla?) And the tail end of a few Ocotillo blooms… Still with leaves too! These metal cutouts were mounted along the top of one of the museum buildings. Trunked Yuccas, real and otherwise, loom large in the landscape. However the only Saguaros to be seen are made of stove-pipe… Or plaster. So many Opuntia fruit! They were all over town on different kinds of Opuntia too. Here a stock tank has been turned into a kiddie-pool, at least I assumed it was for the kids. And finally I spotted a pair of flamingos… Stopping for a rest in a desert landscape. So far from home…


  1. Great shots! We drove thru this town in October and it was a rather strange area. You always wonder who lives in these areas placed basically in the middle of nowhere. I love the courtyard and desert landscaping. Have a nice weekend.

  2. That looks like so much fun. Have never stopped in T or C. What a great house and garden.

    Excellent pictures. I think I have that polka-dot opuntia, we call it bunny cactus. I've got to do a tour of my neighborhood like this. We have an agave bloom going up down the street.

    I like the artwork too.

    Great post.

  3. Interesting tour, though the place really looks like the middle of nowhere!

  4. We do the same thing with our daughter's art work :-)

  5. My dad took great pride in an early painting of mine. It embarrassed the heck out of me and I recently sold it in a garage sale for 10 bucks. Now I'm kinda sorry. I think Andrew's structure is way cool...surely not an embarrassment.
    Do your opuntias ever bloom?

  6. Love the stove pipe Saguaros!

  7. I love a visit to family, especially when they live somewhere where the gardening is so different!

    Those opuntia fruits made me laugh: I remember a time when we were a newly emigrated English family living in Southern California and my dad heard you could eat opuntia fruit. We were on a drive through an area where they grew, so my dad proceeded to harvest some fruits. The resulting microscopic prickles embedded in the upholstery of the car tortured us kids for weeks afterwards!

  8. T or C may be hard-scrabble, but that doesn't take away from its beauty. We drove up the length of New Mexico once and spent a night in T or C. Still have fond memories.

  9. When you get old and gray (like an Oreocereus?), you can make a nice walking stick out of those cholla ribs, too!

    Calliandra californica is the species (C. eriophylla is pink, smaller), that IS tough, though maybe it came back from the roots? And you hit on it in T or C or much of NM...low maintenance demands tough...and you see what it tough, even for a better cared-for landscape.

  10. I had a friend in my university days who was from T&C. "Hardscrabble" is how she described it, too. She had a rough, rough hardscrabble childhood, and was glad to be elsewhere. Yet it looks really beautiful in your photos, bleached flamingos almost hauntingly so--if somewhere so sun-splashed can be haunted.

  11. Rohrerbot, yes T or C is definitely in the middle of nowhere. My feeling is that those that live there are bound by family. Or maybe the promise of a job opportunity (like the management of the new Walmart) or the chance to escape from the "rat race."

    Shirley, it's an interesting place to visit for sure. I can't believe that I've been there twice now but never experienced their hot springs. That's what they used to be called you know, Hot Springs NM.

    Nicole, I believe it is.

    Patirica, it's what parents are supposed to right?

    ricki, I agree...most of the artwork that he would love to see go away I really like! I've had two Opuntia bloom, but no fruit.

    Lauren, I'm a little tempted to try and make one...

    MulchMaid, wow...that is a memorable story. Sounds awful. Did you end up eating the fruit?

    Gerhard, of course! There is a sparse beauty there that I really appreciate.

    DD, tough for sure...I realized on this vacation that I really want the opportunity to garden in the desert. Not because of how much I love the plants but because I wonder if I can do it. I flirt with the idea but I bet it's so much more difficult than this PNW native can even imagine.

    Hoover, I could have done an entirely different post, but I prefer to focus on the positive. There is much there to love.

  12. What fun post, fab spikies but the highlight is your husbands art work which I really like. And good idea avoiding the angry dogs :)

  13. Loree, the prickly aftermath is what I remember about the opuntia experiment. Whether the fruit was tasty was completely eclipsed by the painful spines in my memory!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!