07/26/16
Sunflower and Bee

Sunflower and BIG Bee

Sunflower and BIG Bee

Update from Baldo Villegas, regarding identification:

this is not a carpenter bee. This is an anthophorid bee. This group of bees are famous for pollinating sunflowers. The males have longer antennae than the females and this is usually how I recognize them right away. Unfortunately, I can’t see the antennae from the picture so my guess is that it is a female.

I’ll be working to get a better image showing the antennae!
Thank you, Baldo!

Sunflower and big bee, and a beautiful blue New Mexico sky! I was out photographing goldfinches playing on the spent sunflowers and cosmos, enjoying the seeds and showing it. This time of year I see a lot of pollinators on most of the flowers in the yards, buzzing around, very busily. Sometimes I specifically photograph them. But, this particular day I was focusing on the goldfinches.

As I sat on my porch enjoying a quiet afternoon, I saw what, at least from a distance, appeared to be a HUGE bee. I’m used to the black and yellow “bumble bees,” and the smaller brown and yellow bees. But this had the appearance of a brown and yellow bee, but very large, and spending a lot of time working a sunflower. Finally, I had to investigate more closely, even though I knew the birds would fly, at least for a bit.

Sunflower and Big Bee

Sunflower and Large Bee

Sunflower and Big Bee

Sunflower and Large Bee

As you can see, this was, indeed, a very large bee. And, it had been very busy! It was covered with pollen it had collected from the sunflower. I think it may be a male carpenter bee, although I need to check this identification.

Under any circumstances, it was a new bee for me, and certainly caught my eye even though I thought I would focus on birds that particular day.

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08/16/15

Beautiful Spider and Web

Spider and Web

This beautiful spider and its equally beautiful web greeted me one recent morning. The web had been woven overnight, and blocked my way from the patio to the remainder of the yard. Oh, well… I went in to get my camera, and then walked through the round garden to get to the other side, where the light was better for a photograph.

spider

Beautiful spider and web

Close up view:

spider

Beautiful spider and web, up close

Spiders of a wide variety are found in the gardens of the Desert Southwest. Here in Albuquerque, I expect to find beautiful webs such as this one, some stronger, some less strong, from August until a heavy frost. They may occur at other times, but this is the time I expect to see them. At times, I have had access to the front door blocked by a beautiful web I did not wish to destroy. This was the first web I have had that blocked usual access from the patio to the rest of the yard. Although I would have preferred its location to be elsewhere, I was happy to find such a beautiful web in the morning light.

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07/13/15
July Garden datura

July Day in the Garden

July Day in the Garden

This July day dawned clear, and while there were clouds, the sunrise did not have the oranges and pinks seen in recent days. Nevertheless, in its own way, it was typical of the high desert. ‘Blue Hour’ was definitely blue!

July Garden sunrise

July Sunrise

Here in mid-July, the roses are between bloom cycles. But, other flowers are blooming.

Datura is an intriguing plant. It grows wild throughout the Southwest. The bloom is short-lived, opening at dusk and generally wilting as the sun comes up. This morning, however, the cooler temperatures and abundant moisture of this monsoon season so far, a couple of blooms remained relatively fresh for an hour or two longer.

July Garden datura

Datura

One of the brightest flowers in my garden is a gladiolus that generally starts to bloom around July Fourth. This year it began a little earlier, and this is one of the last flowers until next year. I love the vibrant colors!

July Day gladiolus

Gladiolus

The black chinned hummingbirds have been here since mid-April, and will remain into September. But within the coming week, here in Albuquerque we will begin to have a variety of migrating hummingbirds. Where I am, the rufous is the most abundant late summer migrant, but I have seen calliope and other hummers that are not seen frequently. Late summer can be very interesting at the hummingbird feeders.

This July day, however, was very calm and peaceful. A beautiful day in the garden.

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06/28/15
Double Rainbow

The Golden Sky at the End of the Storm

Double Rainbow

Golden Sky and Double Rainbow after the Storm

Last evening Albuquerque experienced one of our famous summer thunderstorms – lightning, thunder, brief heavy rain that produced rivers running in streets, full arroyos, and some brief flash flooding. I got 1″ of rain in less than an hour, enough that there was standing water for a short time (I hope I’ll have a lawn again for a few days!).

Albuquerque is well-known for double rainbows after thunderstorms. But, this was late, and the clouds were heavy and the rain continued, albeit at a slower rate.

And, then, unexpectedly because it was late and still raining, I caught a glimpse of golden light out of the corner of my eye. Such light after a storm here often produces rainbows looking east toward the Sandias. But, there were no rainbows from the usual view. But, with that light, something had to be happening! This view is looking south. I have never seen a rainbow in this position in the years I have lived here.

The light, and thus, the rainbows, lasted less than two minutes. The time was short, but the image in my mind will last.

The tree that was lit is The Old Crow tree, so named after a brief visit by a crow in January.

insight new mexico 2015

The Observer, The Observed

The mystical beauty of the Southwest Desert!

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06/17/15
mermaid rose

Mermaid, A Beautiful Old Garden Rose

Mermaid, A Beautiful Old Garden Rose

Mermaid is a beautiful old garden rose (Hybrid bracteata 1918) that long time readers here know well. In May of 2006 it was reaching its peak after having been planted several years before. It took Best of Show at the Spring 2006 Albuquerque Rose Show, along with the ARS Victorian Award for Old Garden Roses with unknown date of introduction or introduced in or after 1867. Who could have imagined what December of 2006 would bring?

Mid December of 2006 brought an 8 inch snowfall to my house. It was heavy and wet, and pulled Mermaid and its trellis a little away from the wall. But I was sick at the time, thought there wouldn’t be more snow at least for a while, and I could repair things when I felt better. Big mistake!

A week later or so I got an unheard-of-for-here 22 inch snowfall at my house! The melting and refreezing, melting and refreezing added more weight, and in the middle of one night with a noise loud enough to awaken me at the other end of the house, Mermaid and trellis came crashing down across the patio. It took me weeks to get that mess cleaned up to the point I could walk out into the rest of the yard. To do it, I had to cut everything, including the clematis that had been growing with Mermaid, off at ground level. I thought everything was gone.

Imagine my joy at finding tiny basal breaks later in the spring of 2007! Mermaid did not grow a lot in 2007, but the companion clematis came back more rapidly. 2008 was even better. By 2009, things were looking very good. At the Spring 2010 Albuquerque Rose Show, Mermaid once again won the ARS Victorian Award along with Best of Show.

The 2014-2015 winter in Albuquerque was quite mild. Mermaid’s spring bloom this year was probably the best I have seen since the 2006 damage. Once again, at the Spring 2015 Albuquerque Rose Show, Mermaid took Best of Show (5 matched sprays in the entry in “Exhibitor’s Dream”) along with the ARS Victorian Award. This is a rose you will not see often in rose shows, because it is an “eight-hour wonder!” It opens in the morning, and drops its petals by evening. But, it is gorgeous during that time!

mermaid rose

Mermaid, Best of Show 2015, at placement during entry before judging

These are images from this year’s spring bloom:

mermaid rose

Old Garden Rose, Mermaid

mermaid rose

Old Garden Rose, Mermaid

mermaid rose

Old Garden Rose, Mermaid

Mermaid – one of my favorite roses, and back to being a focal point in the garden of my small Albuquerque yard.

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06/9/15
water features

Water Features

Water Features in the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour

Water features were surprisingly prominent in the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour, held this past Sunday. I say surprising, only because they were more prominent than I am used to seeing them in Albuquerque proper. In thinking about this, though, perhaps I should not have been so surprised. Corrales is a Village, its own governmental entity. It does not have the tiered water billing system of Albuquerque. It sits right on the Rio Grande River, and many people have wells. That is not to say at all that everyone has unlimited water use, only that water use may be somewhat less regulated than in Albuquerque city limits.

The water features seen were quite refreshing. The three shown in this piece were all different from one another. Each fit the garden it accented. A lot of good landscape planning went into all of these.

This was in the back yard of the first garden we visited. It had a little bit of everything: small waterfall, koi, and water lilies. The home had a covered back porch which looked out toward this pool, along with numerous hummingbird feeders and seed bird feeders. It was all very pleasant, indeed.

water features

Waterfall, Koi, and water lilies

This next home had a variety of different areas within the yard area. The swimming pool was good size, and this waterfall and surrounding rockwork and sculpture were quite appealing.

water features

Waterfall and sculpture at swimming pool

My personal favorite of the water features was this almost hidden pool.A small wooden slide created an almost-waterfall and in addition there was a fountain supplying not only water but the beautiful ripples you can see on the surface. The growth around it was lush.

What made this pool almost hidden was a giant tamarisk tree in front of it. But, it was not the typical tamarisk tree. This one had been carefully trained and trimmed for years, making it into a very beautiful sculptural form. In fact, I was not certain it was a tamarisk. I had to ask the owner!!! Goes to show what creative people can do with something known for being less than desirable.

water features

Almost hidden waterfall and pool

We all enjoyed the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour. I have many more photos, and different aspects of the gardens will be featured in future posts.

I thank all of the garden owners for opening their gardens to us. It was a great day and a great tour.

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05/27/15
beautiful small yard

Beautiful Small Yard

Beautiful Small Yard in Albuquerque

Beautiful small yard: Albuquerque is surrounded by Federal lands of one type or another on the north, east, and south. Yards within Albuquerque proper tend to be small, compared to other places I have lived. The weather beckons people out of doors most of the year. Attractive yards in which to spend time are desirable, but sometimes making a very small yard attractive takes some thought and planning.

Water was not always considered a problem in Albuquerque, although it certainly is now. Ideally, the native plants would have been left when homes were built. Instead, the land was bulldozed clear of the native plants in many parts of Albuquerque (as well as other places in the Desert Southwest). New homes are often being xeriscaped from the beginning.

This home was built in the late 1990’s. This yard has been featured in several posts on this blog. It has not only matured, but the owner has tried to decrease the use of water by removing some plants, while keeping the foundation plantings and then a few for color. A lot of work has gone into this yard, but the owner has certainly achieved a beautiful small yard.

beautiful small yard

Beautiful small yard

The beautiful New Mexico sky is a constant feature here. Plants featured here,and these have been longstanding, are roses ‘Hot Cocoa,’ ‘Gentle Giant,’ and ‘Baby Grand;’ clematis trained on a pillar; two nandina bushes; and the Rose of Sharon, ‘Blushing Bride,’ trained into more of a tree shape than a shrub. This will bloom later in the summer. Although the yard is small, the plants give a lot of privacy here.

This is a beautiful small yard.

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05/26/15
the dr huey tour

Dr Huey Tour

The Second Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr Huey Tour, May 25, 2015

The Second Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr Huey Tour was, once again, a memorable event. The abundance of the rose, the Hybrid wichurana, Dr. Huey, used as rootstock for many grafted roses here in Desert Southwest, is a cautionary tale about microclimates, winter protection, and maybe just letting grow what survives well in a given spot.

Tim Price has explained this in detail with his photos of Dr. Huey from this year’s tour. Please visit Tim’s blog to read in depth about this year’s tour and see his images of Dr. Huey. (My discussion and images from the 2014 tour are here.) Tim has done such a thorough job of showing and explaining the significance of the abundance of Dr. Huey bushes in Corrales, in this post I am going to show a few highlights from the tour itself.

The rose highlight of the 2014 Dr. Huey Tour for me was seeing a Dr. Huey specimen 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The rose highlight of the 2015 tour for me was seeing this specimen of Rosa multiflora, a species rose. I had never seen one before, and had never really thought about seeing one. In fact, I was so taken aback that I did not have the presence of mind to ask if I could take a cutting. I’ll ask the next time I visit. Isn’t it a beautiful rose, even though a bit past its prime in this image (as it was in all the images from yesterday):

dr huey tour

Rosa multiflora, a species rose

This is a close-up of a Dr. Huey bloom from the tour:

dr huey tour

Dr. Huey, a Hybrid wichurana

Tim and Laurie have a large, beautiful bush of Dr. Huey on their land:

dr huey tour

Laurie with Dr. Huey

Seeing all the Dr. Huey examples in the Village of Corrales is the goal of the Dr. Huey Tour. But there is so much fun in the process of doing that, I’m already looking forward to the Third Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr. Huey Tour a year from now!

Tim, the photographer, and Laurie, the artist, stopped along Corrales Road, the main street of Corrales. documenting a Dr. Huey or two.

dr huey tour

Tim and Laurie documenting Dr. Huey

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04/21/15
first bloom of roses

First Bloom of Roses

First Bloom of Roses: Such an Exciting Time in the Spring!

First bloom of roses is something every gardener who grows roses anticipates. The first flush of blooms is usually, although not always, the most spectacular of the year. The roses in my yard have not yet reached the peak of first bloom, but I am so delighted to see blooms burst forth, I am going to share some of the early ones here.

first bloom of roses

‘Incognito,’ a wonderful miniature rose

first bloom of roses

‘Misty Moonlight,’ my sport of ‘Dream Weaver’

first bloom of roses

Shrub rose, ‘Be-Bop’

 bloom of roses

Another view of the shrub rose, ‘Be-Bop’

Over the next couple of weeks, many more roses should be blooming, more in terms of both variety and quantity. Expect more pictures to be posted here.

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04/13/15
clematis and roses

Clematis and Roses

Clematis and Roses: Companion Plants

Clematis and roses can be excellent companion plants, particularly for climbing roses. When someone asks me to recommend a companion plant for roses, I first ask the type of rose. If the rose climbs, I almost always include clematis among the recommendations.

Clematis need “cool feet.” That is, the plant does not thrive if the roots at ground level are exposed to direct sun. But, in order to bloom well, the vines themselves need sun. Pairing clematis with a climbing rose provides that. The rose provides the shade for the base of the clematis.

The clematis vine needs a support structure. A climbing rose provides a marvelous support structure, and the vine does not choke the rose (as some vines might).

Regular readers here know my love of the Old Garden Rose, ‘Mermaid,’ a hybrid bracteata (1918). If left to its own devices, it would be at the top of the house and covering my patio at the end of a season (actually, during a season!). I learned the hard way I need to keep it trained and controlled throughout the season. Surprisingly, it seems to thrive that way. It usually starts to bloom sometime in May, although this year it appears it could be a bit earlier than that.

I have two different clematis plants growing with ‘Mermaid,’ and both usually bloom before ‘Mermaid.’ ‘Nelly Moser’ is the first to bloom, and as its bloom ends, a large white clematis whose name I do not know begins its bloom. About the time it finishes, the rose begins its bloom.

‘Nelly Moser’ has begun its bloom, and the images with this post are of ‘Nelly Moser’ growing as a companion plant with ‘Mermaid.’

clematis and roses

‘Nelly Moser’ as companion to ‘Mermaid’

Closer view of ‘Nelly Moser:’

clematis and roses

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ with rose ‘Mermaid’

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