07/21/15
garden ornaments

Garden Ornaments

Garden Ornaments from the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour

Garden ornaments can be whimsical, serious, beautiful, colorful – any variety of anything a gardener wishes to have. Here are a few examples from one of the gardens on the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour this past June.

Ever have days like this?

garden ornaments

Ever Have Days Like This?

Some are more serene:

garden ornaments

The serenity of music and angels

Whimsy is always fun:

garden ornaments

Whimsical Bee

When pigs fly…

garden ornaments

When pigs fly…

These are just a few of the ornaments seen in one Corrales garden. They were all interesting, and added a different kind of visual appeal to the setting. All made me wonder what the owner was thinking when they were placed, and what thoughts they continue to bring to mind not only to the owner but to casual visitors.

This was a fun garden to visit on the Corrales Garden Tour.

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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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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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03/12/15
prune roses rose hips

Still Too Early to Prune Roses

When to Prune Roses in the High Desert – A Constant Dilemma

When to prune roses is a constant dilemma in the High Desert. Although this blog is titled “Southwest Desert Gardening,” there are so many different environments in the large sense and microclimates in the small sense, that no universal recommendations are possible. Roses are already reported to be blooming in Tucson, Arizona, and the good folks in Santa Fe will prune their roses even later than we do here in Albuquerque. My mom lives less than a mile from me as the crow flies, and she has already pruned her roses; her yard runs 5°-10°F warmer than mine. Within my very small yard are several microclimates. It is very warm against a south-facing wall, and quite cool against a north-facing wall; that is always the last place the snow melts in my yard.

The “Average Last Frost-Free Date” has generally – in the past – been agreed to be April 15. That has to be seen as truly an average for a large area, and it may not apply to many spots in that large area. It probably does apply to where I live, but I have friends in Corrales who regularly get freezes well into May, and sometimes even later. I generally prune around the beginning of April, and do not fertilize until well past mid-April. There have been years when I lost a lot of new growth in May from a late freeze.

A couple of weeks ago we had several days of very warm temperatures for February. A lot of my roses sent out new growth in response. Then we got a significant snow, with a few days of colder temps. Much of that new growth died. Had I pruned those roses, there would be many fewer spots for new growth to replace that killed in the cold. As it is, when it is time to prune, the result will be “no harm, no foul.”

The combination of warm days, plus too early to prune roses, has produced some wonderfully interesting photographic opportunities this year, however. I have already shown a variety of rose hips and “winter beauty.”

The images for today’s post are from the modern shrub rose, ‘Route 66.’ The flowers are purple with a white eye, and have a strong, very pleasant scent. It is one of the first in my yard to bloom in the spring. As I was looking things over, I spotted a bud from last year that froze in the fall before it ever completely opened. You can tell, even as dried as it is, that the flower would have been purple. Because it did not bloom, a true hip did not form. I also found a “spray” of hips on ‘Route 66.’ When I do prune roses, this will be one of the first.

rose hips prune roses

Frozen, dried bud of shrub rose, ‘Route 66’

prune roses rose hips

Rose hips from spray of shrub rose ‘Route 66’

prune roses

Fully formed hip of ‘Route 66’ with lush new growth

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03/1/15
insight new mexico 2015

Insight New Mexico 2015

Insight New Mexico 2015: Through Her Eyes

Insight New Mexico has become the premier photography exhibition for New Mexico women photographers. Organized by LeRoy Perea, Insight is an outgrowth of the popular ANMPAS (Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show), held in December. Both are juried shows, and it is always an honor to have images selected for showing in either one.

The theme of this year’s show is Through Her Eyes. From the press release:

Through Her Eyes” the 2015 InSight exhibit opening April 5, 2015, at Expo New Mexico showcases the work of women photographers of New Mexico. It was juried by nationally respected women photographers: Jennifer Hudson, Linda Ingraham, Margot Geist and Phyllis Burchett. The show includes more than 125 images, representing the work of 61 emerging and professional women photographers residing in the state. You will see an array of diverse subjects, themes, and unique processes, and every image is available for purchase.

I am very happy that my two images were selected for inclusion in Insight New Mexico 2015, a show which is always fun. This year’s theme, Through Her Eyes, spoke to me. “The Observer, The Observed” was photographed and processed after I returned from Texas to be with my son. The amaryllis in “Postcard Series – Amaryllis” was photographed last year, but the processing of this image was also done after I returned from being with my son. Although rather different at first glance, the underlying theme of each is life transitions, with moments of beauty and of insight, and layers of meaning.

“The Observer, The Observed”

insight new mexico 2015

The Observer, The Observed

The Crow as symbol and in myth is a powerful creature around the world, but nowhere more so than in the Southwest. Crow is a Messenger who moves between Worlds; a Trickster who can steal Light from the Sky (the Sun) and bring it to people who need it; and an astute Observer. In early January I was out photographing a cloud bank rolling over the Sandia Mountains, with a storm predicted to follow it. Suddenly, some raucous crows appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and they left as quickly as they came. This one crow, however, stayed behind, briefly, and seemed to pose for this one image, almost as a gift.
This image will be available as a Fine Art Giclée Canvas Print.

“The Postcard Series – Amaryllis”

Insight New Mexico 2015

The Postcard Series – Amaryllis

Amaryllis – bringing life, colorful life, indoors in the winter. These flowers hold the promise of spring, while being beautiful in the present. Postcards – old postcards, saved postcards, speak to memories of the past. Past travels? Past good times with old friends? Memories of things that made us who we are? The Postcard series combines memories of the past with beauty of the present. But, beautiful flowers do not last forever. What of the future? That is for the viewer to determine…
This image will be available as a Fine Art Giclée Bamboo Watercolor Print.

The exhibit will be held in the Fine Arts Building at Expo New Mexico (the New Mexico State Fairgrounds) from April 5th through April 26th. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays) from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The cost to see the exhibit is free.

I hope to see my friends from the Albuquerque area there.

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02/28/15
red-breasted nuthatch

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch – not only had I never photographed one before, I am not sure I had even seen one before.!

red-breasted nuthatch

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

I was out this morning, photographing the backyard with the additional snow that had fallen overnight. I have feeders around the yard, and this seed cylinder hangs from the patio roof. You can see the icicles that were present this morning.

Since I was planning to photograph the snow in the yard, I had my landscape lens rather than my bird lens. It seems like almost every time, the birds seem to know and come around! This little guy was so hungry that he kept eating not all that far from me. It was actually a win-win situation of sorts – he could eat in peace without bigger birds like the finches pecking him out of the way. And, I got a photograph.

If you are wondering what that “cap” is on top of the seed cylinder, it is there to make it very hard for the doves to feed from the cylinder. Don’t worry – I feed the doves also, but I don’t want them feeding on my patio! They can stay a little farther out.

But, this little red-breasted nuthatch will be a welcome visitor anytime!

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02/27/15
rose hip

Snow and Ice

Ice after Snow – Not So Good for the Garden!

Ice this afternoon followed the snow this morning. I was happy to wake up to five inches of snow. We have needed precipitation for so long, that even I was delighted to see snow. Some images from this morning can be seen at my photography blog.

Although the temperature did not warm to above freezing at my house today, some of the snow on the roof began to melt, and icicles formed at the edge. They began to drip droplets onto some of my roses, where that water immediately formed ice. This is not something you want to see happening.

Some of you who have followed this blog from its beginning may recall the damage done to my old garden rose, ‘Mermaid,’ when a 22 inch snow began to melt, refreeze, melt, refreeze, until ‘Mermaid,’ was pulled off the wall and laid out across my patio by the weight of the ice. It is why I now do something that most people would say I should not do – I prune ‘Mermaid’ back in late fall. It has proven to be a good strategy for this particular rose in this one particular spot.

(Some images of ‘Mermaid’ and the damage may be seen at the following links. Those images were taken with an old Nikon Coolpix, the first digital camera I owned. Thus, the odd settings that those of you who know your way around cameras will note.

Saga of Mermaid, Part 3
Saga of Mermaid, Part 4
Saga of Mermaid, Part 5
Saga of Mermaid, Part 6
Saga of Mermaid, Part 7
Saga of Mermaid, Part 9 )

Here in the high desert, Albuquerque, we do not prune until late March and preferably early April. That is because of the threat of late freezes. When I do prune this year, I will have damage from today to remove. At the time of this writing, it appears that ‘St. Patrick’ will have the most damage.

ice

‘St. Patrick’ with ice and icicles

You see two different ice formations on ‘St. Patrick.’ The icicles are clear, and are not that big of a threat at that size. But, you can also see in this image a branch that was bent by the weight of the ice, and then droplets continued to drip from the icicles on the roof, weighing down the branch even more. Here’s a hint – you cannot shake ice off a branch like that, in the way you can shake snow off. That branch is broken by the weight of the ice. Those of you who are rosarians will understand that I had really wanted ‘St. Patrick’ to have a really good year in 2015. It may yet; it is far too early to tell for sure. But this ice is potentially a major setback for this rose bush.

ice

Icicles on Veterans’ Honor

The icicles at this size are not a major problem for ‘Veterans’ Honor.’ However, this image shows why we do not prune until later. The leaves you see are last year’s leaves. But, if you look closely, you see new growth (red) appearing along the cane. This new growth will not survive the freezing temperatures. That is okay; there are still a lot of places for new growth when spring does arrive. Many places for new growth would have been removed had this hybrid tea been pruned. I’m not a bit worried about this rose, at least as of today. Who knows what weather lies ahead? But, for today, it is okay.

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