developing pears

Developing Pears

Developing Pears for 2015

Pears – two varieties – appear to be developing well for 2015. A lot can happen between now and harvest time, but this year seems to be off to a good start!

For the fruit to develop, two trees are required for pollination. I do not know what varieties these are; they were at the house when I bought it. But one produces fruit that tastes delicious to people; the other produces fruit that is preferred by a variety of birds. Everyone is happy! The birds leave mine alone, and I leave theirs alone. 🙂 )))))))))

developing pears

This developing fruit will become quite tasty to people in August

developing pears

Fruit of the pollinator tree. These pears will be small and hard. The birds like them, though.


Clematis Developing

Clematis Developing

Clematis is one of the earlier flowers to bloom in my garden. I grow it with the rose, ‘Mermaid.’ This vine blooms first, and almost as soon as it has finished its first bloom, ‘Mermaid’ begins to bloom.

It is truly a sign of the arrival of spring when the vine begins to leaf out and form buds. Spring has definitely arrived in my yard! (That does not mean that we could not still have freezing temperatures at night. But hopefully the temperatures would not go much below freezing and would not last long enough to damage tender growth on established plants.)


Clematis leafing out in early spring


Bud beginning to develop

dwarf peach 'bonanza'

Dwarf Peach Bonanza

My New Dwarf Peach ‘Bonanza’ in Its first Bloom

Dwarf Peach Bonanza, as many long-time readers here know, was one of my very favorite plants in my yard for many years. The one tree I had for so long died in February 2011 when we had the very cold few days. The tree never recovered.

Many new varieties of dwarf peach trees have been developed since I purchased the original one years ago. But, in reading about them, the original ‘Bonanza‘ seemed to still be the ideal one for my Albuquerque yard. I wasn’t sure if I could find one or not, however.

I have the most wonderful neighbors who have done many things for me over the years. In 2014 they found some Bonanza trees here in Albuquerque, and gave me a replacement one as a Christmas present. You cannot imagine how happy I was! They even planted it for me!

In February we had a prolonged warm spell, and everything started to bud out. Then, we had snow for a couple of days, and while it was not all that cold, some of the buds were damaged. This week, however, buds that had not been too developed earlier have begun to open, and they are as beautiful as I remember. I do not know if I will get peaches this year, but that is beside the point. It is as beautiful as I remember, and a great specimen addition to the patio area.

dwarf peach bonanza

Blossoms of Dwarf Peach Bonanza



Narcissus, Another Early Spring Flower

Narcissus seemed to bloom almost overnight. Once the crocus begin to bloom, many more flowers follow in rapid succession, this being one of them.

I have friends in the Northeast still enduring the very long and very snowy 2014-2015 winter. Some have noted they especially like to see yellow flowers. Well, these aren’t exactly yellow, but are kind of in the yellow family. These are especially for you. We have had a glorious winter in the Southwest Desert, at least in the high desert of New Mexico. But, our snowpack is not good. Come summer, we’ll be dealing with wild fires, while friends in the Northeast will be enjoying lush plant growth.

These seemed to come into bloom all of a sudden. Not unexpectedly sudden, only that one day they were not blooming, and the next day so many were. These do not last long, but are very much appreciated for the short time they are. I have chosen to show you a bud, fully open blooms, and a close up of a fully open bloom.

Narcissus Bud

Narcissus Bud




Narcissus, Up Close and Personal

pear blossoms

Pear Blossoms

Pear Blossoms, Another Sign of Spring

Pear blossoms are another sign that spring has arrived. Many of the Bradford pears around Albuquerque have been blooming for a week or so. This is a different pear, one which produces delicious pears for eating. I do not know the name. It was at the house when I bought it. Also at the house is a pollinator pear, necessary for the production of the pear fruit. The tree from which this image comes produces “people” pears, which the birds really do not like. The pollinator pear produces “bird” pears, which this person really does not like. All the way around, it works out very well.

pear blossoms

Pear Blossoms, Just Beginning to Bloom

Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, A Fun Plant in the Garden

Harry Lauder’s walking stick is a fascinating plant to have in the garden. The contorted limbs add interest in winter. Leaves are lush green in the summer. Flower arrangers like to use limbs in their arrangements. My mother, an outstanding arranger, has grown this plant in her yard for some time, and it has been one of her favorites for line material.

In the spring, “Harry Lauder,” as it is commonly referred to, can put on a spectacular display of yellow catkins, the male flowers. My mom’s plant is in “full bloom” this week, and I managed to photograph it before the rains came. I love it for creating images as much as arrangers love it for line material.

Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

Male Flowers, the Catkins, of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Flower Bud

I have no idea exactly what this is, other than some wonderful bud I photographed at the ABQ BioPark last fall.

Flower Bud

Flower Bud

This is an example of why I do not delete digital negatives that I do not particularly care for the first time around. I had fun developing it today.

And, now I know what an “Aside” post looks like. 🙂 )))))))

finding beauty

Finding Beauty

Finding Beauty in the Unexpected: More Rose Hips

Finding beauty. What is beauty, anyway? And who gets to decide what it is? Beauty, of course, “is in the eye of the beholder,” and there may be as many definitions as there are beholders.

This year I have spent more time than ever looking at rose hips and spent blooms on roses in the yard than ever in the past. Maybe that is because the weather has been so beautiful, and yet I am not ready to prune the roses. Maybe it is because I have had the time to photograph them, and have found them interesting subjects. No matter why I have looked at them more, one thing is certain: I have learned a lot more about them than I knew before, such as there is such wide variability between varieties; each variety is pretty distinctive in its hip expression; all have their own unique form of beauty. I will admit that finding beauty sometimes took a little looking, however.

I think the one hip I found most beautiful from the very beginning was this one on ‘Fourth of July.’

finding beauty

Hip of climbing rose, ‘Fourth of July’

Others are intrinsically interesting, especially in juxtaposition with new leaves beginning to emerge. This one is the hybrid rugosa, ‘Buffalo Gal:’

finding beauty

Hip and emerging leaves on hybrid rugosa, ‘Buffalo Gal’

And, for some, you may have to work just a bit harder at finding beauty. This is a hip of the Austin rose, ‘Othello,’ a beautiful rose with a fabulous scent. To be honest, I was amazed when I saw these hips. I have had the rose for some time, a gift, but this is the first year I ever “saw” these hips. It was an eye-opening experience! 🙂 )))))))))

finding beauty

Hip of Austin rose, ‘Othello

Once I actually do prune the roses, watch for it, you know it’s coming, get ready – a gallery of the 2014-2015 rose hips collection from my very small yard!

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