A young Loggerhead Shrike doing its best to balance at the top of the neighbor’s tall and totally dead juniper cypress. Beetles devastated the trees that line the entire back of Betty’s lot. If I wasn’t a bird watcher I’d probably be a bit irritated at the dead trees because they block our view of Turtleback Mountain and they have been dead for more than two years. The dead trees are pretty tall so lots of birds enjoy perching on them & some of the birds like this Loggerhead Shrike are species that don’t visit my yard for food or, as a rule, even water.
In 2008 I received a packet of Butterfly Pea seeds from an online friend but never had success growing them. As I was cleaning out my seed collection I found the little home-made packet with one seed at the bottom & having learned that seeds can really surprise with their viability I went ahead and planted it. Well the vine grew! Just yesterday I noticed a bud tucked away under some leaves and this morning when I looked voila a beautiful blue flower had opened.
The vine itself is quite pretty. I’m hoping for some seed pods to develop so that I can try to grow more of these delicate beauties.
The flowers can be used as a food dye and there are medicinal uses for the plant as well.
This species of Opuntia cactus blooms May to June around here. The third spring of our drought made even the toughest of desert plants show the effects of almost no moisture. The soap tree yuccas and Opuntia that usually decorate the desert in late spring put on a pitiful show this year.
The red to purple fruit of the opuntia pictured here are from a cactus that is growing adjacent to my yard so it got a few “rain showers” from my garden hose. But as I walk the desert I see almost no fruit that the coyotes adore. Pete the Pyrrhuloxia has enjoyed some fruit from this plant though.
This is Pete the Pyrrhuloxia enjoying some “free” birdseed. The pot had been near one of the bird feeders and after the monsoon rains the spilled seeds really grew. The pot was moved to the back of the garden but it is so much fun to see Pete, probably the tamest wild bird that visits, enjoying the seeds. There is some foxtail grass in another pot that Goldfinch and the Black-throated sparrow love. The Black-throated sparrows jump from the ground, pull the seeds off then eat the seeds from the ground. So cute to watch!
Panicum miliaceum, White Millet, Proso Millet
Agastache Ava grew beautifully in my garden until a couple of years ago when we got close to 20 degrees below 0. I lost several plants but none that I miss more than this one. Agastache really attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Agastache Ava is only available from High Country Gardens.
While a good monsoon season promises dramatic weather that brings relief from heat it also brings possible hazards from wind, hail and lightning. The storms often come in the late afternoon so they suppress the hot summer temperatures and resuscitates vegetation, but it also delivers intense rain, large hail, powerful winds, whirling dust, and a startlingly high number of lightning strikes.