Friday, May 19, 2017


Last year at this time we had a lovely picnic with friends at the Hondo Iris Farm. After we finished our lunch, I could hardly wait to tour the gardens and pick out some iris plants to bring home. A couple of weeks later, I ordered some more rhizomes from their catalog for fall planting.

We set up raised beds between the house and the chicken yard, in a nice spot partly shaded by a huge old Chinese elm and well-serenaded by sparrows, finches, doves, and "our" mockingbird. Then the wait was on, dreaming of irises all winter.

All the early and midseason plants have bloomed with either single or double stalks of flowers. Next year there will be even more. I still have a couple of late season bloomers to look forward to, but I wanted to share the blossoms we have enjoyed so far.

Edith Wolford 

Fiery Temper

This is the same Fiery Temper in another light--quite an amazing difference, I think!

Florentine Silk

Best Bet 

Night Ruler

Spice Lord

Starship Enterprise

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Joy in the Morning

"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning..." (Psalm 30)

"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" (Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll)

This morning's walk was filled with the joyful sights and sounds of spring. My companions were the little dog, Weetzie...

...and the youngest pup, Beany.

We stopped by the place down the road where the banty hen has just hatched out three chicks. She was out in the field, teaching them chicken things, but was too far away for a photo. We heard geese and peacocks, distant and unseen. 

Then we crossed into the pecan orchard, where the trees have leafed out and are making us sneeze. Oh, but they are lovely, and we will all appreciate the shade they provide in the coming heat of summer, not to mention the pecans later in the fall.

We passed by the dog who never gets walked, but who appreciates a hello when he peeks out of his pen at us. Then we saw the escape artist dog, Mr. Socks, who was out for a jolly free gallop through the orchard. He'll be in timeout tomorrow, I'm sure. We were cautious as we passed the gate of the noisy Mr. Bounce, who is a cattle dog with very springy legs who leaps up behind his stone wall, again and again, getting glimpses of us only when he reaches maximum altitude. 

As we walked down the irrigation ditch pathway, we came to the farm with the chickens and the foster dogs. They are a lively bunch, all of them. The same place has three horses that Beany likes to visit.

We crossed the country road to check out the newly plowed and planted fields. I'm not sure yet what will be growing there (cabbage? chiles? cotton?), but we like to keep an eye on things. Just past the field you can see a light green orchard of young pecan trees, and beyond that, a mature orchard. Watching over all are the Organ Mountains, the first thing I see out my window in the morning. 

Turning the last corner, we came to "our" orchard, which is the one that surrounds our small property. We don't own it or pay taxes on it or have to labor in it, but it gives us pleasure every day, and is a place where grackles, white-winged doves, killdeer, robins, hawks, owls, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and the occasional tarantula pass through.

And then we arrived home to our little adobe cottage, where the hollyhocks bloom and the mockingbird sings. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Garden Evolves

In looking back through old posts about my gardening attempts here in the Chihuahuan Desert, I am reminded of just how many plants didn't survive. Perennials and even cacti were in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting either too much heat against a south-facing wall, or too much or too little water.

I've been learning through the failures, though. There are certain cacti that will thrive here, no matter what I do to them. The hollyhocks--taller than me and ready to bloom--are happily self-seeding everywhere, and so are the desert bird of paradise shrubs--all giving a reliable and dramatic show of color, year after year.

2010, two pads only

2017, five feet wide and almost taller than me

This will be the second summer for the raised beds in the back yard. With better control over the soil and moisture content, I'm still trying to grow some of my colorful favorites. Here is a sampling of what's blooming so far: The columbines are a big success, as they are freely multiplying and acting as a ground cover to shade the soil; there are three rose varieties so far, yellow, red, and a multi-color; scabiosa (pincushion flower in blue), dianthus, and Iceland poppies.


The irises I bought last year at the Hondo Iris Farm are growing well and some have started to bud. I will post pictures of them as they come into bloom. The sweet peas are up, as are the morning glories (even though our little dog Dweezil did some sunbathing in that bed). My poor little much-moved lilac is looking happier and more protected from the sun in its new raised bed home. The mint and rosemary are thriving, and the surprise lilies are coming along.

It's a small garden, but it brings me great pleasure!