When your garden is located in a climate of 30 days of temperatures at or over 110 degrees, it’s tough to want to do any creative gardening. I wander about with my watering can most mornings when it’s only 89 degrees. Yes, it’s a dry heat, and I mostly appreciate that, but it isn’t pleasant. No monsoon rains in sight, plants covered with shade cloth, we must wait it out.
Water is essential for life; on two different occasions, once in May the other in August, I’ve found in my garden two perfectly formed tiny mud pots. These were made by a 1/2” long Microdynerus arenicolus, or the Antioch Potter Wasp. A potter’s wasp will lay its eggs inside. The female wasp gets a MOUTHFUL of water, finds some soil to mix in her mouth and builds the pot from the bottom up one mouthful at a time. Can you imagine the size of a wasp’s mouth? This variety of wasp is found in the southwest,
For over 40 years, we’ve enjoyed the scenery just outside our backyard; a city golf course. Now, we’re not golfers, but this picturesque course gives us plenty of enjoyment as we watch the comings and goings of the wildlife there.
My Desert Marigolds with their bright yellow flowers are growing out across the sidewalk in front of my house. These double petal daisy-like flowers, stretching out toward the sun, are a sign of spring in my Arizona garden. The heavy winter rains have given the perennials a significant boost and extended the blooming period. I watched them edging out onto the sidewalk and so I would trim them and bring them in for a bouquet in the house. I cut again and again, but finally, they were sneaking so far out onto the sidewalk, I noticed walkers kicking at them, stepping on them oblivious to their beauty.
I’m puzzled about pumpkins. The USA seems to have a limited view of the pumpkin. Pumpkins appear only in October. It is spiced into coffee, but there is no color of it there. It is grown in competition to find the largest one possible. It is smashed for amusement. It is carved in all forms, some simple, some like a work of grand art. It is made into a vase for a floral design where it lasts less time than the flowers. Pumpkins are placed inline forming great trails or stacked like a waterfall.
When I was growing up there was American Cheese & then for something fancy there was Swiss Cheese. So many decades later in Switzerland, there is no “Swiss” cheese, but there is Tilsiter, Appenzeller, Emmentaler, Le Gruyere, and many more. The uniqueness of these flavors is attributed to the mountain meadows the Brown Swiss, Simmental, Braunvieh breeds of cattle graze on to create these flavors. Today in Murren, there was a cow parade. Some of the 270,000 which have been up in the alps for the summer came down through town. This event is a celebration of the grazing traditions and cheese making Switzerland cherishes. The dairy cattle are accompanied by herdsmen who will spend the summer: milking each cow twice a day, collecting the milk, and making it into cheese in the mountains. Doing all of this high in the Alps is quite a remarkable, physical, and logistical endeavor.
Murren, Switzerland is a village where flowers and gardening in the summer appear to be a passion equal to snow sports in the winter. Visiting here for a few days I’m staggered by the beautiful displays of flowers seen everywhere I turn.
Murren is a popular destination for travelers, so it would be easy to assume this is done just for the tourists who come. Though the visitors speak a multitude of languages, nearly everyone understands the language of beauty in the window boxes and small gardens terraced on the slopes.
Gardens are filled with moments of happiness and heartbreak. For years our garden had a wall of lush green creeping fig (fig ivy). Just two tiny plants had grown over 20 years to create a thick, dense layer of green covering the entire west wall of the back yard. It was nearly 3’thick and rose easily 4’ above the 8’ wall. It crawled over into my neighbor’s yard where it was generally the only thing green to be found there. It blocked the neighbor’s house entirely. I loved it.
I have lived my life with plastic. I’ve used Tupperware, saran wrap, water bottles, toys, and tools. I have a yellow plastic flower pot that is 45 years old. I remember the film, The Graduate, when Mr. Mcguire offering Benjamin one word for his future, said “Plastics. There’s a great future in it.” But today I’m living with plastic guilt.
I wander the world looking for glorious gardens. I’m always noticing the trees and the flowers where ever I go. Today I was going to Home Depot, and I found a glorious southwest spring display. The Hacienda Children’s Hospital at 610 W Jerome Ave, in Mesa, AZ opened in October of 2015. My usual side street approach to Home Depot allowed me to watch the construction of the building from its earliest beginnings. It is a beautiful structure w/ an integrated steel tree rising up the side of the building and framing the entryway canopy. It has been attention grabbing from the start. The facility was designed by the Devenney Group, who specializes in medical architecture. I’ve contacted them to find out who the landscape architect is for this project because right now, this moment the landscape has blossomed into its full glory. The plants are just a bit over three years in the ground and the time combined with the wet winter has created a moment of true desert glory.