OK, so. Well. Back to the garden.

It’s late May and we were gone for two weeks, during which it actually rained. You can imagine. I’m sorry I didn’t take any “Before” pictures. Spent all day yesterday hacking back the Mexican primroses from the sidewalk garden. That it not a nice way to talk about a wildflower, especially such a pretty one, but they do have takeover tendencies and look very raggedy once the first blooms are done. They’ll be back.

It’s embarrassing how sore my quads are this morning after doing those 10,000 squats. While I’m on the subject of not talking nicely, you know how sometimes you need to hold onto the bathroom countertop to lower yourself into an, um, seated position? That. I would have thought that pushing a bike up those hills in Italy would have given me quads of steel. (I would like to report that I was pushing the bike uphill while I was seated upon it and pedaling, but it wasn’t exactly like that.)
It’s been a very pleasant spring around here, meaning the heat held off for the most part: nights were cool, the shade was cool, breezes were cool. I walked around the yard a lot, just looking. This is pink gaura (of the family Onagraceae). These little dudes distinguish themselves by floating on tall thin stalks like butterflies hovering. I’ve had white ones too.

Succulents are always doing something interesting and exotic. I keep meaning to write a piece just about succulents. Unfortunately, I have very mixed luck with them; I think they like to be left alone much more than I am prone to do. This one lives in the steel raised bed Floyd made for me last year.

The original purpose for the steel bed, and the cage that sat atop it, was for growing tomatoes in a way that the rodents couldn’t get to the fruit. However, every year I need to relearn the fact that I am constitutionally incapable of growing most foods. So this year, I transformed the fabulous steel planter into a garden of rocks and ignorable perennials.

This guy above lives in a whole different part of the yard, on the north corner of the house beside a little stone patio, and I waited two years for the first blossom. It’s Acca sellowiana, better known at least to me as a pineapple guava (no pineapples and no guavas, story of my life). It’s an evergreen shrub that produces these exotic flowers in the spring. Worth the wait.

I mean to do a whole piece on cactus flowers because they are so amazing. One thing that kills me about them is that little bitty cacti have no problem producing flowers bigger than they are. The one above looked like a big pink hat and, as often happens, lasted one day. The cactus itself is maybe four inches tall.

Floyd came home from his bike ride yesterday to tell me that sections of the greenbelt are overrun with cactus flowers and wildflowers of all kinds. “We should go down there tomorrow,” he offered. You don’t think that a husband who asks you on a date to locations where rattlesnakes are known to be prolific and coyote pups have recently been born has an ulterior motive, do you? (No worries about the coral snakes; they are quite sluggish and need to gnaw on you for a while before injecting their highly lethal venom. And well, copperheads. I really prefer to do my mountain biking in winter around here.)
Anyway, I’ll probably go but I’m putting my foot down about bringing Travis. The coyote parents are very clear in expressing their displeasure about canine visitors to their territory at this time of year.

On a happier note, the duranta (of the family verbenaceae) is finally coming into its own. The first year I planted it, deer came along and ate the tender buds every single time they appeared. I moved one of the duranta into the back yard where it’s safe but gets less sun. This guy lives in the sidewalk garden but has somehow avoided becoming a midnight snack.

For no reason I can explain, the deer visiting this spring had a craving for the buds on the Mutabilis rose in the side yard. This is a great kind of old rose that has blossoms that change color during the day and create a shrub full of pink and pale orange flowers that remind me of my favorite Good Humor popsicle from when I was little – it was half raspberry, half orange. I can never get a good photo of Mutabilis, but this will give you an idea at least of the colors I’m talking about:

Fortunately, I have a spare one of those in the back yard, too. Bwahahahahaha, deer!

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