Reach for the sky

My soaring nopal.

I’VE LONG been a desert fan and the cacti that come with it. There is something spiritual about a desert. The same can be said about rainforests, the desert’s alter ego.

When I lived in Houston, one of my favorite road trips took me west. You didn’t have to go far before the environment turned dry, and nopal cacti appeared naturally along the highways. In spring they sprouted red flowers.

Mexicans are fond of eating nopal. I don’t share this love. Nopal is too much like okra, turning slimy when cooked.

So I just admire the appearance, and I don’t have to drive west to see nopal. I need only to step into the yard where I have about the tallest nopal I’ve ever seen.

I shot the above photo with a zoom lens. That’s just the noggin of my nopal. It soars 18 feet into the air.

I measured, more or less.

It was just two of those paddles when I planted it at least a decade ago, having no idea what I was getting into.

My second ex-wife is something called a Master Gardener. You get that title from the County Extension Service after taking an amount of training on such things.

While I am the yard chief here at the Hacienda, she was the garden honcho where we lived together in Houston.

I often encouraged her to plant bougainvillea. She never did. Perhaps it was out of pure spite. I hope not. But she did the right thing. I see that now.

Bougainvilleas are beautiful. They also sport thorns that would fill the most vicious rosebush with envy.

Our bougainvillea likely tops out at 20 feet, and even more from left to right. It is held in place by steel chains. The plant never stops growing, both upward and outward.

I water the nopal because I don’t want it to fall down. I never water the bougainvillea because I want it to calm down.

Springtime is just getting started.

My soaring bougainvillea.

 

 

Man who eats weeds

eater
Felipe strikes a pose.

IT APPEARS our rainy season is winding down. Perhaps it’s even ended though that is unlikely.

But the grass continues to grow.

While Abel the Deadpan Neighbor mows the lawn, I keep weedeater duties in my own hands because whenever I turn over weedeating to a local, the tool is abused.

In a post last May titled Busy, busy boy, I mentioned my travails with weedeaters, which are generally cussed machines. I had gone through a couple of brands till I got a Stihl.

It’s a German make, and I call it a Nazi machine. So far, I’m pretty happy with it, the happiest I’ve ever been with a weedeater. It starts quite easily, and it keeps going.

A weedeater that does that is above average.

After weedeating Wednesday, I called my child bride out of her pastry kitchen nearby and had her snap this photo. That’s La Señora Bones and her dead kid behind me.

I’m the live one in the grass-green shirt.

Paddling to heaven

nopal

AND NOW we turn to gardening news.

There’s a rosebush in Tombstone, Arizona, that’s billed as the largest rosebush — tree, actually — in the world.

I have stood beneath it. Zounds!

Little did I know that one day I would be bringing similar fame to my mountaintop town. But in the form of a nopal cactus, that most Mexican of plants.

I have mentioned this monster before, but it just keeps on growing. I attempt to control its horizontal growth with clippers, but its vertical size increases yearly. And now even its horizontal girth is beyond me.

In Springtime, it sprouts red blooms and lots of additional leaves, which are, a reader told me, called paddles. The red blooms will come mostly next month. Sweet.

I planted this big mama about a decade back. There were only two paddles at the time. It was quite small, but it really liked its new location. I planted one in half a whisky barrel in my Houston yard in the 1990s, and it never did squat.

It just sat there lamely.

My wife trashed it after we divorced because she said it was bad feng shui. I do not believe in feng shui because I don’t think the Goddess cares which direction your house faces or if you have cactus in a whisky barrel. Or anything about mirrors.*

The Goddess has larger issues on her plate. She doesn’t care if you eat pork either or clip your baby’s ding-dong. Actually, she greatly prefers that you don’t.

I sat on the ground to take the photo because I thought it would accentuate the nopal’s height, but I think it did just the opposite. This big mama is about 14 or 15 feet high.

No matter. Look at that blue sky.

The cactus below sits in a pot on the edge of the veranda. It’s reveling in Springtime too, as you see.

It’s today’s bonus cactus.

cactus* Mirrors serve only three purposes. 1) Fixing yourself up. 2) Spotting zombies behind you. 3) Lighting fires in the wild.

Life and death

lady

THE HACIENDA lawn is large and contains many things to catch the eye. This caught my eye this morning and, being a sharing sort of guy, I’m sharing with you.

Here’s an interesting article that was brought to my attention today by a woman who prefers red shoes to bacon.

I, on the other hand, prefer bacon.

But I like red roses.