Spring is Springing

Warning: picture (and none of them fiber-y) heavy post!

Knitting content out of the way: Dr. Who Scarf is now over 3/4 done. I can smell the end. Perhaps this weekend.

Now, since knitting is boring right now, how 'bout some spring?
A neighbor's front yard with a gorgeous about-to-explode cholla (pronounced CHOY-ya). This cactus loves to attach itself to anything that passes by, people, animals, whatever, so getting close enough to take the next picture was a risk:P4240032

Hiding behind the cholla in the above picture is this unusual prickly pear. The leaves look like origami.

This is ocotillo (pronounced o-ko-TEE-yo). It is not a cactus, but it does have some nice sharp thorns (which makes me think: perhaps soon I'll do a post about all the things around here which aren't cacti but can still bite, HARD). Most of the year, this just looks like a dead thorny stick, but let even a little bit of rain fall and it becomes lush with leaves, and in the spring it sends up these beautiful paintbrush-like blossoms. Around here, people sometimes use this as a fence: if you cut the branches at the ground and bury them, they don't really die. They will still leaf-out when it rains, though they will not flower or grow roots. Interesting thing, this ocotillo, and one of my favorite desert plants.

This is, I believe, another kind of prickly pear. This one is about to explode with yellow blossoms

Look at this baby! Usually, the new growth you see at the top of these prickly pears is a combination of new pads and blossoms. This baby is all blossoms, so every single one of those small "bulbs" lining the pads is going to burst into beautiful red/orange bloom, like this:P4240028

This barrel cactus has already started setting fruit -- yes, these fruit are edible -- they can be added to salads, etc.

Look, Dad, trees! The flowering one in the middle is a palo verde. Many palo verde (Spanish for "green stick," since most have green trunks and branches) drop their leaves just before blooming, so they become large balls of yellow (they remind me of forsythia, only in true tree form). I believe that the trees on either side of the palo verde are ironwoods, though I'm still a newbie when it comes to desert vegetation.

Another species of prickly pear (there are apparently dozens of species and varieties), this one blooming pink-to-yellow.

This is some sort of succulent ground cover with delicate lavender flowers.

And this is my favorite of all the desert plants I've met, the desert bird of paradise. These were all over near the townhome where we stayed on our two visits last summer, and we were delighted to find that there is one in the backyard of our house. This, alas, is not ours (ours hasn't bloomed yet), but our neighbor's. And because I love it so, another shot:P4240022


Ina said...

Thanks for all the pix! Desert flora is exotic and amazing to my eyes. Does the ferny foliage belong to the desert bird of paradise?

Sandy said...

I, too, am amazed by the very different flora here in the desert.

Yes, the ferny foliage belongs to the bird of paradise, which is a woody tree, not a vine.