This morning my husband mentioned that a dove was nesting in one of our Vitex trees. I hadn’t noticed. She had hidden herself and her nest so well that it was difficult to get a photo. I quietly moved between the low-hanging branches for the best shot. She didn’t move a muscle or bat an eye. I assured her that I meant no harm.
It seems late in the season for a new family, but perhaps new life is never out of season. No doubt the chicks will grow quickly. I hope they survive the winter to come.
Since the early 2000s, the Village of Ruidoso, New Mexico, has been on a campaign to eradicate every thistle plant that grows within village limits. In 2007, the Council passed an ordinance requiring property owners to remove these “noxious” weeds. Failure to comply can carry a $50 fine. The thistles are considered a nuisance because they don’t feed the wildlife, and they crowd out native plants. Volunteers tramp through the grasses along roadsides looking for signs of the offenders. They’ve done a good job of removing the thistles, but of course, this kind of battle is never completely won. I saw the criminal pictured above on a recent morning walk, appropriately behind bars. I won’t tell where I saw it.
I took a photo of the specimen below last year because I thought it was pretty — a redeeming quality to my mind. No living thing is all bad. Besides, the thistle has medicinal properties.
This morning a bull elk wandered through our yard along with his harem and a couple of calves. Breakfast was forgotten as I rushed to find my camera. I was so busy trying to get a good photo of the bull that I missed out on the harem as the ‘wives’ wandered out of view. Alas, the best picture included the trash bin, but I managed to get a photo of one of the calves, spotted just like a deer fawn.
In the mountains, the wildflowers are sprinkled sparingly here and there. On my morning walks over the past few days, the ones I have spotted have been mostly yellow. They remind me to pay attention and appreciate the little gifts in life that are easily overlooked.
A notable exception to the yellow was the blue beauty pictured below.
Driving home from my morning walk, I saw Bessie and her cousin Elsie grazing near the road. A few days ago, I discovered how fun it was to give unofficial names to the forest plants — so liberating not to be bound by official names. I decided the elk deserved no less.
The rains in the mountains have turned the grass to a lush green. The shrubs are doing well too. The deer leave the Sage and the Butterfly Bushes alone.
The Trumpet Vine is doing well too. The deer went after the tender shoots when it was first planted, but now that it’s mature, they leave it alone. (Trumpet Vine develops a thick woody trunk, so it needs a strong support system.) As I was trying to get a good photo, a hummingbird flitted from one blossom to another. I asked him to stay in one place so I could take his picture. He obliged me by perching on a dead twig that jutted out from the base of the vine. Handsome fellow.
Back in the mountains at last. I saw a few wildflowers on my morning walk, but today the variety of greens in the forest undergrowth captured my imagination. I have rediscovered my childhood wonder at all things that appear out of the ground. I’m too lazy to research their official names, so I have given them names of my own. Pictured below from left to right: Faux 4-Leaf Clover, Sand Dollar Weed, and Carrot Tops.
Last week I wrote about our white and lavender Crape Myrtle bushes that came into bloom after the monsoon rains began. This week the red variety has blossomed more profusely than it has in years, and the purple variety (pictured below) is just beginning to bloom.
I think the reason gardening is so good for the soul is that it’s mostly about the present and the future. The past is important, of course. It took eons for the soil to develop, and the nutrients from past fallen leaves have played their part. But when I’m in the garden, I don’t think about the past. That’s a good thing.
It’s the present blossoms that keep my attention, as well as the tender green shoots that promise future delight.
Here we are again in the dog days of summer. The soil in our neighborhood is sandy with a hardpan of clay beneath the surface — a real challenge for my gardening aspirations. However, over time I have learned that some plants do well and even thrive here. While other plants are looking a little sad, the potted Lantana (pictured above) is the star of our courtyard. When it goes dormant in winter, I will transplant it into the ground.
The varieties pictured below are gracing the front yards of our neighbors on the block.