Most people who live in Southern New Mexico say that October is their favorite month. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, and almost no wind work together to bestow one beautiful day after another. I have begun adding violas to the pots of annuals that will die after the first hard frost. The violas should survive the winter. Even if we are lucky enough to get some snow, they will keep blooming.
The berries on my holly tree have turned orange. My summer watering paid off this year, so I didn’t lose the green berries during the hot weather as I did the previous year. Soon the berries will turn fiery red and remain on the branches until next spring.
In December and January it will be too cold to sit out in the courtyard. The lantanas and other deciduous plants will be dormant, but the color of the viola blossoms and holly berries will still cheer me when I look out from my library window or hurry through the courtyard with Emerson the Dog on the way to our morning walk.
A few bright spots remain in the garden, such as the Marigolds and Ageratum pictured above, but most of the annuals and perennials have stopped flowering. A neighbor recently gave me a sweet potato plant (not sure of the official name). The lime green foliage provides a nice contrast to the dark green foliage of my other plants.
The Vinca (Periwinkle) cuttings that I took a few months ago have rooted nicely. They are temporarily sharing some pot space with two aging cacti. The parent Vinca is pictured on the left below. I love the periwinkle blossoms that appear in spring. Here in Southern New Mexico, the new plants should weather the winter nicely.
In the sunny corner of the courtyard, my husband took up some flagstones that butted against the walls so I could create a new border. I have planted it with Lantana and Evening Primrose. The latter is pictured below. Unlike the yellow Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) that only opens in the evening, the pink variety (Oenothera speciosa) blooms all day. I have great hopes for the Evening Primrose plants. They are native to the area, extremely drought tolerant, and can be invasive if left unchecked. Anything that will cover the ground and bloom profusely is OK with me. We’ll see.
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.
In the garden, the Crape Myrtle bushes are in bloom. Prior to the monsoon rains, they bloomed sporadically and indifferently, but as soon as the rains began, they came into full flower. They prefer the rain from heaven to the water that comes from the faucet. Somehow theyknowthe difference.
The days are a little cooler now. In the afternoons, great towers of cumulus clouds form in the sky, and if we are lucky, we get a good downpour during the night. I love the sound of the rain pattering on the skylights.
Last night at sunset there was no rain, but I caught a glimpse of something I hold dear but rarely actually see — the cloud with the silver lining. Yes, Virginia, it does exist.
In the mountains, my husband and I have a small vacation townhome. The patio is just large enough for a table with an umbrella, four chairs, and a few flower pots. The ponderosa pine just beyond the gate is the main attraction, but even here, I must have a little garden. When I came back this time, to my delight I saw that my neighbors had kept my petunias and marigolds alive in my absence. Good neighbors are so precious.
On my first day back as I was sitting on the patio, a bee appeared out of nowhere and buzzed around my head several times. It was clearly angry, and it was clearly trying to chase me away, but I held my ground. At home in the garden I move among the bees as they pollinate the flowers, and they never seem to mind my presence. However, this mountain bee was seriously upset, even though I was minding my own business. The next day on the patio, it returned and buzzed around my head again, but not as many times, and not for so long.
I haven’t seen it since. It has apparently accepted me as a neighbor.
Just sitting in the garden – not as easy as it sounds, especially when there are duties of life awaiting me. I think it’s important, though. Most of the time I run from one task to another until I have to stop and rest. Are those tasks really that important?
This morning I saw a roadrunner running across the road. (In Southern New Mexico, we really only see them when they are running across the road. Hence, the name.) Almost impossible to get a photo. They are always running.
I think I will just sit here for a while and ponder the mystery of being.
The showy blooms of spring have passed, and the garden is settling down for the long hot summer. However, there is still some color to delight me, especially in the Desert Bird of Paradise shrubs.
In the courtyard, I planted some different annuals this year, since many of my usual choices were not available. The Zinnias began to look shabby as the days grew hotter, but they are doing better now under the Vitex tree. In this climate, many plants that like full sun actually do better in filtered shade. The Moss Roses, however, seem to be natural sun-bathers, even in Southern New Mexico.
Indoors, my plant nursery from cuttings is showing mixed results. Again, the dry heat seems to be a problem. The Mint, Rose Geranium, and Citronella are promising. Not so sure about the Salvia and Lantana. All of the cuttings seem to do better in water than in soil, but it takes longer for the roots to form.
On the back patio, my herb garden seems to do well in the morning sun.
If all else fails, I will still have my triennial Petunia to comfort me. It grows so fast and so profusely that I will have to cut it back several times this summer.
In our courtyard, the Vitex tree is crowned with purple blossoms. The bees and butterflies flit and dive above the branches in an elaborate ballet. Somehow, they avoid collision. I look forward to this display every year. It will only last for a week or so, and then the flagstones below will be covered with a carpet of purple petals.
The potted Calibrachoa compete for the spotlight. Elsewhere in the garden, the Purple Cloud bushes are in bloom. Later in summer, after the monsoon rains, their display will be even more spectacular.