Growing conditions are difficult in Southern New Mexico, so I am always charmed and delighted when a volunteer plant shows up in our garden. This year several rock rose volunteers have appeared in the courtyard, and living up to their name, they have chosen the most rocky and difficult locations in which to appear. All are descendants from the one pot of rock roses that I planted last year.
The Rio Ruidoso was higher than I had ever seen it today on my morning walk. It was running over its banks in several places from the rain that had fallen on the Sierra Blanca, and the water was muddier than I had ever seen it, but it was good to see so much water — a precious commodity in Southern New Mexico.
In May I had looked in vain for the wild sweet peas, but today I found them in abundance on the forest floor, ranging from pale pink to vivid magenta. Ah-h-h.
After working in the garden over the past few weeks, I was looking forward to sitting outside this morning and simply enjoying the view, but the day is windy and cold, so I retreated into the warmth of the house. Yet, I can enjoy the Evening Primroses from my window.
I planted them last fall after my husband helped me create a new border in the courtyard. The variety pictured above is native to Texas and Mexico, so it does well in Southern New Mexico with little or no care. The foliage charmed me all winter by staying green, and during the past week they began producing countless, paper-like blossoms that are supposed to continue through fall. The instructions warn that these plants can be quite invasive, and they did indeed spread over the winter while many of my other plants were dormant.
With foliage and blossoms like that, as far as I’m concerned, they can go for it!
Spring comes late in the mountains where I spent the weekend. I took my camera wherever I went, but nothing was blooming. However, the Ponderosa Pines satisfied my desire for natural beauty, as they always do.
As I was leaving town, the local herd of elk were gathered along Hull Road. Very polite. They paused from time to time to let the cars go by. Many more were grazing along both sides of the road as I carefully continued on my way. There must have been 60 or 70 of them altogether.
Back home in the Rio Grande Valley, the violas and lobelia were in full bloom. Thank God for spring!
A few days ago in my post “Survivors,” I wrote about my cuttings that survived the winter. I was particularly fond of the Tall Sedum (pictured bottom left). Its four leaves reminded me of a propeller that was just waiting to be launched into spring. Imagine my dismay yesterday, when three of the leaves fell off, and the remaining one turned yellow. I was about to pull the cutting with a sigh, when I noticed new life growing at the base of the stem.
Speaking of misleading appearances, here is a true story: My husband and I had our careers in the San Francisco Bay Area, where people who don’t know each other keep to themselves and avoid eye when passing on the sidewalk. When we moved to Southern New Mexico, I was shocked when a stranger smiled at me and said, ‘Hello.” One day soon after when I was walking from the parking lot to the side door of Walmart, I became aware of a biker (in leather with multiple tattoos and piercings) closing in quickly behind me. There was no one else nearby, so I became a little nervous as he drew nearer. Imagine my surprise when he rushed ahead to open the door for me.
Honestly, Gentle Reader, this really happened in the Land of Enchantment.
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.
The Rio Grande passes quietly through the valley where we live in Southern New Mexico. In spite of the current, the surface of the river remains calm because the water flows over a smooth, sandy river bed. To cool off on hot summer weekends, families with children wade or sit in the shallow water near the banks. They stay close to the edges of the river. There can be quicksand near the center.
I’ve been thinking about serenity and peace lately. If I wish to remain outwardly serene, I need to be at peace beneath the surface.
For the most part, I am at peace with myself. Yet, from time to time I find a submerged rock or tree branch that disturbs the surface. Then, there is turbulence for a while, until I figure out what to do with it.
God helps. The Holy Spirit is my solid ground.
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.
Like many small towns, Mesilla, New Mexico, has been closed for a few months. However, non-essential retail businesses (except salons, gyms, tatoo parlors, etc.) can now operate at 25% occupancy. It’s good to see some businesses open again. I wish them well.
There were so many cars at the plaza yesterday that I could only take the photo of the book store. I went back early this morning to get the other two.