Friday, March 08, 2013

And What Did I Find?

For 14 years living in this house, I've often returned home from meetings in town or work out-of-town, driving one exit "too far" east, to end my trip on a great note.

Yet, I rarely spend much time there - almost across the freeway, 1/2 mile away. I'm back!

Plant hunting included, of course. Photos in early January 2013.
Gray Oak / Quercus grisea.

Nice leaf - an evergreen leaf

Remember that agave or yucca sculpture? Right across from that Gray Oak; more oaks, too. El Pedregal!

Looking at it from the east

"No one loves you or your money more than Southwest Airlines."

Looking the other way, Banana Yucca or Datil / Yucca baccata on the sandy arroyo

Look way up, it's where I'm headed - still must get in my workout hike today - it isn't all plant nerdiness.

But down here, it still is - a Chihuahuan Desert native is tucked in, lower left.

Mariola / Parthenium incanum looks a bit dry. I bet this gray w/ pale yellow blooms glows and is scented in unearthly ways, some full moon night during the monsoon season. Maybe I can see for myself out here, before I move?

I know the ones I've planted in my courtyard do all that since I planned it that way!

On a previous sunset hike, I spotted some fuzziness among the Black Grama / Bouteloua eriopoda stands

I thought it was Tiquilia canescens...

Not sure what it is, but it isn't that in better lighting.
This is Tiquilia canescens, just 25 miles south, but a different soil. I didn't find any.

Onward, to something else reported near this mid-winter hike, way in the past but never documented.

Blue Barrel or Eagle Claws Cactus / Echinocactus horizonthalonius - but this stand is near Alamogordo, and the green grama grasses show that it's well into spring, not winter like my trek nearer home.

I didn't even find a solitary plant like this one on a hill near Fort Sumner, one summer years ago.

Like it? I bet Billy the Kid did... did I. I liberated one to re-root and enjoy being in my own garden, which cows on that hill near Fort Sumner had already uprooted or otherwise hooved out. But I didn't find any near me in the wild.
But my hiking around did reveal what looks to be a young Opuntia orbiculata

Nice round pads, though stressed from the drought, discolored and limp
Now, I'm heading up...that sculpture still visible, but getting further below

Among the Black Grama clumps, Opuntia valida is also looking a bit limp

Further up. Wright's Silktassel Bush / Garrya wrightii perched on some east-facing granite.

I've known this plant since my hiking companion spotted it a decade ago, wondering
if it was a Manzanita. Nope, but almost as good.

If the HOG were not so obsessed with pimping exotic fare, with cute names and often a drinking problem, they could grow stunning natives like this. Year-round good looks even in drought; beyond brown and gray!

And below that...

...some desert fern, which I'll need to look at my notes for it's ID. And this link - here.

Always look the other way - I-40 in Tijeras Canyon. So brown and dry this winter...

Still going up - but check out the yucca among the chaparral, barely catching the light of the sinking sun.

One of a number of very old Datil / Yucca baccata I've seen in the mountains nearby,
or a northern population of Arizona Yucca / Y. arizonica or Y. baccata var. thornberi

Piñon / Pinus edulis, in the boulders with Beargrass and some not-so-live oaks

Almost to the top - some of the same plants, but on a cold, north-facing microclimate

At the top!

Sunset over Albuquerque...
...and the lights of Albuquerque. Probably a great sunset in Arizona and southern California, past the horizon.

I'm fortunate to have had this in my backyard for such a long time, aren't I? So glad I've taken advantage of it, before I move on to a new adventure.

Hopefully, you can also find inspiring places near you, to relax in, this and every weekend.


  1. So dry, David, so statuesque, such courage for a plant to hang on with its very last ounce of strength.

    1. Well-said - anything here is hanging on as you say, and the greener plants even more so?

  2. VICTORY! You made it to the top :)
    I love that desert fern and that little mini chubby cute cacti! Are you going to put it in a pot so you can move it with you?
    Breathtaking photos!

    1. Yes, that way to "summit" is more scrambling and trying not to fall into an Opuntia, than the serious fast hike up, but just as nice - more interesting plants. Glad you like...stunning...and watching storms to the west...maybe some green soon?

    2. had rain! Green soon I hope - if only the frogfruit I am planting soon. Have my backyard plan up - anxious to hear your critique. DO NOT BE NICE!

    3. Same here, good for plants and to pull weeds! I saw your sketch - I'll look at it more these next few days, and give you my thoughts...but I'm always nice (mostly).

    4. Just know you were warned, H/x...

  3. Nice views and tour. I think I know that exit if it's east of you. I haven't walked that close to the highway but deeper into the canyon.

    Those blue barrels are very cool, you'll probably take that one with you. The big move is getting real now.

    1. How cool! I bet you were on the trail to Tres Pistolas (3 Gun Spring). I might take one I have...yes, filling out the Realtor paperwork...exciting but bittersweet.

  4. Great tour! I loved that sculpture when I saw it a couple of years ago. Of course being agave shaped and made of shiny metal it pretty much was screaming my name.

    "I liberated one"...nice! And that manzanita look-alike is just plain gorgeous!

    1. That sculpture is definitely Loree - and the nighttime pics of it lit up will happen soon..... Liberation - you, the expert in that very topic, are my inspiration!

  5. Hi David,

    Thank you for taking us on the hike with you. You are definitely blessed to have had this beautiful 'backyard' for so many years! Where will your next adventure take you? Are you staying in Albuquerque?

    1. You're welcome - yes, glad I can squeeze a few more times around that area. Next adventure - (3) places in the SW, one in the middle of TX are likely candidates...just have to get at least a zone warmer!

  6. I think the fern is Cliffbrake fern(Pellaea sp.)? I've always loved the Eagle Claw cactus. Looking good over there! Too bad about the HOG's. We have the organic vs. chemical, Traditional vs. natives and one of my favorites, trees that get big planted under powerlines crowd.

    1. I think you're right - Pellaea truncata / Spiny Cliffbrake? Looking better with the liquid gold in the last day...hope you are getting rain. Similar HOG factions here; my favorite dislike desert plants but justify higher water use if organic! Until competition & a good nursery...

  7. There's one of those stainless steel agaves, in Palm Springs. of those Coachella Valley towns. Impressive....

    I like that Silktassel bush. Wonderful gray/green leaves. Wonder if deer eat it...
    And, some nice, sunset views. Now, did you have a dark path on the way down?

    1. How nice - I hope to visit Palm Spgs some day. Silktassel - some deer resistance, though I've seen some browsed nearby. Another Silktassel is native in your area - and of course, it's Lindheimer's Silktassel / Garrya lindheimeri...found these -

      (I think they are the same thing - but like my species, looks to be rarely available)

    2. Thanks for the information.

      Good to know you're ok.
      Central Texas is pretty welcoming. We have lots of people moving here, every day. I think we can handle a couple more. Especially those who know how to behave themselves in rain deprived areas.

    3. Glad to help. True on central TX's welcome, even though the latest hot place to move to. Native Texans have quite a civil culture, and my visits show that rubbing off on some newcomers and visitors - a must-have trait to me! Now, if I could just get "Mopac", without a "The". (all y'all on Mopac, let's go!)

  8. Thanks for the view from your world.

    1. You bet - our showers yesterday were perfect, too!

  9. Love the garrya (got a few here) and the Quercus grisea too. Steady cold here (what, September to May?) makes it not evergreen, but it grows new leaves.
    Pellaea truncata. Your horticultural old guard is the same guard here, though there are some young people, passionate about plants, that have no use for multicolored triple-headed echinaceas and lush green lawns. There is some hope. Xeric ferns are one of my many white whales; impossible from spores (for me), and utterly non-existent in the trade, where water-loving ferns are the rule. Oh well.

    1. I saw 2 different Garrya at DBG in Jan, and one or both had frozen to the ground recently, but green. This year, most wild oaks are brown from the drought, but the few planted ones that get drip irrigation are green. The old guard - they've increased in my 21 yrs, that "arcticist" mentality possibly coming from Denver and Santa Fe via a few main designers and their little groupies. At least you few w/ PK, Dan J, etc are shaping things better! We need some to retire or move, and the drought and economy might help with that.