Spikes, Scallops and Stuff

Some scenes from my several day stay here over this Thanksgiving, on the sand hills west of the valley. Though I can see the lights of El Paso just 20 minutes away, it’s like being hours from anything.

Almost peaceful –

Jimson Weed / Datura wrightii after some hard freezes…another name for this or a related species is “Thorn Apple”

Notice anything about this Opuntia macrocentra…long, black spines and…
…cochineal, the whitish deposits…makes a sought-after deep red dye
…her “cactus garden”…she protects some other young plants from rabbits, using small chicken wire cages
the sunglasses on Caesar Augustus made it look like a Roswellian, especially with the other-worldly forms of Agave americana and Opuntia subarmata (?)…a hammock to try out if we get a warmer afternoon
…robust Cylindropuntia imbricata spinosior
…shadow patterns
…unsure on this Opuntia species, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t the local endemic in El Paso and Doña Ana counties, Sand Prickly Pear / Opuntia arenaria (?)
…more long spines
…scalloped blocks are as New Mexico as unleashed dogs, or roadrunners carrying chiles by a Yucca elata…at least there’s no lava rock or railroad ties
…the band with diamond-shaped gaps filled with site gravel actually isn’t bad to apply somewhere…the edge, not so much
…did I mention dogs?
…try six dogs…at least there are miles of open desert just across the road…her babies, of course…..
…her pack ran up ahead of me, they are usually mellow…like the scene in the sandy arroyo bottom I hiked up…and a clump of stunted, spiny Prosopis torreyana in the bottom…this arroyo was probably running 2′ deep at times in the last monsoon season
…ocotillos get large along the sandy arroyo, with the extra water
…she’s an artist…and these use discarded foil wrappers and other packaging…her take on El Sagrado Corazon…is La Virgen next?
…a wood-burning stove combating these cold nights…almost winter
…pine needles to get that stove fired up, from the common high desert conifer, Pinus eldarica…when her pecans in back croak from dryness, that will make good wood for smoking, too
…where I might catch breakfast tomorrow, if the sun is bright…those Afghan Pine trees are almost surreal in this sandy desert

6 Replies to “Spikes, Scallops and Stuff”

  1. Lovely spaces. Dig the scalloped brick and the heart-back wire chairs. Definitely not Opuntia arenaria in that photo, though O arenaria might be found out in that area.

    She has some great finds around her place to be sure. Thanks – I sent pics out for ID on that Opuntia and a few others.


  2. Great plants! I especially like those long-spined Opuntias.

    Part of our desert palette. And I sent in all the Opuntia on-site for ID!

    By the way, I’m designing a basic landscape concept for the front door entry area at Tomball Jr. High, which a lady friend is a science teacher at…way different, a nice change from desert.


  3. The cholla looks like Cylindropuntia spinosior, not C. imbricata to me.

    Corrected, Señor Echinocereus Cylindropuntia.


  4. I think she’s hit upon something using the scallops like that – pretty cool! Fabulous plants too, of course.

    I know, clever. I knew you might like the plants…and low O. linguiformis lines her road, from neighbors!


  5. [A quick question – does that cochineal material appear on other species as well or is it only O. macrocentra?]

    I appreciate both the artists’ eyes at work in these spaces. One as arranging the space and the other sharing it with us… So many wonderful details – the diamond spaces created in the edging, the foil art, the door backdrop for the table and the view to forever all around. Stunning. Stay warm David!

    Here, I see cochineal on other Opuntia species – O. engelmannii, O. phaecantha and less often on Cow’s Tongue / O. linguiformis. Rarely it’s on cholla / Cylindropuntia spp. I’m sure I’ve seen it on your O. lindheimeri, in NM and central TX; it almost looks like O. engelm. I posted a bit on Abq cochineal –

    She (Diana Molina) is so creative with all that (and more), visiting Austin right now! I might post some more, but now I’m sitting out there in the sun to have the rest of my breakfast.


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