Nice Cool Relief

Last week an inch and three quarters of rain brought some cooler temperatures.  It was a greatly needed relief for humans, animals, and plants.

Nice reprieve2This Golden-Ball Lead Tree (Leucana retusa) has struggled again, its second year, because some creatures (I suspect jackrabbits) strip and break its lower limbs.

Nice reprieve5But it recovered nicely the latter part of August.  It is a shrub or spindly tree that grows well in rock or caliche.  So it should feel right at home here.

Nice reprieve3The globe like flower is yellow but looks more golden with this early morning back light.

Nice reprieve4I like photographing back-light plants, so here’s another shot.  The books say Lead Ball blooms in April and May.  But here it is performing in September.  Maybe it will prove to be a spring and fall bloomer.

Nice reprieve1This vulture seems to be relaxing and enjoying the cool morning.

Nice reprieve6Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) tend to bloom year round since they are considered house plants.  But they do well outside during the warm months with filtered light and slightly dry soil.  Just beware of the thorns.

Nice reprieve7The Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is slowly covering the new arbor.  I can’t wait to see the full coverage – maybe next year.

Nice reprieve8It blooms in spring and fall.

treeThis two year old Vitex Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has grown quite fast.  Vitexs are also called Hemp and Sage trees.  I need to cut off more lower limbs this winter.

Nice reprieve9Vitexs are native to India and China but have been adapted to this area for a long time.  Another common name is Monk’s Pepper, which comes from the old wives tale that in medieval times, monks made a potion from the berries that helped them maintain their vows of chastity.

Nice reprieveaVitex attract many pollinators.  The berries are still used in herbal remedies.

Vitex can grow up to 20 ft. tall with snarly trunks and branches.

Nice reprievebFor a long time, I assumed that Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba) would not survive our heat because the leaves are large and thin.  Then I saw one in garden an hour away from here.

Nice reprieveeSo I grabbed one this year at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center spring sale.  It has bloomed way more than I expected.

Nice reprievefIt is in a pot in mostly shade.  It’s looking a little tired right now, but has provided many large flowers with a morning glory shape.

Nice reprievecBecause it has grown larger than I expected, it will need to be upgraded to a larger pot next spring.

A garden presents wonderful surprises and joys.

“I changed my password everywhere to ‘incorrect.’ That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, ‘Your password is incorrect.'” unknown


There has been a large group of vultures on this property since long before we bought it.  They nest in a canyon on the ridge about a half mile behind the house.  Vultures do good work:  they clean up the carcasses.  So I have no problem with them.  They are beautiful riding the heat thermals over the land, circling effortlessly in the sky.

However, when they invade my space, then I want them out.  One morning this spring, a large flock laid claim to our yard.

Unfortunately, I panicked when I saw them and ran outside waving my arms and screaming  like a banshee.  Not a pretty sight.  A camera was far from my mind.  They stirred and moved around a little.

So I called in reinforcements.  My husband came out with his shotgun and fired into the air.  That got their attention. Some flew to the edge of the yard and others to the barn area.  Then I remembered photographs.

Like many people, I have used the words buzzard and vulture interchangeably.  But there are no buzzards in North America.  So these are definitely vultures.  They have a strong sense of smell and can detect rotting flesh a mile away.  Their heads are bald.  As they fly, their spread wings have finger feathers at the wing tips that are visible if they’re not too high.

Later a few drifted back to the yard, which required more shots.  They eventually left the yard for good.  Since they came en mass, I’m speculating that they are a new group to this property and were searching for a nesting site.  Maybe the established flock didn’t welcome them.

There are just some creatures that I don’t want to live up close and personal with.

“When vultures watching your civilization begin dropping dead, it’s time to pause and wonder.”  David Brower