Monday, March 05, 2012
I just love this time of year when I can get out and work in my flower beds. Itís a great way to make your yard pretty and get in a little healthy exercise also. Of course at my house, gardening can also be somewhat hazardous, or at least painful.
Loving the southwest as I do, the flora from that area has always appealed to me. Thatís why I decided to attempt to bring a little bit of the desert home with me several years ago. We had driven our van out to New Mexico that particular summer. The day before we were to head home I was sitting on my sisterís back patio looking at the landscape and feeling a little sad that vacation was coming to an end much to quickly. Thatís when I got the brilliant idea of bringing some cacti home with me so I could have my own little piece of the desert in North Carolina. Now, I must tell you that my sister has twenty-five acres of land in New Mexico containing an over abundance and uncontrolled growth of various forms of cacti. Many are like the ones we pay outrageous prices for in our local nurseries, and I was sitting here looking at an unlimited supply of these succulents. Thatís when I asked Terrie if I could dig up some plants. Without hesitation, she flew into her house and quickly returned with a variety of small containers and a shovel telling me to ďgo for it.Ē I was delighted, and a bit naive, and dug up two barrels, a cholla, a prickly pear, a claret cup and a yucca. They were all tiny plants that I knew would be easy to carry home in the van.
When I got home, many of my friends and family felt the need to remind me that this is North Carolina and those plants would never survive the cold winters here. Obviously they donít know how harsh the winters can be in northern New Mexico. Ignoring them, I dug up a small area beside my front sidewalk where I would nurture my little piece of the New Mexico desert. The area was only about 2 Ĺ feet by 1 Ĺ feet, but because the plants were so small it still looked empty. Nevertheless, I watered and tended to my tiny plants determined to keep them alive.
As it turns out, I didnít need to worry about my cacti surviving. Not only did they survive, they flourished! Actually, they went crazy! My critics were amazed at how these little desert plants were loving North Carolina. They quickly outgrew the tiny plot of earth I had set aside as their home, and the cholla began to take on a life of itís own growing arms that quickly began to extend out over my sidewalk. Iím pretty sure there were a couple of times that it intentionally poked me with its thorns as I walked by. This was becoming a problem. My beloved cacti was now threatening to grab and devour visitors if they attempted to make it to my front door. I had to do something, and soon.
I began digging up a larger (much larger) area in the corner of my front yard to make a new home for my piece of the desert. Wearing leather gloves, I carefully moved the now larger cacti to their new home. Problem solved! I was pleased because this area had more than enough room for my plants.
My desert garden a few months after moving the cacti to a new and larger area.
Well, that was about five years ago. The garden is now FULL of cacti. Apparently, these little specimens from the New Mexico desert love North Carolina. I sometimes look at them and think about Kudzu and I shudder. I refuse to be beaten and havenít given up the fight. I will not give in to their demands for yet more of my yard. Instead, Iím keeping them contained by pruning them a few times each year (this is where the pain part comes in). I hack off portions of the prickly pear before it grows over the barrel cactus and moves into my grass, I remove any dried up arms from the cholla that is now almost as tall as me, and with much care, gloves and a special tool, I attempt to remove all the leaves and debris that has found its way into the spines of the (now two) large yuccas and the low growing claret cups. And when Iím finished, I spend hours removing the tiny and irritating quills that have managed to find their way into my gloves and then into my hands and fingers. Yes, thereís a battle taking place in the corner of my yard, but I will not be beaten.
My same desert garden last spring.
So why donít I just pull them all up, sow grass and be done with it? Because each spring my prickly pears produce beautifully fluffy yellow blooms, the claret cups show off their vivid red flowers, the barrels produce tiny pink and chartreuse flowers and the cholla explode with spectacular fuchsia blooms.
The show is beautiful and I look forward to it every spring. And, knowing that I still have my own little piece of the New Mexico desert with me all year makes the extra effort worth it.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
One of my blooming daffodils
Iím so happy to see March arrive. I just wish it had come in a little quieter instead of announcing itís arrival with all of the violent storms. I hope everyone that was in the path of these storms came through them okay. Keeping all those who were affected by the devastation in my prayers.
My daffodils are blooming and they are calling for a chance of snow here tonight! Itís warm one day and cold the next, but thatís not unusual for March. Now that things are calming down a little here, Iím looking forward to getting outside and doing some more hiking.
Tommy continues to do pretty well all things considered. He is still on his combination of four chemotherapy drugs, however there may be some changes to his treatments this month. He has been having a problem with numbness in his fingers and toes (caused by one of the drugs), something they say can get worse and become permanent. His doctor has been concerned about this and put him on Neurontin to try to stop the progression after his last treatment, but two weeks later the numbness in his fingers has increased. Iím afraid at his next appointment (on March 12th) they are going to change his chemo treatments. His doctor is also concerned because he is now having a problem maintaining his weight. Even though he eats constantly, his weight is creeping down a couple of pounds each week. He also will be having another scan the end of March, so we are hoping and praying for a good report from that. For now, I am just thankful that he still feels pretty good and is enjoying taking Thor on golf cart rides and visiting with his grandchildren and the rest of his family.
Thor also had a check-up this week and got a good report from his doctor. They said his bloodwork looks very good and heís still getting around pretty good. The only negative report he got was that heís gained five pounds and needs to lose it (I know how he feels). The doctor said that extra five pounds is much harder on his joints because of his missing leg. I guess I need a nutrition tracker for him also :-) Weíve cut back on his treats and his meals a little bit. And as much as he loves peanut butter, no more licking out the almost empty jars for him.
Now weíre ready for some warmer days so we can enjoy being outdoors again. Hope the weather clears for everyone soon so we can all get out and enjoy some sunshine and be thankful for each day!
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