Well, just to prove how distracted I've been lately, the first bloom on this plant, a couple of days ago, I didn't even notice until after it had faded... but I dutifully watched this bud and this morning it was obviously going to open today...
The blooms open in the afternoon, and stay pretty much until noon the next day... and yes they do smell like hamburger that's been left outside for some unknown reason, but the smell isn't unbearable as long as they're outside and you're more than 3 feet away. If you look closely, you will notice a carrion fly on the bloom... these are the plants pollinators.
Not that there's any pollination going on here... either they require a specific carrion fly polinator from their native land, or they require cross pollination and this is the only one within a mile, because for the last three years I've had plenty of blooms and not one ever even tried to produce a seed pod. I'm not that concerned... they're so easy from cuttings I can't imagine the neccesity of a seed.
As mentioned this is the second bloom this year. There are quite a few more buds beginning to pop out on the other side of the plant, but we're looking at a couple of weeks before they're likely to produce.
And now, I feel I should respond to the many people who expressed their condolences on my last post... Thank you all very much. I truly appreciate the kind thoughts and the concern expressed...
I must apologize for my absense on the blog, but this has not been a good week for me.
At 11.30 pm Tuesday, my Mother passed away, and I was, understandably, terribly upset.
I won't go into the details here, but the last year of her life hasn't been the best, she was getting progresively weaker. This is in many ways a release.
But I wasn't able to get on the blog much. The week has proceeded in a surreal kind of clarity. Today, the sun came out, after a solid week of rain, and I was able to finally come back to reality.
These helped... The Zephyrantes candida, also know as Fairy lily, Toad lily or Rain lily have burst into bloom, just as they do every late summer and autumn after every heavy rain.
They spend much of their existence looking much like a row of Monkey Grass, but thier white, crocus-like blooms explode almost overnight.
These were blooming when my father died 5 years ago. September isn't the best of months for our family.
I was sitting outside under the willow tree today and I looked over to these blooms, and I remembered that after he'd passed, Mother and I were sitting in almost the exact same spot, looking at these flowers when she told me, "Life is for the living. It's time we got on with it."
Mother was a little on the blunt side. Not as blunt as my Grandmother, who once told one of my aunts, "You can't crawl into the grave with him, so keep going and your turn will come soon enough," but these flowers, the late summer sunshine and that memory have worked together to remind me that I was still alive. In many ways it doesn't seem fair, but life isn't. Yes I will mourn, and yes I will miss my Mother, but she gave me a lot of love and caring when she was here, and did everything she could to make me a strong person, and it will not honor her if I don't keep going, and hopefully pass that love, caring and strength on to someone else.
First, just so I won't be accused of Prickly Pear abuse, I would like to point out that the neglected Optunia humifusa from the previous post has been potted up in his own 5 inch clay pot, and will soon, no doubt, be happily growing along... the dead looking pad in the middle is typical of the species. Old pads die off as the new ones grow and root... the miniaturized pad that's lying on the soil surface already has new roots going into the ground at least an inch. The new pad that's growing up from the old roots will probably end up regular sized for the plant, what with new soil and the right amount of light, so it'll grow out at least 4 inches... we'll see.
It's been raining for 5 days straight! All my neighbors keep gushing about how we need it... I keep reminding them that I grow cactus, and I don't need it! The Pavonia keeps opening up it's blooms though, even if they do end up looking a little droopy from the water...
And Charcoal Briquette Kitty does not like this one little bit...
But the lower temps and extra water have prompted Hildy (Cereus hildmannianus) to put out some new buds. 15 that I've counted, although they're low on the plant and hard to find among the Prickly Pear pads that surround the pot. There may be more. And more buds may yet form higher on the plant... we'll see.
I will be picking up a new (used) truck tomorrow. Sorely needed, I assure you. My little Isuzu in about on it's last legs, but I'll probably keep it until I'm sure the new one isn't spending too much time in the shop.
I don't like spending money. I'm not particularly good at it, and it's kept me in a tempermental, worried fit over the last few days. Silly of me, but there we are. But I've bit the bullet... and now it's done.
Most of us have one of THOSE spots in the yard. It's that spot between the fence and the shed, or behind the garage. That place where you shove things until you can deal with them later, and then the classic adage, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," kicks in and you just plain forget about it.
Or maybe you remember it, when you're shoving something else out there, and you think, "Oh, that's right, I wanted to do something with that..." then you walk away and forget it all over again.
This is what happened here... This started out as a small seedling of Optunia humifusa that someone gave me, and I shoved in this pot and shoved it in a location out of sight, between the house and the pillar that holds up the 4 foot wide eave of the house....
Now, somebody gave me this little seedling 4 years ago. And it's been sitting there, on top of 1 inch of dirt, in the shade of the eaves without any water and totally negelgted. Not bad, huh?
Of course, the pads have stunted to about 1 inch wide, and it's fading to yellow... but it is surviving and I'll probably do something with it eventually... Which is pretty much what I said 4 years ago.
Optunia humifusa is a prostrate cactus that spreads through fields, never getting more than one pad high. The newer pads root where they touch the ground, and the old pads usually die off... It does have very pretty sulfer yellow blooms, and light pink fruits that birds like but aren't really edible for people. Varieties of this species grow throughout the US and into Canada.
I've seen fairly nice displays where they're used as a ground cover, but the habit of the old pads to turn brown and die off, means that it requires maintenance, and the spines and rather viscious glochids on this species make maintenance a painful proposition... which is probably why I stuck it in the corner and tried to forget it.
But, this guy has proven himself very resilient, and I'll probably reward him with a real pot and real dirt and hopefully, he'll end up looking decent.