Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Archive for the tag “Sonora Desert”

Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 2

Greetings from the wet and wonderful Sonoran Desert!

I mentioned that I moved to the desert because it was supposed to be dry and sunny most of the time. Clouds make me sad. I like to see that endless blue sky, day after day all spring, and the whole Milky Way at night. This year, though, not so much of that.

OK, it’s mostly sunny, most days. But we’ve been getting a shower about every two weeks — which means there are three days out of every 14 with clouds, and a half hour of light rain. Clouds! And Rain! In May! Yeesh.

As of the end of April (latest figures available), we’re six tenths of an inch above normal, making this the 36th wettest of the last 120 years! Well, yes, we measure rainfall in the hundredths of an inch here, and when the totals are so small (3.48″ average YTD), there obviously can’t be much variability. The wettest of all those years (1905) only had a bit over six inches by the end of April. Woo. Shoot, once when I lived in Florida, it rained 36 inches in a single day! Sure, it was a hurricane that day, but still. I honestly think most of my yard would wash away if it ever did that here.

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Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 1

I specifically moved to the Sonoran Desert for the weather, or at least what I imagined the weather would be: hot and dry. That’s how I like it. Other places, such as Sweden, Denmark or even Canada seem like better places to live in general, but they all look so cold and gray (in my imagination), and cold and gray sounds depressing. Besides, it’s going to become increasingly expensive to heat a house to my comfort level (say, 80°F) in any of those places, so here I am.

That said, Arizona is probably heading for a much hotter and much drier climate later in this century, and I’m supposed to be thankful for whatever rain does happen here, and rain it did this winter! I would prefer less, but then my garden likes the rain just fine. I already mentioned that we’re ahead of normal precipitation this spring, and that translates into a bumper crop of wildflowers, many of which were new to me this year.

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Desert Waterways

Many, if not most, inland cities grew up around some kind of water feature — a lake, a river, maybe a spring or even an ancient well. And in many of those cities, especially in the north, the local water feature freezes up in winter, temporarily disrupting water-bourne transport but providing some ice-related entertainments too. Then after the winter has passed, the city might have a nice local celebration when the ice finally breaks up for the season.

Here in Southern Arizona, our local water features work differently, in that we don’t generally keep water in them.

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May Wildflowers

May and June are the harshest time here in the Sonoran desert. The temperature reaches 100° by mid-May and mostly stays there all through June. The days are clear and sunny and dry. Nothing was moving out there during the day, except me and the camera, looking for anything blooming. There wasn’t much to find.

In May, the hesperaloes put up stalks of flowers.


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February Sennas

I have three senna bushes, and they bloom in early spring, meaning the end of January through February. Now at the beginning of March, they are setting seeds.

20140308-150040.jpg Read more…

Yes, We Do Have Seasons Here

It’s winter here in the Sonoran Desert, and that means that for the last month, it’s been in the 60s and low 70s every day. The skies are blue and cloudless, and the sun weakly does its best to provide plenty of cheer (if not much warmth).

It rained in December, enough to get our 2013 yearly total up to 11.5″, which is near enough to our yearly average (12″), and that’s a good thing. Now we’re deep in the season that local gardeners are calling the “green haze”. This is one of those weird, charming seasons in southern Arizona that somehow doesn’t make it into the photography magazines. And it should, because it’s so magical.

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Symbionts in the Wild

Winter has arrived here in the Sonoran desert. It’s a dreary day; it’s a cold day, cold being a relative thing. There is a freeze warning on for tonight, but since my garden hasn’t really started yet, I’m not concerned about it. Read more…

Self-Sufficient Plants: My Favorites!

Aside from the cacti, there are a few other plants in the “landscaped” part of my yard. The previous owner had installed irrigation for them, with big drippers for the trees and little drippers for the flowers and sprayers for the backyard grass. There are valves in various places around the house, and a timer for them all in the garage. I kept a supply of dripper heads for those occasions when the heads would fall off or get chewed off by the javelinas (a monthly occurrence). Eventually, the sprayers for the grass became monsters that wouldn’t turn off, and they blew their tops and took all the water, no matter where the controller in the garage wanted the water to go. At which point, I called for help.

I’m going to skip that part, because it did not go well. Read more…

That Lush Desert Look

It’s been raining here in Southeastern Arizona, and the yard has taken on its summer greenery, and this is what that looks like:

Yard looking southeast

Yard looking southeast

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More Good News About Dirt

So the next section in the Arizona Master Gardner manual is all about caliche, the local name for the limestone that’s so common here, just below the surface. Caliche is probably the reason that the southern two-thirds of my house is 10″ higher than the northern third. The little steps in two doorways makes it seem like I have a sunken living room, and that’s an interesting minor architectural feature of the house. But I’m pretty sure that the drop-off there is a result of the fact that the builder didn’t want to have to blast out a bunch of rock on the south end (or truck in enough concrete to support the north end). Read more…

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