Fascinating Desert Plants from February in Tuscon, Arizona

During frigid February days in New England, I was happily transported by photos Julie Shaw texted during her brief family vacation in Arizona. Inspired by those radiant images from that distinctly different landscape, I asked her to share some in a post on Pleasures of Plants. Fortunately for all viewers, she responded with the following images, including well-researched enlightening captions and notes.

Photos 1, 2, and 3 are by Julie Shaw. Photos 4, 5, and 6 are by Susie Shaw.

These photos were all taken in late February at the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

1.      Prickly Pear Cactus, very plentiful at Tanque Verde Ranch. It grows in many climates but is particularly beautiful here.   
2.      Golden Barrel Cactus in front of a Yucca plant
 3.      Santa Rita Purple Prickly Cactus 
4.       Saguaro Cactus. These giants can live up to 200 years and are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert.
 5.       More Prickly Pear
 6.       Saguaro Skeleton.  When the Saguaro die, their woody leaves can be used for roofs and fences.

Many thanks to Julie Shaw and Susie Shaw for sharing their photos and perspectives!

Look Back through Several Summers in Glorious Ongoing Gardens

Deep-rooted Thanks to Nancy Arons for her photos and notes from gardens at her home in Pelham, MA!

After chipping away at ice layers on the city sidewalk in early February, I told Nancy Arons how I craved images from summer gardens outside her house in Pelham, MA. She soon responded with truly gratifying photos, including dates, plant names, and intriguing notes. Almost all her photos here are from late July, between 2015 and 2021, except for an irresistible October scene.

Abundant Bouquets Generate New Journeys

Thanks to a generous gift subscription from my sister, a tightly packed box full of fantastic blooms is delivered monthly to my door. Finding enough places to put them all can be a challenge, so I strive to send some on to other welcoming homes.

December Journeys

After delivery, blooms settled into vases in my kitchen

January Journeys

After delivery, botanical card and blooms in vases on my kitchen table

A future post may focus more on where the blooms have come from, but this one looks at where they went.

Join in Praises for Roses in Vases

Earlier in January, when I asked friends for photos of indoor plants, Sandra Millikin sent three from her home in England. All were roses in vases, each bouquet distinct and inviting. Her titles and evocative captions added context. The words and images suggested significant stories behind the roses’ arrivals and arrangements.

October Roses

October Roses: Next to my Highgrove favourite china mug for tea bought in August when visiting Prince Charles’ garden

Florist Flowers

Florist Flowers: On my kitchen upstand sent by nephew in Hong Kong….struggling to revive after delivery!

November Roses

November Roses: On my coffee table….still blooming in late mild autumn cheer me up

Sandra’s offerings reminded me that I hadn’t yet done a post that focused only on roses though they are key pleasures in the world of plants. Her trio of photos inspired me to consider roses that came to me as gifts in recent years. I recalled how involved I became in settling them safely into certain vases. Below are three photos from my home, along with hopes that I can follow up with further posts that reflect our winter appreciation of plants.

Ceramic pitcher by Tina Gram containing one of many roses sent by my sister Bec in June 2021
Glass vase holding roses from a big bouquet of many more blooms from my sister in November 2021
Many vases in my kitchen filled with more than a dozen roses from my sister, February 2021

Returning now to another photo from Sandra Millikin, including her observations below.

Antipodean Roses (from Austraila)

Antipodean roses from the garden of my friend Gerry’s daughter in Victoria near Melbourne. These from a time when they were all in lockdown.  You can see how wonderfully they have opened in that blousy way typical of garden roses. Florist roses struggle to do this. And I love the mix of shapes and colours. 

Winter Views of Indoor Blooms, Remembered and Recorded

amaryllis in living room 2019

Selecting from seventy or so photos of plants inside my home from recent years, I tried to pare down to seven for this post. So I grasped for goals to guide me. The pandemic here in January of 2022 has made me go for photos that show the living space where few people are now free to visit.

Clinging to imperfect, personal details of my kitchen, living room, and dining room, I ruled out some of the most delicate or dramatic petals, leaves, and blooms. Instead, I took in familiar vases, pots, curtains, cherished art, and worn furnishings.

These growing or cut plants stand here as quiet companions with stories they might somehow tell again someday.

Next month I might think more broadly, if I’m still thinking. Meanwhile, emotional motivations prevail.

oriental lilies in dining room 2021

Summer Wonders from a Wonderful Garden

Here are labeled photos by Tina Gram from this summer (July-August 2021) in her spectacular garden in Somerville. She selected, described and sent them in response to my recent request to friends to share their photos of plants they value. My goal is to present the photos and words in ways that convey the alluring qualities of the plants from the photographer’s perspective. While still facing technical challenges in the process, I’m thrilled to explore new possibilities for sharing the pleasures of plants.

grape arbor (built by Pay)
Nasturtiums, petunias, licorice plant by my pond
coleus varieties

Sunflowers from Past Summers

Cambridge, late August 2019

Museum Street, Cambridge, late August 2020

Crescent Street, Cambridge, August 2015

Drumlin Farm, Lincoln, July 2018

Sacramento Street, Cambridge 2019

“For Holmes, the sunflowers represent a radiance that “sustains us even when things are not how we want them to go.” The flowers serve as a metaphor for heliotropism—“turning to the light.” They attract bees. They’re said to draw toxins out of the ground. With the profusion of seeds the flowers produce and their deep roots, they symbolize the hardiness of Roxbury. “These flowers intend to survive and they intend to come into being and share their great beauty.”“(quote from Greg Cook interview with Ekua Holmes June 2018)

Photos above are selected from more than seventy photos I’ve taken of sunflowers in the past seven summers. Quote above is the force and source of this post.

Wonderfully Welcome Responses to My Requests

From the start of Pleasures of Plants, my intention was to share plant photos by friends and family, not only by me. For a few months I was trying to get comfortable with new features in the format I had selected. I hesitated to involve anyone else during that phase. Though still learning the basics of this blog, I’ve begun asking people to send photos of plants they value. I’m very grateful for their responses,* support, and patience as I try to present those photos in a worthy way.

*Barbara Nachmias-Kedesdy has offered these from her garden in Salem, MA:

Autumn crocus (left), David Austin English rose “Munstead Wood” (right)

Japanese anemone (windflower)( left), Dahlias and sweet peas (right)

Hydrangea ( left), Japanese anemone (windflower) ( right)

Mexican chocolate cosmos ( left), Flowering carrot ( right)

Photos with Stories Reveal the Vitality of Northampton Street Community Garden

One of my first posts ( January 2021) focused on photos I took as an enthusiastic but infrequent visitor* to Northampton Street Community Garden. This sequel adds views of an insider, Michele Maniscalco, who has worked the soil there for several years with attention to significant events in her surroundings. As I requested, she has selected from her own photos and provided her own words to identify or explain them.

Bee on a zinnia at Northampton Street Community Garden, August, 2016. Taken at a photo shoot for Martha Stewart Living Magazine featuring South End-based Best Bees Company, a beekeeping company founded by bee researcher Dr. Noah Wilson-Rich, who started the business in his West Concord Street apartment. Photo by Michele D. Maniscalco
Harley Kravitz, Esq., permanent resident and guardian of the Northampton Street Community Garden in Boston’s South End from the time he was a kitten until his death. Feral and aloof from everyone except his caregiver, Harley Kravitz kept our garden safe from vermin and was much-loved and is missed by gardeners. RIP Harley Kravitz,  2004-2018  Photo by Ethan S. Gould

*Photos ( by D. Lee) at bottom of this post are from my visit in June 2021