More Poppies Please

Unfortunately, today nor any of the last few days was the day the wind stood still. But the wind did make for some breathtaking poppy (Papaver Orientale) photos.

The poppy above is from my favorite plant. The blooms can be the size of saucers. The plant can be leggy with a tendency to fall over, but the lack of moisture this year made for a perfect size plant.
Sometimes, maintaining the backyard feels like too much work. I try to divide the yard into smaller workable sections. But other days I do a happy dance because of blooms like the ones above.

I've never had so many blooms at the same time before on one plant. Hurray for late spring!


A Moment of Zen

Some camera phone photos of peonies from today. Unfortunately, none from my garden. 

Fun and Noteworthy! 

Yesterday, I had my first celebrity comment on my blog - at least in horticultural circles and I'm all atwitter. Ava Salman, the namesake for the agastache "Ava" and co-owner of Santa Fe Greenhouses commented on my post of the same name. 


The Wind and the Poppies

My garden is finally beginning to look like a garden. Despite the wind, the shocks of freezing mornings and dry hot afternoons, my poppies are continuing to bloom. I came home from the dog park to find my Princess Victoria Louise poppies blowing in the wind. 

I don't know what ineffable quality about poppies that I find so alluring. When I was in college in New Orleans I read a biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle. It might have been O'Keeffe's iconic images of the flowers that drew me out here and romanticized the Southwest. The images continue to resonate with me to this day. I'm attracted to poppies the way other gardeners are obsessed with roses or orchids or succulents. 


Santa Fe Greenhouses

The unofficial last frost date in Santa Fe, New Mexico is May 15th. Some years, I ignore the frost date altogether and blithely start planting in March. This year, I heeded the warning signs of capricious weather and deferred my planting. Even four days past the frost date on Thursday, May 19th, there were snow flurries hither and yon. Today was my first visit to my favorite nursery Santa Fe Greenhouses; they also have an online store, High Country Gardens.

The first thing I do is visit the inspiration garden. I walk past the pot yard, and under the pergola to a garden retreat. Some days during the summer, if work is too hectic I will come here to gather my thoughts and sit amid the plants, flowers, and sculptures.

It's akin to going to the grocery store; I have a routine. I go look at the penstemon, salvia, then the agastache, which are generally grouped together. This year, however, the plant layout was different. I was having difficulty finding an Missouri evening primrose (oenothera macrocarpa formerly missouriensis), when one of the employees reminded me that the plants are in alphabetical order by botanical name. Ah, the alphabet what a concept!
I walk around the aisles, then hit the perennial greenhouses. What I lack in spontaneity, I make up in purchasing power. Seriously, not really - but I do try to support the local economy when I can. 


What's Blooming?

Why poppies, of course! I been wistfully waiting for the late May blooms to start.
My annual love affair with the poppy has begun. I'm not sure if I take the same photos of poppies every year, but I'm continually enchanted by them. The plant pictured above is two years old and self-seeded from one of my older plants. The flowers are only about three to four inches in diameter, but have an architectural quality about them. 


California Poppies

It was great to come home from vacation and find flowers in my garden. The California poppies reminded me of butterflies alighting and ascending into the sky.


New Orleans Travelogue, Continued

Cultural variants of fried dough are as prevalent as cultural variants of pancakes. In New Mexico alone, there are three variations: sopaipillas, Native American fry bread, and churros. The New Orleans twist on fried dough, is of course the beignet. Beignets are pockets of fried dough, powdered with sugar and served with cafe au lait. Therefore, no trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and an order of beignets. The cafe au lait here is one part coffee mixed with one part milk.   
The coffee in the cafe au lait is mixed with chicory root. Chicory root adds body to the coffee. It is in the same family as raddicchio and endive.  
Below are some random tinted photos from my trip to New Orleans. 
Ceiling Fans at Cafe Du Monde

Break Area for Cafe Du Monde Staff
Live Oak Photographed From Inside Moving Car


New Orleans Travelogue, Day 1

I went to New Orleans for a few days to visit my family. My Mother's cousin, Winsome (Winnie) and her husband Neville (whom my Mom hadn't seen in almost 40 years), were visiting from Australia. Day One was a visit to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with my Dad and Uncle Neville (second cousin?). 

In my salad days, the Jazz Fest was all about the music. Now its more about the food. The crowds were already thick with people lining up for traditional and non-traditional fare by mid-day. Someone standing beside us said, he brought a hundred dollars specifically to sample food here all day.
My Dad, Uncle Neville and I ate shrimp and sausage gumbo on a "table" that was an an old wooden spool painted the color of pistachio ice cream. Unfortunately, my music photos came out better than the food ones so no food photos this year. Alas, the limitations of a point and shoot camera!

The Jazz Fest is the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. The music starts late morning and continues into the early evening on 10 stages, with another stage devoted mostly to interviews.

We headed over to the fais-do-do tent to hear some music and watch some dancing. We listened to the band Feufollet, who was nominated for Grammy award this year.

According to Wikipedia: A Fais do-do is a name for a Cajun dance party, originating before World War II. According to Mark Humphrey the parties were named for "the gentle command ('go to sleep') young mothers offered bawling infants."[1]
After listening to more music, our hunger called again. You can't have lunch without dessert so we had mango freezes. It's mango sorbet that tastes as if the mango were just plucked from the tree.
The Jazz Fest is held at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, which doubles as a venue for horse racing. It's a big open field with limited protection from the sun and humidity. The canopy of a tree is a rarity. The humidity has its own persona and is palpable. It undulates around you in waves of moisture. People take protection from the sun into their own hands and create whimsical umbrellas and parasols. 
We exited the fairgrounds from a different place than we entered and walked through a mid-City New Orleans neighborhood. There was designated bicycle parking for the festival, it was a picturesque tableau with trumpet vines dangling over the wrought iron fence.

While waiting for my brother to pick us up, we stumbled upon a neighborhood park on the corner of Ponce de Leon and Esplanade. The green spot was an oasis from the unrelenting sun, we left at the Jazz Fest. Our musical journey continued. Two fountains greeted us and played soothing songs. Grasses and day lilies bordered the fountain. An almost hidden sculpture was an unexpected scare crow.

Jazz Fest


Happy Early Mother's Day!

I love all the seasons, but spring is my least favorite in Santa Fe because of winds of up to 70 mph and unpredictable weather. This year Mother Nature has been more temperamental than in springs past. It was 70 degrees today. However on Sunday, it was 26 degrees and tiny snowflakes fell as I grilled veggies for dinner.
Christian Dior Hybrid Tea Rose and Penstemon Pseudospectabilis
I live in Zone 6, but I seem to be able to plant Zone 7 plants on the south side of my house. The Christian Dior rose was doing great until the snow flurries on Sunday. It usually rebounds. The photo above was taken before the snow this week.
Penstemon Pseudospectabilis
The shadows look like happy dancers in the late afternoon light. My penstemon pseudospectabilis (Desert Beardtongue) always provides some Spring cheer. The blooms are smaller than usual because there seems to be a cold snap every time I plan to fertilize. I guess the fish fertilizer will have to wait!
Eschscholzia Californica (California Poppy) and Aquilegia Chrysantha ???? (Columbine )
One of the many blessings of gardening is that other gardeners share their wealth. My friend, Patria gave me one of her columbine volunteers over eight years ago and it performs on cue around Mother's Day every year. The original plant was a gift to Patria from her daughter. Happy early Mother's Day to all the moms I know!
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