Saturday, June 25, 2016


It's officially summer with the days getting shorter, although you'd be hard put to notice.  ABQ is hot, dry, sunny... day after day.  The humidity is slowly coming up and we've had little showers to tease us about the coming monsoon.  Here's the proverbial Eight-inch Rain, the drops 8 inches apart.

I've been busy at the BioPark, as a docent and a phenology program volunteer and as a temporary employee.  For the past 6 months I've been a "Plant Identification Specialist."  I've mastered the label engraving machine and placed over 360 labels in the garden.  This week I'm over at the Zoo placing labels in some areas that have been upgraded courtesy of a PNM grant for Zoo landscaping.

In other matters, Jeff White zipped through town on his way back to Chandler from Los Alamos.  Kent and I tagged along and we used Jeff's truck to get high into the Mount Taylor backwoods.  It's an area I've long overlooked.  Very similar to the Jemez (after all, it is an extinct volcano), the hike was very pleasant through ponderosa and aspen.  There wasn't much in the way of views, partially due to the smoke and haze from the North Fire down by Socorro.  By the time we got our bearings sorted out and up to the ridgeline, a thunderstorm was on top of us.  We wisely retreated to Grants for pizza.

La Mosca Lookout from the saddle between it and Mount Taylor

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer is Winding Down

When I last posted here, Tanabata was nearing.  Since then, the festival of the sheep herder and the weaver has passed at the Bot. Garden.  Two more evening walks have taken place and the Bon Festival had over 80 candle-lit boats floating on the pond.  Music from Breaking Blues could be heard drifting over the entire garden and the turnout was huge.

It's been a busy summer with the completion of my shadowing requirements (apparently I was the first in my class to do so) and the twice monthly phenology study in the Cottonwood Gallery.  There was a volunteers appreciation dinner at the Zoo, which Caro and I attended.

I've added a few more photo spheres to Google Maps, but that was just before they restructured Google Views with it's convenient interface.  Now I'm not sure what the situation will be for 360° photos.

The home garden has been doing well, although the small patches of grass we have are suffering in some areas.  I think we'll re-sod instead of putting in flagstone... this year.  Eventually, we'll want to relocate the sprinkler heads and reduce the amount of turf we have.  The herbs and spices continue to be our best bet.  The peach tree gave us a great crop (thank you, Internet, for teaching me how to thin the fruit) and there is a bounty of pesto in the freezer.

Meanwhile, the seasons turn and daylilies have given way to crepe myrtles, the night heron at the Japanese Garden pond has raised a fine young offspring, and the roses in the High Desert Rose Garden continue to strengthen.  We've got an autographed copy of Judith Phillips' new book now (Growing the Southwest Garden) and are pleased to learn that she's struggling to work with North Valley clay soils, too.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July Already

May and June have come and gone without an update.  It's been a busy time with National Public Gardens Day on May 8th followed immediately by the Annual Mother's Day Bonsai Show that weekend. 
Ginkgo group planting

Club bonsai stand for Shohin, Mame and Komono
I've been knocking off my shadowing requirements for my docent's work.  There was a tour for the ABQ Newcomers Club.  Two Mondays a month have me out in the Cottonwood Gallery for the Nature's Notebook phenology study.  I generally stay longer doing "general grounds" docent duty. 
Chinese pistache in the entry courtyard
Crabapple by the Heritage Farm

In June I gave two tours of the Sasebo Japanese Garden to Camp BioPark groups.  The High Desert Rose Garden opened to much fanfare despite the young plantings.  It's very nice to have facilities at that end of the garden.  Also, there's now a direct path to the Sasebo instead of the detour through the Heritage Farm. 

Peonies in May

There was also the first of three Night Walks in the Garden during June.  I was meant to second the tour, but one guide was late and I ended up with my own group. 

Also in June, Trudy took to laying eggs in the garden beneath my window one evening.  In the morning the nest was empty and she wasn't seen for 5 days.  While doing maintenance on the roof, I found her empty shell.  She had been killed and taken up there by a raccoon.  She's buried beneath the Buddha under the pinon tree, where she often burrowed.  To ease the sorrow, we do have four of her hatchlings that turned up this spring.  They are safely in a terrarium and growing steadily.  We've begun protecting Terrance and Ten-ten with a raccoon-repellent spray around the yard. 

Next on the Botanic Garden calendar will be that Tanabata Festival.  Poems and wishes on special papers will be set adrift on Tuesday the 7th. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sakura, Ume, and Hanami

The Sasebo Garden

April 1.  We took the tour with Deb Firstenberg and it was well worth the time.  The Japanese Garden was awash with seasonal color:  cherries, plums, and crabapple.  The early Magnolias and quince were almost finished and the earliest cherries were dancing away in the light breeze.  Hanami is coming up next week and the garden is in good shape for it, even though there are only a few cherries blooming just yet.  

 Spring Green Connection

April 2.  I checked the box on my second BioPark education event by helping out with the discovery station in the Pollinator Garden.  Lots of 4-6th graders running around as "bees" collecting nectar while the "flowers" stuck Velcro-coated ping-pong ball "pollen grains" on them. 


April 11.  I helped Ron Fredericks and Courtney out with a tour from the Unitarian Church.  It turned out to be a small group and we had a nice time wandering through the Dolittle, Spanish-Moorish, Jardin Redondo, and Ceremonial Gardens.  There was a pause for people to pop into the Mediterranean Conservatory and then we walked out to the Japanese Garden for that loop.  All in all, about 90 minutes. 
April 15.  Caro and I took Debbie to the gardens for a delightful morning stroll that went all the way out to the Sasebo Garden.  As the breezes picked up, we took our bento boxes to the Vitex Plaza and had a picnic in the lee of the glass houses. 

Iris Show

April 19.  Caro and I took Gert to the Iris Show at the Garden.  Lovely cut flowers were there in profusion, but it was difficult to photograph given the background and table coverings. 

Caja del Rio

Somewhere in this busy month of April, Jeff White visited NM.  Kent and I caught up with him in Santa Fe and we bounced out into the Caja del Rio until Jeff's van cried "Uncle!"  It was a gentle hike to the canyon rim, but the trail down to the river was loose and steep.  We had a late lunch at a scenic vista, explored the rim a bit, and returned the way we had come.  Worth a repeat to explore the deeper into the canyon. 

Turtle Update

Tootsie and Tutu seem to be enjoying their new turtle-arium home.  Tootsie has been snacking on meal worms, but Tutu is still stand-offish about food.  I've upgraded their lighting with a UVB bulb.  They weathered the latest cold snap (right down to 32°) and things look to be warming up for the little guys.  All the big turtles have been spotted.  Trudy hangs out under a fescue in the Bodhisattva Garden while Terrance is in the Hidden Garden near the Agastache.  No idea where Ten-ten hangs out. 

Peach Update

Despite the brief excursion down to freezing, the peaches are far enough along that no harm was done.  The Wisterias survived without a hiccup either.  My bonsai Wisteria is a very late blooming variety with compact inflorescences; it has yet to open its blossoms.  Stand by for photos when that happens. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring into Summer

General Grounds

Friday I caught up with Ric in the Japanese Garden while I had my docent vest on.  He had a great time photographing the Magnolias plus the flowering cherries, peaches, and pears. 

We moved into the glass houses where he captured the Cyclamen, lilies, Ferrocactus, and palo verde.  Tulips and daffodils were in profusion throughout the garden. 

My interaction with visitors were wonderfully positive.  Whether local or from Canada, they all were enjoying the gardens on a picture perfect day.  I for one also got to control a number of blue Ingress portals and that pushed me over the top to 6th level. 

Tecolote Peak

Caro and I had a lovely 2½ mi. hike on Saturday.  Temps were record-breaking on the warm side, the NM skies were flawlessly blue, and an occasional cool breeze came by.  We ate bento box lunches, ascended to the top of Tecolote Peak, enjoyed the 360° views, and returned in good time. 

Mahonia and an unknown, low-growing, clumping mustard were blooming. The hike took us through areas with scrub oak, juniper, pinon, and cholla growing side-by-side with Ponderosa and fir trees -- a very heterogenous environment.  


Trudy is out and about, leaving only a large divot where her burrow was.  Interestingly, it's about 3' from where she was dug in when I last saw her in the fall.  When I see her next, I'll get a weight for the record books. 

Meanwhile, we haven't seen Tootsie, the new hatchling, eat anything.  Meal worms disappear, but I'm not sure if they are crawling away or being consumed. 

The two boys are, as expected, still hibernating.  They wake up at least a couple weeks after Trudy. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gathering Pace


The Nature's Notebook data collection continues apace.  We are tracking 3 cottonwoods, 3 four-winged salt bushes, 2 Siberian elms, a golden current, a rabbit bush, and a cholla.  The mobile app is not perfect, but generally useable. 

After making the rounds in the Cottonwood Gallery for 3 Mondays in March, I would do "general grounds" as a docent, which is just random wandering in the Garden answering questions for visitors. 

Turtles Awake

Tuesday March 24 when Caro went to water the plants in the backyard, she spotted a tiny turtle.  He or she doesn't have a yolk sac, so we believe it to be one of Trudy's hatchlings who survived by over-wintering in the ground behind the bed where our Cosmos were.  The little fellow has been dubbed Tootsie until we get a fix on its gender, which might take years.  Tootsie currently resides in a cat-proof turtle-arium indoors.  So far, it hasn't begun eating, but that's expected after coming out of hibernation. 

Meanwhile, Trudy popped her head out yesterday, March 26.  It won't be long with temperatures almost reaching 80 before she's roaming around the yard.

The Gardens

The Sasebo Japanese Garden continues to impress with blooming Magnolias, cherries, and quince.  Tours start next Wednesday and I'll be shadowing the first one.  Once that box is checked, I'll be certified to give tours on my own. 

Elsewhere, Crocus has given way to daffodils and the Pasque flowers continue to bloom.  Some early tulips are flowering and others are on the way.  Fruit trees and their ornamental cousins like flowering apricot are going strong. 

Next Thursday will find me at a pollinator discovery station for the Spring Green education event.  It coincides with spring break, so I expect the place to be overrun with kids of all ages. 

Miscellany at Home

We purchased a 7-gal. and a 15 gal. golden bamboo recently.  The smaller container was actually the taller plant.  We cut it in half, planted it in 2 of the areas where the Buddha's belly bamboo was.  The larger container with the shorter plant went in a new hole (thank you, Baldo, for excavating that monster). 

In the front, a sprinkler leak was unearthed but is beyond our ability to repair.  Sprinkler guy is due here any minute. 

Finally, the online county extension advice system worked well.  I submitted photos and a summary; they responded within the week.  Turns out our Photinia has red tip disease.  We cut all the infected wood out and Baldo hauled it to the dump.  Next step:  spraying weekly with Daconyl. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Docent Training, Phase 2

Shadowing the Winter Wool Festival

From 12:00 until 2:00, I hung out at the Plant Fibers table, watching how a Discovery Station worked.  There were about 45 interactions tallied, most being with families who were enjoying the warm day. 

Garden Training

Deb Furstenberg and Maria Thomas spent the morning and the early afternoon walking us through the Sasebo Japanese Garden.  There was an amazing amount of information....

Tours to start soon on Wednesdays and perhaps Saturdays.