An Exploding Blue Surprise & More
I’m often asked why I prefer hand watering to drip or some other irrigation system. The short answer is that I prefer to water everything myself because I’m afraid I might miss something. See, if I entrust the watering needs of my garden to someone — or something — else I might miss the baby’s first step, its first word, its first exploding tassel-topped purple turban. Okay, so I mixed things up there a bit but what I’m referring to is shown in the photo above. While watering I looked up at my favorite super-tall blue cactus and noticed that its fruit had somehow . . . exploded?
The fruit that had begun as beautiful waxy blossoms back in February (click here), had become clenched black-tassel-topped purple turbans in March; I fully expected they’d dry out next, and fall to the ground. Looking up at them last week it took me a moment to understand what I was looking at, that the fruit/turbans had swelled to such a degree that they’d exploded; but why? I hurriedly hauled out my stepladder to take a closer look.
I looked up information on my blue cactus (actual name pilosocereus azureus) to find a description of what I was seeing. On one site I found a description that matched: The fruit apparently becomes overripe, swells and explodes, exposing its inner flesh and seeds. None of the sites I consulted answered the question of whether the seeds were then passed through the digestive tracts of birds as a way to spread them. I did find a website that said this is the time for gardeners to gather the cactus seeds, noting that they should be cleaned and allowed to dry fully before storing … in a small glass jar, I’m thinking. Or maybe in a paper envelope as a gift for a lucky friend.
Although I’m not able to walk as long as I’d like because it’s a pain trigger, I still do so every day. I find that varying my route provides enough sightseeing entertainment I can increase my time. I was delighted to walk underneath this agave arch recently. I particularly enjoy the little upturn at the curve’s end. The homeowner’s told me they’ve had other agaves send up flower stalks, but that they were always straight … like my octopus agave’s recent example (click here).
Another delight: The sight of this puya alpestris in bloom. A blue explosion of a different type, these blooms have the appearance of alien bird babies with their mouths agape. I find the deep azure of these petals awe inspiring. Like the shocking magenta of the cactus fruit interiors at the beginning of this post, the metallic sheen of these puya blooms demands my attention; definitely worth stopping for photos.
Hand watering and walking: Both take valuable time. But each is their own reward, in that they they provide close encounters with plants — and their lives — that might otherwise be missed.