Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

February 7, 2014

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Enjoy Southwest's plentiful cacti while traveling

I marvel at nature’s wild swings.

From north to south and from east to west we see wild variations in temperatures and vegetation.

I encounter this every time I visit my old winter roosting place in the Southwest. It is such a respite from the cold and drab of the upper Midwest. Stepping out of a plane into sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s makes me wonder why I live in Indiana. But then I quickly remember the Southwest in July when it’s too hot to even touch your car’s steering wheel or your legs touching that scorching hot seat when first entering your car in the middle of summer.

However, it’s hard to beat the sudden realization that the grass is green and the trees and shrubs are sprouting new growth and there are geraniums, pansies and snapdragons growing everywhere. Add to this the fact that vegetation in the desert southwest is a complete 180 degree reversal of what we have in the upper Midwest.

Just a few of the differences you’ll see are the palm trees, Saguaro cactus, cholla (teddy bear cactus), paddle cactus, mesquite trees, ocotillo and Bougainvillea. The Bougainvillea vines/shrubs are especially noticeable because they are in full bloom in pinks and reds.

Annual flowers are about the only plants that pretty much stay the same. As previously mentioned, currently blooming about everywhere in the Southwest are geraniums, pansies and snapdragons because they can handle the “still cool” nights. Also noticed were large croppings of purple lantana used primarily for a shrub because they are considered a perennial in the southern warmer states.

Some interesting facts about southwestern plant-life:

A Saguaro cactus grows from a small, slow-growing, globe-like outgrowth in the desert into a single, giant spike that is usually 1 foot to 1 ½ feet in diameter to a whopping 12 feet to 15 feet in height and generally does not produce an arm or appendage until an age of at least 80 years.

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Life
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