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What’s In Bloom: Work Days in the Desert, Part 1

My December trip to the Arizona desert gave me the opportunity to volunteer my hand in the garden at two places.   The first, Arizona Cactus Sales, a garden centre & nursery recognized for its excellent selection of quality desert plants.

D&S Arizona Cactus Sales

And who else should recruit me on vacation to finally see what working in the low desert is really all about – one guess?!

Vatricania guentheri up close

In the above photo we are standing in front of a large clump (easily surpassing 2.5m x 2.5m) of Espostoa guentheri (syn. Vatricania guentheri) (red beard) from Eastern Bolivia.   The golden-spined stems have varying densities of fox-red, woolly hairs, called cephalia, from which the flowers & fruit come.

Cactus bench real gems Arizona Cactus Sales

One of our first tasks was to move starter-plants of Stenocereus pruinosus (Mexican organ pipe) to a sheltered hoop house …

frost protection cactus bench Arizona Cactus Sales

… then cover them for protection; Mexican organ pipe is frost sensitive and more-or-less, grows like a weed.

Cochemiea poselgeri with red berries AZ Cactus Sales

Some gems I had never seen before also found on those benches include Cochemiea poselgeri (syn. Mammillariposelgeri) (red-flowered pincushion) with these brilliant-red berries; endemic to Baja, California.

Micranthocereus flaviflorus flower

A tray of Micranthocereus flaviflorus, has many plants in, or about, to flower.  This cactus is endemic to Brazil, and is listed as Near Threatened due to sand quarrying, agriculture, & fire.  

Fouquieria splendens AZ Cactus Sales

Making our way through the garden centre, Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo) are lined up in a row, bare-root, ready for planting in your home garden.  Ocotillos are desert shrubs, leafless most of the year, blooming reliably March through June depending on rainfall.

Yucca rostrata AZ Cactus Sales

Yucca rostrata (beaked yucca) has been planted in rows for sale in the garden centre.  Bring your own pot or bag & we’ll dig it up for you!

Sand with Opuntia robusta AZ Cactus Sales

Did I have a hay-day or what in the nursery!?!  Customers aren’t allowed (lucky me); here with Opuntia robusta (wheel cactus).

Deb transplanting Agave parryi v. huachucensis

Back to work … transplanting Agave parryi v. huachucensis (Parry’s agave) to be root-pruned, and planted-out for sale.

Sand w Agave parryi v. huachucensis

My first agave transplant – they bite, you know!

root-pruning Agave parryi v. huachucensis

Not the best photo (sun in my eyes) but hopefully you get the idea: root-pruning Agave parryi v. huachucensis.

Agave zebra AZ Cactus Sales

Loving the row-upon-row of plants in the ground; these Agave zebra (zebra agave) demonstrate a greener version of a plant that is usually grey-blue with cross-banding.

Never-ending plant bench AZ Cactus Sales

How could I not be part-cactophile with benches filled to over-flowing like these?!

Ferocactus wislizeni

Ferocactus wislizeni (fish hook barrel cactus) in bloom; many have been collected as noted by the yellow tags, either from private property or the wild, under strict guidelines set out by the State of Arizona Department of Agriculture.

Ferocactus wislizeni flowers A close-up of Ferocactus wislizeni (fish hook barrel cactus) from flower to fruit; a native to both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.

Collecting Conservation AZ Cactus Sales

The tag.
Astrophytum hybrids

Astrophytum hybrids (living rocks) in the propagation house; a genus of cacti native to North America.

Echinocactus grusonii f. cristata AZ Cactus Sales

Pots of Echinocactus grusonii f. cristata (crested golden barrel cactus) for sale.

Espostoa melanostele

Another cactus I’ve not seen before, Espostoa melanostele (Peruvian old lady), native to the western subtropical mountain valleys of Peru, it is covered in long woolly spines that darken with age.  Flowers are rare, white, and nocturnal.

Arizona Cactus Sales

Truly, I could go on & on!  A big shout-out of thanks to Arizona Cactus Sales, in particular Ty Peterson, Manager, for letting me spend a day at work with your fabulous cactus collection.

Shovel shade house

And by the way, there is a shovel on every post!

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