Saturday, August 2, 2014

The world of plants is not just about greenery.  The garden is also habitat for all sorts of creatures. And we were privileged to witness one of the most spectacular displays of this interconnectedness at the raptor show at the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson last spring.

My friend (a volunteer at the garden) and we were just trying to process the fascinating shapes of the cactii and other low-water plants when we spotted a magnificent Saguaro that looked all the world like a thorny gent standing there. So did a hawk who used another nearby Saguaro for a launching pad for his hunt. Sometimes these amazing sentinels of the desert, the Saguaros, are actually known as “Cactus Hotels” because of all the critters who burrow holes and homes in them. And then there was the owl who looked solemnly out at us from a dead branch.

Whenever we are tempted to use pesticides to control rampaging insects in the garden, it is wise to stop and reconsider. As a child growing up in Wisconsin, I remember the fogging trucks plying the streets in my hometown dispensing DDT in great acrid clouds.  I also remember all too well the conspicuous absence of song birds for many years thereafter.  It seemed to take decades for them to return in any numbers.

Bottom line, whether we are gardening in the rain-drenched upper Midwest or in the drought-plagued Southwest, the decisions we make as gardeners cannot be taken in isolation.  Our plants are not alone out there!

Artichoke Cactus

Saguaro out for a stroll

King of the Mountain

Dead tree...who-o-o me?