In the last few days I’ve noticed that my cactus – the one that had a giant bloom and beautiful yellow flower a week or so ago, now has 8 more buds on it! I thought the first bloom was going to be the only one – but now I’m getting ready for 7 more flowers soon!

In 1979, when I was in New Mexico for college, I fell in love with the American southwest. With desert life in general. I thought it was a bit strange that others didn’t see how much life and beauty there was in the desert. I love traveling to Arizona – especially southern Arizona, the area surrounding Tucson. I love the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and just driving through the desert.

Having grown up in New York and Pennsylvania, I understand that it’s different. But different isn’t always bad, it’s just different.

So, now that I’m living in Texas, I’m happy to have cactus (even though they’re technically weeds) growing in my yard naturally. In Pennsylvania and Illinois I had cactus gardens out doors, and I found out that if you plant the right type of cactus, they will grow, and even thrive, in wetter and colder climates.

CactusAfter_Deep
My Cactus Garden in Illinois

Some of the prickly pear cactus varieties native to the higher elevations in New Mexico will grow quite nicely in Pennsylvania. It was a little tougher to keep them alive through the winters in Illinois – but, like all weeds, they came back pretty easily as soon as winter was over. There were only a couple winters in our 18 years living in Illinois that actually killed most of my cactus – when the temps stayed well below zero for extended periods. I remember my first year living there, how excited I was when the temperature got to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. After a couple years of that, it wasn’t exciting anymore.

So, do you love the desert? Do you appreciate the browner, dryer climates? The next time you’re in the desert, or even the not so desert-like parts of the southwest, look closely at the vegetation and animals that live there. I think you’ll be amazed at how alive it is.

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