Cape Fuchsia

A close-up view of the flower of a cape fuchsia

When we bought our house years ago there was a plant out front with gorgeous red flowers that was struggling. I guessed it wasn’t getting enough sun and it seemed like it would be hummingbird friendly, so when we started a wildflower garden in the backyard in memory of my mother-in-law and the hummingbirds that swarmed her feeders, I decided to try transplant some of the suckers of the plant and see if any survived. I didn’t have any potting soil handy so they went from clay to clay. I kept them watered during the dry summer and was stunned to see that they all did fine and now we have two thriving sections of what I discovered are cape fuchsias.

Despite the name and appearance of the flower, they aren’t true fuchsias. While not native to the Northwest (they come from South Africa), they do well during our dry summers and wet winters and are thriving even during our unusually dry and hot summer. The hummingbirds love them and they require little attention from me and have proven to be a lovely addition to our wildflower garden. I normally dislike suckering plants but these are easy to keep under control, and I even use one section of them as a buffer between the wildflowers and the raspberries, which are rather obnoxious in how they sucker and spread.

Hot Lips

The red-and-white flowers of salvia Hot Lips

I first learned of salvia from Ciscoe Morris, host of my favorite gardening show, and I quickly came to love them almost as much as our local hummingbirds. As Ciscoe would say, oh la la! We have several varieties now, this one is known as “Hot Lips” and has lovely red-and-white flowers from spring until late fall.

Barking Up The Right Tree

Patterns in the bark of a tree near the Rio Grande in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

While in Taos, my wife and I drove out to the Wild Rivers Recreation Area for a little hiking and sight seeing. My wife wanted to touch the Rio Grande so after waiting for some thunderstorms to pass through, we hiked the Little Arsenic Trail down into the Rio Grande Gorge. Following a long and seemingly endless series of switchbacks down into the canyon, we were tired but happy when we finally reached the riverbank. The trees by the water had a beautiful red color and I loved the patterns in their bark. The hike back up was even more punishing, but I was excited to find a tarantula sharing the trail with us, the first one I’ve seen in the wild.

Papa Smurf

An onion or garlic flower is about to break out of its casing and bloom

When we moved into our house, there was a forest of weeds growing under the grapes that lined the backyard. While clearing out the weeds, I found a few good plants as well, either remnants of an old garden or volunteers from some other place. I preserved as many of the good plants as I could but some of those were later casualties when I decided to dig up the grapes.

One such casualty was a cluster of onions or garlic, the bulbs got broken up by the shovel while digging up the roots of the grape vines. One survived as it grew on the other side of the little metal guard that separated the yard from the grapes. This picture was taken in late June of last year, the flower is just about to break out of the casing and fully bloom.