Lady’s Slipper Orchids – No Match for the Mower

Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchids growing in the ditch opposite us. You can see our trees at the top of the photo. At the far right of the photo is the stalk of a flowering Meadow Rue.

I’ve blogged about the Lady’s Slipper Orchids several times:  Lady’s Slipper Orchid – Surprise in the Ditch and Lady’s Slipper Orchid Mimics the Old Masters. In that post, I mentioned the fate of the orchids when the county mower bears down on them.

This year the mower arrived earlier in the season than normal and chopped off the Orchid flowers before they had a chance to go to seed. It would be an understatement to say this made me very sad. I had been visiting them and taking pictures of them every morning when I went for my walk. It was while I was photographing them that I discovered the delicate flowers of a meadow rue nearby. (Also a plastic lid and a red straw, which I’ll remove once I don’t need them to accurately mark the location of the now decapitated flowers…)

I first found the Lady’s Slipper in 2011, and while I would have loved to have one growing on my property, I contented myself with visiting them in the ditch (especially since they have established a dozen or so new clumps so close to our place.) The mower changed all that. I’m going to research the probability of success if I transplant one or two of the plants onto my property…

As for the Meadow Rue – turns out I have hundreds of them in our woods, now that I know what to look for!

Plant Profile
Common Name:  Lady’s Slipper Orchid (yellow)
Scientific Name:  Cypripedium parviflorum
Hardiness:  Zones 3-7 – found in many parts of Canada and the United States. It is a hardy plant.
Growth:  A Perennial that varies in height depending on location. In the north it can often be found in open locations with full sun. In other locations it will be found in cool rich woods.
Blooms:   Large deep-yellow flowers with long yellow-to-brown corkscrew lateral petals. Blooms over a 2 to 3 week period in early to mid spring.

Proust and a Palo Verde Tree

You know how it goes. You start with one thing, and that leads to something else, and you end up somewhere you didn’t expect to be.

I started with a photo of a forest clearing (actually it is in the Arizona desert ‘highlands’ and the saguaro cactus is a clue that it isn’t a traditional forest – but the Palo Verde tree in bloom makes it seem foresty.) Then I ran the photo past a few filters to see what might pop out. I overlaid a quote by Marcel Proust to the original photo because it seemed to fit.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
– Marcel Proust –

Then, because Proust said a lot of interesting things, his words kind of slipped in with the rest of the filtered photos.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
– Marcel Proust –

Like many intellectuals, he was incapable of saying a simple thing in a simple way.
– Marcel Proust –

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.
– Marcel Proust –

There is no one, no matter how wise he is, who has not in his youth said things or done things that are so unpleasant to recall in later life that he would expunge them entirely from his memory if that were possible.
– Marcel Proust –

One cannot change, that is to say become a different person, while continuing to acquiesce to the feelings of the person one has ceased to be.
– Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way –

The Palo Verde is the State Tree of Arizona. Like life, it is kind of messy. It can shed it’s leaves twice a year and it creates a blizzard of yellow ‘debris’ when it drops it’s flowers. The flowers are pollinated by bees. You might see as many as 20 species of bees at the tree at one time if you are brave enough to stand under a whole tree that is buzzing. (There are more than 1,000 species of bees in southern Arizona.)

French novelist Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922) is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Many of his observations, like the ones above, seem to be as applicable today as they must have been when he wrote them. What say you?

Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear Cacti are members of the Opuntia genus. There are over 90 species of Opuntia in the United States. They are flat-stemmed spiny cacti with edible fruit.

Click on any photo to open Photo Gallery.

There is a large patch of Prickly Pears in the lot next to ours. Then one day, there was one tiny prickly pear in our yard. It was only an inch or two high. So I carefully outlined it with a ring of rocks and encouraged it to grow. In just a year, it had grown to a healthy 8 inch tall plant.

When a weed dared to grow next to my prickly pear, I carefully reached in (with leather gloves on) and as I plucked out the weed, I felt one ever so little prick on my finger. I took my glove off and there wasn’t any blood – not even a red mark.

Five minutes later, my finger started to hurt. I went into the house, washed the area well, and inspected it under a magnifying glass to make sure there was not a small prickle stuck in me. Nothing. Then my finger started to swell.

I’ve been gardening here in Arizona for 7 years. I’ve been ‘poked’ by all sorts of cactus. Agaves are the worst for drawing blood. But never before has a prickle caused as much discomfort as the prickly pear did.

There are no prickly pears in my yard any more…

What is the most dangerous plant in your yard?