Twin Cactus Flowers

Pipe organ cactus double flower nears bloomimg, san diego. ca., photo by anders tomlinson
Great Anticipation Builds, Soon There Will be Twin Blooms –
The Organ Pipe Cactus has an elegant flower. When two are coming off the same pipe it is a rare visual holiday. One of these special moments will open up later this evening. And we are there. It is warmer than usual. 336 days were hotter than average from October 2013 through October 2014 as was all twelve months. The ocean off the coast of San Diego has been four to six degrees warmer, tropical fish are being seen farther and farther north. And here we are: warmer and less rain – a climate suited for cactus. We call this a “drought” because, like early man who believed the earth, and himself, was the center of the universe, our experiences between 1900 and 2000 were “wet” enough to sustain an ever-growing southwestern migration. But what if 1900 to 2000 was a lull in a long dry climate, a “wet bump” if you wish? When does “drought” become “average?”

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Enjoy a mockingbird while visiting – 3:37twin oran pipe cactus flowers near blooming, san diego, ca., photo by anders tomlinson
So Pretty It Looks Like One Could Eat It –
It will take less than an hour for these flowers to completely unfold and open. The flowers begins to widen, lifting the outside petals off of what will be the glorious white flowers. Soon a sweet fragrance will envelope the bloom. During 2014 there was a run of over three months with daily highs above the “average.” An unusual heat wave in May was punctuated by urban wildfires in canyons between large developments.
Bob Ganey’s Harmony Lost? looks at a rural community he lived in for many years and now is being pressured by urban development. Several times he had needed to stay and protect his property from approaching fire or evacuate. May 2014’s rare Santa Anas, offshore hot desert winds, fueled an outbreak of fires, over a couple of days, including one that took out Harmony Grove’s Spiritual Center as well as neighboring houses. Why was it that the fire scorch Harmony Grove this time? And is this a question we should be asking ourselves?

Pipe organ Cactus flower in the early stages of opening up, san diego, ca.  photo by anders tomlinson
The Flowers Begin to Open –
The opening has begun. The fragrance is here. Within twenty minutes the flower will in full bloom. The night is young, another natural adventure has begun. The $64,000 question is who will take notice? 2014 was this garden’s year of the cactus flower. Does this mean anything and are the cactus sensing something that we don’t?

pipe organ cactus flowers have opened fully, san diego, ca., photo by anders tomlinson
They Are Open and The Surrounding Night Is Sweet Smelling –
The flowers anatomy is there for all to see. It is attracting attention with its size, colors and scent. It wants night and day visitors. The Organ Pipe cactus flower is more esthetically pleasing than the Peruvian Apple cactus and the flowers stay open longer. But, this year the Peruvian Apple have produced much more fruit. Everything is interconnected. This morning I watched the crows parade up and down the street picking up garbage and recyclables that fell when being loaded from the curb to the trucks a couple of hours earlier. The crows do this every week, they are interconnected with garbage pickups.

Bees work a pipe organ cactus flower, san diego, ca., photo by anders tomlinson
Where Would We Be Without Bees? –
During the first two waves of Peruvian apple cactus flowers there were few bees and they appeared disorientated. This was during a period of the unusual heat waves triggered by unseasonable Santa Ana winds. The organ pipe flowers always had bees in attendance. It would be safe to say that the bee count in the garden during 2014 was down. This was the first time is many years that I wasn’t bitten by spiders, invasions into the house were also noticeably down. Sign of the times?

pipe organ double flowers in bloom seen from the back, san diego, san diego, photo by anders tomlinson
These Are Elegant Flowers From Any Angle –
Speaking of elegant, a couple of days after a micro-burst had barreled through the yard a cockatiel landed on the alley powerlines that run above the backyard fence and was whistling to no one in particular. I went out to calm the cockatiel which responded to my voice. Every time I started to walk away, to get a camera, it would call for my attention. All of a sudden the cockatiel took notice of something and flew off in a hurry. Moments later, a big hawk approached and landed on the power pole near where the cockatiel had been sitting. Both birds were out of their normal habits. The question becomes, especially for the cockatiel, the prey, did they meet again?

pipe organ cactus flowers seen from behind, san diego, ca., photo by anders tomlinson
Together They Are Music For the Eyes to Behold –
Another change in 2014 was the flock of parrots: they usually arrived in the spring and fall and spend a week in the neighborhood. There were usually more than twenty of the green birds swooping back and forth throughout the neighborhood. One would hear the loud squawking parrots when they were town. In 2014 a smaller flock arrived in the spring and were gone the next day. Later in the month, a small group, less than ten, was seen flying around in the afternoon and were never seen again.

pipe organ flower backlit, san diego, ca., photo by anders tomlinson
The Sun Plays With the Flower Soon to Start Wilting –
2014 had more human arguments in the neighborhood. Stress levels hit the tipping point and domestic disturbances would snoopy the cat in a garden terr, san diego, ca.  photo by anders tomlinsonoccasionally flare up at all hours of the day from all points of the compass. The cat population walking through the garden, on the other hand, was down to Snoopy and a black male, and the nocturnal cat hoot’nanny were rare. This year I learned that Snoopy was a cat with no home but all the neighborhood. A neighbor across the alley feeds Snoopy and they think she spends time at the neighbor’s down the street that has all the palm trees. They were unaware that Snoopy spends a great deal of time in the garden, especially in the afternoons. They call her Whitey.

organ pipe cactus and japanese honeysuckle backlite by setting sun, san diego, ca., photo by anders tomlinson
Fall Late Afternoon Backlight Illuminates Two Neighbors –
This Japanese Honeysuckle and Organ Pipe Cactus have made it through another summer. The Japanese honeysuckle had a harder time. Two limbs coming off the main truck, closest to the Organ Pipe Organ, had died. The plant did not look healthy. After the two dead limbs were cut away the honeysuckle responded and has been resplendent with flowers for over a month. The Organ Pipe Organ had two waves of flowers and none of which produced fruit. It was interesting that the section of honeysuckle closest to the organ pipe cactus was what died. Did the predatory organ pipe cactus have anything to do with this?

leyland cpress that died during the summer of 2014, san diego, ca.  photos by anders tomlinson.
1983 and 2014, Change is the Order of All Living Things –
A Leyland cypress, 31- 33 years old, was not as fortunate as the honeysuckle. Leyland cypress can grow quickly, 3 to 4 feet a year, and provide privacy and shade. They can reach 40 to 60 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide and are considered drought tolerant. They can be found in Southern California nurseries despite the fact that their shallow root structure does not protect the tree from hot summers in southern half of the U.S.A. In these areas it is prone to develop cypress canker disease which causes extensive dieback and ultimately kills the tree. The dying tree was cut back to bare limbs and is now another snag in the yard for birds to sit.

A micro burst had torn through the neighborhood.  the garden in serra mesa, san diego, california benefited from a torrential down pour..  photo by anders tomlinson.
After A Rare Micro-Burst With Gale-Force Winds and Torrential Rain –
September 16, 2014 is a day many San Diegans will have a hard time forgetting. Not all San Diegans, because the microburst cut a swath that was maybe twenty miles long east to west and ten miles wide north to south. San Diego was in the middle of a multiple day heat wave. Remnants from Hurrican Odie, off the coast of northern Mexico, was forecast to bring much needed showers to the region. The house’s windows were closed and the curtains drawn to keep the heat out and coolness, it is all relative, in. All of a sudden the curtain is blown up 90 degrees by a gust through an eighth-of-an- inch gap between the window and the wall. In that instant the full intensity of the microburst hit. It lasted for twenty minutes. During this period high winds and an inch or more of rain blew horizontally across the garden and flooded alleys and streets of Serra Mesa. Montgomery Field, a regional airport few blocks away, had several planes blown from their moorings and over fences onto cars. Thunder and lightening descended on the garden. People will remember this day because this type of event is virtually unheard of in San Diego. As all life marches away from the equator it could be possible in the future San Diego will experience a hurricane.

denver clay is creating a southwest - low-water-usuage garden in san diego, ca.  photo by anders tomlinson.
For Every Action There Is An Equal and Opposite Reaction –
Several organ pipe cactus spires were knocked over. They were taken over to SonicAtomics’ music director Denver Clay’s to be planted in his front yard which is boarded by lawns on both sides. The pipe organ and peruvian apple cactus were 1990 cuttings from Denver’s garden in Escondido that Anders moved to the garden. Now cuttings from these cactus are moving in 2014 to Denver’s yard in San Diego. What goes around, comes around.

four view's of denver clay's low water usage garden in construction, san diego, ca.  photos by anders tomlinson
Doing Something Because It Is The Natural Thing To Do –
Denver expressed an interest in doing something in his font yard that wouldn’t require much watering. In the upper-left-hand photo above one can see the opposite of what he was thinking. Anders brought over succulent clippings along with blown over cactus limbs. Along with cuttings from a large yucca agave colony in Denver’s back yard a garden-for-the-times-and-region was well underway. Using what he had at hand Denver has spent one dollar, as of 10-14-2014, on his landscaping project. Anders often says “rebuild the future one neighborhood at a time. Now, Anders adds, “rebuild neighborhoods one yard at a time.”
Denver assisted Anders with recording a morning of water related presentations in early 2014. Awareness of a need to change human behavior is growing. The fundamental question of how we use water, and, equally important, how we get rid of water, is seen and heard more frequently on broadcast, print and social media.

denver clays new landscaping border, san dieo, ca.  photos by anders tomlinson.
It All Started In A Little Space Between Yards –
Denver’s landscaping project started on the strip of land between his driveway and the neighbor’s newly installed lawn. The succulent cutting, as succulents do, survived the transplanting and flourished. Denver pointed out an interesting caterpillar, talk about color – coordination and camouflage, that was hidden on one of the transplanted succulents. Denver thought the caterpillar had come over with the cutting but Anders is sure this wasn’t the case, he had never seen anything like it before on any of his garden’s succulents. Anders returned in two days to take these photos. The caterpillar was out on an extremity basking in the sun, a perfect setting for a formal portrait. The next day the caterpillar was gone. Where did it go? Was it turning into a butterfly? Was it a protein-rich meal for another creature? All we know is that all creatures, great and small, come – and all creatures, mighty and weak, go.

more cactus pags graphic

Meet the Cactus

Organ Pipe cactus bloom

Bees visit cactus flowers

Peruvian Apple cactus bloom

Sweet Tasting Cactus Apples

Twin Pipe Organ Cactus Flowers

2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.