Early Bloomer

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At least this year, my Texas Mountain Laurel bush is blooming two weeks earlier than usual.  I’m so glad I wandered over to check on whether it was in bud, and there are many clusters that are already open.  If you don’t know this bush, the clusters smell like grape koolaid, and it was the first shrub I planted when we moved in a long time ago.  I went out after 4 to paint it in the afternoon sun and shadows, and I feel like after several years, I finally have a handle on how to express the blooms.  Expect to see more paintings over the next week.  One of my favorite parts of the bush are the seed pods that linger and over several years they turn rusty and blue but in the first years they are light tan.  can you see them in the painting?

Artsy weekend in Tucson

The other weekend my DH and I headed over to Tucson for a long awaited break and had a lovely time.  We did gardens, galleries, Gather antiques, and took in a movie at the Loft Cinema. I got to go back to Tohono Chul Park by myself to reflect in the native gardens, do some sketching, bird watching and seeing a watercolor show in their gallery. This place is a real jewel in Tucson and I’m so glad I got to go there.

A lovely docent directed me to this Echinocereus  blossom which was as big as a saucer. Literally 6″ across. You can be sure I’ll be attempting to paint this beauty.  I did some onsite sketching and painting.   Here it is in the pot, just to give you a sense of scale.

 

just to give you a sense of scale

It was by this lovely soothing water fountain with benches to sit and just enjoy the beauty. See the close-up. I love the horsetail plant there.

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The property was built in the 1930s and at the time was very isolated and grew palm trees and citrus.  The art galleries and gift shop are in the original house and they are always a real treat.

 

Euphobia ResiniferaThis was a really interesting plant clump.  It is called Euphobia Resinifera , common name is Spurge.  We have one that grows here and blooms lime green in January, but I haven’t seen this particular variety.  look at the close-up.  It stood about 18″ tall and each spire was perhaps an 1″ or more in width.

Euphobia Resinifera Close-up

We also went to the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild gallery, in an upscale market area with a Whole Foods, public library branch and neat restaurants.  There is beautiful work on display and it changes regularly.  I picked up a brochure on classes offered in the fall/spring, and I think I will actually take one of them with Carol Carter, an artist whose work and blog I follow!
We tried two new places:  fabulous Thai food…I can still taste it in my mind, it was incredible.  at Bai Thong on E. Speedway.  and then we saw an article in their locavore magazine: Edible Baja Arizona
which has a beautiful cover of fish in blues/oranges. You can read the article was on Boca Tacos y Tequila, a place we’d driven by several times on Speedway near the University. On the sign was “Our salsa is hotter than your wife!” who could resist? the flavors were complex and wonderful. Oh MY! it’s a definite addition to my favorite restaurants.

Back garden shots

I have researched part sun and shade plants for my back garden because the trees around it have grown too big. Last summer I hardly went outside so there is a lot of work to do this year. It looks a bit sparse now but it will fill in with time.

I have planted yellow and green striped liriope, plumbago, day lilies, mint, and a ruffled echeveria which is to die for. There are mexican petunias and torch something and lantana from before.

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Rain sage in full bloom

Rain SageI have several species of Texas rain sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) in my front yard. It’s a plant that only blooms when the barometric pressure is “just right”.  And they were in full glory last week.  Here are two different views.  The gorgeous red plant’s common name is Red Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).