Here are my winter pansies blooming next to a fully-flowering prickly pear cactus, in 92-degree weather on May 18.
And that's not supposed to happen - pansies still blooming when the cactus flowers open, that is. Pansies, you see, are cool weather annuals, and here in New Mexico it gets too darn hot for these hardy little lovelies to keep going. That's why we plant pansies in the fall, enjoying their colors in October and into November, then let them over-winter to bloom again in early spring. But usually they're gone by Mother's Day, as the warming weather turns the little plants into slime. "Cooked spinach" is my term for a heat-wilted pansy.
- Or maybe, it's global warming .... of which one of the symptoms is "weird weather." Well, that's a relative term in New Mexico, where we always say, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." But still, the weather this spring has alternated between record highs and sudden colds. Yesterday was sunny with a high of 95 degrees in Albuquerque - a record, I believe. Last night a huge wind came up as a front moved in. Today has been rainy, high of 57, with a nice noisy hailstorm in the morning. Lovely. Of course, the pattern is not unusual for the high desert, but the extremes are more noticeable. That's what leads me to think, maybe I'm seeing, before my eyes, climate change in action. Or maybe I'm paranoid.
- I should point out that the cactus flowers are right on time. In fact the yellow prickly pear blossoms are starting fade - though the pansies are still going strong! Today's rain perked them up, and they must love hail. I also have a cow's-tongue cactus with lovely pink blossoms that are just coming out; again, perfectly in season, according to all the books.
- And here's another succulent that's right on time: my neighbor's century plant, Agave americanensis. I took this photo on Mother's Day, two weeks after the stalk first appeared. Being that it's planted next to my driveway, I could track its growth every time I got in my car. It looked like a 10-foot-high, giant asparagus stalk. Now it's closer to 25 feet. My neighbor, Constance, tells me she's had the plant since 1998, and this is the first stalk to appear.
So, we have cactus flowers and century plants keeping to the timetable we humans have assigned for them, and cultivated pansies becoming type-A beings who just go on and on past their assigned season. So which is it? Weird weather? Global catastrophe? My good luck? Or just a gift from nature - flowers in beautiful colors, a bit of serendipity, and a chance to post some groovy pictures to my blog? Guess which one I choose.