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The Lilac Bush

Blossoming lilac in garden has fragrant scent

By the last week in April, the weather finally warmed enough here in the northwest corner of New Mexico that there was little chance of frost. So a couple of days ago, I planted my garden space in a corner of my back yard. It's big enough for a variety of vegetables but not so big that it's too hard to weed.


I love spending time in the garden, because I am so focused on digging a space for each starter plant or seed that I don't think about anything else. After I dig a hole, I add a little soil enhancer and some water. Then I carefully plant the vegetable or seed and cover it up before adding more water.


I have tomatoes, sweet red peppers, sweet peas, green beans, basil, cilantro, cucumbers, curly kale, romaine lettuce, a green lettuce whose name I can't remember, butternut squash, and cantaloupe growing in my garden. I have also planted some marigolds, because they help to repel squash bugs. I will add russet potatoes in about a week.


There will be weeding, watering, and waiting for the plants to mature so I can savor their taste. I look forward to the wonderful tossed salads I can make with vegetables from my own little garden. I can hardly wait to sample the butternut squash and cantaloupe! When the sweet peas and green beans are ready to pick, I sometimes pop them in my mouth and relish their delightful taste.


A lilac bush in the corner of the garden added color to my garden planting efforts. Its purple blossoms had just opened. Lilacs are beautiful for such a short time that I felt fortunate to have their fragrant scent surround me. It helped to make the gardening experience even more enjoyable.


While I was planting my garden, I also had time to notice the two spruce trees in my yard and the elm tree in my neighbor's yard. New leaves are sprouting on the elm, and lots of pine cones have fallen around the spruce trees. I don't take as much time to notice those trees when I'm not working in my garden.


If you get a chance to plant your own garden this spring, I hope you have a wonderful time doing it. There is something invigorating about being outside and working with the soil. And there is the anticipation of watching your garden grow until the delicious vegetables are big enough to pick and eat!

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Blooming Yucca Plants

White cluster of yucca blossoms in May
Yucca blossoms in May

I was delighted last week to see that the yucca in my front yard is blooming. Its white blossoms look so beautiful, and there are several clumps of flowers. Yucca are common plants to find in the area of northwest New Mexico where I live.


I always thought they were cactus plants, but they aren't. Instead they are in a plant family called Agavaceae. I had no idea they were an agave-like plant. I learned that from an interesting site, https://davesgarden.com. You can learn about all kinds of plants there.


Some yucca look like a spiky shrub. Others grow almost as tall as trees. The yucca in my yard look like the ones I see when I walk out into the countryside. They have long green blades with sharp points, and their flowers are white. When my son was a pre-schooler many years ago, we used to walk around the country property where we once lived north of Aztec, NM. We would ooh and ahh at the yucca in bloom. We also searched for several different varieties of blooming cacti. If we spotted them at the right time in the spring, their gorgeous yellow or pink blossoms made us smile.


Centuries ago, Anasazi and Pueblo Indians in northwest New Mexico used to use yucca roots to make shampoo. They used them for other things as well. If you take a trip to the Aztec Ruins National Monument in Aztec, NM, you will find out lots more about the yucca and how useful it was to people hundreds of years ago.


Yucca appear in lots of yards in the subdivision where I live. They don't need much water and take very little maintenance. I have to keep a sharp eye out to be sure they don't try to sprout in another spot in my yard. As much as I love my yucca, I don't need any more!


I was intrigued to learn that yucca plants survive because they are pollinated by the yucca moth. The female yucca works at night. She smells the sweet scent of the yucca flowers and flies to them. Once there, she gathers pollen from the stamens of one plant. Then she deposits that pollen on the stigma of another plant. What she does in the process is to lay her eggs in the yucca flowers themselves. They are protected there and have a food source when they develop into the larva stage. Yucca moths have just one purpose, and that is to pollinate the family of yucca plants. Nature can be quite specialized!


If you want to learn more about yucca plants, one good source is www.newmexicoenchantment.com/p/yucca-plant.html with no period after html. You can learn a lot about yucca at your local nursery as well.

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