Mini Post: Just a Couple of sights

 

My cactus, that I’ve had for fifteen years or so. It has suffered a few indignities: being pinched in a too-small pot, being chewed by squirrels, having its needles bitten off by chipmunks. This year the cactus is making only one flower (last year, two), but—a complete surprise—it has started a tiny arm. I thought all along it was a barrel-type cactus, but it may be more akin to a saguaro.

 

A venus flytrap I bought at Walmart, just to add another item to my pitcher plant tub. But it stuck up a flower head, and this is what the flower looks like.

Cactus Flower

My poor old cactus, that I’ve had for more than a decade.

Among its sufferings, I was keeping it in a too-small pot, without realizing, because at some point I’d set the small pot inside a larger one. I gave it a new home this year, after finding the lower half was a colorless, squeezed-together chunk. I’ve always put it out on the patio in summertime, and it’s done fine, not bothered by the heavy rains. What bothers it is rodents, squirrels and chipmunks, which is why it has those unsightly gnawed places.

An interesting thing is that the chipmunks will bite the ends off all the needles, then climb up to perch on the cactus, just as their cousins the ground squirrels might do in the west, where cactuses actually grow. There may be a shared evolutionary memory, mostly dormant in the chipmunk.

The other thing the chipmunks do is bite off the flower buds. This cactus has been trying for a few years to flower, so this time I’ve brought it inside before the buds vanish.

 

The above paragraphs were started as a post a couple of weeks ago. Now the cactus is opening its flowers, and as you can see, they are a beautiful peach. That’s what the poor thing has been harboring inside itself all this time.

 

For something cheerful, a sunny yellow daylily, and a tiger swallowtail. And my annual reminder that the Monarch butterflies, of which I don’t see many, arrive at this time of year, latish mid-summer. I see them feed almost exclusively on Tithonia flowers (so plant them!) It doesn’t appear Monarchs visit southeastern Ohio in the early season, to lay eggs…maybe there aren’t enough of them to sustain a local population anymore. So all the milkweed I have in my garden doesn’t help much. But they do stop for nectar as they migrate.