On February 25 we endured a classic blizzard that left us with four inches of snow and higher drifts all over the place. Six days later, March 2, the sun finally came out; the wind was still blowing, but the snow had melted, leaving us with the brown and barren landscape wrought by the long-standing drought. But lo and behold, as I walked past what I call my Wyoming bed, I was greeted by this bright little pink flower! The pediocactus Simpsonii, also known as the mountain ball cactus, was the first bloom of the year outside, which has been the case every year since I built the bed and filled it with cactus and rocks from Wyoming.
I attended Page Lambert’s writing/horseback riding workshop, Literature and Landscape of the Horse, at the Vee Bar Ranch 21 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming, in 2009, 2010, 2011, and came home every year with a trunk and back seat full of rocks and cactus that owners Brent and Kari Kilmer graciously shared with me. I even made a new cactus bed just for all things Wyoming, and it has rewarded me every year with the first outside blooms of the season. Which I find interesting, since I am quite sure the cactus I left in Wyoming are still covered with snow this time of year, and then here these are in Texas blooming before the native cactus have even awakened after winter, let alone making any buds or flowers yet.
And most of the mountain balls are loaded with buds, like this one, so I know that a blanket of pink is on the way.
This is how the bed started out, in 2009, when I decided I needed a special place for all the treasures I brought back with me from the Vee Bar. I will have to qualify, however, that the stepping stones and some of the rocks that will border the bed did come from Coleman, Texas, as I wanted flat rocks for the path and all the rocks from Wyoming are round.
This is the bed in August of 2009, after I finished it. It looks pretty empty compared to now, after I had made two more trips to Wyoming and came home with more rocks and cactus.
The piece of wood and the horseshoes are all from Wyoming, too. And as you can see, there aren’t many cactus in the bed-yet.
These pictures were taken March 11, 2011.
I also brought home opuntia/prickly pear from Wyoming; it doesn’t bloom until later in the year, and never as prolifically as the little ball cactus do. This picture is from April 17, 2011
Also taken on April 17, 2011, you can see the draft horse-sized horse show I brought back with me, and this cool striped rock that I had located in 2010 but left there because we were horseback and didn’t have a very convenient way to carry it back to the ranch, even though Brent offered to. But I took very good mental notes as to its location, and the next year we went back, this time in the ATV mule and there it was, just waiting for me.
March 7, 2012, the cactus are feeling right at home in Texas and blooming their little heads off, and again are the first outdoor cold-hardy cactus to bloom.
March 18, 2012. Again, the bed is much fuller. This may look a bit busy to you, but in Wyoming, the rocks are even more plentiful and closer together than this, and I was aiming to recreate the Wyoming look. The wheelbarrow, by the way, is not from Wyoming, but belonged to my grandfather. I had never found a good place for it, and when I built this bed, it just seemed to fit. So that is one item that is not in keeping with the Wyoming motif, but it is filled with Wyoming rocks. The giant wind chime you see on the ground at the top of the picture and that is hanging over the wheelbarrow in an earlier picture is not from Wyoming, either, but it just seemed to fit hanging over the wheelbarrow, so I added it anyway.
This bloom is also from 2012, but judging from the buds forming on nearly all the pediocactus Simpsonii/ mountain balls I have much to look forward to all month and beyond this year as well. Between the p. Simpsonii v. robustuer and p. Simpsonii v. minor, I will see several shades of pink clustered throughout the bed. I can’t wait!