Backyard Barrel Cactus

July 26, 2010

We’ve lived in this house for ten years this month.  To celebrate the anniversary, I’ve been taking photos of the yard to compare with pictures that we took when we moved in.  The mostly-barren gravelscape has become a beautiful desert garden.  We have planted most things, such as desert oaks, agaves, soapberry, pomegranates, citrus trees, etc.  But several plants (soaptree yuccas, mesquite and palo verde trees, ephedra, desert hackberry, and many wildflowers) have moved in on their own…along with lizards, hummingbirds, quail, native bees, and other creatures.  We have several Arizona barrel cacti (Ferocactus wislizenii), also called the compass barrel because they eventually turn to face south as they grow.  The desert near our house is a natural “barrel garden” where these cacti are abundant, with an unusually high percentage of crested and multiheaded specimens.  Below is our largest barrel, growing wild in our backyard, with comparative photos from 2000 and 2010 to show how it’s grown.  We also have five salvaged barrels that are about a foot tall, and eight tiny babies, 1 to 3 inches in diameter, that have appeared in the yard in the last couple of years.  When you quit spraying weedkiller, LIFE happens!

Arizona Barrel Cactus - 2000 and 2010

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