Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Tale of the Narrow Leaf Agave

It was a dark and stormy night......ahem....let me start it again.  It was a bright and sunny March morning when I took the above photo at the Desert Botanical Garden.  This narrow leaf agave plant has been growing in the middle of the a wildflower bed for many years and it probably appears in several photos I've taken over the years as the wildflowers start their spring blooming.

On April 5th I went to the garden and saw this huge stalk that had grown up in the middle of the agave plant.  I had never seen this plant bloom before so I was excited to see such a thick and heavy stalk.  It was certainly not the kind of bloom I would have expected.  I would have guessed a much thinner bloom stalk for this type of agave.

When I went to the garden this last Sunday morning, I notice that the stalk had started to bloom with the tiny yellow rosettes that open up all over the stalk turning it into what looks like a tall carpeted pole in the center of the plant.

Upon closer inspection I saw that the bees were absolutely feasting on the bloom.  It's quite a sight to see one of these plants throw up such a large spike, then watch it unfurl a layer of thick blooms.  It was even more exciting to see the thousands of bees drawn to what must be some very delicious nectar.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bird sightings

I mentioned yesterday that I saw two birds at the garden on Sunday that I've never seen there before.  The first was this one with the little feathers standing up on it's head sort of like a cardinal.  I had to ask someone what it was.  It's called a Phainopepla.  (I thought to myself, a what?  I had to go home and look it up to get it right.)

The next one I saw was this very bright orangish-yellow bird with the black hood and white streaked wings.  Turns out it's a Bullock's Oriole black-headed grosbeak.  It was way up high in an ironwood tree munching on the blooms. 

Of course, there were a few stunning cactus blooms to enjoy while I was there too.  Like this gorgeous hot pink beauty.  
Update:  Kathy recognized that second bird as a black-headed grosbeak.  Thanks Kathy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Welcome Rain

I arrived home from my short road trip late Saturday evening just in time to experience a cooling weather system that brought high winds and early on Sunday morning an exhilarating rain.  It rained pretty hard and steady for around 20 to 30 minutes.  That's a good rain fall for this desert region.  I wasn't going to go to the garden on Sunday but, the rain inspired me so out I went and I'm glad I did.  The blooms were dripping with rain water and the birds were hyper-active all over the garden.  (That's a Desert Willow bloom above.) I even got to see two birds I've never seen before.  (I'll show you those on another day.)

Most of you know by now that my road trip took me to Santa Fe New Mexico where I spent a wonderful day exploring the city and getting to know Randy (Santa Fe Daily Photo) and Ciel (Versailles Daily Photo).

We visited fantastic museums and walked the beautiful streets snapping photos wherever we went.  I got to see lots of the beautiful Santa Fe architecture like that above.  The city of Santa Fe has done and excellent job of staying true to it's identity.

My adventures started Wednesday evening when I spent the first night at a historic hotel in Winslow Arizona, then on to Santa Fe and from there south to the town of Truth or Consequences where the new Spaceport America is being built.  That is the new commercial space travel facility.  It is nearing completion so I took the opportunity to tour the site.  Look  for more about about all these experiences on my travel blog Sharon's Sojourns in the future.  For now, the little Santa Fe teaser photo above will have to do!

Monday, April 27, 2015


I'm not quite sure how I completely forgot about these photos I took back in February but, needless to say I did forget them.  This was from the Shemer Art Gallery's annual micro-dwelling display.  Visitors get to tour these tiny living and working spaces and try to contemplate how they could live in such a small space.

I thought this one was interesting with it's colorful plastic cubes.  They were translucent so you could see lots of colorful light inside when the sun hit them.

This one was divided into two sections, kitchen facility on one side and sleeping facility on the other with an open air living space in between.  It's always interesting to look at these tiny homes. Down-sizing is good but, these are very, very small.  I think they might be a little too small for me.  Where would I put my 6 remaining sets of china?  (I got rid of four sets when I moved.  Yes I know, crazy!)

Sunday, April 26, 2015


A very tall and proud looking saguaro cactus and.....

....a painting of a saguaro cactus that I found at the Four Seasons Resort.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  A short story about children at a museum awaits you.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The beauty of the Iris

These photos are from my short walk at the Japanese Friendship Garden two weeks ago.  I do love the complex look of iris blooms.  My friend David used to have a whole variety of iris growing at his cabin up north when he owned that cabin.  I sometimes wonder if they are still blooming every spring.

The Japanese Friendship Garden has a small patch of iris that bloom every spring.  In this photo you can see the patch and several of the blooms popping up from the leaves.

There was only one of these pink ones blooming so I'm glad I caught it when I did.  It's funning the things that pop into my head when I look at these blooms.  The one on top makes me think of a floppy-eared dog.  The pink makes me think of a bubble bath for some reason.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cheerful Yellow

Cruising around the many historic neighborhoods in central Phoenix, I came across this lovely yellow beauty.  I love the fancy topping for the chimney.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Turning flowers into art

Last week I posted two collages of the flowers I've found at the Desert Botanical Garden and I told you that I had done some editing with some of the photos to see what I might be able to create.  I thought I'd show you some of the results.  I call the photo above "Zinnia Kaleidoscope".

I'm naming this one "Bachelor's Button Sketch".

And, this one I'm going to call "Atomic Amaryllis".

Being creative with the photos is one of my favorite things to do!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Road Trip

I'm off on a road trip today and won't be back until Sunday evening.  However, I will have posts up while I'm gone so please stop by.  I'm only taking my iPad with me so I might not be able to comment very much while I'm gone.  I'll take lots of pictures to share with you when I get back.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lexington on Central

Lexington on Central is a luxury apartment complex located directly across the street from the affordable complex I pictured yesterday.  Years ago when I first moved to Phoenix from the city of Mesa, I looked at these apartments.  That was long before the light rail was put in.  I loved the look of the place and the apartments were nice but, at that time I felt like I needed a little more space.  My how that need has changed.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Divine Legacy

Divine Legacy is an affordable housing apartment complex right on Central Ave with a light rail station right across the street.  I love it when I see affordable housing go up in prime areas.  A good mix of income levels is great for a neighborhood and the Central Ave. location is close to shopping, restaurants, art museums and cultural attractions.

Here's another photo from a side street.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Summer Art Challenge Club

My art club, the Summer Art Challenge had our first meeting for the 2015 summer season last Sunday so I thought I'd show you my entry for the April challenge of "Show Me Where You Live".
I thought about how to present that theme and since I live in the desert and I love photographing the desert so much, I decided I should do something with a desert theme.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum and his paintings inspired me to do something similar but with a desert theme.  So here you have it, my two entries for the April theme.  A colorful way to see the desert!

You can see all of the works presented by the club members on our website here.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  See the museum that housed those diamonds I posted last week.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Union Station

I posted a photo of this station before but, it's been several years ago.  I took this photo recently and I'm sad to say it looks exactly the same.  The station was built in 1923 by the Santa Fe and Arizona Eastern (now Southern Pacific) Railways.  It's Mission Revival style and is designated a national historic place.

Amtrak no longer runs through Phoenix so the station has not been used since 1996 with the exception of a few special occasions like when the Olympic Torch passed through Phoenix.

There has been talk about putting in a high speed rail line between Phoenix and Tucson but nothing has been settled yet and even if that does happen I doubt this station would be used.  I sure wish someone would do something unique with this wonderful old building.  I love to see it busy with people once again.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Looking Up

Looking skyward at a downtown Phoenix high-rise building.  I like that small curved section on the side.  That must be where all the "corner offices" are located.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Blooming Season

There are so many plants blooming at the Desert Botanical Garden right now that the place has become a photographers paradise.  All of the photos in these two collages were taken last Sunday on my morning walk.  When I got home I had 195 photos to download.  I had no idea I had taken that many.

I do have to take full advantage of this blooming season while it lasts.  Summer is on it's way and not many of these plants will be blooming when the temperatures soar above the 100 mark.  Besides making these collages, I have been doing some photo editing and have some really interesting effects using these shots.  I do enjoy seeing what I can create from nature's beauty.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Play Ball

I should have posted this photo a couple of weeks ago at the start of the baseball season but, I totally forgot it.  This is the sign in front of Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play.  I took this photo on a day when no games were scheduled so that's why there is no one about.  On game day, this plaza will be full of people.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Garden Sculptures

There are two permanent sculptures at the Desert Botanical Garden that I don't think I've ever shown you.  The one above is called "The Earth Has Been Good to Us" by Mashford Kanyemba.  It's sculpted in Shona Opal stone.  It sits in spot surrounded by golden barrel cactus.

This one is called "Lonely Flight" by Lawrence Mukomberanwa.  This sculpture was donated to the garden by Zuva Gallery and the artist.  I think they both blend well into their desert surroundings.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Attraction of Red

My early Sunday morning walk at the garden yielded a new plant that I hadn't noticed before.  It's either a tree or a shrub with these amazing brilliant red blooms on it.  If you look closely, you'll see a hummingbird in there among the bright blooms.

In fact, there was quite a lot of hummingbird activity around this red beauty.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Proud Momma

While I was on the other side of town on Friday, I stopped at the Japanese Friendship Garden for a quick walk around the grounds.  That's where I spotted this proud momma out swimming with her ducklings at her side.  At one point one of the little ones fell way behind and it was so cute watching it paddle with all its might to catch up with momma and his siblings.

Proud Poppa was keeping his eye on all the activity.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I have something very sparkly for your viewing pleasure.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ghost Signs

Yesterday I had a lot of errands to run and two of them were back in my old neighborhood.  I pulled into this shopping center at Central and Camelback for my first stop and was surprised to see that the whole center was undergoing a huge facelift.  It was especially fun to see the ghost signs that are visible once the old frontage has been ripped away.  This spot used to be a breakfast restaurant just a few short months ago but, at one time in the past it was Bills Records in the middle and what looks like a beauty salon on one side and a camera (with a "K") store on the other.

Here it looks like that at one time a dress shop was located where Jersey Mike's is now selling sandwiches.  It was fun to see this little peek into the past.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Bikini Cocktails

On the grittier side of downtown Phoenix you can find the The Bikini Cocktails billed as the valley's original Tiki bar.  They've been pouring tiki-themed drinks since 1947.  I understand they still draw a big crowd especially on First Friday Art Walk nights.  I guess I should check this one out sometime too.  I haven't had a tiki-themed drink since Trader Vic's closed it's doors here in Phoenix.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Nash

The Nash was opened in 2012 by Louis Nash and the Allstars featuring Wynton Marsalis.  Its mission is to provide unique educational programs to students and musicians while providing a venue for jazz performances and informal jam sessions.  The center is named for Louis Nash an acclaimed drummer who was born and raised in Phoenix.

I haven't attended a performance here yet.  I need to check it out one of these days.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Westward Ho

Here is a downtown building that I don't think I've featured on this site before.  It's the old Westward Ho Hotel building on Central Avenue.  This 16-story building was opened as a hotel in 1928 and continued to operate until 1980.  From 1928 to 1960 it was considered the tallest building in Arizona before the much taller buildings in our downtown started to appear.

In 1949, the 240 foot tower was installed on top of the hotel to accommodate the first TV station in Phoenix.  The transmitting towers for that station along with all the other stations that have since developed all moved to the top of South Mountain in 1960.

The building was put on the National Register of Historic places in 1982 and now serves as subsidized housing for the elderly and that tower on top is now a cell phone tower.

In this photo you can see the Westward Ho building reflected in the side of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism building which is part of the Arizona State University's downtown campus.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pink Beauty

Yesterday I posted about my search for blooms on the night blooming cactus at the Desert Botanical Garden and featured a gorgeous white bloom.  Today I'm showing the other bloom I saw.  This one comes in a beautiful pink hue with a deep red center.

It's beautiful from all angles!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cactus Bloom

I took a long walk at the Desert Botanical Garden early Easter morning hoping to catch a few blooms on the night blooming cactus.  I wasn't alone on my hunt.  I went at 7:00 AM when the garden is open to members only but at 7:00 AM there was already aline of members waiting to get in.  And, all of them were carrying a variety of camera gear.   I only found two blooms on the variety of cactus that bloom at night but, they were spectacular.

Here is another photographer checking her cell phone light meter app before swinging out the big camera for a few shots of this beauty.

Here is the same bloom from another angle and with a couple of bees enjoying its bounty.

About a half hour later I returned to the white bloom again and I could easily see that it was beginning to close up.  By noon, it will be closed and shriveled.  You only get one opportunity to catch these beauties.