Yikes! Spikes – Agave and Sotol

This spring/summer has been an unusual one for our desert garden especially our front landscape. We have a good number of agaves in our front yard. Agaves are sharp-leaved plants that need little water so they do very well in arid places and the Sonoran desert is no exception.

Once in their lifetime agaves send out a flower stalk which we refer to as a spike. The spike flowers and then produces bulbils (plantlets) or seeds. Once the process is complete, the mother plant dies. Before the plant dies, however, it generally produces other plants which are called pups.

We moved into our home and several agaves were already in place and then we added additional species. Each agave species or type flowers according to their own timetable and if you were planting a bunch of agaves from the same species, you would want to purchase them at different stages of growth so they don’t all spike at once and end up dying at the same time.

Here is what our landscape looks like now…

Agaves with spikes

Can you see all the spikes? Just in case you can’t see them all, here they are numbered…

Agaves with spikes numbered

Yes we have seven spikes all at the same time. As I indicated above, these are not all the same type of agave and it just worked out that they spiked together.

We have one additional twist to the story. Among the agaves is a sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri) , or desert spoon (#4). They also send out a spike. One of the main differences is that the sotols don’t die after producing their spike. They continue with their life cycle. You can see that it looks quite different from the others. While we have at least three sotols, only one has sent out a spike this season.

Here is a close up of the one section and the sotol is a bit more noticeable (right of center).

sotol among the agaves

We found this random occurrence unusual and it makes our landscape look a bit otherworldly with all those spikes in the air. What are your thoughts?

Read More:


Arizona Municipal Water Users Association/a> – Click on a variety to see more detail

Here is a picture of a variegated agave ( Agave weberi ‘Arizona Star’) which adds an additional interest to the landscape

Sotol (desert spoon)

Arizona State University

Water When Dry

STATUS QUOtes — 20150630

“The start is what stops most people.” — Don Shula

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” — Rumi

“Some are destined to succeed, some are determined to succeed.” — H. H. Swami Tejomayananda

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” — Maya Angelou


JBRish.com originally published this post

Cell Phone Photos and Lightroom

I wanted to follow up on a previous post about using Lightroom (LR) with JPG (JPEG) photos.

A friend was somewhat interested in learning about LR and she was wondering what effect LR would have on cell phone photographs. Quite frankly, that was a pretty good question since I had never used LR with photos taken on a cell phone.

Contemporary cell phones can produce images that are quite good and they do have some large files, but do they allow the kind of manipulation that our previous JPGs enabled?

My friend had a recent photo of her standard poodle that she wanted to improve. The original file is below. It is only 189 KB; not much data with which to work.

Poodle Picture before editing in Lightroom

The other requirement was to spend no more than five minutes working on the file. If you read my previous post (Lightroom for JPEG (JPG) Images), you understand that I am not a LR expert and perhaps just a bit more than a novice, but I thought I would give it a try.

I am not saying the result was excellent, but I was able to recover some detail and darken the background to allow the dog to become the focal point. I could have used a vignette, but I did not think it would render as well.

Poodle Picture after editing in Lightroom

While it may not be superb, I do think even a reduced size cell phone picture shows the benefits of being corrected in Lightroom. What do you think? Leave a comment below!

JBRish.com originally published this post

STATUS QUOtes — 20150629

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” — Meister Eckhart

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.” — Kenneth H. Blanchard

“What is possible is not defined by what is probable.” — Mark Sanborn

“Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours.” — Doug Larson

JBRish.com originally published this post

PL8ATUDES – June 28, 2015


We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!



Time To Be Happy


I Know Fun


.JBRish.com originally published this post

STATUS QUOtes — 20150628

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” — Albert Einstein

“It isn’t enough to love, we must prove it.” — St. Therese of Lisieux

“What cannot be said is sometimes wept.” — Unknown

“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.” — Muhammad Ali

STATUS QUOtes — 20150627

“You don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to.” — Jeanne Rausch

“Trust because you are willing to accept the risk, not because it’s safe or certain.” — Anonymous

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” — Ashley Montagu

“The best way to find something you have lost is to buy a replacement.” — Ann Landers

Desert Bloom – Tecoma ‘Orange Jubilee’

Tecoma - Orange Jubilee

Another interesting and worthwhile plant to have in the desert garden is Orange Jubilee (also called Orange Esperanza or Orange bells) or any of its variants.

How it grows in my garden:

The plant is trimmed to between three and four feet tall (+/-) because it grows in a large container. If grown in the ground, it will be much larger. It extends to about six feet wide. The showy orange flowers bloom in clusters at the end of the branches as you can see in the photographs. When I notice seed pods, I remove them to extend the long blooming period even more.

Tecoma - Orange Jubilee Closeup

Hardiness range (depending on where it is grown): 0 to 40 F. The key with desert plants is to wait until all danger of frost has ended before pruning any damaged branches as the new growing season begins.

How it grows in my garden:

Exposure: Almost full sun (8-10 hours per day during the hot desert summer). Our shrub has afternoon shade coming from the west courtesy of a nearby Foothills Palo Verde.

In General: The plant is trimmed in stages at the beginning of the growing season. I remove very long and spindly branches and watch for the new growth. Once it starts to get bushy again, I trim more to maintain an even shape. Another tenet of xeriscape gardening is to keep trimming to no more than one third of the total growth. I try to keep it a bit less than that as these plants will be under stress during the upcoming hot weather.

Watering: During the winter the plant gets watered once or twice a week. When the spring active growing season begins, it is watered every few days until the end of April, then every other day or so until the end of May and then every day until the end of September. Watering tapers off from there.(Remember, this watering schedule reflects our desert environment.)

Fertilizer: I use a standard desert tree and shrub fertilizer (16-8-8) along with a tablespoon of a “super bloom” – type to add extra elements.

The plant receives fertilizer on or about:

Valentine’s Day
Memorial Day
Labor Day

Tecoma - Orange Jubilee

If you like these orange clusters and a nice green, bushy plant give Orange Jubilee a try!

Read More:

My Texas Flower Garden

Via East Valley Tribune – (The pictures don’t do it justice)

STATUS QUOtes — 20150626

“The more one judges, the less one loves.” — Honore de Balzac

“It is not important to have said a thing first, or best – or even most interestingly. What is important is to say it on the right occasion.” — Idries Shah

“The mirror we hold up to the person next to us is one of the most important pictures they will ever see.” — Via Bestpaths

“Madness takes its toll; please have exact change.” — Unknown