The DANGEROUS Christmas Cactus!
|Echinocereus coccineus at Denver Botanic Gardens dryland mesa|
You can find these awesome cushions from the Intermountain region--throughout Canyonlands for instance--across much of the higher Chihuahuan desert and steppe highlands to the southern foothills of the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado. Stumbling (figuratively of course) on one of these in full bloom is always a magical moment--like watching a volcano of molten crimson magma near at hand (and almost as dangerous!)...Their numbers have diminished--and collection is undoubtedly a problem: don't do it--buy little ones: they will grow much faster in gardens than in the wild--and it's fun to watch them do it!
|Echinocereus coccineus blooming late May this year on a corner in Littleton, Colorado|
|Echinocereus coccineus on the dry flats near Moab|
|Methusalah of the Canyonlands near Moab|
|Enormous Echinocereus coccineus a the Grand Junction cactus garden (at the old Fairgrounds on Orchard Mesa)|
There is a long and amusing story about how this enormous claret cup was moved to this Xeriscape garden. This is not the time to share it--but I would like to acknowledge how majestic these are even OUT of bloom! Not many plants evince an air so venerable and imposing...
|A reprise of the clumps at DBG's Dryland Mesa|
Tonight a cold front is blowing into Denver--the temperatures approached 70F yesterday, and tomorrow night may go well below zero--a rather shocking differential...can you blame me for dreaming about these festive flowers from the flip side of the seasons?
Why do I love to live in the West? Look above and you'll see a half dozen excellent reasons!