hedgehogs and dishpans

Hello everyone; yes, indeed, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to tell you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such riveting posts as “After The Solstice” and “A Day Without Antlers”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I’m watching the guy I live with fill pots with soil-less mix. He’s sowing more cactus seed. I know that comes as a shock. 2014013003It was really windy last night. I mean really really windy. And it didn’t freeze. We woke up kind of late, which wasn’t my fault, and it looked like it was going to be a nice day, which it was for a while, but now it’s snowing. The guy I live with says it’s always snowing here, but, you know, he tends to exaggerate.

He tried to take a picture of the hawk which he claimed was as big as I am, but this is the only picture he got. He says the hawk flies away when it hears the camera being turned on. I somehow doubt that.2014013001

I’ll show a few garden pictures now, since he took some. I think just to show that the garden isn’t always completely covered in snow at this time of year. “Yes, well, it will be tomorrow” is what he says. This is looking over the rock garden, to the sand pile, and the new fence, which really is as slanty as it looks. He put it up, so, say no more. He says we won’t be able to see it after a while. 2014013004

The burlap covers are for plants of Yucca rostrata, whose leaves, he says, were cooked by the reflection of the sun off the snow, last time, or time before last. They’re only yellow in the middle, so that’s what he says happened.

The other burlap thing, the scary thing, is a Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’, which seems fairly fine to me, but the guy I live with felt it necessary to make this creepy burlap thing, maybe to ward off snow or something. It isn’t working, and it’s creepy. I’m afraid it’s going to stand up straight and then come after me. If it went after the guy I live with, that would serve him right. 2014013005

A view of “Mount Zot” and the troughs and stuff. Don’t ask me why it’s called Mount Zot. It just is. 2014013006The lawn. It used to be called “The Great Lawn”, when it was a green lawn, but now it isn’t; it’s just called “the lawn”. The guy I live with says he’s going to pile a whole bunch of pea gravel and sand right in the middle of it. I can hardly wait.

2014013008The “way back”. It’s lower than the rest of the garden….no, I’m not going to call it “the estate” like he does, because that sounds silly….and so water from both paths flows down here. As you can see. That’s me, there, dressed in black and white. I don’t have gardening clothes.


Another view of the same place. The fence my mommy built is leaning, and the guy I live with is working on fixing it. No, really, he is.


The reason I’m not in this picture is that I walked up to the guy I live with, because I like him a lot, and so he took a picture of my nose. Neither of us can remember how I got that scar, though the guy I live with does remember my mommy being unhappy about it. I’m still practically perfect, though.

2014013010Oh. Here I am going on about things, and haven’t explained the title of today’s post. I wasn’t being mysterious, I just got carried away. Like you do, sometimes.

This is what went on today.

2014013007Like I said earlier, he filled a bunch of pots, so he could sow some cactus seed. In case you were wondering if he cleans the pots or anything, this is what they look like, and how they looked when he filled the pots.


In other words, no. The filled pots did have hot water poured over them. These are going inside, under lights, after the seed is sown. “And anyway”, he said, “the pots are being filled with dirt, so why wash them?”

He has over thirty forms of echinocereus to sow. Some different species, but mostly Echinocereus reichenbachii. He said that the name is either derived from the Greek echinos, hedgehog, or the Latin echinus, sea urchin. I have a hedgehog, named Nedgehog, for one of my toys. I don’t have a sea urchin, though. The guy I live with says you can get sea urchin at a sushi place, but he’s never had it. He doesn’t go out for sushi any more.

Anyway, he says the Oxford English Dictionary says you can pronounce this e-chi-no, with a long I, and a K for the CH (“of course, since it’s Greek”), or eck-i-no, with a short I. Depending, I guess on which language you thought it came from. Or something. (This is rapidly getting less interesting to me.)

The funny thing is that according to the guy I live with, echinus is also the Latin for dishpan. He was quick to point out that he didn’t think they named the cactus because it looked like a dishpan. Whew, huh.

Is that it? I think so …wait, no, there’s one other pretty dumb thing. Talking about pronunciation and stuff, you know how the guy I live with goes on and on about the correct pronunciation of agastache…..well, he says to show these, so I guess I will. He found one online when he was looking for something else entirely.

The first one is from Britton and Brown, Flora of North America etc., published about 1924.


The second is from A California Flora, by Munz.


“Q.E.D.”, he said.

Now what? This hasn’t been all that interesting to me, and maybe it’s the same for everyone else, so why not finish this post with a picture of me? That always seems to help lighten the mood.

This is me, when I was one and a half, sitting in the chair downstairs. Yes, I know, the “horns”, but just pretend they’re angel horns or something. I forget what I was looking at, since it was such a long time ago. Maybe my buddy Slipper was trying to sneak up on me. Anyway, this should do for now.



Until next time, then.

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8 Responses to hedgehogs and dishpans

  1. Tracey says:

    That poor hawk has probably been traumatized by being trailed by documentary film makers, and really does fly away when a camera is turned on. It must have a sixth sense by now.

    I blown away by the concept of cactus seeds. Is the guy you live with trying to turn the former great lawn into New Mexico, complete with cacti? Is he going to import a few buzzards while he is at it? Tell him you want a green chili cheeseburger as dinner.

    The best part of photos by TGILW’s photos is that they make the possibilities of the garden so infinite – the sand piles can be turned into almost anything that can be imagined.

    • paridevita says:

      Check this out: https://paridevita.com/?s=born+yesterday or this one https://paridevita.com/2013/03/23/marking-time/

      It takes, like, forever for cactus to get big enough to flower, since we don’t have a greenhouse. And, really, the guy I live with wants to turn the lawn into Colorado. Close enough to New Mexico. Most people around here want their yards to look like Pennsylvania. We don’t really care if they do; there’s no point in worrying about what other people are doing when it comes to things like this. Oh, green chile cheeseburger. We would spell it that way in these parts, by the way. Chile, in green chile, or chile as in the vegetable, but chili when it’s “a bowl of red”. Back in January 1999 the guy I live with and my mommy drove up the New Jersey Turnpike and decided to stop at a restaurant where she had what at the time the guy I live with called “eastern chili”. My mommy liked it so much that he made it all the time at home, for her. They called it “diner-style chili”. One time he even substituted textured soy protein for the beef and she liked that, too. He would also make green chile, aka chile verde, for her, for breakfast, which consisted of a tortilla, corn I think, and a fried egg smothered with green chile. She made his lunch for him every day but one when he went to work, so he made things for her, for her breakfast. I think I never got any green chile.

  2. Vivian Swift says:

    If you’ve ever heard a Brit pronounce “Nicaragua” you would know that they cannot be trusted when it comes to phonology.

    • paridevita says:

      According to the BBC videos, Americans have a chance to hear words pronounced correctly when they watch them……. And according to the guy I live with, for English speaking people, botanical names should be pronounced like they were words in English (instead of words in Klingon). It’s a pet peeve of his, maybe his only one. People are always correcting him, but he thinks they shouldn’t if they’re wrong. If they’re right, then that’s okay, but in this case, they aren’t. One time, someone came over and mentioned Iris acutiloba, but pronounced acutiloba like “acootiloba”. Why wouldn’t you say “acyootiloba”, as in acute? You say “iris” and not “ee-riss” , after all.

      This always upsets people, and he’s been accused of being a troublemaker. When push comes to shove, which it almost always does, he asks people who insist on pronouncing botanical names as though they were Latin words to pronounce “Pinus rzedowskii” or “Iris zaprjagajewii” just like Cicero would have.

      • Vivian Swift says:

        Funny you should mention “Cicero”. The consensus that both the “Cs” are pronounced soft, like an “S” is wrong. Research in 1999 uncovered ancient texts that somehow brought to light that the correct Roman pronunciation of “Cicero” is with 2 hard “Cs”. It’s correctly pronounced more like “Kikero”.

        But I do not go around calling him “Kikero” for the same reason I don’t go around saying “short lived” with a long “i”: I don’t want to get beat up.

        And there are two camps re; “in situ”. I knew an art historian who used a short “i” in “situ”, and I knew a medical student who was taught to call it with a long “i”. Since most Latin pronunciation is conjecture anyway — nobody has ever actually heard an ancient Roman talk the talk — I think it’s a matter of opinion (except in the case of “Cicero”).

        I choose to never use Latin when discussing plants (I am holding on to my amateur status, gardening-wise) so I wish that instead of calling them “Iris zaprjagajewii” that people would simply say “them purple flowers”.

      • paridevita says:

        You’re getting close, here. English speaking people pronounce his name Sisero. In Latin, the C is hard, K, as in Caesar (Kaiser, Tsar). He got his name from a funny thing on his nose. What I am suggesting here (actually, proclaiming as fact) is that botanical names are not Latin words and should not be pronounced as such. Zaprjagajewii could not possible be pronounced as a Latin word. For one thing, it isn’t Latin. There’s no W in Latin. There are no aphthongs, either, so words like “wrightii” can’t be Latin, and can’t be pronounced as such. So trying to pronounce it as Latin is just ridiculous. Nor would it help communicate with non-English speakers by saying “vreeg-tee-ee” for wrightii. Botanical “Latin” is a language designed to be read. When spoken, it should be pronounced as English.

        It’s not quite true that we don’t know how ancient Romans pronounced their language. A great deal can be gleaned by scansion of poetry, among other things.

        And, “in situ” is a phrase in English, as is ex situ.

  3. Vivian Swift says:

    That baby picture of dear Chess is hilarious. I never saw a dog with a cow-lick. I wouldn’t call then devil horns; I’d call them “Double Denis the Menace”. (I’m old.)

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