As I was looking back through some pictures today, I was struck with the beauty of some of the desert photos from our stopover at my parents' house in Tucson during our Christmas trip.
My mom has her front porch converted to a sort of greenhouse area. I don't know exactly what this one is, but it is one of many beautiful and interesting plants - a lot of them euphorbia or echeveria.
She keeps zebra finches in a large cage at one end of the porch. She was doing some daily cleaning in the cage and Zack was "helping"... and before we knew it the finches were out of their cage. They were skittish, darting from one end of the porch to the other as we tried to come near them, but most often lit on the pencilstick euphorbia (at least that's what we call it, I can't seem to find the info under that name online). It's a large plant, scraping the porch roof. The birds congregated on it whenever they got enough space from us people. It made the porch feel like a little aviary, but it was a little nerve-wracking whenever anyone entered or exited. At nightfall they went back to their roosts, I think relieved for their little adventure to be over.
The yards in Tucson don't look like most people are used to. There is little to no grass in individual lawns, especially in the front yard, though you see at little at businesses. The front yards have "desert landscaping" or, as it is more recently called, xeriscaping. You see part of the front in this (adorable, I couldn't resist!) picture of my mom and Sammy. Grass will grow there, as evidenced by the georgeous golf courses, but it takes a level of water that most individuals can't justify in a desert climate.
Some people have a small lawn in the backyard, but my parents' is pavers surrounded by flower bed. The amount of plant life my mom can squeeze into those beds is amazing. There are two grapefruit trees, other trees, and many plants. Although it isn't pictured, I've always love the iceplant that overflows some of the edging on the beds. The hummingbirds come to her feeder, as you see here.
And finally, one of the most magnificent features of the desert landscape are the mountains. Tucson in ringed in mountains so that pine trees and cooler air are always a short or medium car ride away. At sunset, they light up pinks and purples in the fading light, as you can see from the view from the road in front of my parents house. Wow!