this isn't really about any new happenings... I wanted to write down some notes about the Flashlight Tour of the Botanical Gardens before I forgot them- so, when I finally get around to scrapping the pictures (! insert snide comment of your choice here, I haven't scrapped a picture in MONTHS), I'll have the info.
saguaro cactus get their first arm at around 50-75 years... the oldest ones in the garden are 250-300 years old, they think- there's no real way to age them, like the rings on a tree...
desert plants adapt to the hot conditions... the green palo verde tree has tiny leaves- when it gets hot, the leaves fall off the tree to conserve water, but the tree's green bark still allows photosynthesis to occur.
the ocotillo isn't really a cactus- the limbs have spines, but they also have tiny rounded leaves, which also fall off when it gets hot- so is it a succulent, then?? I'll need to check this out.
the Sonoran desert actually has 5 seasons, not 4- fall, winter, spring, dry summer, and a wet summer. the monsoon is the wet summer, which has different conditions from the dry summer.
native peoples used the mesquite beans for flour- the catkins ripen into bean pods, sort of like locust pods- the beans were ground into flour- we actually got to taste some- it was sort of sweet, with a bitter aftertaste
you can use mesquite beans for adding that flavor to your barbeque- soak the beans in water, wrap them in foil, poke some holes in it, and add it to the grill- same flavor, but save a tree!
spade-foot toads came across the prairie with the settlers (are they the same ones we had in Illinois?)... they were in the pond during our tour... they sounded like a woman screaming! apparently, a volunteer thought so once, too, and called 911.