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„Aspirin is very good“, Patrick says, „but take care you buy uncoated tablets only“, and he’s not talking about his head but about the roses of the ELP Municipal Rose Garden on 710 Aurora Drive. We stand in the blazing heat and are talking roses.

A rose garden always seems to be a formal matter and the El Paso rose garden makes no exception. Its surrounding walls are whitewashed, the paths and plots follow prescibed horticultural plans, and yet, the neighborhood seems rather unimpressed. A police car is the only vehicle on the gravel parking lot of the garden. Teenagers in yellow shirts jump up and down under the terracotta colored roof of a nearby school. In front and behind the walls, rows of Hespealoes (Red Yucca) show off their last blossoms on gracious stalks, with black seeds spilling out of elegantly shaped pods.

Patrick is about 70, wears checkered trousers and a  Catweasel-like beard. How come we started talking about the roses? He was working at a stretch of red shrub varieties.  We admired him and the roses, unfilled simple red blossoms on age-grey sun-battered strong stems: desert hardy roses. And as it turned out, desert hardy roses were a favorite theme of Patrick who starts at 7 in the morning and has been working for the past 11 years in this garden.

He leads us to a shed where the gardeners stash garlic and onions to fight off the white fly, baking power against soil pests and aspirin against black spot desease and yellow leaves.
“If your roses becomes weak and sick, a good spell of aspirin helps them recover their health again”, says Patrick.

 

Aspirin is good for roses

Texan desert rose information files…

Desert roses are bred on rose wood that is not the European Rosa Canina but the (still!) hardier and heat resistant desert rose Rosa Stellata. They are bred to withstand the enormous temperatures encountered in the regions of Texas, New Mexico and and and.
The bushes, floribundas and tea hybrids bear mostly simple open blossoms, many of them with a strong, quite varied scent. Some are like apple, others almost cinnamon, others like old scented wood.

A multicolored specimen…

 

Purple Passion

Shoot from withered stem

Knockout

Patrick takes us back to his pruning work, a basket full of grey wood and wilted flowers stands next to him. Of course, he has the shears ready anytime, stashed in a leather sheath fixed to his belt. Next to the basket leans a very reliable looking pair of lobbers.

One of our questions seemingly puzzles him. “How about lavender?”, I had asked, to fight off the pests and give the roses company. “This has never been taken into consideration or planning… though, from now on I’ll think on it”, he says.

The sun has called its tribute already. The roses, hardly opened up, fold their leaves exhaustedly together, the rims of their petals at times even dried up before the whole flower has opened. Against one of the fences leans a tattered New Dawn, evidently unfit for this desert climate and close to fainting. Maybe this is a reason for the floribunda’s preference and also for the selection and breeding of smaller flowers. The resident tea hybrids of course still have prominent blossoms, but these are not always as much scented as one would suspect. Some have almost Dahlia-like spirally arranged petals, some variegated in while and red, or yellow and red.

The Municipal rose garden has quite a bit of staff to care for its roses, next to Patrick there is another elderly gardener (sturdier but with no beard and rather in his 60is) and a young woman who sets herself to work just as we are leaving the garden. In our bags we carry a small catalogue on desert roses and the inevitable leaflet on how to fight common pests and pruning.
One last theme: Almost all roses in the Municipal Rose Garden are American bred, the greatest part of them during the 50s and 60s. Their names convey quite accurately the diptych of culture and patriotism while a third section refers to their brilliance of colours: “Judy Garland”, “Betty Boop”, “Freedom”, “Roosevelt”, “Veteran’s Honor”, “Fourth of July”, “Proud Land”, “Prairie Lass”, “Purple Passion” and of course, “Knockout”…

 
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Datscha Radio travels to Taiwan! It’s now official: As one of the selected artists for the Treasure Hill Artist Residency 2019 in Taipei I am invited to perform research and radio art on site.
On my schedule are interviews and field recordings as well as a live radio stream at set times. And of course, the blog will be extended to include contributions about the Taiwanese plant (and garden) world. I’m pleased :)

Place: Treasure Hill Artist Village, Taipei
Time: 11th January – 11th March 2019

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The only two times I photographed a desert prickly poppy (Argemone polyanthemos) was in 2003 and in 2018, and both happened on the occasion of a visit to the Chinati Foundation.

In a garden next to the studios (it was absolutely forbidden to take pics of the interiors and the library) a row of sunflowers lined a Judd-fashioned adobe wall. As the whole place is imprinted with this man’s concept of perfect proportion, it appeared to me that not even  the sunflowers could withstand his sense of zen-like order. Their silhouettes stood out in immaculate wilting… and reminded me somehow of a procession of Don Quixotes.

The open fields that frame the buildings and outdoor concrete sculptures stretch over an 340 acre areal bought by Judd  during his first visits to Marfa in the 70s. Inside and outside melt into each other on viewing his aluminum sculptures through the giant glass panes.

 
The ground is gravel and red earth, interspersed with pebbles and small rocks… and desert flowers.

Different kinds of prairie grasses grew there, e. g. so-called weeds like the Silverleaf Nightshade, that has much bigger blossoms than the European kind (Solanum nigrum). Its flowers appear in different hues of blue, from lilac and mauve to an almost clear blue).

The Prickly Poppy stays one of my favorites…

 

Also to be found are some handsome thistles, silvery dead aloe(heads), lots of  bronze-coloured dried up, unknown (to me) annuals, and in the background exhausted looking shrubs and desert willows meddling with the low hanging clouds.

 

And here are still some other (not yet specified) flowers that grew among the sculptures.

 

 

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The Sotol plant (Dasylirion liophyllum) abounds on the Northern slopes of the Big Bend National Park. Its slender flower stems reach into the air, gently waving in the occasional breezes coming down from the mountains.
The sotol belongs to the family of the agavea yet its outer appearance resembles more a yucca. The Indians used to roast the heart of the plant in fire pits dug into the earth, coals beneath and silt on top to cover them.

Yet, as we approach the Big Bend’s “Sotol View“ it becomes apparent that quite recently a bush fire has raged in the region. The ground is almost bare, splashed with grey patches of ashes and in between, the stumps of the sotel plants sit like churned pineapples, surrounded by the black sticks and twigs what was formerly mesquite and coal back stubbles of gras.

A closer look reveals that most of the Sotel plants are not dead at all! Slowly (but not really slow, as desert plants are fast-reacting beings), one days after another, new green pushes the scorched leaves forward. I’d say that the fire happened maybe 2-3 weeks ago, no more. Already new seedlings have appeared in little clusters, some of the stubbles show new leaves of grass. The opuntias however, look desolate. Their „ears“ have turned to a sickly, almost transparent yellow, and where the whole plant has been seized, there is nothing left to rescue.

Some plants are only burnt half, clearly the fire had been extinguished fairly quickly. The Big Bend’s fire brigade goes by the name of „Los Diablos“, a Mexican troop notoriously known by its efficiency, courage and speed. As they say, they „fight the fire like the devil“, hence the name. Still, there is a bitter taste to the story of this brigade. Being Mexicans and having their home mostly close to the border, the men are – despite the fact that the group is even recruited for emergencies all over the South West far into Presidio county – not even allowed a permanent working permit.

 

 

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The Sotol plant (Dasylirion liophyllum) abounds on the Northern slopes of the Big Bend National Park. Its slender flower stems reach into the air, gently waving in the occasional breezes coming down from the mountains.
The sotol belongs to the family of the agavea yet its outer appearance resembles more a yucca. The Indians used to roast the heart of the plant in fire pits dug into the earth, coals beneath and silt on top to cover them.

Yet, as we approach the Big Bend’s “Sotol View“ it becomes apparent that quite recently a bush fire has raged in the region. The ground is almost bare, splashed with grey patches of ashes and in between, the stumps of the sotel plants sit like churned pineapples, surrounded by the black sticks and twigs what was formerly mesquite and coal back stubbles of gras.

A closer look reveals that most of the Sotel plants are not dead at all! Slowly (but not really slow, as desert plants are fast-reacting beings), one days after another, new green pushes the scorched leaves forward. I’d say that the fire happened maybe 2-3 weeks ago, no more. Already new seedlings have appeared in little clusters, some of the stubbles show new leaves of grass. The opuntias however, look desolate. Their „ears“ have turned to a sickly, almost transparent yellow, and where the whole plant has been seized, there is nothing left to rescue.

Some plants are only burnt half, clearly the fire had been extinguished fairly quickly. The Big Bend’s fire brigade goes by the name of „Los Diablos“, a Mexican troop notoriously known by its efficiency, courage and speed. As they say, they „fight the fire like the devil“, hence the name. Still, there is a bitter taste to the story of this brigade. Being Mexicans and having their home mostly close to the border, the men are – despite the fact that the group is even recruited for emergencies all over the South West far into Presidio county – not even allowed a permanent working permit.

 

 

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From the Red Roses of Texas to freely growing “Night Shades” in avocado shaped BBQ roasts found on the corners of derelict houses: Stay prepared for selected postings (and excuse the delays: it’s either too much sun or no W-Lan or too much sun again.

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Photo: JRM

We have just sent them to Paris: digital parcels of earth tones, bird calls, water trumpets and music for snails: on September 2, Datscha Radio will be part of the program of the JRM – the Jardin de Recherches Musicales, an annual micro-FM festival in Paris, organized by Dinah Bird and Jean-Philippe Renoult. An afternoon of sun, sound experiments, field recordings and performances on the disused small train line that runs through all of Paris …

And in Berlin?

Our archives are still broadcast … for another 11 days. Time for a stroll down to Schlegelstraße 6 and a good opportunity hang out and listen. Our loop lasts 9 hours and 36 minutes, which is the average number of night hours between the opening date of the show to the end of  RAUMOHNERAUM #3 .

The gallery is open:
Do – So, 2 – 7 pm

Still available:
Last jars of our Mole Jam
and copies of the 2017 Datscha Radio catalogue!

 

 

 

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Absolutely amazing and incredibly fast: in just 6 days, the hornets, having conquered the pine tree’s birdhouse straight after the sweet cherry season, have built a fantastic annex: Welcome to the hornet’s Datscha!

I wonder how this will go on … with the fair weather season extending into at least two more months. Hornets are a nocturnal species, yet in the mornings and in the early afternoon, the sounds of their nesting activities are loudest: a permanent rasping accompanied by the buzz of wings.  Nice idea, to install a microphone at a close range – well, it won’t be me who’s doing that!

Which type of hornet may this be?

View with the former bird house

 

Close-up of the lower section

 

Datscha Hornet Front View

Adorned entrance

 

 

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