Many years ago when I worked for the Connecticut Department of Mental Retardation (I’m sure that is now a term no longer used) one of the clients I worked with brought me some Prickly Pear Cactus which he said was from Martha’s Vineyard (an Island off the coast of Massachusetts) where it grows wild and that I should plant it in my garden and it will survive the winters.
“Sure,” I thought to myself, “What does he know?”
But I did as he said. Sure enough it survived and thrived and when it flowered the next June I was amazed.
The cacti flourished and replicated easily from cuttings and dropped pads. Since that time I have seen Prickly Pear growing along the shoreline in New Jersey and in other places in New England. (https://www.rosekennedygreenway.org/opuntia-the-only-native-new-england-cactus/)
For several years afterwards I would throw a “Cactus Blossom Party” every June (in Connecticut it was usually around Pride Weekend) and it became somewhat of a tradition that friends and family enjoyed. One of our neighbors made a specially decorated cake for the occasion one year.
Well I have in my garden, here at Cochiti Lake, a couple of descendants of those Martha’s Vineyard Prickly Pears which came here via Connecticut and South Carolina.
Similar to the native New Mexico variety, I do think their flowers are a bit more showy and deeper in color. In any case Happy Cactus Blossom Time!
There are also some Claret Cup (I think) in bloom and the roses in the front yard are quite nice. But we are in a major drought and so the desert wildflowers are not very showy this spring. The garden gets water and is doing well.