Crested cactus discovery

I am back in Texas visiting family and enjoying the local flora, mostly around Comal County. The native cacti in this area are generally Opuntia species and Echinocereus reichenbachii (my ID, so take it with a grain of salt). I am particularly fond of E. reichenbachii, seen below.
And a small village of E. reichenbachii.
The size and shape of the cactus varies but always appears attributable to growing conditions in each site. That was until today, when I found a crested form!
From another angle, note the three normal growths at the top and the mutated squiggle towards the bottom right.
Nurseries frequently offer crested forms of cactus and euphorbia, but I have never discovered the mutation growing naturally in the wild. Judging by looks, there is not much economic potential (and obviously I would not remove it in any case). The plant certainly looks very healthy, despite its unusual growth pattern.

New addition at the Nancy Malmgren Environmental Learning Center

I had the opportunity yesterday to stroll through Carkeek sans dogs, a rare opportunity to view the garden around the Environmental Learning Center without distractions. The garden showcases drought tolerant natives, and yesterday I saw an exciting new addition, Xerophyllum tenax, a beautiful bear grass native to the Pacific Northwest.
Compared to many grasses, X. tenax has a stiffer, almost plastic texture, which creates a lovely fountain shape and displays the pale undersides of the leaves.
The tall, white blooms are stunning too, seen here on our hike to Tomie Peak Lookout in Mount Rainier National Park in late July 2016.
The plants at the Environmental Learning Center appear to be mostly shaded and may not bloom as much, but beautiful foliage nevertheless.

Not a garden post

While I am generally not a fan of the home & garden genre (the focus is always on the former), the project dominating this year's growing season will be a major house renovation. I do not intend to switch the focus of this blog to the renovation work, but given it will pose a significant challenge for the garden this year, I believe it is relevant to mention for context.

Currently, we are still in the demolition phase. Previously, the master bedroom was on the left, and the master bath on the right. The roles appear to have switched in this photo, taken shortly after demo started in mid February.

Removal of wallboard by the fireplace revealed the original wood veneer checkerboard. Successive owners hid the house's mid century roots with traditional remodels, resulting in a very odd look, particularly with the asymmetrical fireplace location.

And a week later in early March, with the wood tiles, ceiling, and pole gone. Apparently the pole in the middle of the room was not structural beyond supporting the weight of the ceiling, crazy!

 The fireplace today, notice anything missing? The high "window" is actually a hole where the chimney was.

A view from the outside, the chimney previously went through the hole in the roof. Boards on the right are missing windows. 

Unfortunately, I did not plan ahead and take any before photos, but here is a listing photo showing the chimney and windows.

Returning to the garden, my plan is to keep making progress as much as possible on weekends. In the meantime, given much of the garden cannot be planted, quite a few plants remain in or were relocated to pots, and I will be running a small nursery at the back of the garden. I have a feeling a lot of my time will be spent repotting and watering.