Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Desert Blooms

 

The Desert Southwest is not colorless. Nor are the colors in the landscape just from different hues of sand and stone. There is a great deal of life, a fascinating variety of plants.

When I moved to Arizona, I carried a bit of the family tradition with me, trying to grow the sorts of flowers, herbs, and vegetables I had grown up around. I acclimatized and discovered that even short absences resulted in returning home to find sun-blasted plants. So, I switched to regional plants in my large container garden.

Thai peppers did well, yielding blazing red little peppers, covering the plants. A chili tepin, really a woody bush, was so different. I worried about the leaves turning almost an almost black purple. A bit of local research showed the plant was healthy. Then there was the wide variety of cacti and succulents, different but similar in their ability to absorb water and subsist for weeks, sometimes months, until the next rain storm.

Here are some examples from around 2004:

The copper colors on the left and right nearest to the viewer are signs of healthy plants. The plant in the lower right corner looks like a living rock. Pretty cool stuff.

Mingled amongst the different sizes, shapes, and colors of cacti and succulents, a variety of regional wild flowers would briefly spring up and blossom once or twice a year. Independent of the desert wildflower bloom, cacti have their own seasonal clock for brief beautiful blooms. Consider a few examples I captured at the Desert Botanical Garden:

I do not know the names of each plant, I just know I like the pretty colors and the widely varying shapes, sizes and textures. On that last note, the textures are to be enjoyed with the eyes. You can look, but you better not touch!

On one occasion, there were some especially colorful and interestingly shaped plants:

Oh, you are not buying it? It certainly fits the environment in which it is situated. Perhaps you already know the creator. Chihuly has done blown glass art installations at the Desert Botanical Garden more than once. These bloom in the desert less frequently but more predictably than the native plants.

What colors and shapes of plants surprise or delight you, where you live, or in places you have visited?

There are 21 comments.

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  1. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lovely post, and beautiful blooms, thanks. Chihuly’s work is amazing. There was a big exhibition at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory several years ago. Fantastic.

    Naturalized flowers delight me. English cottage garden flowers, too. Here are some foxgloves from my garden, a few years ago:

    • #1
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:40 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    From blooming ideas to prickly subjects, the desert inspires with its colors and shapes.


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the May 2019 Group Writing Theme: Blooming Ideas. Do stop by and sign up!

    • #2
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:42 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    Lovely. Like the Chihuly, too.

    • #3
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:44 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    From blooming ideas to prickly subjects

    Are you calling @she prickly?

    • #4
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:45 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    From blooming ideas to prickly subjects

    Are you calling @she prickly?

    Instigator! Trying to start a plant food fight?

    • #5
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    From blooming ideas to prickly subjects

    Are you calling @she prickly?

    Instigator! Trying to start a plant food fight?

    A duel with prickly pears at five paces.

    • #6
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    From blooming ideas to prickly subjects

    Are you calling @she prickly?

    Instigator! Trying to start a plant food fight?

    A duel with prickly pears at five paces.

    Pitchforks and compost heaps at ten paces.

    • #7
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Doesn’t look as if @she is taking the bait.

    • #8
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:54 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I remember driving to Uluru from Alice Springs in Australia. People were moaning about how the straight road was so boring. That’s because they didn’t know how to look for desert vegetation. The wildflowers on the side of the road kept me occupied for hours! Beautiful photos, Clifford.

    • #9
    • May 2, 2019, at 4:56 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  10. EODmom Coolidge

    My sister has been complaining about not getting enough rain as long as she has lived in Texas- oh about 50 years. This spring she’s delighting in her meadows outside of San Antonio because they’ve had good rain. Blue bonnets and Indian paint brushes and butterflies galore. While I wait for temps above 45 in NH. And that’s Candice for the win. NH still waiting for spring and she just harvested some potatoes …….

    • #10
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:09 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. EODmom Coolidge

    She (View Comment):
    Lovely post, and beautiful blooms, thanks. Chihuly’s work is amazing. There was a big exhibition at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory several years ago. Fantastic.

    Naturalized flowers delight me. English cottage garden flowers, too. Here are some foxgloves from my garden, a few years ago:

    And the composition of your photo is great. Just look at that little window letting the breeze in.

    • #11
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Mark Camp Member

    What I love about this joint. I was getting a little fed up this evening, to be honest, and this thread restored my wa.

    I am slowly learning to accept that I will probably never get to see the West “live and in person” again, but I do remember what it was like–what little I saw–and feel blessed by G_d, and if my Western friends will keep up such a flow of correspondence as this, it’s plenty for me.

    • #12
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:26 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  13. Front Seat Cat Member

    How beautiful! I love the cactus that looks like it sprouted daisies! And the big orange mess…..nature is amazing. I have in a pot on my front porch a swamp orchid. It went crazy and I had to cut half of it off. I threw it in the woods last Fall. We were wondering what that pretty orange yellow flower was on the side of the house this spring – sure enough it was the swamp orchid – it took root – required no planting – I didn’t water, just threw the scraps in the woods and wintered over – I bought it at Lowes as a small plant.

    It’s called Epidendrum orchid

    • #13
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    t’s called Epidendrum orchid

    People think orchids are hard to grow, but most of them are amazingly forgiving! Beautiful, FSC.

    • #14
    • May 2, 2019, at 5:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Doesn’t look as if @she is taking the bait.

    Sorry. Life happens.

    Sickles and dibbers?

    Breast ploughs and flails?

    • #15
    • May 2, 2019, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Our cactus are blooming right now:

    • #16
    • May 2, 2019, at 7:39 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  17. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    My favorite picture from the Desert Botanical Garden.

    I called it “Cactus Devouring Tree”. I got lots of great pictures that day at the garden. It is a real treat.

    • #17
    • May 2, 2019, at 9:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    Our cactus are blooming right now:

    Thanks for making the point. The wildflower bloom happened about a month ago. Now we are in the cactus bloom for the year.

    • #18
    • May 3, 2019, at 12:02 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Mark Camp Member

    In fact, more than Liked it.

    • #19
    • May 3, 2019, at 7:55 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I don’t have any pictures at the moment, but in Tucson, it’s the time of year when the Palo Verde trees bloom. Here’s a stock picture that I found online:

    Clifford, I don’t know whether you’re getting this show in Phoenix.

    On the down side, it does wreak havoc on unfortunate allergy suffers like me.

    • #20
    • May 3, 2019, at 11:00 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I don’t have any pictures at the moment, but in Tucson, it’s the time of year when the Palo Verde trees bloom. Here’s a stock picture that I found online:

    Clifford, I don’t know whether you’re getting this show in Phoenix.

    On the down side, it does wreak havoc on unfortunate allergy suffers like me.

    Yes to both. For those who are unfamiliar with palo verde trees:

    The trees can photosynthesize through their green bark, an important adaptation for a tree that drops its leaves during the warm season and in response to fall cooling. Palo verdes also drop stems and branches to combat drought.

    Palo verdes serve as nurse plants for saguaro cacti by providing a canopy – in effect, a microhabitat – which offers warmth in winter and shade in summer. The slower-growing, longer-lived cactus will eventually replace its one-time protector.

    So, saguaro cacti fruit is eaten by birds, who carry the seeds into the branches of the palo verde tree. When the birds drop the saguaro seeds, some may germinate under the protective cover of the tree. Eventually, a surviving saguaro may grow large enough to sent out a large enough shallow root system to take most of the water. The palo verde then dries up, dies, and breaks down, replaced by a large saguaro.

    • #21
    • May 3, 2019, at 11:53 AM PDT
    • 7 likes

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