Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 1
I specifically moved to the Sonoran Desert for the weather, or at least what I imagined the weather would be: hot and dry. That’s how I like it. Other places, such as Sweden, Denmark or even Canada seem like better places to live in general, but they all look so cold and gray (in my imagination), and cold and gray sounds depressing. Besides, it’s going to become increasingly expensive to heat a house to my comfort level (say, 80°F) in any of those places, so here I am.
That said, Arizona is probably heading for a much hotter and much drier climate later in this century, and I’m supposed to be thankful for whatever rain does happen here, and rain it did this winter! I would prefer less, but then my garden likes the rain just fine. I already mentioned that we’re ahead of normal precipitation this spring, and that translates into a bumper crop of wildflowers, many of which were new to me this year.
This first one is Brownfoot or Perezia (Acourtia wrightii).
It’s growing around the bottom of an acacia bush, and I knew it was there but had never seen it flower. It smells wonderful and the bees love it. That particular spot in the yard is along the path of runoff when it rains, so while it’s not really damp there, it is slightly wetter than the rest of the yard. Theoretically, at least.
This year there were more blue wildflowers — maybe they need more water than the yellow ones? I don’t know; it’s possible. This is Texas Toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus).
There were not too many of these but they were much more numerous than last year.
The Desert Evening Primrose (Oenothera primiveris, below) seems to grow almost exclusively in the decorative rocks in the yard. I’d really rather they didn’t, but once they flower I just can’t bring myself to pull them up until they’re finished.
The next one is marked as non-native and so isn’t quite an “Arizona wildflower”. It’s called Spreading Fanpetals (Sida abutifolia), and is a member of the mallow family (Malvaceae). My flower ID source says it’s an introduced species from tropical America and the Caribbean. But honestly, my property couldn’t be considered to be on any kind of trade route, so I have no idea how it got up here. There are plenty of them though! I think I do see a slight resemblance to the local globemallows.
Somebody bloomed while I wasn’t looking! And then, what happened afterward was so pretty, I had to include it:
These seed heads are all over in the wild part of the yard, but I didn’t catch the flower it came from. What looks white in the picture is actually shiny, silvery and metallic-looking. It really catches your eye. If you have an ID, leave a comment; I’d really like to know. I’m not sure I’ll remember where to look for it next year.
Last year, doing my part to help the bees, I bought and spread wildflower seeds around the yard in the spring. None of them grew. They were waiting, I guess, because this year I did get two good specimens that I hope will be returning now that they’re established. This first one is the Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus).
And the other is the Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata).
These I deliberately sowed into the decorative rocks on a little hill arrangement behind the vegetable garden. That spot is always overrun with various species of Cryptantha, which you can see blurred behind the lupine, and photobombing at the lower right of that picture. Anyway, I wanted to have something nicer to look at in that spot, since the lantana that had been there was frozen out a few years ago. At each end of that little hill, there are rosemary plants.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is of course from the Mediterranean and not native to Arizona. But there it was, blooming and smelling so nice that I thought I’d include it anyway. It was planted there as part of the original landscaping, and blooms almost all the time. The bees love it too. Some of it also got frozen away that year, and I think I should get a couple more to fill in over there.