Thursday, April 17, 2014


My earworm this afternoon is from Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado: "The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la." I have often noticed that in the Sonoran desert where we live, the native flowers tend to arrive in shades of purple and yellow. 

These little violas or johnny-jump-ups aren't native - I planted them from seed in an old wine barrel - but they fit the color scheme. Their barrel has also been colonized by volunteers more suited to the climate: epazote (the big leaf on the left), a very useful herb for those of us who love beans but would like to limit some of their more odorous after-effects, and on the right, the darker, pointier-leaved wild poinsettia, the ancestor of the much flashier red, pink, and white cultivars we see around Christmastime. Both plants reseed themselves with great abandon, and the poinsettias are easily transplanted if they show up in inconvenient spots.
        The blossoms below are on one of four eggplant bushes that survived the winter (such as it was here), as did the tomatoes and the jalapeno and Cubanelle peppers. All are bearing abundant fruits (that's a little baby eggplant in the upper right corner), though when the temperatures climb the tomatoes will continue to flower but stop setting fruit. A Japanese friend shared with me a traditional proverb: "Of eggplant blossoms and parental advice, only one in a thousand will go wrong."
Browallia is another reckless self-seeder. These plants also survived the winter and are now about 3 feet tall, though I'll probably cut them back as they've gotten rather scrawny and leggy.

Not everything currently in bloom is purple (or yellow), of course, though I'd say these big, shamelessly hot pink cactus blossoms come close. And yes, that's more wild poinsettia peeking out from behind the cactus. But that's okay. I know a bare spot where it should thrive and will look just great.