Thursday, July 10, 2014


I wanted to start this post with a drawing of the Roman goddess Flora, but alas, I haven't finished it. And with the rains things are changing so fast in the garden and elsewhere that these photos will just have to serve as my tribute to the goddess of flowers.
      The summer squash have been taking a beating from the heat, but with the cooler monsoon temps they look like they may recover.
Joe didn't think he liked okra 22 years ago when we planted our first garden together, but I persuaded him that the gorgeous flowers were worth it. Now he loves it (and the flowers). I like burgundy okra for the colorful stems and leaves that you can see here, and the pods (that turn green when you cook them).
 I saw this artichoke at the Tucson Botanical Gardens last Sunday. If you don't pick the big buds to eat them, you get this kind of spectacular beauty!
 Also at the botanical garden I found a display of potted adeniums, much bigger than the one in my kitchen window! But mine has sprouted two limbs since I posted a picture of it (  and it's getting ready to bloom again!
 This gorgeous sunflower is as big as a good-sized salad plate! My friend Caren gave me the seeds: Hopi Black Dye Sunflower from Native Seed Search (, a fantastic organization specializing in seeds for desert-adapted plants. Can you see the bee at the lower right of the center, his back legs covered with pollen?
 These sunflowers are almost as big as the one above but I don't know what variety they are; they were part of a packet of mixed seeds, some of which did well while others couldn't take the heat (I'm guessing that was the problem, along with being savaged by birds before they had a chance to bloom).
 The chives are also in bloom, and I have lots of them, though I'm not sure why I grow so many since I don't use them all that often. But they're hardy and healthy and make a nice border. I think these are garlic chives.
 These pink rain lilies (zephyranthes) were a wonderful surprise yesterday afternoon, after two successive afternoons of good rain, a lovely line of them popped up all along the edge of this raised bed.  The monsoon was such a bust last year that I don't think we had any that bloomed, maybe one or two at most. But they've been biding their time and multiplying underground, more than I thought. Most of the year they look like chives, nothing but leaves, and as the leaves die they collect around the bases and aren't terribly attractive. Then almost all - sometimes all - the leaves die back and it looks very empty and sad until - voilá! - one day there's a nice line or cluster of them where you didn't expect to see anything at all! They're about 8" tall and remind me of the "naked ladies" that used to grow along a neighbor's driveway when I was growing up in Idaho, but those, I think, were amaryllis belladonna, much taller and highly poisonous.
There are many varieties of zephyranthes,  mostly in pink, white, or yellow. They're not very cold-hardy (zones 7-10), so it surprised me that the original bulbs for these came from my brother in Idaho. Maybe he took them up to store over the winter. Here in Arizona they thrive on my benign neglect with no particular care at all except watering and occasionally digging them up to thin them out and move some to different areas of the garden. They're such a delight, made all the more precious because they're so ephemeral, like so many beautiful things that lift our hearts and then disappear, things that appear right before our eyes but that we may not notice at all if we forget to pay attention.