Lookin’ Fly – Native Bonanza

Lookin' Fly - Native Bonanza


Okay, let’s chant it together here – NATIVE!  NATIVE!  NATIVE!  I’m serious.  Chant it.  Just do it a few super loud times at your desk and you’ll feel so much better about the day.  It’ll be just weird enough for those around you that you might spark some worthwhile conversation, plus, chanting is fun.


Obviously I’m a huge plant nerd (and many other types of nerd – mostly for plants),  but native plants are the way to go.  It just makes so much more sense to plant stuff in your yard that naturally grows a mile away in the desert rather than specimens from thousands of miles away in Australia, Chile, and South Africa.  Right?  Honestly, can we agree to agree on that fact?  Sure, plenty of things from Australia do great here, at least until we get a 17 degree night that freezes it to the ground, or a huge gust of wind that rips the roots out with ease.  Native plants have an enormous evolutionary advantage in that they are adapted to specific temperatures, water availability, symbiotic wildlife and pollinator relationships, and wind patterns.  Go native.  I’ll only talk about it another couple hundred times, so if you’re not quite on board yet there’s still time.


Alright, on to the good stuff.


Clockwise from top left:


Brittle Bush – This is such a great plant, and it’s fantastic at informing you of the weather/rain/sense-of-place stuff we all need to stay grounded.  Brittle Bush is an airy shrub that has silvery-gray leaves ranging from small to medium depending on the amount of water it has received.  It gets lovely yellow flowers in the spring, and sometimes again throughout the year after decent rain.  It can definitely be over-watered, in which case it droops and becomes quite unhappy (but it will bounce back – just give it a rest with the hose).  During the hottest part of the summer it can go at least partially dormant (like the rest of us), but it will surely spring back into action with some rain.  Five Points Market in Tucson has a huge blooming mass of it right now – way to go native!


Creosote – I already sang the praises of creosote last week in the “Structure + Fluff” bit, so I’ll spare you that piece of the pie right now.  It’s beautiful!  A desert yard needs creosote, no question about it.


Ocotillo – Take a walk in the desert surrounding Tucson and you’ll find thousands (millions?) of ocotillo friends.  After a rain, sometimes even a sprinkle, they quickly shoot out new leaves, followed by beautiful red/orange flowers at their tips.  As quickly as they gained these signs of life they drop them, conserving energy for periods with no water.  They look great both dormant and fully fluffed, and they’re another sign of what’s up with the weather.  If you’re out on a desert drive and see them springing into action, you can bet that we have recently had a bit of rain (like we did last weekend).  To boot, hummingbirds love them.


Pink Fairy Duster – This small-to-medium shrub, native to the Sonoran desert, gets the most amazing fluffy/spiky pink flowers you’ve seen.  Right around now they put on a big bloom (in proportion to the amount of winter rain we’ve received), and then they go back to being a sturdy medium-green shrub that mixes in nicely with other more structural plants.  It’s so fun to see a splash of pink in the spring.  There are some nice specimens blooming around the University of Arizona campus right now if you’re interested in confirming my ramblings.


That’s all for today!  Have a good one, folks.

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