Sunday, June 10, 2007

Red Hot Summertime Blues

Summer in the desert is not fun. As a native of Arizona, I know. Some folks who move here to escape from the snowy winters of other climates claim they love the summer heat. I think they are nuts. Who could truly love 110 degree-plus days, where the ground's surface and car interiors reach temperatures of 150 degrees? Native plants and animals don’t even like it!

My plants are beginning to go into their summer dormancy. The last of the early summer wildflowers have dried up and the only flowers left standing are a few heat-hardy Desert Marigolds, which should last all summer. Most of the cacti have finished their flowering, and even the tough Lantana bushes have a dusty, exhausted look. Several plants will continue to thrive, bloom and provide color through the summer; Red Bird of Paradise, Nerium Oleander, Cape Honeysuckle, and that old summer standby—Bougainvillea, but even with their help my garden will have a parched, thirsty appearance.

Summer dormancy is a coping mechanism that native plants use in order to conserve the water they have stored. They may look like hell for a few months, but they perk up when the weather cools in mid-September, sort of like people here in the desert.

Every year from June until October, I ask myself why I continue to live in this brutal climate. From October until June, I know why!

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