In the East, the plants are well-behaved, leafy, green and they follow the calendar in their growth. In the desert Southwest plants grab whatever moisture they can when it’s there, bloom, spread their well-protected hard-cased seeds through wind, hooks, or by serving as food, and then the next time it rains, the cycle repeats. To make it work, plants put out big, bright flowers on tall stems, or a flower that has lots of opportunity for birds and butterflies.
Addition on May 1, 2008: It’s an octopus agave. After about 20 years of life, the agave sends up a stem, blossoms wildly (the yellow part is actually thousands of small blossoms) then dies.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who is amazed at how busy nature is in the desert Southwest. See her work at QuinnCreative.com Photo and words (c) Quinn McDonald 2008. All rights reserved.