May flowers

Early summer is here in Phoenix, and the trees and cacti are doing their best to put bright colors into the landscape. There is a tree with blooms like a purple wisteria (it’s not, but I don’t know what it is), and another one with amazing purple-and-white blossoms that look like orchids. Mulberry trees grow here, which I find amazing; I thought they needed more humidity.

[Editor’s note: the wisteria-look alike is a jacaranda, and the tree with the blue-purple orchid-like blooms is a desert willow. Thanks to alert readers for helping me out!]

Having learned to distinguish an agave (native) from an aloe (not native to the desert, but have adapted well from their Mediterranean climate), I’m caught up in the flowers. The agave sends up a post of bright yellow flowers before it dies. The aloe blooms year after year, once it reaches maturity. My favorites are the on

aloe seedpodthe thin-leaved aloes, with long, waving stalks of coral flowers that look like bells. They develop a small, deeply lobed green and purplish-red fruit that grows on the stalk, attached on a short stem.

I’m keeping notes; in a year it will all be commonplace.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who believes that nature has lessons for us, if we’d only get out and notice. Quinn develops and runs workshops on creativity, communicating simply and effectively, and journal-writing. Image: from Quinn’s visual journal. (c) 2008. All rights reserved.