Jujube tree

They keep falling in the pool, and clogging the filter. They look like large dates, but don’t grow on palm trees. The neighbor behind me, whose tree had these fruits, kindly trimmed the tree when we told him they were dropping in the pool.

It took me a while to figure out what they were–jujube trees, or Chinese Dates, and the fruit is edible. I think I’ll wait a bit before I try one, they looked a bit mealy to me. Birds like them, though. And I’ve pulled about 100 of them out of the pool.

Chinese date, or Jujube tree

Chinese date, or Jujube tree

The tree is not native to the Sonoran desert, and that’s one of the problems. It has no enemies here, so it grows quickly and weakly. That’s not the best idea in monsoon storms, when the branches break off and drop leaves, fruit and splinters onto paths and pools.

I wonder where the need to re-create what you left in the new place comes from. There are lots of people here who replant their front lawns twice a year, as the summer heat kills it. Others have brought all their English Garden specimens with them and struggle to create an atmosphere of cool mist to sustain their landscape. It’s the Sonoran Desert floor. Your English garden plants are not made for this climate.

We bought the house xeriscaped–landscaped with rocks, sand and plants that grow here naturally. Come September, I’m going to try to grow tomatoes in tubs. And I am planting rosemary to grow as a shrub. They aren’t native, but I’m confining them to a garden spot that will provide what they need–a bit of shade from the sun. Otherwise, their native habitat is similar to ours.

Yes, it takes a while to think of a front yard that’s covered in crushed rock as beautiful, but isn’t that what adapting is about?  The big surprise to me was that out of that crushed granite (which is what the Sonoran desert floor is covered with naturally), sprout weeds. With almost no water, in the blazing sun, these weeds pop out of the granite and start to grow. Hardy doesn’t begin to describe it. Tough and amazing is more like it. Well, I may not need a lawn mower, but I’ll need a rake and a weed puller.

–Quinn McDonald is a naturalist busy figuring out what’s a desert plant and what isn’t. She’s also a writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2008 All rights reserved.