Desert Colors: We Have Green!

Michelle Ward’s Street Team Challenges always inspire me. This time, it took me a while to know how I wanted to respond. I don’t publish photographs or me or my house around the web, yet her challenge was tempting: Crusade 51: Describe your house. Make it interesting.

Because I wanted to work both on my blog and in my journal, I chose to use color. Because Michelle’s challenges are done by people all over the world, I thought showing the colors around my house might be fun. I live in the Sonoran Desert, in the American Southwest. Often people think we live in a bland, sand-colored world. Not at all.

The sky comes first. This is the intense blue of the morning sky (I left in a bit of tree branch so you can see that it’s really the sky and not something I made up.)

At the other end of the day, we have a different sky. Pollution makes for beautiful sunsets in the desert.

The desert is not without green. We have palms striped in light and shaded green.

But we also have the more subtle greens, often mixed with browns and reds, in a cactus. Watch out for those sharp white thorns!

We also have Palo Verde trees that have green trunks. Their leaves are tiny to prevent water loss in the 20 or so days we have that reach 110 degrees or higher. (We have an additional 60 days or so where the temperature reaches 100 degrees or higher.) Because the Palo Verde leaves are tiny, trunks and branches are green. We have older trees, so the green is not as vivid. I love this curve of green next to the healed limb that was removed.


We grow citrus in the desert. The leathery leaves also protect the tree from water loss. Lemons and oranges stop growing in the heat of the summer, and resume growing in September. They ripen in late December. This lemon smells like sunshine, not at all like the lemons in a store:

For the very brutal heat, we can cool off in an aqua-colored pool. I love the lines the sun makes as it draws on the water of a swimming pool

Blue agaves have really interesting leaves. The center bud is so tight that each leaf imprints on the next. Below is just one leaf, but you can see the imprint of another on on it. How cool is that?

You can love color and still live in the desert. We also have browns and beige, in different textures and shades of browns and beige. My front lawn is not grass, it’s sand and rocks, like this:

There is a little bit of everything in the desert, so I brought the colors inside. Here is a snapshot of a textile that’s in the house. It seems to reflect a bit of all the colors on the outside.

And just so I remember that we have all that sun,  here’s a big smile from the sun sculpture that hangs just outside out back patio door. She reminds me to wear a hat and sunscreen, even early in the morning on cloudy days.

And here is the collage I made from all these pieces–well, most of them. What I love is that a simple collage is really an accurate representation of the house and surrounding yard and garden.

–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling, to be published by North Light in July, 2011.

29 thoughts on “Desert Colors: We Have Green!

  1. That blue sky is amazing. We don’t get anything like that in Chicago. Love youer other photos too. I’m glad I found your blog.
    Pat from Chicago.

  2. What wonderful photos – I especially love no.2 with that fantastic sky and the one of the fabric too, such lovely muted colours. A great collage incorporating all of these and as Suzanne has just said, quite patchwork like. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Sheila. It looks like fabric, but it’s a close-up photograph of a palm frond from one of the shorter palm trees in the yard. I love the patchwork idea, and I’m glad someone pointed it out. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. I love the way you combined the various shades and textures of the “fabrics” of your environs into a quilt-like collage! And while you may not want to wrap up in a quilt when it’s 110 degrees, there’s nothing that says “home” quite like a patchwork made with carefully-chosen colors and designs. Great inspiration!

  4. This is a great photo collage of home. I like it without a photo of the actual home – the clues are all perfect to visualize a detailed picture of your “space”. Ah, I so miss the Southwest.

  5. beautiful photos of my favorite place in the world. Love the way you captured the subtlety of the southwest in your photos. The lemon tree makes me think of the older neighborhoods of Phoenix, where you can walk through the “irrigation” water in the front yards…

  6. Quinn – clever way of sharing your home without giving away your privacy. We learn so much more about you when we see your desert environs. Love that you took us on a pictoral tour then collaged the elements in your journal. Nicely done! Thanks for shairng with the team!

    p.s. I never knew you were in the southwest – I had you pegged as pacific northwest but you think I might have picked up on the clue in your banner photo. *smacks head*

  7. I love when you share images from your surroundings because I love the Southwest and it makes me want to return there pronto!! Great job on the Crusade!

  8. Oh I love your images soooooo much, such vibrant colours, such sharp thorns! I want to sit under that blue sky, dive into that swimming pool & add a slice of fresh lemon in a cool glass of something nice to drink! You have brightened up my day!

    Also, thank you so much for the lovely comments left on my blog.

    daisy xx

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