Okay, the title makes it sound like this is a girly post and maybe it is, but walking the property over the weekend made me realize just how many plants are blooming right now. Like my stuffy nose couldn’t tell me that pollen is saturating the air I breathe? I blame my itchy eyes on the local Mesquite trees. There are still far too many of those scrubby little things all over this property. Nasty trees with horrid poison-tipped thorns that invariably manage to poke through whatever protective gear I might be wearing. At any rate, I’ve given up using any over-the-counter hay fever remedy for an essential oil–Frankincense, actually. Yep, the same stuff that one of the Wise Men brought to Bethlehem (can’t remember which one). I rub the oil on the back of my neck and for whatever reason, it stops my sneezing and most of my sniffling. And, it smells piney and clean, which is much better than the scent of chicken and turkey poop. So there you go. Between that and homeopathic eye drops, I’m surviving my allergies so far.
As far as the big bloomers right now, some of them are natives while others have gone native after I started throwing out seeds five years ago. But of all the flowers I’ve got on the place, I have one that I just can’t believe I found on my property in Arizona. Although I didn’t know its name until today, I knew it was an orchid the minute I found it. And it is: Epipactis Gigantea, a wild stream orchid. I first saw it on the ditch bank three years ago and it’s now spread along a three foot area. Who knew we had orchids in Arizona?
Now this next one I’m sure is also an orchid, but I can’t figure out what it is. It looks to me like the “Lady Slipper” orchid I’ve seen in the Midwest except those are pink while this is a beautiful bright yellow. It’s scattered all over my pastures, poking up from the sea of white and red clover that’s attracting bees like crazy–so much so that I don’t dare walk in it without closed shoes on. These little yellow flowers have that orchid face with a pouty lower lip.
I don’t think I could live anywhere where my favorite summer flower couldn’t grow. I don’t just love sunflowers because they’re beautiful, but because they’re so helpful to a gardener. They’re a trap crop for aphids and they attract Lesser Goldfinches, ladybugs and praying mantis. The Lesser Goldfinch is a sweet social little bird with a dark back and yellowish belly. They come as a flock, peeping and talking to each other, as they dart through the garden eating bugs, then retreating into the sunflowers to dine on aphids and cut round patches from the leaves to line their nests. They very quickly get to know me and don’t mind it when I’m working right next to them. As for the sunflowers presently growing on my property, every one is a volunteer from previous years, spread by the birds. Some have lost any of their parents’ hybrid drama while others still retain a bit of grandma’s pizazz.
I have tons of fennel growing in the front gardens. Their smell reminds me of the California’s beaches where Anise runs rampant. Okay, not exactly the same scent but close. I keep them going because fennel has a long tap root that brings nutrients up to soil level, but even if they weren’t good for the dirt, I’d keep them. The ferny fronds and clusters of yellow flowers are great in a posy. Of course when it comes to fragrance, there’s nothing like a Magnolia’s massive white, waxy blossoms. The tree is just beyond the western edge of my porch and the strong scent of citrus wafts from it every time the breeze blows. That the tree exists at all where it is is a miracle in my book and of course I can’t reach the blooms to cut one, so I’m content to just breathe it in.
A few years back I planted an Elderberry hedge, and since then its blossoms have become a favorite for my impromptu bouquets. White, wide and lacy it’s perfect in a mason jar with a couple of roses. So is Chamomile, which I’m hoping takes off this year. I started it last year near the commercial kitchen door and let it go to seed. Much to my pleasure, dozens of plants reappeared this year. I’m hoping to collect seed this year and spread it throughout my gardens. Because it’s such a pretty little daisy-like flower, I love adding it to gardens for its look, but drying the flowers for tea is also high on my list of uses for it.
Okay, so this was a bit of a girly post, but you know what? I LOVE being a girl, even if I can’t remember the last time I was actually girly. And if I have to endure a runny nose and itchy eyes so I can keep growing all these little beauties, so be it. Although I might have to finally give up and buy tissues that don’t come on a roll as the season progresses. Sigh.