Bloom Watch #5

July 1, 2023

Cruel Summer

This is when we remember why it’s called the desert. The insects in the trees seem to imitate the sizzling Sonoran heat. Critters take refuge in the shade and their cool burrows. They drink from the fountains and hoses as we water the flowers. Days are long and the sunsets beautiful. Saguaro seeds disperse in the full bellies of birds. Prickly pear fruit turns color. 

Waiting for rain.

One of our dedicated gardeners, Shauna, performed her weekly duties of tending to the Queens by providing them with the necessary watering. Supplemental water ensures the vitality of these special plants during times of excessive heat and lack of rainfall.

“I’ve been watching, and the rain in the forecast keeps getting moved a day farther away,” she said. The buds we checked this week were between 40mm and 50mm.  

“No real change from last week.”  We are still approximately 1-2 weeks away from Bloom Night.

Cooking Up A Storm 

The University of Arizona’s CLIMAS has this to say about our monsoon season: 

“The monsoon is driven by the sun heating up the land and the Pacific Ocean at different rates, with land surfaces warming more quickly than the ocean. The warm land creates low-pressure zones as hot air rises… The moisture-laden monsoon air travels north to Arizona and New Mexico, encouraged by the pressure difference between the hot, parched southwestern air and the cooler Mexican air.” (source)

We might never know exactly why the Queen decides to bloom when she does, but from careful observations collected over the years in our little patch of desert, it seems to be closely linked with the occurrence of this pattern. 

Tohoho Chul’s water harvesting garden, Sin Agua, in 2022

It’s a busy time and a slow time here in the desert. A hurry up and wait. Where there is water, there is abundant growth. In our nurseries and in the garden we are all trying to keep up with the vigor of our plants as they soak up this solar energy. But by mid-afternoon, there is a quiet in the garden. The desert has some time to herself. 

Rebel Flower Update

If you’ve been keeping up with Bloom Watch, then you know that last week we had a rebel flower on our hands. One of the Peniocereus greggii buds decided to bloom ahead of schedule, catching our gardening staff by surprise.

As always, the unpredictable nature of these special plants is keeping us on our toes. But fear not, nature enthusiasts! The rest of the buds are on track and expected to grace us with their beauty in approximately 1-2 weeks.

Stay tuned for more updates as we inch near the arrival of the Queen (the rest of them, that is)!

By Tracey Till, Propagation Associate

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