Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Colors

Arizona Poppy Kallstroemia grandiflora

As we roll past the autumnal equinox, which was September 22nd this week, I've been searching for fall colors here in Phoenix. Here, we have very few native deciduous trees, and those that we have are more likely to drop in June at the onset of the hot summer. Chilly mornings here are in the 70's, rather than frosty ones that trigger aspen and maple forests to turn. And instead of a harvest season here in the Sonoran desert, it is a time for sowing seed. The lack of northern boreal seasonal phenologies and rituals that were part of my life for nearly 45 years confuses me at a visceral level. My mind and body want autumn leaves and frost, even after seven years in Phoenix. I go searching for fall colors anyway.

I find fall colors here in the flowers. In the wild desert, Arizona poppies, desert senna, and janusia bloom in response to the fragments of monsoon storms that drenched the area a few weeks ago. In the neighborhoods, Mexican Bird of Paradise are at their peak, every bit as colorful as a Vermont forest. Bougainvillea vines glow hot pink where they are planted by the hundreds along Phoenix highways. Many of the trees, rather than dropping their leaves, have put out a new crop of fresh green. Here are a few of the fall colors we have here now:
Desert Vine Janusia gracilis

Mexican Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Desert Senna Senna covesii


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