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Chihuahuan desert style early autumn colour

Updated: Oct 10

While the rich yellow golds of Aspens and Big Leaf Maples begin to colour landscapes to the north, here in the Chihuahuan desert the bright yellow of the indigenous perennial Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian Sunflower) is suddenly dazzling.

My first roots of the lovely, robust, arid adapted and pollinator beloved blooms were acquired in a neighborhood plant swap in spring of 2020. They are prolific. Next spring I shall move some of this clump to the front.

The rest of the garden is not going to let Helianthus maximiliani hog the limelight or the pollinators though.

Bright orange Tithonia v. Red Torch (Mexican sunflowers) and pink and purple zinnias (volunteers all) inspired to lush growth and bloom by monsoon rains, bring an Old Mexico brilliance to the colour scheme,

I leave the Helianthus annuus (common sunflower) stalks up for Lablab purpureus (hyacinth bean) to climb and so that the little birds can mine them for the last remaining seeds.

Salvias various in the blue violet range, introduced in spring this year, are bumble bee heaven right now, delicacy of flower sprays notwithstanding.

A volunteer watermelon was given a hammock today.

I am not sure who this mystery roommate, currently swelling on the grape vine trellis, is. It looks suspiciously like bushel basket gourd which I grew two years ago. This spring I did clean out one or two of the dried gourds for bowls. Maybe a wayward seed found it's way to satisfactory ground for germination. I shall watch for signs and if necessary give it a hammock too.


There's absolutely no sign of gem squash which I thought I had sown here.

It's completely mysterious to me what appears and disappears in this Garden of Earthly Delights. The birds and the bees are happy though.

I did take a short break from printing cloth for Southwest Print Fiesta (10 days and counting) this morning, to pickle some garlic, before this year's harvest starts sprouting on me.

Apple cider vinegar, a random (secret haha) blend of traditional pickling spices and a teaspoon of chile pepper flakes went into this, my first attempt at garlic pickles.

A handful of tepary bean pods are ready for harvest daily now, while the drying Chile de Arbol and Cayenne chile mount up.

Don't need a crystal ball to predict that spicy bean dishes will warm the cold months.


Autumn harvest for the winter pantry even though I dedicated way less garden real estate to food this year. I am learning what a sufficiency is.

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