Posted by: facetothewind | April 7, 2011

Waiting for my friends to blossom

In 2007, Patrick and I planted a blue palo verde tree in my back courtyard. At the time I had declared I was planting the tree to have someone to grow old with. While I have certainly been growing old, sadly, the tree died in the cold of that winter. My housemate Pat and I replaced it the following spring.

That tree is now thriving. And in the 3 years since its planting I’ve been eagerly awaiting its first yellow blossoms. But each spring nothing. This year after our “hundred year freeze” I thought it would not deliver and would make me wait until a more reasonable winter. But last week I noticed some little green orbs. Buds at last! This would be the year my friend would finally blossom.

And so it has. Here is one of its first blossoms in glorious yellow with bright orange anthers. The beauty of a palo verde (green stick) tree is that they will completely flower before any leaves appear. They dot the desert with their splashes of yellow.

It’s amazing how planting a garden can really provide a sense of belonging. Certainly I have not felt at home a lot in Tucson but when my gardening efforts offer up a little gift like this it makes me feel a strong sense of place. I have tended to this garden for years, pruning, watering, weeding, flicking beetles off of them. I have been its curator, its shepherd and protector. It gives me some-thing to care for when I don’t have some-one.

And now it has taken on a life of its own as bees come and pollenate all the flowers in the yard. Hummingbirds come to drink nectar and birds of all kinds come to bathe and refresh at the fountain. The doves arrive at sunset for happy hour at the fountain. It has become a whole eco-system right there in the place that was once just bricks. Look who came for a drink a couple weeks ago — a Coopers hawk. (His appearance shut down the dove happy hour that day!)

As a reward for tending to it, this blue palo verde will give back something so important in the desert: shade. Beneath its giant branches will be my table where I will sit for years and maybe even beyond my life it will continue to protect us with its shady canopy. Welcome to your adolescence dear tree and thank you for giving me a sense of home.


Tree, gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.

In the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky.

— J. Daniel Beaudry

* * *

Here are some other blooms from my garden.

An unusual color for a penstemon…

A hesperaloe…

Alas no joy is without its cost. The pollen count in Tucson right now is headed off the charts…

NEXT MONTH: the cactus bloom!!

* * *

Here’s a lovely song from the amazingly well done and important documentary about America’s public schools Waiting for Superman:



  1. lovely to hear and see you so relatively rooted

  2. Che bellezza! Bravo, amico mio!

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