June 2, 2009 | Dominique Bayne, Former Senior Horticulturist

Dryland Mesa in bloom

Prickly pear cacti blooming in Dryland Mesa

Early mornings in the gardens are definitely  peaceful and cool, however some gardens, like some people, are not at their best until well after lunchtime. The south end of Dryland Mesa is currently one of these gardens and the cacti flowers, which are at their peak right now, are definitely late risers, refusing to open until the sun is at its fullest.

Admittedly an early morning visit does have the reward of the intense chocolate aroma of the Berlandiera lyrata (chocolate flowers).  The closed Eschscholzia californica (California poppies) have a certain charm too, it is fascinating to watch them open as the sun falls on them. By mid-afternoon though everyone has stretched and opened with blue-purple Trasdescantia occidentalis (prairie spiderwort), the bright orange of the poppies, yellow Engelmannia pinatifida (Engelmann daisy) and varying colors of the cacti flowers many of which only bloom for a day or two ensuring a constantly changing palette.

Everyone wants a colorful garden that changes with the seasons providing structure and texture all year round. This garden does all that and what is more it is a great example of how beautiful a garden can be when it only receives the moisture that nature provides. When I first started working here we used to say that Dryland Mesa had not been watered in at least seven years, well I have been here for seven years so I guess now it is getting on for close to fifteen years without irrigation.

Makes sure you get out to see this garden in the afternoon sometime soon and be sure to check out the agave that is about to bloom on the west side of the garden too.


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