Spring Flowers, Tucson, Part 50: Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella)

I’m not sure anymore, is it still spring? Temps are up in the 90s consistently now, and as I’m writing this (Sunday afternoon), I’m watching monsoon-style storm clouds bloom over the Tucson Valley. So is this even late spring, or is it early summer?

For the O’odham a new season started in June, actually a new year, with the saguaro-fruit harvest. I’m always fascinated by temporal schemes that begin in the summer. Greeks did that, too. But there are still at least a dozen flowers I want to document that are blooming now, including Saguaro, Chaste Tree, Ironwood, Desert Willow and Chitalpa (a hybrid of Desert Willow and Catalpa). So we’ll say it’s still spring for a few more weeks.

Anyway, this is a special post: I tried to grow this daisy-like flower in Michigan since I was a teen, called up there either ‘Goblin Flower’ or ‘Blanket Flower,’ but I couldn’t ever understand why they all died, every year, no matter what I did or where I put them.

Now here in Tucson one popped up wild just off my porch! No wonder the care instructions said something like ‘thrives in sandy soil’! Well yeah, that makes sense now. No wonder everything I did to try and grow these ended so badly: I had been assuming they were widespread in the Midwest, home there, responsive to Midwestern abundance. Little did I realize at the time that they and I were equally far from home in Michigan.

Now here’s one growing wild, here where I’m home, and it is its own poetic perfection.

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