Monday, June 01, 2009

The cemetery wildflower crop

My apologies to the Yavapai Cemetery Association. I've borne a grudge all these years, it seems unnecessarily. To back up many years: when we first moved to Prescott, the Citizens Cemetery grounds as seen from Sheldon Street were brilliant with red paintbrush every spring. Not only that, but the cemetery harbored one of the few stands of mariposa lilies within the city limits. Admittedly, the grounds were not very kempt, but for my money, the wildflowers were well worth putting up with those straggly weeds and the general air of disrepair.

Then in the late 80s, I believe it was, a group was formed to rescue the historic old cemetery from its gradual decline. One of the first things they did was mow the grounds. No more brilliant paintbrush in spring. I was devastated -- not to mention pissed off to the point of writing a letter of complaint to the editor of The Courier. Now, thanks to an article in Friday's paper, I find that I jumped to conclusions. It seems that the group had in essence tidied the parlor but left the back yard on its own. Reporter Joanna Dodder wrote of all the wild flowers our wet May had brought to the grounds at the far end, away from the streetside. Among them the paintbrush you see here.

Friend Patty and I spent an early afternoon today admiring and photographing not only the flowers but also many of the tombstones and monuments. And yes, there were lovely little mariposa lilies scattered about in the midst of dry grass.

These wild desert lilies are among my favorite wildflowers. In addition to the white/pale lavender blossoms of the local variety, mariposas in the greater Prescott area also grow in buttery yellow (north toward Chino Valley) and vivid orange-red (slightly lower elevations to the south and west). Note how different the flowers are in these two pictures taken a few feet apart.

Another spring beauty you seldom see in the city is wild phlox. Plenty of them at the cemetery. I've tried to swipe a plant or two for my hillside, but discovered that the phlox, like the mariposas, have roots reaching down toward the center of the earth. That's the arid country for you. No nursery sells the plant nor have I been able to locate seed from sellers of wildflower seed.

One disappointment from today's excursion. Dodder's feature mentioned that there were also blue delphiniums on the cemetery grounds. Tho we looked, nary a blue blossom. The nearest to blue was the purple alfalfa. All in all, I have to admit that the compromise between tidy and wild struck by the cemetery association appears to be working well. (Yes, I'll soon post pictures from the cemetery proper.)

Linkage: The Verde Independent is running a series of articles on the Big Chino water controversy by Steve Ayres. Part 1, Part 2, and Part3 had been published as of this writing. For more info about Yavapai County Cemeteries, this page is a good starting point.


Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

The lavender mariposa bloom bears a bit of resemblance to that of the passionfruit plant, two of which I've planted in the past few months.


Jarart said...

I'm so glad you posted these flowers as we are in Illinois right now and would have missed them all together. Beautiful shots and glad to hear that they still bloom there.

Warren said...

Glad you found your paintbrush after all, thats a good looking set of flowers.

Dave Coulter said...

Nice shots! :)

The Frame and I said...

Lovely! So nice to know that some of the wildflowers have been kept =)

Granny J said...

bro -- hope you get some fruit soonest!

jarart -- the clouds are finally clearing away & the high pressure spot is moving into place, so I wouldn't expect the flowers to last much longer.

warren -- I was tremendously pleased that the flowers survived so well.

dave -- welcome & do return soonest! Thanks for the nice words.

frame -- I wish I had known sooner! I'm still curious about the delphinium.

meggie said...

Thanks for the wildflowers.
I look forward to the gravestones!

Granny J said...

meggie -- aren't the flowers grand? As for the gravestones and monuments, Real Soon Now.

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