Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Solstice Party in Tucson

 Several of our naturalist friends  forwarded Mark Dimmit's (former botanical curator of the Arizona Desert Museum) generous invitation to us:

'You should come  if you can, these are always fun!'

'Don't know if you got this announcement, but if you didn't, this is THE PLACE TO BE.  Mark always has a good gang, with good food, and best of company.  A definite must.'

Mark's place is in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains, but on the east side while we live on the west side. We celebrated under huge Mesquite trees that were a big part of the local charm. 35 years old! The garden must have looked very different when the parties started 35 years ago.

in the middle with hat: our host (Photo Jan Emming)
 There was a potluck, and the food was exceptional. So many mysterious, delicious, healthy dishes! and one could just taste that a lot of the ingredients were backyard grown. There were also big bins full of beautiful tomatoes to take home after the party. Too bad that I completely missed walking down to the vegetable garden. I spent time in a 'Wasp Garden' instead. It was too late in the day to actually see wasps, but the variety of milkweeds from colorful annuals to sturdy shrubs already covered in prickly (!) pods was amazing.

Green houses full of cacti and other succulents, epiphytic and ground orchids and bromeliaceae captivated everybody. One nice feature: instead of being moist and oppressively warm, these green houses are really shade-tents and have huge swamp coolers that take up whole walls, so the temperature was very pleasant for humans and plants.

Anna Lillia Reina and Randy admiring adenium plants

Mark is world famous for breeding Adeniums. Some years ago many of his most mature trees where shipped all the way to Singapore to be the permanent center piece of a big new plant museum there.
We just got a little foster-adenium from our friends from San Diego so it was nice to see them in their full glory.

The invitation said: This is a celebration for plant freaks and like-minded souls who love the desert because of the summers, not in spite of them.  If that describes you, then you're as welcome as desert rain! 

Photo by Jan Emming
So the best part were the people. Of all generations, ethnicities and nationalities and united by their interest in plants and nature in general. Scientists and hobbyists, botanists, entomologists, a bigfoot specialist, museum docents, gardeners, film makers and artists. People that I had met before and new friends. Conversations would easily spring up and sometimes just continue a thread begun a couple of years ago ... A great evening. Thank you so much Mark!

Good night! This is the sunset of the 20th of June (when I wasn't busy partying) 7:48 pm.  For my friends from more northern latitudes this may seem like a very short solstice day, but then our winter days aren't as short and dark as yours .....

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