La Posada gardens report for July 2011

People say that there are four seasons in a solar year, but here in La Posada’s Gardens there are actually five. The fifth season has just commenced. We know that it has arrived when white cloud puffs begin rising over the White Mountains (east), Hopi mesas (north), San Francisco Peaks (west), and Mogollon Rim (south). By afternoon, these clouds have turned into blue and purple “summer monsoon” thunderstorms. Sometimes they roll down from the higher terrain surrounding Winslow and the bottom of the Little Colorado River Valley, bringing the gardens sacred, life-giving rains. Many July and August afternoons these monsoons bring only cooling gusts of wind and dust, rather than rain. No matter: we always celebrate this fifth season of the year, when the hot, clear blue skies of the dry season are suddenly filled in with clouds, lightning, thunder, and rain.

Of course, the five seasons are not separate from one another. They are intertwined; they overlap. For example, the vitex trees near the south and north entrances that are blooming right now with long, vivid purple/blue flowers did not leaf out until spring (the third season) had turned into summer (the fourth season). Vitex are extremely cold sensitive. Their leaves wait for warmth, and their flowers wait for heat….The plump, pungent bulbs of “Music” garlic that we recently harvested for The Turquoise Room were planted in October (Autumn, the second season) and survived the unusually severe cold of late December 2010 (Winter, the first season), when temperatures fell several degrees below zero. As the dry season turned into the monsoon, these garlic beds in the Jardin Potager were replanted with hot green New Mexico chiles and heat-loving eggplant, whose fruits are as black as a cold winter’s night. A garden is a circle.

Enjoy the fifth season in La Posada’s acres of organic gardens. Celebrate the clouds, sunshine, and rain.

Patrick Pynes, Ph.D., Gardens Manager

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