No more roses in the desert.

On a torrid August day I moved and left my roses behind. I stopped trying to grow roses in the desert.

I now admit that roses were a sign of my rebellion. An obstinate challenge to the forces of the desert, if you want. Don’t take me wrong: roses do grow in the desert. But they are not “naturals”. You have to keep fighting against the high temperatures to keep them alive. Water them everyday and they will survive. It is in the nature of roses to be resilient and withstand a lot. During the scorching summer months some will even venture to open their flimsy petals for a forgiving early morning but the unbending sun will burn their petals in minutes and destroy their beauty.

It is not worth growing roses in the desert. Even with a lot of TLC they struggle and suffer too much. It is a sad business to grow roses in the desert, believe me.

I moved a month ago (yes, I still live in the Sonoran desert) and I have not planted a single rosebush in my garden. I now grow flowers that are “naturals”. One of them is the colorful and hearty bougainvillea which grows abundantly locally. Bougainvillea are not fussy in the desert: they don’t need a lot of water, they grow joyfully and plentifully in the desert sun. Contrary to roses, bougainvillea don’t require much TLC. Even in the middle of the summer, their branches will produce leaves that mutate into exuberant pinks, deep reds, bright whites and magenta.

I left my roses behind. This does not mean I love roses any less. It just means that I no longer want to fight the fury of the desert.

I need to learn the lessons taught by the indigenous people of the Sonoran desert. For them, this desert I now call home was vibrantly alive. They had a profound respect to this place. They respected its elements, climate, energies and whims. For them, the desert was a sacred land.

I can’t continue to struggle against the desert. The desert is stronger than me. I surrender.


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