Last Saturday we saw a sign for a pottery sale at the Tohono Chul park so we went. The sale gave us free admission to the park, we’re all about the free stuff, so we went in and admired the pottery. The pottery was set up in a lovely area under a ramada which gave a dapple light and a bit of a reprieve from the sun. Tables had been set up with table cloths, a few stands and the potter’s work. Much of it was, as Roger, Derek’s pottery teacher used to say, early days. Meaning they are trying hard but it is still beginner’s work. We talked to several of the smiling, name tagged potters about where they got their clay, what temperature they fire to and other pottery related stuff but unfortunately for them we did not buy anything. There were people buying some things but pottery just wasn’t in our budget. I still have some at home in boxes and Derek has been talking about maybe producing some raku work for our shop.
According to the brochure: The mission of Tohono Chul Park is to enrich people’s lives by connecting them with the wonders of nature, art and culture in the Sonoran Desert region and inspiring wise stewardship of the natural world.
It all began in 1966 when its benefactors, Richard and Jean Wilson, started piecing together patches of the desert that would form its core. During the 1970s the Wilsons were approached several times by developers seeking to purchase the land for commercial development. They always refused. When Pima County condemned a strip along the southern boundary of the property in order to widen Ina Road, Mr. Wilson demanded that they move every saguaro and replant it on their adjacent property. That would have been quite a feat since the saguaro is tall, prickly and extremely heavy. Above is a crested Saguaro, somewhat rare.
The staff at the park have created many distinct gardens within it’s borders. The hummingbird garden has many hummingbird friendly plants including salvia and desert honeysuckle. Hummingbirds are drawn to sweet, flute-shaped flowers, which are perfect for the birds’ long, narrow beaks. The Sonoran Seasons Garden space reflects the seasonal variations of the Arizona Upland. This part of the Sonoran Desert actually boasts five seasons – winter, spring, dry summer, monsoon summer and fall. When we were walking through it California poppies were blooming.
One of the more interesting gardens was the Ethnobotanical. It displays the types of plants the Tohono O’odham used for food, basket making, medicine, and cultural ceremonies. The summer garden features native plants flood farmed by the Tohono O’odham and the winter garden shows plants the Spanish and other Europeans brought with them to the New World. These plants couldn’t tolerate the hot summer weather so were grown over the winter months when native plants were sitting dormant.
The last prickly pear cactus picture shows nibble marks courtesy of the resident javelina. The first cactus has very long needles, the second non that I could see and the third cactus was dead. What I found out though was that the fuzzy white stuff on the prickly pear is a web created by the cochineal bug which makes a great red dye. It was prized by the early Europeans because there was nothing in Europe that dyed fabric quite as vibrant a red. I learned all this back in College in my natural dyes and spinning class but had no idea where the cochineal bug came from.
These are the three pictures that I have been looking at as fashion inspiration today. The first has a great colour combination and a beautiful star or flower pattern. The second and third picture is making think a lot about pleats. I love pleats, so does Issey Miyake (big name Japanese designer). Last picture, my buckle dress with pleats in the flounce.