Hyptis emoryi

Desert lavender

Cynthia Miller



Everywhere the world grows lavender cousins —

          Lavendula, the evergreen or subshrub

          bushmint family

          aromatic prize


eats full sun, drinks little water, happily interbreeds until

names and hybrids, too many to sort!


The Lavender Lady, English lavender, Compacta, the dwarf, Hidcote, Jean Davis,

Munstead, Twickle Purple, with extra long stalks (attractive to bees!),

tall Franch lavender, large-leafed Candicans, Intermedia ‘Grosso,’ long-leafed lanata,

Latifolia of the broad leaves and proud flower spikes


Provence lavender, extra aromatic,

Fred Boutin (o white and wooly leaves),

almost ever-blooming Canarienns and Multifida,

stocky Spanish lavender with showy purple bracts


arid cousin, Desert Lavender, hyptis emoryi,

maybe not as ancient as the cactus company

it keeps blooming its silly head off

from spring to fall, monsoon or no monsoon,

                  Calls butterflies!


          Small Blues! Hairstreaks! Metalmarks!

with its ancient and luxurious perfume

                  Calls Bees!

with the smell of the question the fire was asking as it began to burn.


On the slopes of a desert wash, under willow, beyond creosotes.

         this lavender,

          not planted for a hedge, a border, a garden herb, a flavor, a scent


perfect for moonlight, silver-grey leaves mining light,

immune to the snacking habits of rabbits





Cynthia Miller is a full-time painter and part-time poet. She has been walking around the Sonoran desert for over forty years. She lives and works with poet, book artist, Charles Alexander.