Have you ever seen a mustard plant? When you look at the flowers of a mustard plant you know the color immediately. There is a large field of this in bloom just a few miles north of Mesa on Hwy 17; the small flowers floating above the bright green foliage. Mustard is a natural fumigant and green ‘manure’ as it returns key nutrients to the soil as it is turned into the soil in preparation for the next cash crop.
Have you ever worn a linen shirt or jacket? Next to the mustard field, and far more spectacular to my eye, is an expanse of about one hundred acres of flax – in flower! The first hazy view of lavender becomes a fuzz of periwinkle and then it hits: blue flowers, waving on the long, fibrous stems. The stuff of linen, made from the flax plant, growing in this field. Talk about sustainable, flax is fairly easy to raise, has ornamental value while it is growing, and produces its own renewal in the seeds.
I grew flax accidentally, if you will, when I lived on the west-side of the mountains as it came in a packet of mixed seeds. I carried those seeds with me to Ellensburg, planted them in a few pots while we lived in a rental house, but the pots were not large enough for the plants and they dehydrated before flowering. To my delight, our neighbor planted flax close to the sidewalk, so I still had flax to enjoy. But I didn’t take any of my neighbor’s seeds before moving as the yard was in such bad shape I didn’t want to plant it and loose it in the weeds that prevailed in that place. Today, seeing the enchanting spectacle of so much flax in flower, gave me great joy.
Maybe I will have to find some space for flax in my current garden; this warrants some thought this year and action next.