The legend of the firewheel dates back to the Aztecs when it was just a simple, all-yellow wildflower. Women often wore the bright, cheerful flowers in their hair or as adornments, and kids played among the fields of firewheels, basking in the sun.
But all of that changed with the arrival of Cortez and his conquistadors. They brought death and destruction. Aztec blood soaked the land. The firewheel flower, moved by pity and grief, caught the falling blood in its petals. And so the legend goes, the firewheel changed forever, its bright yellow hue turned to a deep, rich red.
The firewheel is known as a symbol of the Aztec people and their enduring spirit. Its red petals are said to be stained with the blood of those who fell in the fight for their land and their way of life. And despite the passage of time, the legend remains a powerful and enduring reminder of the strength and resilience of the Aztec people.
The four spindly Gaillardia plants we picked up at The Butterfly Estates appeared to be on their way out for the season. Only a few blooms held on to the warm colors they’re known for. After planting them in the pollinator garden, they bounced back and bloomed with the winter solstice a few weeks away.
“So the colors of flowers have evolved to ideally tickle the eyes of bees, and I think that’s a truly wondrous result. It means that beauty, as we know it, is not only in the eye of the beholder, it arises because of that eye.”
Twenty-one hybridizers from around the world submit (via post due to COVID) new varieties for the International Waterlily & Water Gardening Society’s 2020 competition. Read more and see photos of the beautiful flowers here.