Well, there is a shrub that can be seen growing predominately throughout the desert southwest that releases a wonderful fragrance whenever it rains. This shrub is known as Creosote (Larrea tridentata).
This characteristic desert shrub can be found growing in the California desert, the southern third of Arizona, New Mexico and the western half of Texas otherwise known as the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts.
I am a bit of a science geek and what I find fascinating is that Creosote shrubs are classified as a single species, but depending on what desert they are growing in, have different chromosome numbers. The Creosote found in Texas have 26 pairs, in Arizona they have 52 pairs and in California they have 78 pairs. Some scientists theorize that the Creosote found in California evolved from those in the Arizona desert and the higher chromosome count somehow enabled them to survive the drier conditions of the Mojave desert.
Believe it or not some colonies in the Mojave desert are over 11,500 years old.
Their small leaves are covered with resin to protect against water loss and from being eaten. It is widely thought that Creosote produce a toxin to keep other plants from growing close by therefore keeping competition for limited resources to a minimum.
I actually had a client who had a large beautiful Creosote growing in their garden and had a boxwood hedge that was thriving, except for one area where a few boxwood shrubs were yellow and sickly. They had been that way for years. Coincidentally those sickly shrubs were a few feet away from the Creosote.
Creosote can be grown in the desert landscape under 5,000 ft. They do best with limited water and grow slowly. In their native habitat, they typically grow to 4 ft. in height, but in a landscape setting they can reach heights of up to 12 ft.
To start from seed, pour boiling water over the seeds and let sit overnight. Then plant in soil and water. As the plant grows, slowly taper off the water. I recommend only watering a mature creosote 2 to 3 times in the summer, but they can survive without any supplemental water.
**Here is an interesting fact - did you know that you don't have to wait for it to rain to enjoy the fragrance of this shrub? All you need to do is take a few leaves from the Creosote and rub them between your fingers and viola.... you will now be able to smell the rain.
By the way, if you would like to participate in this month's MGB (My Garden Bouquet), there is still time as it is held on the third week of each month. Please leave a comment and your link here and I will list your entry.