The Desert in Bloom

BY INGRID SCHULZ

If I had a bucket list (I don't), near to the top of it would be seeing the Sonoran desert in bloom. Over the few years we've been spending partial winters in Arizona, I'd often heard it was a stunning and short few days, perhaps a week of full bloom color. Always, it eluded me.

Desert poppies and lupines.

Until, this year, when we seemed to hit the right time arriving at the end of March for a 10 day stay.

This saguaro is likely 150-200 years old, and wouldn't have grown it's first “arms” until it reached the age of 75.

The Sonoran desert covers 120,000 miles of land encompassing southwestern Arizona, northeastern California and down into Mexico. The most recognizable and stunning symbol of this arid land is the saguaro cactus, which incidentally is found nowhere else in the world. This is one of about 500 photos I have of saguaro cactus. Each is unique and there are thousands in the area, but we never seem to tire of photos-ops with a saguaro.

The rest of the vegetation is all cactus, Palo Verde trees and bush, and but for a few brief days they are seemingly prickly, weedy and dry. But, this year we caught it all in bloom and it was simply, a beautiful sight.

Wee, her visiting friend and I headed out one morning to have a look. The land was a green as we'd ever observed it, almost a surreal transformation from the usual dry and prickly landscape.

Everywhere flowers peeked out, even amongst the most thorny of backdrops.

A blooming staghorn cactus, with a Christmas cholla growing up amidst it, and flanked by brittlebush.

I think this trailing pretty white-flowered specimen is a buckwheat.

Even the most non-descript of cactii, the tiny and aptly-named hedgehog threw forth a stunning red bloom.

Back at the house we picked a bouquet of wildflowers from around the yard, only to walk the yard with a gardener later in the day and have him advise us to have all these “weeds” sprayed.

I understood the logic, after all, back home blankets of yellow dandelions choke out our good grass and here, these plants are dry and somewhat unsightly for most of the year, and worse, represent a fire hazard.

Still, for this neophyte desert dweller, I remain in awe of the beauty this arid land can produce for a few short days in spring.