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Spring in the Desert, Part 1

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Arizona than desert sand, cactus and rattlesnakes. In fact, during the spring, the wildflowers bloom — often in great profusion. Long-term readers of LAHP may recall the issue about flying with my pilot friend who works for Southwest. Click here to refresh your memory of what a whole hillside covered in wildflowers looks like from the air (next-to-last photos). And when the Desert Botanical Garden emailed notice of a bumper crop of wildflowers in the garden, I grabbed my camera and headed there.

The Chihuly Desert Towers are still gleaming in the mid-day sun — welcoming visitors to the gardens and, for me, bringing back fond memories of that fabulous exhibition.

A short stroll to the wildflower garden and I immediately encountered Mexican Gold Poppies. Similar to California Poppies, these are acclimated to the desert environment. They are native to Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of southwest U.S.

I confess that I am not an expert in identifying the varieties of plants I encountered — so forgive me if I get one wrong. This, I believe, is Autumn Sage. It is native to the Chihuahuan Desert, which is the the second largest desert in North America (occupying the valleys and basins of central and southern New Mexico, Texas west of the Pecos River and southeastern Arizona; south of the border, it covers the northern half of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, most of Coahuila, north-east portion of Durango, extreme northern portion of Zacatecas and small western portions of Nuevo León).

Here is a small Angelita Daisy plant. It is native to the Southwest U.S. and is generally found at 4,000 to 7,000 foot elevations.

A larger grouping of the same plant is quite spectacular.

I am not certain about this one — could be some type of Paintbrush — but it sure is beautiful.

Next is one of the sculptures by Carolina Escobar, some of which I shared during the holidays after visiting Las Noches de las Luminarias. I find them quite interesting because they look so organic yet other-worldly.

Here is a large stand of Blackfoot Daisies. There are widespread and relatively hardy.

A stand of Goodding's Verbena put on a colorful show. These are native to Argentina and southern Brazil.

Another Escobar sculpture, this one sitting in the midst of a profusion of wildflowers. Very nice.

We close this week with a mixed stand of Blackfoot Daisies and Goodding's Verbena. I think the blending of the two varieties is even more spectacular than either species alone.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com