If Mexican gold poppies are what you seek, then drop everything this instant and RUN – don’t walk! – to Peridot Mesa on the San Carlos Indian Reservation.
Paul and I had heard substantiated rumors from a couple friends (thanks Ron and Lori!) of “fields and fields of poppies” in this location. Based on when the flowers normally bloom here (mid-March), it seemed a little early, but the weather has been warm until recently. I took my camera and curiosity out to Peridot Mesa yesterday. And oh my! The hillsides were covered with poppies!
Mainly poppies, but also some blue dicks, lupine, and budding globemallow, blanketed the basin in between Peridot Mesa and Peridot Hills. With the cooler temperatures, the poppies began closing up quite early (about 2 hours before ‘sunset). As a couple walking the dirt road at sunset suggested, “The flowers have been sleeping [i.e., closing early] for three days in the cold.”
In sampling a number of clusters, it appears there are just as many buds waiting to bloom as there are flowers in bloom. Also, in surveying the ground, the lupine, blue dicks, globemallow, and other flowers are just starting to show. With this in mind – even though it looks stunning now – I think this location has yet to officially peak. Now, that said, forecasters are predicting 85-100% chance of rain in Phoenix starting Saturday and lasting through Tuesday. A heavy rain could damage the delicate and dainty poppy blooms, but could encourage the other blooms to continue their progress.
We added Peridot Mesa to our expanded 2nd edition of our book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers.” We are finishing the proofing process as we speak, but here’s a sneak peak of location #48: Peridot Mesa in case you wish to put it to good use immediately - please practice “Leave No Trace” principles and do not trample the flowers so that others may enjoy this beautiful site as well.
(Note: more wildflower updates after the sample)
In addition to Peridot Mesa, we are hearing consistent reports that wildflowers are showing off in Picacho Peak State Park (location #53 in 1st edition; #51 in 2nd edition).
En route to the San Carlos Indian Reservation, I noted that Silly Mountain (location #32 in 1st and 2nd editions) is staring to display some yellow on the brittlebush at higher elevations. I’d check this spot out in a week or so.
We’ve heard things are just starting at Catalina State Park (#55/#53) and at Pipeline Canyon Trail/Lake Pleasant (#21/20) so keep an eye on those two spots in the weeks ahead via the 2015 Arizona State Parks Ranger Cam (which they did not turn on for 2014′s bloom) at azstateparks.com/RangerCam2015 and DesertUSA’s Wildflower reports at www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html.
Finally, while driving along Highway 93 last week, on Monday, I saw a healthy amount of Joshua tree blooms along the road. On my way back through the area on Thursday afternoon, almost all the blooms had disappeared and were replaced by blackened, dead stalks. We can’t explain the short-lasting bloom nor determine if additional blooms will appear, but from last week’s observations, the Joshua tree bloom might have happened and ended within a week’s time frame last week.
Happy wildflower hunting and shooting!