With the somewhat unimpressive spring annual & perennial bloom essentially done in the low desert–save for the cactus blooms–wildflowers are still popping up around the state! Here’s what we’ve seen within the last several days:
Tohono Chul Park: Given the warm temperatures and lack of rain, I was quite impressed by the variety of healthy blooms in this Tucson park when I visited last Thursday. It was a Mecca of macro opportunities! A few poppies and owl clover are hanging on, while an abundance of yellow columbine, verbena, desert marigolds, yerba manza, and a variety of cacti blooms (including several species of night bloomers) are showing their colors. While you won’t go wrong on any paved path (or even just in the parking lot), head to the Sonoran Seasons Garden, cactus/succulent ramada, and the Riparian Habitat for best photo ops but bring a telephoto lens (in addition to macro) as some of the blooms are tucked behind low fences. Tohono Chul is home to the largest private collection of the famous Queen of the Night cactus, which blooms on one night sometime in May through July-sometimes with less than 12 hours notice! The magical event – called “Bloom Night” – has yet to occur this year, but it may come early. If you’re interested in catching this popular event, learn more and sign up for their email notification list at http://tohonochulpark.org/cereus.
Tucson Botanical Garden: Although smaller in size than Tohono Chul, TBG offered a slightly different collection of flowers to photograph. Head to the Cactus and Succulent Garden for strawberry hedgehog and a variety of night blooming cacti around the cafe. Then visit the Wildflower Garden for primrose, blanketflower, and globemallow.
- Saguaro National Park (West): After observing several saguaro cacti in bloom while driving along Gates Pass Road, I popped into the Visitor Center to learn how the bloom was progressing. The ranger suggested the saguaro bloom had just started and expected the bloom to crescendo to a peak in the next two to three weeks, which would be earlier than normal. Best bet right now is along Hohokam Road. Some palo verde, prickly pear cactus, and buckhorn cactus were still blooming, but certainly past peak.
Sedona area: Some scattered strawberry hedgehog cactus, prickly pear cactus, desert globemallow, and blackfoot daisies around the Huckaby Trailhead parking area (although little seems to be blooming along Schnebly Hill Road at this time) and at the Back-O-Beyond Trailhead. Not much blooming in Slide Rock State Park…apple trees and myrtle bloomed in mid-March (yes, early!).
We eagerly awaiting the monsoon bloom, which typically occurs in late June through September (will it too be 1-2 months early?!). Also, this month, NOAA officially declared an “El Nino Watch” status, which means the likelihood of an El Nino (read: wetter weather for Arizona) developing this summer or fall increased above 50%.
Happy flower hunting!