Current Hot Spots:  Areas near Superior and Globe.  Peachville Mountain and Silver King Mine area continue their impressive (and super early!) poppy display.   Paul Wolterbeek out at Boyce Thompson Arboretum posted some great photos of Peridot Mesa on the San Carlos Indian Reservation on DesertUSA (http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/az.html).

Mexican Gold Poppy

Mexican Gold Poppy near Saguaro Lake

We’ve also received reports from readers that the Black Hills Rock Hounding area near Safford (thanks Donna Clarke!) and Box Canyon south of Highway 60 (thanks Sue Penney!) are both showing poppies as well.

Up and Coming:  Saguaro Lake area about 2 miles south of the intersection of the Beeline Highway (Hwy 87) and the Bush Highway.  In a short “drive-by” visit, we counted over 11 different types of flowers in bloom, including young poppies (see photo on left), lupine, chuparosa, bladderpod, fiddleneck, filaree, desert marigolds, desert globemallow, and desert pincushion (see photo on right)

Desert Pincushion

Desert Pincushion near Saguaro Lake

Not Happening (Yet):  Cline Cabin Road, Devils Potato Patch, and Oatman.  Though normally an early blooming location at the start of the Arizona’s wildflower season, Oatman likely saw an annual-killing freeze during the snowstorm that hit northwestern Arizona in the middle of last week.  Though poppies and other annuals aren’t likely to show there this year as a result, it still may be worth a visit to see the perennials in a month or so, specifically for the brittlebush, which are less affected by the extreme weather conditions.

Happy hunting!
~Colleen

 

The poppies are coming!  The poppies are coming!Mexican Gold Poppy

While some northern states are still buried in snow, it’s almost 70 degrees here in sunny Phoenix, Arizona (gotta love winter in the desert!). Thanks to some healthy rains in November and December (not so much in January though), combined with mild but warmer temperatures, we’re starting to see wildflowers in the desert already.

Poppies, like the one on the right from a couple years ago at Florence Junction, are beginning to pop up along the roadsides, as are blooms of globemallow, brittlebush, and desert marigolds. The result of human hydroseeding efforts, these early bloomers suggest the wild bloom may be just around the corner…on the early side if this weather continues…

Our good friend, Paul Wolterbeek at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park reports:

“Check out Peachville Mountain (north of Superior, AZ and best accessed from the Silver King Mine Road off highway 60)  over the next two weeks for hillsides of Goldpoppies — from 5 miles away you can already see the first west-facing hillsides turning orange-gold. Poppies are blooming now, but peak color should be 10-14 days ahead. Judging from the size of the hillside swaths I saw today – could be breathtaking by next week (maybe even this coming weekend).

Lesquerella, also known as bladderpod. Photo courtesy of Paul Wolterbeek.

Today I hiked a section of Arnett Canyon south of Boyce Thompson Arboretum with my co-worker Gonzalo, who lead me to a nice (though small, isolated and remote) hillside of goldpoppies. Photographed ‘em with charismatic saguaros in the background. Not my best poppy JPGs ever, but still my first for 2012 so I’m pleased! Red Maids and Henbit were abundant, we also saw a few scattered Firecracker Penstemon, Bluedicks, Bladderpod (both yellow and the “purpurea” variety with white flower clusters); Blackfoot Daisies – and even Desert Lavender. One Desert Anemone growing in the volcanic rocks down by the dry creekbed was a welcome surprise. Blooming flowers were few, but unusually early this year for our elevation (2,400 feet); Gonzalo pointed out abundant lupine, phacelia and other annuals that will flower over the coming weeks. Spring’s already looking good!

Photographers: if you go, please be careful and walk lightly – don’t trample small shoots that are coming up, Feb. 8 is still quite early in the season, with many flowers yet to bloom – so please tread lightly over all the lupines-to-be, phacelia, mallows and others that aren’t showy yet, but soon will be.”

Wolterbeek – who’s definitely as wild about wildflowers as we are!! – also kindly sent us a list of the first signs he’s seen of spring within the state park, which included:

  • “Marah gilensis (WILD CUCUMBER), all over the park – watch for skyward-reaching vines and coiled tendrils the plant uses to climb above host plants it uses as ladders to reach sunlight. clusters of starfish shaped flowers now will turn into fruit shaped like a medieval mace.
  • Crossosoma bigelovii (RHYOLITE BUSH, aka ragged rock flower), a cool shrub endemic to areas with volcanic rock, rhyolite, such as you find with our towering volcanic cliffs at BTA that are remnants of picket post mountain’s volcanic past. rhyolite bush is flowering strong this week, in fact many are at peak now — early this year.
  • Lycium exsertum (TOMATILLO), larger shrubs all along the main trail which began flowering back in January – and are at peak right now.  Flowers are tubular and downward pointing — worthy photo ops when they’re being worked by native bees. watch for little red berries on these shrubs in a month or so.
  • Simmondsia chinensis (JOJOBA), a member of the boxwood family, and a common desert shrub known for the coffee-bean-sized brown seeds you can snack on if you’re hiking a desert trail from may-through-july when ripe. you can’t easily tell the sex of these plants during fall and winter – but its obvious now when they’re flowering. many of these are at peak at BTA now. flowers are nondescript, green and unshowy – but its an important native plant if you’re into ethnobotany.
  • Lesquerella purpurea (PURPLE BLADDERPOD), the very first of these began blooming this weekend right along the trail up above Ayer Lake. despite the name, look for white flowers.
  • Phacelia distans (PHACELIA, scorpionweed); a member of the waterleaf family, the very first scattered few of these are blooming along the ‘switchbacks’ section of trail down below picket post mansion, just above queen creek. expect to see thickets of this photogenic, fuzzy & blue/purple/violet flower by mid/late February.
  • Ephedra viridis (MORMON TEA), like jojoba, this one’s unshoy and innocuous, but look closely at the flower clusters and you’ll see they resemble pine cones. they’re related.”

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum will start up their excellent guided wildflower walks with Cass Blodgett starting the first weekend in March.  For extra photography help, Paul and I will return to the Arboretum on March 3rd for another round of FREE presentation and photo walks.   For details on these two opportunities, check out http://ag.arizona.edu/bta/.  We also have a full schedule of additional events posted on our Wild in Arizona website at http://www.wildinarizona.com/events.html.

Starting within the next week or so, we’ll start posting field reports based on Paul and my upcoming outings so stay tuned to our blog here!  Another great resource to bookmark is the DesertUSA Wildflower Reports at http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html.

Happy color chasing!

~Colleen

Reflections in Palm Lake

Cottonwood leaf

Cottonwood leaf

For many people in northern latitudes, the month of December often rings of snow storms, shopping, and celebrations.  While the latest storm left parts of Arizona covered in that unfamiliar white stuff and the day-time high temperatures have dropped to a <sarcasm> frigid </sarcasm> 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the deciduous trees in southern Arizona are still saying it’s fall in this part of the country.

A day-long visit to the Hassyampa River Preserve outside of Wickenburg revealed a painterly palette of golds along the Hassyampa River Bed.  Peak color likely occurred a mere couple days ago, but with the recent storm leaving traces of snow behind on the high desert, the browning leaves will quickly find their way to the ground within a week or so.

A short hike up the steep Lyke’s Lookout trail showcases a more aerial view of the curvy waterway.  A stroll along the easy Palm Lake Loop and Willow Walkway provide excellent photographic opportunities to capture reflecting trees and leaves in the small man-made, but now spring-fed, pond.

View of the cotton-wood and willow-lined Hassyampa River bed

During the winter, the preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (trails close at 4:30).  An entrance fee is required.  For more information, visit the Hassyampa River Preserve.

Golden cottonwood trees reflect in Palm Lake

We’re excited to announce our first Book Signing Event with one of our valued book sponsors, Tempe Camera, on December 10th from 9 am to 5 pm.

Stop by to pick up your copy of our newly released book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How.”

Co-authors Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill will be on hand to sign books, share behind the scenes stories about the photos in the book, and chat about the 2012 spring bloom forecast.

In addition to the book signing, Colleen will be presenting two educational 30 minute sessions (times TBD) about “When, Where, and How to Photograph Arizona’s Wildflowers.”

And thanks to our book sponsors, we’ll also be raffling off great prizes from Wimberley, Think Tank Photo, Hoodman, and more throughout the day!

So come on down to Tempe Camera on December 10th to have some photo fun and gear up for the holidays and next year’s wildflower season! Friends, family, and photo enthusiasts all welcome at this FREE event.

Colleen and Paul look forward to seeing you there!

If you’re interested in photographing autumn colors in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, I’d recommend you immediately stop reading this blog, grab your cameras, and hit the road NOW!  The colors in the upper canyon are past peak, so this week will likely offer one of the last chances of this year to photograph in one of Arizona’s most scenic canyons!

The sycamores, maples, cottonwoods, and Arizona grape are still showing some color along 89A starting at the renowned West Fork of the Oak Creek Trail (about 11.5 miles north of downtown Sedona) and north up to Pumphouse Wash (about 13.5 miles north of downtown Sedona).  Even though peak appears to have occurred last week – leaf drop is significant and browning out fast – there are still fantastic opportunities to record autumnal hues on these two canyon hikes.

The West Fork of Oak Creek Trail allows for an easy-going, meandering hike along a tranquil creek.  Even a short stroll along the path offers fantastic photographic opportunities (we often joke that you could point your camera in any direction here and capture a great image!).  Bring wide-angle, macro, and telephoto lenses to match the broad subject matter you’ll encounter.  Pack a polarizing filter to enhance or eliminate the reflections in the creek.  And don’t forget an extra lens cloth, water shoes, and a tripod to stabilize your camera during long exposures if you plan to get in the water.  Keep an eye out for poison ivy, which will appear red this time of year.  For additional information about the West Fork of Oak Creek, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/westfork-tr.shtml.

A hike through Pumphouse Wash offers a more strenuous outing, but you’ll likely be one of few people in the canyon, making it an excellent spot for those seeking solitude.  There are no formal parking areas, but two dirt pullouts exist – one south and one north of the signed Pumphouse Wash bridge – on the west side of the road.  The wash runs under this bridge.  It’s a bit of a scramble to drop into the canyon from the north pullout, but the definitive social path shows the safest way down.  Once in the canyon, head eastward.  A trail does not exist.  Instead, you’ll be rock hopping on volcanic and sandstone boulders of all sizes almost the entire route.   Plan on a little extra time for the extra effort you’ll put in.  The best color currently appears within the first 45 minutes of your trek.  Because the scenery can look busy and visually overwhelming along the wash, try a normal or telephoto lens to help isolate your subjects here.  A polarizer will help bring out the colors left in the leaves.

Areas like Grasshopper Point and Slide Rock State Park displayed patchy color, trending towards browning out.  Mother Nature may decide these areas won’t see a lot of color this year, but there are chances to photograph the occasional tree showing a vibrant branch or leaves gracing the ground with a macro lens.  For more information about these two areas, visit:

All for now, happy shooting!

-Colleen

Analemma Press logo

The very talented, Dana John Wentzel (http://danawentzel.com) designed our logo.

Whenever Paul or I mention to someone that we’re in the process of writing and photographing for a book, by far, the most common response is:

“That’s fantastic!  Who’s your publisher?”

The short answer:  Analemma Press, L. L. C.

The long answer:  The first thing Paul and I did after our initial meeting in spring 2010 didn’t have anything to do with photography or writing.  Instead, we started evaluating the market for our idea and developing a query – a formal sales pitch, if you will – to shop our idea around to various traditional publishers.  We were ready to send lengthy letters to a number of selected outlets.

My ears perked up, though, during the 2010 Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) Conference as a number of highly successful book authors shared their experiences with self-publishing.  In less than three days, they collectively talked me out of sending our book idea to a traditional publishers.  They asked, “Do you know who you’re market is?”

“Yes, we think so,” I replied.

“Do you know where to find them?” they inquired.

“Yes, we think so,” I replied again.

“Are you willing to dedicate your own time and money to promote and sell the book to these customers, which you’re going to have to do anyway with a traditional publisher?” they posed.

“Yes, we know so,” I replied to their final question.

“Then publish it yourself!” they suggested enthusiastically and without hesitation.

Though the market analysis effort has already proven to be a valuable activity, we never sent our query letter out to anyone.  We consciously decided to produce, print, and promote our book without the support from an outside publisher.  Then in April 2011 (I joke, in a short moment of downtime/boredom), I formalized our path by creating my own publishing company, Analemma Press, LLC.

Which leads to the second most frequently asked question:

“What’s an analemma?”

Here’s an explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analemma.

Naming a new business is tough!   We brainstormed a list of ideas, mostly related to light, photography, creativity, hope, blah, blah, blah.  Nothing grabbed us.  However, after National Geographic posted a photograph of the sun’s analemma during the 2010 holidays (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/12/photogalleries/101228-sun-end-year-analemmas-solstice-eclipse-pictures/), I knew in an instant what name I wanted:  “Analemma Press.”

No, I am not one of the fortunate ones who has recorded this spectacle of nature (but you can bet it’s on the list of things to do!).  I’m enthralled with the planning, effort, and skills involved to capture such an image, though.  As I sketch out my own attempt to photograph an analemma in the future, in the meantime, this name serves as a daily reminder that with the proper planning, effort, and skill, anything is possible, even those things that seem so ridiculously far out of reach…like self-publishing a book!

——————————

QUICK BOOK UPDATE:  We’ve worked out a few print issues during our proofing process this week, so we’ve given the printer final approval to press.  Printing starts this Thursday, and we’re hoping to have the books in our hands within the next two weeks (barring any major issues)!!

~Colleen

© 2011 Wild in Arizona/Analemma Press, L. L. C. Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha