Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Flowering Desert

The main reason Mickey and I chose mid-April for our trip to Arizona this year is because we heard that April is when the cactus bloom.  I think Arizona had a later than usual spring too this year because it appears we were a couple of weeks too early to see any blossoms on the Saguaro.  However, there were many more to make us happy.

I was told by the nursery man who sold us this cactus several years ago that it's called Argentine Giant. It appears to be a very fast growing cactus and seems to like it's space just outside our pool gate. This is the first year it has bloomed.  When we first arrived in Surprise on April 10, it looked like this:

You can just see the buds on the large stem.
By  the 17th, it looked like this:

The buds are much larger
And by the time we left on the 19th, in spite of us talking to it every day trying to encourage it to open all the way before we had to leave, it looked like this:

Beautiful buds just ready to open
 We were very frustrated with it because we so wanted to see the flowers open.  My daughter, Sara, and her family went down to Surprise the day after Mickey and I came home, and wouldn't you know it, the blossoms were fully opened. She sent me a picture via phone but I can't for the life of me download it to the computer so I can't post it here.  The flowers, surprisingly, are not red, but white, and large.

In our front yard, we have a bottle brush tree which was in full bloom with beautiful red blossoms in the shape of bottle brushes.

A close-up of one of the blossoms alongside a branch ready to bloom.

Mickey up close and personal getting the best shots possible of the bottle brush.

At the side of the house we have a spreading prickly pear variety of cactus.  It is just loaded with buds, some of which opened up for us before we left.

The flowers are remarkably fragile looking with ultra thin petals.  Both yellow and orange blossoms grew on the same plant.

Beside the bottle brush bush we have a desert morning glory.  This would take up the whole yard if we didn't have it trimmed back regularly.

The pristine white flowers close up every evening and open with the sun in the morning.

We were almost too late to see this one.  It grows at the back of our pool.  I forget the name of it.  The flowers look like giant versions of lily-of-the-valley.  They were past their prime when we arrived but still looked beautiful.

And this one is at the tip top of one of the branches of the ocatillo (stick tree).  It grew quite a bit more while we were there, extending to about six inches of red blossom at the tips of the branches.  When we got this tree it looked like a bunch of sticks bundled together and it stayed that way for a year before it leafed out and started blooming.  It's quite beautiful and attracts the hummingbirds.

We have a couple of these bushes in the back yard.  I don't know what they're called either but they get filled with bright orange blossoms.

This is the tip top of one of our huge saguaros.  Those little knobs up there are the buds.  Someday I'll be there when they're open.  They'll be beautiful white flowers crowning the top of the cactus.

 This is our front yard saguaro.  No blossoms here but doesn't it lok like it has a face and is waving at us!  We have a couple of woodpeckers nesting in those holes at the top.

I don't know what these trees are either, but they're everywhere and so bright and cheerful.

It was very windy when we took these pictures so you can't see the details of the flowers.

So that was our little spot on the flowering desert.  It's really a very beautiful place to be in April.


RoeH said...

Palo Verde Trees. I just love them. So bright yellow for a couple of weeks here.


LOVE all the cactus flowers. Just beautiful open or not.

Mickey said...

Oh Palo Verde trees were so pretty but difficult to photograph as they were always swaying in the wind! Wish so much we had seen the blossoms of the Argentine as they seemed outstanding when open and they surprised me by being white. Was sure they'd be red. Tis the season of blossoms. There's a beauty here at our Conservatory in Edmonton now that I photographed this aft. Pat you have my permission to use my photographs to tell us all about it. I was so busy with my grandson and his new service dog I didn't even get a chance to read about it but it was pretty huge and outstanding. A corpse plant!

JQ said...

Oops. I read "Beautiful buds about to open" as "menacing aliens about to invade."

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It's nice to know that even in the desert, Spring comes. All your pictures of the blooms are wonderful. I love this time of year and look forward to the flowers.

Chatty Crone said...

Gosh Pat, I didn't realize that the cactus flowered that much or that pretty. sanide

Delena said...

I agree April is just so beautiful in Arizona. We are going to leave Canada later next year so we can stay until the end of April. Coming home to waist deep snow was just not fun and besides Cactus are my favorite plant. We had to leave mine behind because we didn't want to risk them at the border. When we did get to the border they didn't even ask if we had plants. grrr, I could have taken them!