A Season of Blooms

We arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, just in time to watch the desert come alive.  I don’t think there’s a better time to visit the Valley of the Sun, aka Phoenix, than in late winter, early spring when the desert is dressed in all her finery.Superstition Mountain

What I would refer to as spring around here, begins a little earlier in the desert southwest than in other parts of the country.  Having lived in places like northern Illinois and southern Colorado, I would never refer to February as spring, but around flowering desertthe Phoenix valley, signs of spring are visible everywhere by mid February.

Trails and roads are usually lined with clusters of yellow flowers, courtesy of the brittlebush.

Flowers equal spring in my book and thus the season for blooms…. blooms of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  While I hit the hiking trails, I allow my eyes to look and discover the finer details of the blooming desert…. the little things.  I’m rarely disappointed.

After taking in the vast landscape, I narrow my focus discovering the little details

After taking in the vast landscape, I narrow my focus and discover little hidden surprises

desert flowers

Prickly pearAmongst the sharp cactus thorns grow delicate flowers.  The variety of foliage is an interesting collaboration of opposites; small, fine, delicate plants grow in harmony with large, hearty, thorned cacti.

Not wanting to be outdone by the other plants, the cacti produce their own flowers providing a profusion of colorful blooms dotting the landscape.

As many times as I’ve witnessed the extraordinary beauty of the desert, her extremes continue to amaze me.cactus

It’s not just the flora that’s intriguing…. it’s also the birds and animals that survive in this harsh land of extremes that are fascinating to observe.  Watching the relationship between flora and fauna in the Sonoran Desert during the blooming season is like watching a fine ballet …. beauty and drama are in abundance.

silhouette of an ocotillo cactus, but let's take a closer look at the bush lower right...

silhouette of an ocotillo cactus…. let’s take a closer look at the bush in the foreground…

I love the small delicate blooms

I love the small delicate blooms on this bush

The ocotillo cactus is one of my favorites. The leaves and flowers seem soft and delicate yet the thorns and sturdy bark make it one strong desert survivor. The ocotillo provides an excellent perch for birds and the orange flowers are very distinct.ocotilloocotillo







I truly enjoy this time of year in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.  I’ll be spending the next six weeks immersing myself in her gorgeous and abundant flora.  In closing, I leave you with a photo of a Fairy Duster.Fairy Duster

BTW… most of the photos in this post were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom – BlackSince it’s no longer in production, the price has been severely reduced.  So much so, I bought a back-up 🙂


121 thoughts on “A Season of Blooms

  1. We discovered your blog last year while planning our spring RV trip to NM and AZ, had never been to southern parts of those states and the desert. Got several tips from you for parks, driving, etc. We also discovered the awesome cacti, loved the ocotillo the best, too. And went to City of Rocks and spent first nite in site #1, then 3 more out in the rocks. Incredible place! Home thru UT and CO, exploring fun places and then camping near daughter and son-in-law that live in Boulder to end the trip. Heading out to SW UT this week and then back to CO, 7 week trip, can’t wait. We also have a 28 ft. 5th wheel, very similar. We enjoy your blog! Enjoy your travels!

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad I could share some helpful info. We’ve discovered some great places via the blogosphere. This summer will find us exploring some new territory which is always fun. Please feel free to share any fabulous places you discover either by commenting or sending me an email. We’ll be traveling up through Utah (maybe Bryce Canyon then up thru Salt Lake) and into Idaho in May.

  2. I love Arizona and am considering moving there from the south east. It offers a different type of beauty (captured in your photos) along with a sunny (sometimes very hot) environment. Short travel distances offer friendlier temperatures during the hot months of summer. Nothing beats those beautiful red rocks.

    • The desert can be an acquired taste, which I have definitely acquired. We love being able to travel and split time between the Gulf Coast and desert southwest.
      Let me know if you’re ever in the Phoenix area. I’m always looking at Real Estate and might be able to offer some insight. Although we enjoy Phoenix, we’re in love with Prescott and are looking there as well.

  3. It is so rare that we see greenery and flowers in the desert, so I really enjoyed this post, Ingrid. Thanks so much for sharing your breathtaking photos. I espec. liked the ocotillo silhouette.

    • The ocotillo is one of my favorites. It is such a unique plant, but then again the desert is filled with unique vegetation. Spring time is definitely my favorite time to visit the Arizona desert. She seems to come alive!

    • It is a very special sight to see the desert bloom. There is such an amazing contrast between the harsh thorny plants and the beautiful delicate flowers they produce. The vision never gets old 🙂

    • Yep, spring is perfect. By the 1st of May we try to be on our way north but sometimes I like sticking around to watch the saguaro bloom. Quite unique!

  4. Great photos Ingrid. I love how you have worked with the focus. You really do inspire us to take more photos. Thanks for sharing and I wish we were as close to “spring” you are are there.

  5. That’s It ! You have inspired us to purchase a new camera! For years we carried full size nikon 35MM cameras with at least 4 lens all over the world and bags of film but now only use iPhones. Your exellent photos have now inspired us to go back to full size digital especially for close ups. Would the 24x the best for closeups and a good starter lens?
    Thanks Ingrid

  6. Gorgeous photos, Ingrid. I love that spring starts making an appearance so early in the year around here. You beautifully captured those first signs.

  7. Fabulous pictures! You cease to amaze me!
    How I love to live in the Sonoran desert. Our yard is just now starting to wake up…Spring has sprung!

    • I have a bunch of outings on my agenda to capture the desert in all her glory. Each day produces more blooms. I could use a partner in crime 😉

      • YOU BET!! Text me soon and we can figure it out. Just not today as I am enjoying a margarita or two as it is National Margarita Day. I have a recipe over on the blog today!

    • Thank you Sylvia. I truly enjoy being able to visit the Gulf Coast AND the Sonoran Desert. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite as each offers its own unique beauty.

  8. Isn’t it great to see some blooms and the foliage come to life in the desert? Looks like you have more happening there than here in Quartzsite, we see the occasional bloom or bird but not too much yet. If you find yourself over this way look us up!

    • Most of these photos were taken during various times of the season last year, but the desert is quickly catching up. We’ll be hanging in Phoenix until mid April and by then it’ll be time to head north in search of cooler temps 🙂

  9. You are absolutely right, we need to come back to the desert at springtime. Ingrid your photos are as usual outstanding, not just with birds but with flowers too. We are seeing some colors here down south, and the Ocotillos are dotting the valley with red blooms.
    What! another camera? Amazing collection! I hope your new Canon will not be in the back burner with new FZ200.

    • It’s been musical cameras around my household. Now the little Sony P&S is giving me issue. Although I’m thinking it’s the media card. First time I’ve ever lost photos 😦
      There isn’t a better time to visit the desert than March, when she really comes alive!

  10. I have been taking pictures of the desert blooms as well and plan on doing a post some day in the future. When we were hiking yesterday the desert lilly was just beginning to bloom, very pretty and fragrant.

  11. Next time we hike bring the the Lumix and hopefully your pictures won’t disappear. More is blooming everyday. As usual beautiful pictures, I still can’t figure out how the birds perch on the cactus with out hurting themselves, hurts me just to look at them. We have been so blessed to “work” in the desert this winter and are so enjoying it, couldn’t have asked for a better winter/spring to be here.

    • I went on a hike this morning at the Sonoran Desert Preserve and saw all kinds of new flowers. Each day more and more pop up… love it. Yes, it’s the good camera from now on. I should’ve known something was wrong with the media card in the Sony P&S when a photo wouldn’t display on the screen…. a first for me…. grrrr! Guess that means we need to do a repeat – oh darn 😆

  12. We hiked yesterday with John and Pam and are just beginning to see some color. The orange mallow and desert rose mallow were popping out and we did see hints of purple. Pam & I were surprised we didn’t see any prickly pear buds though. A spring time desert dressed in all its colors is a sight to behold!

    • Totally agree – a sight to behold. More and more flowers are showing up each day. The cacti haven’t started blooming yet, but that’s just a matter of time. It’s been unusually warm so I’m expecting lots of flowers to start popping in the next couple of weeks. A visit to the Botanical Garden is in the works!

  13. Spring in the desert is amazing! Your photos really showcase the beauty. Love the Cactus Wren on the cactus. 🙂 My Canon SX50 seems to be biting the dust after six years of abuse. I’m going to take a look at the Panasonic. Thanks for the tip.

    • The desert is indeed glorious this time of year. I have the next six – eight weeks to capture her glory. My current Panasonic occasionally makes an interesting noise and sometimes is slow to focus. I thought about sending it in for a cleaning/repair but when the price of a new one dropped under $250… well, I couldn’t resist. I seriously looked at the Canon SX60 but the FZ200 still won in my book and I checked snapsort.com for more comparison shopping. You should also look into the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. If I could only pick one, it would be the FZ1000 – resolution, sensor size, and A settings. I’d be giving up some zoom but gaining in other areas. It’s also a bit bigger, heavier than the FZ200.
      BTW… LuAnn shoots with a FZ200 as well as Gayle and Jim (see Gayle’s comment). It is a great, lightweight camera to tote around all day.

      • I appreciate your thoughts, Ingrid. It’s a tough decision, for sure! Eric and I both have Canons (he has the SX60) — we love the zoom on the Canons and have been happy with our photos. But the Canons are now almost twice the price of the Lumix on sale. 😦 Your photos are wonderful (as are LuAnn’s) which makes me seriously consider the Lumix. Although last summer on Lopez LuAnn was talking about getting a Canon SX60 because of the zoom….Sigh. I want them all!

  14. Beautiful! I’m also enjoying the blooms that are coming out in Surprise, AZ. Thanks for the name of the Fairy Duster. So many I still don’t know. Where will you be next month?

    • The flowers will wait for you. The cactus haven’t started blooming yet but the desert should be in full swing in the next couple of weeks. March is usually the best.

    • I couldn’t agree more – the desert is beautiful in the spring. The hummingbird festival sounds fun but I expect to be north in another state in July. Destination still undecided…. Idaho? Wyoming? Colorado? Ah, so many fantastic choices!

  15. Hi Ingrid!

    I am so impressed with your blog and your photography. I am attempting to start a blog using WordPress, but so far it has been a slow start. Trying to learn about plug-ins and widgets. Do you have a moment for me to pick your brain? Did your Hemingway theme come with the widget to subscribe via email. Mine only seems to have a subscribe via RSS. I’d also love to put in something to show where I currently am located.

    I too am traveling in an RV, and I’m also in Phoenix. I’ve been here since the 9th, bur my car got terribly sideswiped by a huge flatbed semi in a roundabout in Wickenburg, AZ. So far I’ve spent more time working through insurance claims, rental cars and trying to figure out how to get my blog ready to launch than getting out to see the area. Your images are wonderful–you have a great eye for composition. Did you shoot most of these in one place or have you been a “wanderer?”

    I don’t know if I’m being presumptuous, but if you have time and wouldn’t mind, I’d love to meet you and take you out to lunch. If you are a private person and worry that I’d become a groupie (I won’t) I completely understand. Thanks for sharing your journey in your beautiful blog!

    • Hi Rhonda, sorry to hear about the car issues. Sometimes this mobile lifestyle throws us some curve balls. Thank you for your kind words regarding my photos and blog. I always enjoy meeting fellow bloggers, so I’d love to meet for lunch. I’ll shoot you an email soon 🙂

  16. Great collection of photos. it’s amazing how much a few hundred miles and sever thousand feet make between a stark gray landscape and a green and flowery landscape in the wintertime.

    • Thanks Timothy and it is amazing how drastic a landscape can change a mere hour or two away. When I told my sister in IL that we may not leave AZ this summer, she seemed surprised until I explained the elevation changes.

    • I remember all your shipping issues with Panasonic when you sent it in for repair. When I saw the FZ200 was under $250, I had to jump and get a back up especially how much I use and abuse my poor camera. I’m surprised it has held up this long 😆

  17. Super post. Pictures and comments compliment each other perfectly. The pictures were crisp and well lit. I really appreciate your post.
    Interesting trivia the Sonoran desert stretches north into Canada and the area just south of where I live in the Okanagan valley.

    • Thank you. Yes, the Sonoran Desert does stretch a looong way, but I didn’t know it went into Canada. I knew it continued far south into Mexico. Now I’ll need to pull up Google maps. Interesting stuff… thanks for the trivia.

  18. Beautiful pics, Ingrid, and a post well-done. I love and miss the desert this time of year. Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you and spring is the absolute perfect time for anyone to visit the Sonoran Desert. The profusion of color was so unexpected during my first visit.

  19. Beautiful blooms! Ocotillo is one of my favorites as well.

    I had to laugh at your buying a back up of your favorite camera. That’s something I would do.,,and it’s a smart move. I got a Nikon camera for a wedding gift when I was in my twenties…beautiful camera except half way through the honeymoon it got sever shutter lock in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. 😦 A back up camera would have been nice back then.

    I just bought the Fujifilm HS50EXR, the one Bulldog got last year as a gift from a blogger. I’m heading out now to go play with it. 😀

    • I’ve been overworking my FZ200 and am concerned one day when it’s least convenient, he’ll stop focusing. He occasionally makes an unusual sound and gets sluggish focusing so when I saw the crazy low price, I pulled the trigger on a new one. I really wanted the FZ1000 and even looked at the Fuji, but in the end, price dictated. Let me know how that Fuji works for you. I’m very curious.

  20. Love that first photo!! The yellow carpet in the desert is such a sight to behold. You are a little ahead of us down here in Tucson. However, we did see a big difference yesterday on the trail with the the change in color. The Fairy Dusters are out, the Orange Mallow are beginning as are a few other purple and yellow blooms. Gay and I couldn’t find one bud beginning on any cactus:( As a matter of fact, I’ve only seen a few ocotillo with any leaves. Seems to be a delayed spring this year. I imagine the cold nights (and several below freezing) slowed things a bit.

    • Most of the photos were actually taken last year around this time. Remember when we were all staying in AJ? I couldn’t get enough of the Superstition Mountains and hiking there. More and more wildflowers are popping out each day and the prickly pear should be starting soon. Can’t wait to visit the Botanical Garden 🙂

        • When will you be heading up to Moab? I’m not sure if we’ll be heading north via Moab again or head in another direction. Usually by now we have our plans figured out – not this year 😉

  21. You’re camera seems to take excellent quality photographs. My favorite one is all the little flowers on the bush. What a great combination of subtle colors and textures! 🙂

  22. gorgeous! enjoy the next six weeks, ingrid!
    you made a good purchase with the back up. my point and shoot lumix went south during the South Africa shoot. it wasn’t really a problem as my main camera is my canon 6D, but its not exactly handbag size!

    • Those cameras do have a knack of crapping out at the most inconvenient times. That Canon of yours (and of course your talented eye) takes amazing photos, but it is a big boy. You’re missing out on seeing the desert at her finest…. perhaps next year 🙂

  23. Very pretty! We were south of Tucson last weekend and did a wine trail. The hills and valleys were beautiful and sunsets breathtaking. I agree with you about this time of year. It’s a perfect time to explore.

    • Definitely a perfect time. We spent several days camped amongst thousands of sandhill cranes last year not too far from Wilcox and Tombstone. Then it was on to Patagonia. Southern Arizona is so vastly different than middle to northern AZ. Fantastic diversity that is never boring.

    • The fairy duster is fascinating. All the wildflowers along with other interesting vegetation was an unexpected surprise to me when we first started visiting the desert…. a wonderful surprise 🙂

  24. What a wonderful treat to read your post this morning – thank you. Beautiful flowers and photos – I can understand why you are drawn to the desert at this time of the year. Enjoy your weekend exploring.

    • Thank you Clay and yes, I definitely love spring in the desert. Next year, I’ll be faced with a dilemma… do I stay in Texas or head back to Phoenix? Not the worst situation to be in 😉

  25. I miss the desert this time of year. Thanks so giving me a little taste of its beauty. We hope to be there next winter.

  26. Thank you for sharing these beautiful flowers! I love cactus, such amazing plants to live in such harsh conditions. .. like with my in-laws. . Ha, just kidding!
    RV show at the Rosemont this weekend! Scary this year as we have money and a TT that hasn’t lost much value. .. Let’s hope we have control and don’t impulse buy!

      • Not a whole lot to write about it. It was fun, but only 3 TT models (2 toyhaulers/1 regular) interested us. And really, not really. We demand a king sized bed. (Foot planted!). I can deal w/o a real oven, windows that open and allow rain in, no kitchen table, or even not having a great wardrobe. But no king bed? Pass!
        We did better online!
        I found a Keystone (get model to u later) separate garage (has door so rest of camper doesn’t smell of gas!) King bed, only 35′ long. Used 2015 $30M. Perfect for us! Going Camping World today to see if they have anything similar.

        • I hear ya on that King bed. We have a Queen and have adjusted BUT…. 😉
          I actually have my eye on a FR3 motorhome, not that we’ll be making any changes anytime soon. Maybe in a couple of years. We’re still trying to figure out how many more years we want to be full-time.

  27. The green & the flowers give a softness to the harsh landscape. It is stunning. I have never seen nor heard of a Fairy Duster before, it’s very unique, & beautiful. How long does “Spring” take place in the Sonoran desert? I have noticed the change in southern LA too. I have seen Tulips, Daffadils & Tulip Magnolias in bloom. Being from the Great Lakes region it throws me off since I’m not used to seeing them until April or May.

    • The brittlebush is the first to make an appearance around the second week in February and then each week more and more plants start to bloom. This continues into May when the Saguaro are last to bloom. Different plants, bloom at different times with March and April being the most explosive. By the time the Saguaro bloom, temps are already in the 90’s and long past the time for RVer’s to move north, but it’s worth hanging in the heat at least once to see these soldiers of the desert blooming. No tulips or daffodils around here!

  28. Ingrid, your photos are amazing, and most impressive is your ability to capture a true color sky background along with a focussed close-up. How do you keep a bright sky from skewering your aperture settings? What settings do you use?

    • I usually set my camera to P (I rarely use auto anymore). I use shutter priority a lot when shooting birds and aperture priority occasionally for landscapes. I’ve learned my camera’s capabilities AND weaknesses. The one setting I always use is the white balance…. truer colors. A bridge camera does function a bit differently than a DSLR, but it does provide me with enough creative features making me happy. Oh, and a polarizing filter during bright sunlit days is a must!

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