Posts Tagged ‘Sonoran’

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Right now!

March 11, 2015

If you want to see amazing flowers in the desert, early March is the peak time.

Brittle bush and chuparosaChuparosa, palo verde, brittle bush, globe mallow, and many more shrubs have been in full bloom for several weeks now. The agaves are starting to blossom. Annuals are flowering, the spectacular poppies and lupines, as are the interesting little “belly plants,”called that by the researchers and photographers, who have to crawl around on their bellies to study the small ground-hugging plants that sprout, flower, and die back in a matter of weeks.

In lower and hotter elevations, plants bloom sooner. As the season progresses, the active blossoming moves uphill and to the north. Generally, cacti are some of the last to blossom, even out into May.

To take photographs, most people tend to go on a sunny day for brilliant, crisp flower photos. If you can, try taking pictures on an overcast day, or early morning or evening twilight for smooth even light–good for catching details that might be obscured by shadows, and capturing subtle colors.

And if you are lucky enough to get a rainy day, you have a chance for amazing photos, saturated cool colors, and moist, dripping petals on plants which rarely see moist and dripping days.

Check this websigte for useful desert flower photography tips: http://azstateparks.com/rangercam2015/index-3.html

For a list of what is blooming and where in Arizona, check out the Arizona State Parks website: http://azstateparks.com/rangercam2015/index-2.html

And the Desert Botanical Gardens website: http://www.dbg.org/gardening-horticulture/wildflower-infosite

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A Dry Heat

June 29, 2011

The joke is, in the Sonoran desert, even though it’s 114, it’s a dry heat.

The idea being that with very low humidity, amazingly, under 5 percent at times, the heat is easier to bear.

114, an average high for a few days each summer, is still bad enough, but given how few trees and other shelter there is in the desert, it’s almost always a sunny heat during the daytime, which adds another 7 to 10 degrees.

All plants and animals and people that live in the desert need to be built or adapt in some way to survive these extreme temperatures.

The hottest time of year is a few days before the summer Solstice on June 21, and a few weeks after that. Then the average daily temperature starts going down again, very very gradually.

A few weeks after the solstice is also the time when the summer monsoons really get going. The standard definition of monsoon season is the change in the wind, but in the desert, the important thing is that the monsoon usually brings moisture and finally rain from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico.

And of course, when the humidity goes up and the rains start, it’s still over 100 degrees in the desert. And it’s no longer a dry heat.

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Choose native plants for your desert landscape

July 22, 2010

One way to figure out what plants will be suitable and attractive in your desert landscaping is to go to a nearby natural area and see what is growing wild.

Make sure you select a location that is similar to yours in exposure, dryness and altitude.

Take photos or make a list of plants you find attractive. Never dig up native plants! They are fragile and rare, and in most places it is illegal to do so.  Almost everything you will see is available in plant stores. Photos will also help you arrange your landscaping, showing which plants grow together, and how much space they need.

Then go to the web or in plant books to learn about the plants you have found, or take your photos to a local nursery that specializes in native plants, and decide which are for you.

The variety of desert plants is surprising: cacti, shrubs, vines, spring-flowering annuals, many kinds of perennials. A big virtue of native plants is that they  require little in the way of extra water and plant food, and are easy to maintain.

One thing to keep in mind about native plants–some of them grow very slowly, so it may take a while for your landscape to mature. But there is nothing to match their beauty, and their ability to attract native fauna.