Paradise is just down the street. I-10 to the 202, exit onto East McDowell, then wheel on past the red sandstone buttes of Papago Park and, boom, you’re there. A mere 10 miles in all from my house. The Desert Botanical Garden.
Any plant known to have grown in the desert, no matter what country, is found here chances are. I’ve been there a lot, mostly with Nebra, whose been a member of the DBG since November of 1990.
We traveled out there this afternoon largely because of wildflower season. DBG has a small wildflowers garden and I wanted to identify the tiny purple wildflower I’ve seen for a week now on the trails in North Mountain Park. I’d gone through several books and Internet sites. Nothing seemed right.
The place was crowded, largely because there were three weddings going on in this lush desert landscape among those red buttes. And you had to dodge numerous photographers who were blocking paths to get that “just perfect” shot.
Our wanderings, though, found the bursting of wildflower season a few more weeks away. And there was nothing closer there to my mystery plant than gobs and gobs of verbena. The verbena clusters. My plant does not. It is just a single flower atop a leggy stem. Oh, and it has a yellow stamen. An anther and filament, I believe. Nebra insists it is a desert Bluebell. And it may turn out she’s right.
But all was not lost. We found the place filled not so much with alluring flora but with a sanctuary of alluring fauna. I chased around mockingbirds, starlings, a cactus wren, a hiding desert cottontail, a romantic pair of mourning doves and other pairs, Gambel’s quail and Curved-Bill Thrashers. It’s that time of year. Kiss-kiss.
We stayed about an hour and left to chase the sunset in Papago Park. The clouds looked right, but nothing appealed to the ol’ Canon.
It’s a great time of year to live in the desert. It just isn’t a great time yet for wildflowers.