The desert wildflower season is all but over. And to me, it fell below expectations. Not enough rain at the right time, I hear. But all desert color is not lost.
As the wildflowers fade along with our desert winter visitors, the snowbirds, a new phase emerges. We are now in the cactus-flower phase. Tree flowers are in the wings. Some palo verde are yellow-blooming along the lower washes and the mesquite, ironwood et al will come later as will the mighty Saguaro flowers.
Yesterday, I did a solo hike in North Mountain Park. Two weeks ago, traveling it with my niece from Nebraska, we found ourselves in the Great in Between. Wildflowers were on their way out and it was too early for cactus. But on this recent hike my favorite cactus flower, that of the Englemann Hedgehog, was at peak.
Not only are the blooms striking in magenta, purple and pinkish-red, the hedgehog bunches together and often produces as many as a half-dozen blooms from one little cluster.
Crossing the little north retaining dam, orange globemallow and yellow desert marigold were abloom in small numbers. While my hike was short — only 2.7 miles — the quality was high.