While we got very little rain this winter in the Arizona desert, RVers can enjoy blooms galore at the local public gardens. At Tohono Chul, desert wildflowers were a splash of color when I was there. Cactus were not blooming there yet. And, this little pond hosts desert pupfish, an endangered species that can live in very warm water. Another shaded riparian area is lovely to sit in on a warm day.
Some of the cactus are blooming at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum west of town. Earlier, the road over Gates Pass from Tucson to the museum was awash in yellow from britte bush. Below is a hedgehog cactus in bloom and a yucca sprouting up, getting ready to bloom.
Another oasis right in Tucson is the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Located on Alvernon Way between Grant and Speedway, an incredible amount of cactus and succulent species from deserts around the world are packed in a tiny space. These yucca are in full bloom. Do they look like lillies? They are in the lilly famly! And to the right is an agave of some sort, blooming in the middle of its tall stalk.
This are two from other areas. On the left is a baseball cactus from South Africa and next to it, a Mexican fire barrell cactus.
This crested cholla grows at the Botanical Garden. Through May you can also see a large variety of butterflies but in a very humid tropical hot house. Beautiful orchids and other flowers attract a number of species of non-native butterlifes.
A few nurseries also specialize in cactus and succulents. One of the species in bloom at Plants for the Southwest had an attractive crown of pink flowers. Weird Plants is another retail location for unusual cacti and hydroponic supplies. And next weekend, the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society will host the Sonoran X Conference with all sorts of rare cacti and succulents on display. Admission is free to see plants, though there is a charge for the workshops.
Pretty soon saguaro cactus will also be blooming. In fact at the Botanical Garden, I saw one saguaro already forming a blossom, which should open soon. They are my favorites, though I also love all the colors that other species put out. In what looks like a pretty dull place a good part of the year, spring brings wonderful color and surprises to the desert. It's seeing beauty like this that makes RVing all worthwhile. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak