Spring is Busting Out in Phoenix

Say “Spring” in Phoenix and half the U.S. imagines blooming cactus. That’s it. Areas of the desert that have enough rain sprout Mexican Poppies.

My joy is seeing plants that come into Spring with a metaphor. Here’s what I mean:

Isn’t this the happiest blossom you’ve ever seen? Just bursting with energy. And yes, this delicate bloom is native to the Sonoran Desert.

Palo Verdes grow fast, so they are often trimmed hard in the fall. Palo Verdes have tiny leaves, and in the heat, they drop off. The tree had adapted with green branches and a green trunk–photosynthesis is not left to fickle leaves.

This pair is raising its arms to the sun, shaking fists at the sky that will fry those branches by late May.

Aloes are not indoor windowsill plants here. I have them as border plants. In late January, they send up straight spikes and in February the spikes bloom.

This spike got bent, but the blossom knows which way is up. I love this determination to find the sun.

The fig tree is deciduous—it looses its big, fuzzy leaves in November, and in March, the new leaves unfurl, one by one. The fig tree is about three weeks early this year.

I love watching the leaves peek out and then pop, as big as your hand, in a few weeks. I’m grateful for the shade in the summer, and more grateful for the figs that we eat in June.

–Quinn McDonald is a naturalist who never knew how much greenery thrives in the Sonoran Desert.


6 thoughts on “Spring is Busting Out in Phoenix

  1. For a sec I thought you had taken the poppy photo — I was ready to call you and ask, “WHERE???” It’s a gorgeous photo, though, and something I’d love to see in person.

    Love your aloe, looking for the sun, and the palo verdes, shaking their fists! Glad I’m not the only one who “sees” things in nature. A couple days ago I saw an ocotillo in bloom, looked like baby birds with beaks wide open, waiting for Mama. Ha!

    Loving the desert! I know I;m cheating, coming for the good parts, and then going back to Wisconsin for the good parts there, but a person (and a photographer) has to do what a person has to do! For me, that is follow the sun!

    • Wish I’d taken that photo, too. My first year here, the poppies around Apache Junction and the Superstitions were gorgeous. We haven’t had enough rain this year. Although in my neighborhood, the drip irrigation sometimes sprays awry, and poppies come up.

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