Joshua Tree Spring Blooms

Photo by Kaliani Devinne, Copyright 2015
The first weekend in April I went on a weekend retreat to Joshua Tree National Park, in search of wildflowers, and I was not disappointed.  Two different deserts converge in the park, the eastern half of the park, below 3000 feet is the Colorado Desert; while the western half, above 3000 feet, is the Mojave Desert.  Most of my pictures are from the Mojave Desert region, as well as from transitional zones.  The flowers were found along Queen Valley Road in the middle of the park.  The desert tortoise, whose path I crossed, was near the Bajada Nature Trail south of the Cottonwood Visitor Center.

Indigo Bush
Psorothamnus arborescens var. minutifolius
Many of the wildflowers are tiny and you won't see them from the road.  You have to get out of the car and walk.  The Park Service guide offered this advice: if you notice bees. bugs or butterflies, you've probably found a good spot to look.  This year the bloom wasn't as prolific as some years, due to the multi-year drought in California. The tiny little flowers in this picture are shown in the second photo with the toe of my hiking boot  for reference!
I spent two days in the park, wandering down random pathways and dirt roads, pulling off the road where I could and taking my camera along for the hike.  The distinctive Joshua trees are in the north-western part of the park.

The ocotillo are a bit farther east and south.  The day I took the picture of the Ocotillo with hummingbird, I was told by a fellow traveler that there was an amazing stand of blooming ocotillo a bit farther east. When the red flowers pop in abundance, they are magnificent!
Ocotillo with Hummingbird
I stayed at a friend's amazing Airbnb retreat called Bonita DomesLisa Starr is a drummaker who has designed and built the earth bag style dome structures that are restful sleeping pods, with a separate shared outdoor kitchen and firepit area, along with shared bathhouse for showering and another building that houses a toilet and sink.  The unique domes are reminiscent of Luke Skywalker's home on Tatooine, or a hobbit home.  The fact that they are made out of earth and cement, the location in Joshua Tree, and the lack of electronics make the domes a very healing place to rest and sleep.  It's like the earth is pulling you into its embrace!  I happened to be there on a full moon night, and the moonlight shone in the little triangular window above the futon on the earthen floor.  It was a magical experience, with coyotes howling in the distance!
My sleeping pod
The next morning I was up early. It was my birthday, and I was off in search of cactus flowers, and I found some real beauties!

I also found some gorgeous bushes with great pink, blue and purple flowers called a Paperbag Bush. I'd never seen them flowering before. Now, these you will see as you drive along, if you come at the right time of year. The desert blooms between mid-March and mid-April, depending on the weather conditions.
Paperbag Bush
Salazaria mexicana
The variety of colors and shapes, and of course, the protective needles is amazing.  This white background might look fuzzy, but it's anything but!

Even the tiny plants sprout their spiny protection!
Amsinckia tessellata
Near the Oasis Visitor Center I found some beautiful barrel cactus along the pathway to the oasis, along with many songbirds chirping and a woodpecker up in the palm trees.
Barrel cactus


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