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I love springtime in the desert when it comes alive in shades of yellow, orange and pink.  

Beavertail prickly pear (Opuntia basilaris)

Last week, while I was driving through a residential area nestled in the desert mountains, I could hardly keep my eyes on the road.


Everywhere I turned, there were brightly colored cactus blooming.  It’s a small miracle that I didn’t crash into the curb as I drove closer.


Even though this is my 31st spring in the desert Southwest, watching prickly cactus transform into colorful accents never ceases to amaze me.

Claret Cup Cactus

Strawberry Hedgehog

I like to see smaller cacti such as claret cup and strawberry hedgehog planted alongside boulders for a mix of textures.  The cactus also like the opportunity for their roots to be shaded by the boulder.


The colors of flowering cacti range from shades of orange, pink, red and yellow.


There are so many different types of flowers that it can be hard to identify them all.  But, that doesn’t stop you from enjoying their pretty flowers.


The flower petals are somewhat waxy and sturdy.  Bees flock to the open blooms.


Prickly pear cacti are particularly spectacular this time of year, and their flower color varies depending on the species.


I can hardly wait to see all the blossoms begin to open.

Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria)

I must confess that I don’t have a lot of cactus in my garden – I am more of a flowering shrub and perennial gal.  But, I do have a few cactus tucked in here and there that I have obtained over the years.

My favorite it a small pincushion cactus, which produces rings of pink flowers off and on throughout spring and summer.  The small, native bees just love the flowers.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite flowering cactus?


Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)
Soft, pastel colored flowers ready for Easter.  But on a cactus?  

Absolutely!

 
Each year, an event occurs in the surrounding desert about the same time as Easter.  Beautiful spots of bright color start to appear on the hillsides of the desert.
Cacti everywhere are beginning to bloom.
Isn’t it amazing that such a tough, prickly plant produces such gorgeous flowers?
Purple Prickly Pear (Opuntia violaceae santa-rita)
The flowers themselves are soft….unlike the cactus.

Every spring, I look forward to seeing the beautiful show that the cacti put on with their colorful blooms.  I have anxiously been waiting to share them with you and now they are beginning to bloom 🙂
  
I hope you have enjoyed these unusual, yet beautiful flowers.

Happy Easter!

One the most frequent comments that I receive from readers is that some of the plants that grow in the desert are so strange and unusual.  This is especially true for those of us who are not desert natives.  

Although I have lived here in the desert for over 24 years, I still find many of the plants unique and strange to my eyes.  

As promised, this is a continuation of our visit to “The Living Desert” in Palm Desert, California.  Yesterday we looked at many of the beautiful flowering plants.  Today, I thought we would focus on some of the unusual yet beautiful plants that we saw.
While we were walking, my sister (Daisy Mom) asked me if I knew what all the plants were.  The horticulturist in me would have loved to have said yes, but that would have been a lie.  Many of the plants we saw were collected from dry regions from around the world, including parts of Africa.  
The truth is is that you do not need to know a plant’s name to be able to enjoy it’s beauty, like the one above.
Kokerboom (Aloe dichotoma)
Would you believe that the plant above is an aloe?
Here is a beautiful aloe flower that we encountered.

Mexican Blue Fan Palm (Brahea armata)
This is a slow growing palm and this is a very tall specimen.  My nephew is 6 ft. tall.
My nephew (Monkey Boy) was a great companion.  Many times when I went to venture off of the main path, he offered to come along with me and was always excited about what strange plants we would find.   How many teenage boys would offer to hang out with their aunt?  I am truly blessed.
 
A collection of various kinds of columnar cacti that are native to Baja California were very interesting to see.
The cacti in the middle looks like the tentacles of a squid reaching out to catch something.
Brightly colored barrel cactus.
My son idolizes his older cousin Mr. Green Jeans.
I enjoy spending time with my oldest nephew, Mr. Green Jeans, who also loves to take photographs as much as I do.  We were constantly walking behind everyone because we were so busy taking pictures of the beauty surrounding us.
 Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia basilaris) starting to form flower buds.
In April they produce beautiful magenta flowers. 
A Boojum Tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
The Boojum tree is closely related to the Ocotillo, which is not a type of cactus as many people believe.
    Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
This beautiful specimen of an Ocotillo towered above my husband and son.  This time of year, Ocotillo are leafing out and beginning to produce their orange colored flowers. 
California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palms, not surprisingly are native to this area of the desert.  They had very old and beautiful palms that dwarfed my nephew and daughter as they walked by.
 
Not surprisingly, there are those plants that you would do well to keep your distance from.
 My nephew (Monkey Boy) and my daughter taking a break.
I realize that it may look as if my daughter has a rattlesnake around her neck….and she does.  But, she didn’t pick it up out of the desert…it is a plastic one.  She has an affinity for toy snakes.  We are not sure why, but I am happy to give her all of the toy snakes she wants if it keeps her from wanting a real one.
   Chainfruit Cholla
We had a wonderful day.  I believe that my sister thought that we would spend 2 – 3 hours walking around.  But it was 5 hours before we finally headed back to our cars.  The fault lies with me….I had such a great time enjoying all of the beautiful plants and taking 500+ pictures.  My entire family was so patient and understanding, although next time I may need to bring my own car so I can stay late.
 Soon, I will post about what we saw up above and was easily missed if we had just kept our eyes to the ground.