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Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Most of us are familiar with the idea of using ground covers in the landscape and how they can add a welcome carpet of color.  

Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)

But, you may be surprised to find that they serve another purpose that is especially appreciated in hot climates.  Ground covers help to reduce the heat from the sun.  They do this by preventing the sun from heating up the ground that they cover.  When the ground heats up, it absorbs heat only to re-radiate it outward.  So, using ground covers is just one way to help cool down the landscape by a degree or two. 

I recently shared my favorite 10 native Southwestern ground covers in my latest article for Houzz.
What is your favorite ground cover? 

Some of you who are birdwatchers may have heard of the term ‘life list’, which refers to the list of birds that they hope to see within their lifetime.



While I like birds just fine, I don’t have a ‘life list’ of birds I want to see before I die.

But, I started wondering whether or not anyone had a ‘life list’ of plants that they hope to see in person?

I don’t know about you, but my list would be pretty long.  Of course, I would want to photograph any plant on my ‘life list’ so that I can view it again from time to time.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day with my friend and fellow southwestern-blogger, Pam Penick.  We drove around looking at some great examples of well-designed desert landscapes.

It was during this outing that I spotted a flower that I had wanted a really good photograph of for so long, but it was always just out of reach from my camera.

This particular flower is no stranger to residents of Arizona and I see them all the time in the spring.  However, photographing one close up, was almost impossible without a ladder…

My two youngest kids and I on a recent visit to the Tucson desert.

Yes, I am talking about the beautiful saguaro flower.

The buds of saguaro flowers begin to form at the very top of the cactus.

Heavily cropped photo of a saguaro blossom.

I once got a photo from faraway of the flowers using my best zoom lens (which doesn’t zoom all that close) to capture this picture a few years ago of saguaro flowers growing on an arm. 

But, that wasn’t good enough for me.  I wanted a photo that would show the intricacies of the 3-inch flower.

Well, it may have taken a few years, but yesterday was the day that I was able to get my camera within a few inches from a saguaro flower without having to use a ladder.


It was so wonderful to see this magnificent flower up close.  The white petals are somewhat waxy, like many flowers of cacti and the center is very large.

The blossoms open at night and stay open for only 24 hours and are pollinated by bats, birds and bees.

So, are you wondering how I got up so close to a saguaro flower?


We found these two arms from a saguaro laying on a pallet.  

My guess is that they were going to be transplanted. Unlike other cacti, saguaro do root well from cuttings.  While you can plant a saguaro arm in the soil, it will always look like an ‘arm’.

I was thrilled to have been able to photograph AND touch the blossom of this beautiful flower that is almost always out of reach.

So now I think that I may need to work on creating a ‘life list’ for photographing plants so that I can check off a saguaro blossom.

**My friend Pam and I had a wonderful adventure as viewed some amazing landscapes, which I can’t wait to show you…

I just have to wade through a few hundred photographs first 😉

So, what would plants would you put on your ‘life list’?