In Search of the Notch-Leafed Phaecelia

Desert sunflower (I think) along I-210

I know it's been a while since I've posted - and thanks so much to Ms. Country Mouse for diligently continuing the blog and finding such a great new theme! 

Truth be told, I wanted something interesting to write about - and today, I finally have it! Last weekend Mr. Mouse and I traveled the long way south to see the desert in bloom, and it was amazing. Even along the way, the flowers beckoned. Unfortunately, you can't just stop the car and get off the freeway - but so enjoyable, the colors, and every once in a while the fragrance. 

When we finally got to Anza Borrego State Park, we were ready to get out of the car and have a look around! 
Desert sunflowers along Henderson Canyon Road
This was a super bloom year in the state park, and the weekend before - the peak of the bloom - traffic was backed up for several hours! But we were lucky to be one week later, and even though it was a Sunday, there was parking everywhere, and the crowds had thinned. 

Desert evening primrose

Different areas had completely different blooms, so we got out of the car several times, mulled about for a bit, then drove to the next special spot. Above, desert evening primrose with huge blooms (2 inch, maybe. 

Sand verbena
 The sand verbena reminded me of the verbena in Año Nueve State Park - but on steroids! Big flower clusters, lots of flowers! If you look closely, you'll see the sea of pink stretching all the way back.

Palo verde tree, desert sunflower, and succulents

 At the visitor center, the variety of plants was especially enticing. We saw blooming Palo Verde trees, sunflowers, and many other plants including succulents and cacti.

Indigo bush (Psorothamnus schottii)
I was surprised how my knowledge of CA native plants totally failed me. In the Pacific Northwest, even in Canada, I had mainly seen the usual suspects, with variations. Larkspur. Coral bells. Sure, I didn't know exactly what I was seeing, but I had an idea. Here, in the desert, things were very different indeed!

We stopped by at the visitor center to get a map, and walked around a little more enjoying the spectacular blooms and the people enjoying the blooms. Also butterflies, birds - a big explosion before things go mostly dormant again.

Because we were late in the season, we had the special pleasure to enjoy Ocatillo in bloom.

This plant, which looks like a bunch of spiny greenish sticks, has the most spectacular flowers!

Ocatillo close-up
It would have been fun to stay a little longer. Learn a little more. Enjoy a more quiet day in the park. But we had to get an early start on Monday to make it home before dark. And, being back, appreciated the joy of the journey and the joy of the return.

P.S. In case you're wondering: Yes, we did find the beautiful notch-leafed phaecelia, but I didn't manage to get a decent photo. A great reason to go back!


Country Mouse said…
Gosh - what a great experience - and great photos to share it. I read that locally there were wildflowers to be seen near the Rancho Del Oso visitor center, near Waddell Creek State Beach, and took our young visitor there. Never did find a wildflower rich trail, though lots of weeds in bloom! Rather disappointing. I may have a chance to go on a Coyote Ridge guided hike in April though.
Diana Studer said…
that indigo bush is spectacular.
Wonder if it would grow in a garden?
Town Mouse said…
Diana, this was super sandy soil, something most people don't have in their garden. As I said, most of the plants were spectacular and completely new to me. And I think it's because they're not "garden worthy"