Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Showing up

Desert Marigold and Lupine, Beeline Highway Arizona

My theory is that nobody knows a precise definition for a superbloom.  Wikipedia calls it “an unusually high proportion of wildflowers … which germinate and blossom at roughly the same time. The phenomenon is associated with an unusually wet rainy season.”  Vague.

Maybe this is a superbloom year, but even without the label, things are extraordinary out there.  I’ve been putting on a lot of miles enjoying and photographing the flowers, even though I should be studying for my FAA Commercial Drone Pilot exam (more on that in another post.)

Early Spring, Lake Pleasant Arizona

There were some brittlebush blooming at Lake Pleasant Regional Park early in March, but that was about it.  Sometimes showing up doesn’t yield what I’m hoping for.

Poppies and ocotillo skeleton, near Lake Pleasant Arizona

Across the road, next to a shooting range (that was an exercise in steadying my nerves), there was a lovely early field of Mexican Gold Poppies.

Globe mallow from above, Salome Road Arizona

Another day I completely struck out scouting in the Saddle Mountain and Eagletail area, but stumbled on some dense brittlebush on the way home.  The icing on the cake was that this display was in unrestricted airspace, so I put the drone up.

I’d been hearing such good things about the flowers in a long-time favorite place, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, that I spent a few nights in the campground and my camera and I drove and hiked in all kinds of weather.


Ajo Lily, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

I was thrilled to see the showy Ajo Lily and counted 24 different varieties of flowering plants.


Scorpionweed against a stormy background, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

There were also carpets of scorpionweed, lupine, and poppy.  I was surprised that a spot where I’ve seen a profuse owl’s clover bloom was bare. I showed up but they did not.  These things are just not predictable.


Globe Mallow and sahuaro skeleton, Sonoran Desert National Monument Arizona

On the way home I camped a night in blessed solitude in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, where Globe Mallow was taking over the world.  These flowers can look a little scraggly in isolation, but I enjoy them in profusion.


Poppy carpets in Southwestern Arizona

A favorite spot near home was sporting huge fields of poppies this year as well, and I made a couple of trips out there to shoot traditionally and with the drone.


The last stop (so far, at least) was along the Bush Highway east of Phoenix.  I was able to meet up with a friend and see what all the hype was about.  Good news and bad; the flowers carpets near the highway were spectacular, but there were easily 100 cars parked on that short stretch. 


Lupine, owl's clover, and poppies, sorta near Bush Highway, Arizona

We drove in, stopped to photograph a cluster of Chuparosa bushes near Sahuaro Lake, and drove right back out.  We ended up shooting in some unlikely places including this one, a wide spot in the median of the Beeline Highway.


Poppies, sahuaro, and sky from the tall tripod (drone)

There was also time for drone shots in a valley behind her house.

 It’s been fun showing up all over the Arizona Desert, well worth the miles. 

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