Color in the Desert

Hedgehog Cactus Blossom

Hedgehog Cactus Blossom © 2012 Bo Mackison

Our difficult and very urgent task is to accept that nature is not primarily a property to be possessed, but a gift to be received with admiration and gratitude. ~ Henri J. M. Nouwen

I have taken many photographs of many cactus blossoms. But this bright offering of the desert, this magenta blossom perched on the very tip of one of the many stems of this cactus, is my first cactus blossom taken in the natural desert.

Last year the desert was dry, very dry, and the flowers I did see were in botanical gardens where sufficient care was provided to keep the plants satisfied and blooming. But in the desert, along the trails wandering miles from the nearest building, the cactus were late bloomers and I had returned to Wisconsin before there was any blossoms of color in the desert.

But this year? This year I feel as if it is my birthday ever time I hike in the desert, and the desert is intent on giving me daily surprises, gifts of nature that I can only accept with my awakened senses, and then document with my camera and notebook.

It is impossible for me to explain how thrilling it is to be walking along a trail, weaving in and out, and up and down along mountain trails, studying the saguaro cacti forests one mountain over, the saguaros on the southern face of a mountain, as common as pine trees in a Northern forest. And I spot the first blooming cactus I’ve ever seen in the desert – a hedgehog cactus. And it sports one perfectly formed magenta blossom from one stem.

And suddenly, as I walk along, everywhere I look there are magenta flowers popping off the tips of the hedgehog stems. The Sonoran Desert is blooming in bright color as I watch. Occasionally I see a few yellow buds on other hedgehogs, and as I survey the mighty saguaro, I notice a few that have flower buds at their highest tip.

Saguaros typically bloom in mid-May through mid-June in the Tucson region of the Sonoran, but it has been an early blooming season, and the cacti are proving no exception. This year I purposely stayed in Arizona through April, hoping to see the cactus bloom, and I am  quite ecstatic that the desert is showing me her colors.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC, living and photographing in southern Arizona until the end of April. She is thrilled that the cactus in the Sonoran desert are beginning to blossom.

About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. Joanna Paterson says:

    Oh Bo what a gift you’ve been offered! And how beautifully you honour it with your words and your photographs.

  2. So glad you are here to capture these amazing blossoms in the short time they are here.

  3. Beautiful colors and flower.

  4. Joanne Keevers says:

    It still amazes me to see such beautiful flowers on such thorny plants! The colour must have been striking when you spotted it, and such a gift. 🙂

  5. This one takes my breath.

  6. Gandalf says:

    Gorgeous photo. The cactus looks a great deal more lethal than a rose bush. Hope you didn’t get too close to the things that can stick you.

  7. Very lovely color. Great find it sounds like. Thank you for stopping by Sanukipity Photography and leaving the kind words.

  8. Simply gorgeous!! What ‘happy’ color!!!

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