Knowing One Saguaro

Saguaro Spines

Saguaro Spines © 2011 Bo Mackison

The Tucson area has had very little rain this winter. Add a freezing spell colder than average, and the result is little to nothing blooming in the desert I’ve been hiking. Rather than come home empty-handed with no photographs of flowering cacti, I have been concentrating on patterns and colors in tiny landscapes in the desert. This is a macro-photograph of the spines on a saguaro.

I’ve also been reading A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert by the staff of Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and edited by Steven J. Phillips and Patricia Wentworth Comus (a fascinatingly informative book). So I was beginning to feel like I had been well introduced to the mighty saguaro.

Patience in the Desert

Patience in the Desert © 2011 Bo Mackison

Then I hiked in a desert garden filled with rocks inscribed with quotes about the desert.

And I realized that my gathering of information about the saguaro has been only that — an introduction.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is living in Tucson for two months, exhibiting her photography in art shows, taking photographs, and blogging about photography, art fairs, and living life “solo.” She spends a little time each day exploring the desert. There is so much to see, so much to learn–about the Sonoran desert, about creating art, and about living a full life.

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. Bo, Bo, Bo……I simply must have a print of this photograph. Your imagery, your interpretation of the detail of a saguaro speaks to me deeply. This is sheer beauty in its rawest form – simple, elegant, true. Saguaros are my favorite cactus and the Sonoran Desert is my favorite desert. Have I mentioned that already? I love this – rock on, sister friend. Keep it comin.’

    • Bo Mackison says:

      You may certainly have a print. It’s not the kind of saguaro photo that most people expect, but I knew you would get it, Debi. I’ll keep shooting–promise!

  2. Simple and elegant – both the image and your comments. I would, however, caution against becoming a Saguaro hugger – I’ve seen Yosemite Sam and Wiley Coyote have run ins with “The Saguaro” many a time. 🙂

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    Oh, I like Gandalf’s comment. (Funny). Saguaro’s do not look in the least bit huggable! Your photo looks rather like a weapon more so than a plant, Bo.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Yes, Gandalf has a wicked sense of humor, Joanne. And I agree — I wouldn’t want to have a run-in with a Saguaro.

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