Lessons from Desert Flowers

Rock Gilia

Rock Gilia © 2012 Bo Mackison

       The desert’s beauty suggests patience and struggle and endurance. Even in the brightest colors of its brief spring flowers, there is something austere. ~ from The Desert Year by Joseph Wood Krutch

Most of the desert flowers are mere specks on the ground. If there are dozens of them, the color is fairly noticeable, but if there are only two or three quarter-inch blossoms sprawling against a bit of green leaf and a lot of gravelly desert floor, it takes some careful observations to see those pretty little things. Of course, in the desert, the smaller, the better chance at survival. A flower, or leaf on a shrub for that matter, that is minute requires considerably less moisture for survival than a flower or leaf a hundred times that size. Adaptation of the species, as we know it.

Blooming Aloe

Blooming Aloe © 2012 Bo Mackison

Notice how present a flower is, how it has surrendered to life. ~ Eckhart Tolle

Of course, the cacti and the succulents found in the desert have a totally different way to guarantee a flowering season, necessary for the continuation of the species. (No flowers, no seeds. No seed, no new flower).

This aloe is a succulent and has adaptive measures for desert survival. Succulents (and cacti, too) have the ability to suck up water when it does rain and then store it in large quantities. These plants send shallow roots in a wide circumference around the plant, and so the root absorbs the water before it evaporates. And when a succulent, like this bright-orange, flowering aloe, traps water in its system, its waxy surface helps keep the water in the plant and reduces water lost to evaporation.

We humans could learn much by consulting with nature and her ways:

  • Assess our weaknesses and strengths – bolster our weaknesses and play to our strengths.
  • Be resourceful and use our resources wisely. Do not use more natural resources than we need. Consider needs vs. wants.
  • Share your beauty, whether it be small and hidden, delicate and ethereal, or bright and showy.


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. Joanne Keevers says:

    What a lovely message Bo. 🙂

    I’m constantly amazed at the amount of colour you find in the desert. Your eyes are really focused, and that, I’m sure, is why you take such beautiful photos.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      There is a lot of color in the desert — if there has been enough rain. During dry times, there are many shades of brown and faded green. Still lovely, just different.

  2. The colors are gorgeous…and I love how you’ve found life lessons in these desert flowers. So inspiring!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks , Marcie. I’m amazed — the desert appears to have many lessons that I need to learn.

  3. I found that the desert was a magnificent teacher. Stern, harsh, and unforgiving, but magnificent!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      True, Montucky. Very true. You don;t mess around with the desert, but treat her with respect and go well-prepared.

  4. I especially like the Blooming Aloe–with it’s double.

  5. Beautiful post. 🙂

    One of the first things I noticed during my one and only visit to a desert was how small many of the wildflowers were. It took time, though, for me to notice them. Once I did, I realized they were spreading their beauty everywhere, if only I’d known how to look.

  6. Nature has lessons for those who want to learn. Beautiful photographs!

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