Parting Gifts from the Desert

Macro Torch Cactus

Torch Cactus © 2012 Bo Mackison

My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth. ~ Lady Bird Johnson

I am on the home stretch — literally. In 36 hours, I will point my car towards the east, and then north, to begin the long drive home. Happily, Sherpa is flying in tomorrow, so no one has to drive alone for three and a half days.

I had today and tomorrow scheduled with packing, returning library books, changing addresses, saying good byes with neighbors and arranging for the many things that need arranging before a long trip.

And then I received an email from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. They were sending a short note to all their members  to let us now that the dazzling “Fireworks Cacti” were now in full bloom, and would be for only a few days.

So instead of following my original plans, I made room in my schedule for a three-hour photo shoot of some of the most unusual cactus flowers I have ever seen.  The flowers are in all the warm colors one associates with desert and heat — yellows, hot pinks, oranges, reds. Once I saw the cacti all in bloom, I had a very difficult time leaving. (I finally left after I’d taken over 600 photos, but only because I had filled my 16 gig memory card — and that’s a huge card!)

So — the cactus are called Torch Cactus, and they bloom for only a few days each year. They are not a native plant to the Sonoran desert, but they thrive here, and have become a landscape favorite because of their hardiness and beautiful color displays.

I promise. There are many more amazing photographs of these very photogenic flowers to come.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She traveled to Arizona to live and photograph the desert’s beauty for one hundred days. Getting ready for a drive.

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:

    Who would think that flower belonged to a cactus? Amazing…

    Have a safe trip home, Bo. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I was amzed to see an entire bed of these cacti — in varying colors. Red, yellow, peach, white, and shades mixed together!

  2. This is a lovely photo of a lovely flower. It glows from the center! Well done. Thanks for sharing the beauty of the desert with us. Have a safe drive home.

  3. Wishing you safe travels. I’m so glad you took the time to photograph this beauty! Thanks for sharing.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I was VERY glad I changed my plans and saw these flowers. they only bloom a few days a year, so I consider myself fortunate. And I still had everything packed in time!

      Not looking forward to 3 to 4 days of driving, but I am looking forward to seeing Wisconsin again.

  4. Spectacular!

  5. Now that is a spectacular gift! Looking forward to seeing more of these beautiful flowers.

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