Spring in the Sonoran

Spring in the Sonoran

Spring in the Sonoran © 2012 Bo Mackison

An ordinary desert supports a much greater variety of plants than does either a forest or a prairie. ~ Elsworth Huntington

The last weeks of February mark the beginning of Spring in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson. Fewer nights will see below freezing weather, although it did snow in the higher elevations of the mountains a couple of days ago. I can still see remnants of the snow in the mountain saddles of the Santa Rita Mountains. But in the lower elevations, the average high temperatures for the days are nearing 70˚ F (about 21˚ C) and only a few nights get chilly.

The desert marigolds are out in force, especially on the south-facing slopes in the Tucson Mountains. I took the above photo featuring the marigolds plus a variety of greening desert plants at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum just west of Tucson, one of my favorite nature haunts. I’ve talked to museum staff and park rangers at nearby Saguaro National Park, and everyone is expecting a good year for the desert wildflowers.

I find my lack of experience living in the desert amusing. Last year, when I was so taken with the desert landscape, truly falling in love with the desert, I didn’t have enough experience to know that the desert was exceptionally barren. A prolonged drought plus severe cold and a hard frost in early February of 2011 kept the desert bloom to a minimum. This year, by comparison, the desert in coming alive before my eyes – trees in the riparian corridors are dressed in spring green, desert flowers are blooming, even the small shrubs and plants in the desert are leafing out.

The desert is alive with green and the flowers are blooming. And this is just the beginning. Yay!


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is admiring the beginning of spring in the desert. Perhaps the word “admiring” is a bit weak. Bo is in the throes of a love affair with Spring in the Sonoran Desert. There. That’s better.

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:

    Here’s to falling madly, wildly in love 🙂

    Can’t wait to see more photos of the wild flowers!

  2. Good luck with the wild flowers. I hope to see some great photos.

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    It’s hard to believe that the desert was barren last year, when you found so many beautiful plants to photograph, Bo. Now I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing what you find, after seeing the marigolds! Isn’t it amazing to think that they survive to bloom again, even after drought?

  4. I’m glad that you will have a good year for the flowers. There are few places that can compare to the Sonoran Desert when the wildflowers are blooming!

  5. The desert colors are absolutely gorgeous!

  6. The desert in spring is such a surprise, isn’t it? I never knew there was so much LIFE in the Sonoran Desert until spring time unveiled it all. Amazing! Will you be there when the saguaros bloom in May? Love your photo, as always!!!

  7. Lovely to see the blooming flowers.

Leave a Reply