I am a lover of horticulture, gardening and the environment. At age 8, I sent away for a package of Zinnia seeds for 10 cents and I've been hooked ever since. After 25 years of being self-employed, I retired. That only lasted 4 years and I now work in a water conservation program: I buy grass from homeowners who are willing to convert to desert landscaping and lose that thirsty green stuff. I pursue what interests me and you can blame my sister for getting me into this blogging thing.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring in the desert-It's no place for sissies

Last Monday, I went hiking with my friends on the north shore of Lake Mead. It is an awesome place, some would describe it as desolate. For those who appreciate the hardy plants and animals who survive here, we love the renewal that spring brings. The first thing we saw was an incredible display of the endangered Bear Paw Poppy, the plants thrive only in gypsum-rich soils. Technically, they are Arctomecon califonica.

Besides the fact that they are rare, their existence has held the land hungry developers in the Las Vegas Valley at bay. Expansion here has created many problems, not the least of which is congestion, a shortage of teachers, medical help and poor air quality. The BLM is protecting this innocuous little plant and slowing down development, so hooray for the Bear Paw Poppy.

Many of the plants are very small, like Sun Cups and Phacelia or desert primrose (the purple flower). Each is a little treasure when we find it and identify it. Very tiny flowers are called belly flowers, you have to lay down on your belly to see and appreciate them. Yellow seems to be a predominant color in desert plants. I think it makes them more attractive to pollinators, like bees. Once I was in Death Valley and saw a whole field of yellow, purple and white flowers. It inspired me to go home and create a flower bed in those colors.

These spectacular beauties are called Sun Rays. They will often grow in distrurbed soils along the road. I think the infrequent rain helps them thrive because it washes off the roads and gives the plants a little more water. It's pretty dry here so I have so much admiration for these tough plants that are so showy.

This is where we stopped for lunch, it's called Rogers Spring. It was a welcome break because there are bathrooms. It's a thermal hot spring and home to many unusual fish and turtles. There is an unusual amoeba that lives in these waters, a sign warns prospective swimmers that it can cause death if it enters your nose or ears. That's one of the reasons the desert is no place for sissies. This area is a haven to many birds including migratory birds so it's a favorite stop for the people who love birding. Rogers spring is a part of a national wildlife refuge. The stream that runs off of this 30 foot pond waters the many species of plants that surround the area. I love going to the desert, it brings peace to my soul.

P.S. For all my blogger friends who are waiting for the Costa Rica pictures, I'm still working on editing them, I took over 700 pictures.


Blogger Motherkitty said...

Beautiful pictures, and great descriptors of your hike. I wonder if animals drinking at this spring get infected by the amoeba? Can't wait to see your pictures of CR.

March 27, 2006 11:48 AM  
Blogger Alipurr said...

Glad you found some treasures to look at on your hike. You always give such good information.

March 27, 2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

MrsGreenThumb...some of us can write and some of us can take pretty pictures, but you are very talented at both.

The desert flowers are beautiful and I would like to know when the prettiest time of year is in the desert? I was out there once and everything was so colorful and blooming but I can't remember what time of year that was.

Your posts are always so informative and I always enjoy coming over to read. I leave feeling like I've learned something. Thank you.

March 27, 2006 5:47 PM  
Blogger MrsGreenThumb said...

The spring is by far the prettiest time of the year. I love the renewal of life from these desolate places. One time I sat for an hour on a lonely spot, just listening. We get so frenetic with all the details of our lives, we don't stop to appreciate the story Mother Nature is telling us. The years that we have the El Nino rains are the best. It had to have been the spring when you came here.

March 27, 2006 8:10 PM  
Blogger doubleknot said...

Your pictures and discriptions are just wonderful. Thanks for posting them.

March 28, 2006 4:47 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Loved the photos. What a scenic place to take a nature walk!

March 28, 2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger bornfool said...

Beautiful pictures. I love the flowers and Rogers spring looks so tranquil.

March 28, 2006 9:48 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Great pictures. It's amazing what can thrive in the desert and be so lovely and have those wonderful colorful flowers. Thanks for sharing your hike! It was great.

March 29, 2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

Those Bear Paw poppies are absolutely stunning! I have always loved poppies, but didn't even know there were yellow ones.

Thanks for this fascinating post.

March 30, 2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger Ciardra said...

Beautful pictures, gramma. In the immortal words of Trish, "ooh, pretty flowers!" The whole classification thing goes right over our heads.

And 700 pictures?! What, did you photograph EVERYTHING in sight? I think I've taken that many pictures, but I've been in a foreign country for seven months, so I have an excuse. Ah well, Costa Rica is beautiful.

March 30, 2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

MrsGreenThumb-- You take wonderful photos. You certainly portray the desert in its most beautiful light. It takes a fine and tender eye to see the beauty there, and you absolutely do see it!

Thank you so much for stopping by the Dharma Bums and leaving a comment. It is much appreciated.

April 02, 2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger The Four Bears in the Woods said...

WOW, thank you for the great post. It was informative and I loved the pictures. I love flowers and you made this very interesting.

I guess you could say I am a sissy. *VBS* I went through the desert with some family on a motorcycle and swore I would never do it again (at least not on a motorcycle that is). My MIL (Abandoned in Pasadena) and I thought we were dying! LOL
We didn't see this side of it or I guess I wasn't paying attention I was just trying to survive!

Loved your post!

Mama Bear

April 04, 2006 5:33 AM  
Blogger Franny said...

What beautiful pictures! I love poppies, in all shapes and colors and sizes. They are such hopeful flowers, don't you think?

In the rockies they are huge and red.

You are a lovely writer by the way.

April 04, 2006 7:04 AM  
Blogger bornfool said...

Still waiting for some words and Pics from Costa Rica. :)

April 08, 2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I'm with bornfool...I check everyday and I'm still waiting too.

April 12, 2006 1:16 PM  

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