I am going to start with the wildflowers. The desert is bursting with blooms right now. The drive across Route 10 to Phoenix was the prettiest I ever remember. The area around Chiriaco Summit was especially beautiful. But there was no place to stop and take photos so I had to let the colors just whiz by me—lots of yellows, blues, purples, and whites. The Ocotillo were just sending up buds and the Saguaro will not bloom until later.
On our way down to Green Valley we stopped in Saguaro National Park and found it also bursting with wildflowers and with people who had come out to view them. Here are just some of the photos I took at our first stop. If I have the wrong names for any of these plants, please feel free to set me straight. I am by no means an expert! I did happen to latch on to a lady who seemed more knowledgeable than me as I was wandering around (an expert is someone who knows more than you do), plus she had a book in hand and she was happy to look up anything I pointed to. So some of the identifications are from her. The Visitor's Center had a nice display of exactly the flowers you could expect to find in the park, but as it was a display, I couldn't take it with me. I should have photographed it. (I'm a great one for taking pictures of signs. "You are here," etc. Otherwise you don't remember where you were!)
Desert Pincushion Chaenactis stevoides
?-Lupine (Possibly Arroyo Lupine Lupinus sparsiflorus.)
Rancher's Fireweed or Devil's Lettuce Amesinckia menziesii var. intermedia. It is a fiddleneck kind of plant.
White Easter-Bonnet Eriphyllum lanosum and a Bladderpod (Gordon's?) Lesquerella gordonii
Blue Dicks or Wild Hyacinth or Coveria Dichelostemma capitatum
This is either Desert Chicory Rafinesquia neomexicana or White Tackstem or Cupfruit Calycoseris wrightii. They are very similar. The lady told me that if it felt sticky it was the latter, but I think I felt the wrong part—the flower and not the stem.
Purple Owls' Clover or Escobita Castilleja exserta
I am not at all sure of these next two. Possibly Desert Bluebells but they are more purple than blue and the leaf isn't quite right. They do seem to be in the Hydrophyllaceae family.
And last but not least, Gold Poppies. I think these are Mexican Gold Poppies or Amapola del Campo Eschscholzia californica ssp. Mexicana. Very similar to our own dear California Poppies.