I've told you before about the Anza-Borrego Desert. It's a place BP and I love (we spent part of our honeymoon there), treasuring its beauty and the myriad forms of life that figure out how to survive there.
Generally, California is only green for the month of March. Somehow, the green color softens the hills. This has been a wet winter for Southern California (San Diego is lucky to see 5 inches of rain a year). And, the storms have been spread out, meaning the rain that made it out to the desert did not fall all at once, but more dispersed. This has made it an excellent year for wildflowers, and I'm sure the calls to the Anza Borrego Wildflower Hotline have been legion. (This is the Southern Californian equivalent to New England Leaf-Peepers.)
So, along with everyone else in San Diego, we headed to Borrego this weekend, taking our trusty Honda along rough dirt roads and fishtailing through sandy washes. We were certainly rewarded, with veritable carpets of flowers, scumbled as if by a painter's hand in patches on the desert floor. Even in the stark badlands, a few brave blooms could be found.
There were Arizona lupine, and sand verbena; brown-throated primrose, and desert dandelions. There were odd lilies and tiny magenta flowers wedged into the cracks of rocks. Even the tar-smelling creosote boasted small yellow flowers. And the great spindle ocotillo with red flowers at the tips of their branches, like candles. Insects and birds are busy, and we saw an enormous (ca. 4") caterpillar urgently eating its way through one bush.
Many flowers are still to come including indigo bush, desert lavendar, and cacti like the various cholla. It's early yet and with the passing weeks the bloom will move up the mountain, until the hills have a final surge of color, then return to their drab golden brown for the next 10 months.
Update: This is for Margaret. This caterpillar is about 4.5" long--you could hear him chomping. His tail has spikes. I bet he makes a fearsome moth. Click on this (or any pictures) for a bigger view.