How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
We spent the day in Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert of California.
The Counselor doesn’t want bouquets of roses. She wants something more adventurous.
There are other ways to enjoy beautiful growing things beyond what one finds at the florist. We’ve come to the park to hike, enjoy the dramatic landscape, wildlife and the flora, like this large example of the park’s namesake.
The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) isn’t a actually a tree. It’s a variety of Yucca, a member of the Agave family. We were a little early in the season, and they weren’t blooming yet.
Another plant that always catches the desert sunlight in an arresting way is the teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii).
Beautiful by itself or in a tasteful arrangement.
There are several dozen types of cholla, including Cylindropuntia ramosissima, the pencil cholla. (Click on the grouped pictures to see them full size.)
There’s even a stark beauty to the sere remains of dead cholla stem.
Even closer to the ground, sometimes tucked almost unnoticed are a profusion of other cacti.
The variety of shapes, sizes and colors punctuate niches throughout the desert.
Like cholla, they’re also attractive in arrangements.
There’s beauty in form and texture, too, even with all color removed.
Located as they are in a National Park, these beauties have to be admired in situ, not excavated, potted and carted home. And, it means some climbing around to see them.
My Valentine seemed satisfied, there on the trail, eager to see what’s next.
I’ll have several more reports on the vast and fascinating Joshua Tree National Park.
© Brad Nixon 2017