Ocotillo Tangle


The American Southwest has its share of hardy plants that evolved to survive punishingly dry and hot conditions. The ocotillo is as spiny as any cactus, although it isn’t one itself. They sort of look like tall dead sticks splaying out from the ground, but they produce beautiful red blossoms after a rain. Look closely at the base and you’ll see a tangle of spiky stems that dare you to stick your hand inside. The photo above was taken at Joshua Tree National Park.

After a rain, red flowers blossom from ocotillo plants. This specimen was photographed at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California.

Hidden Beauty


This is the time of year in the Pacific Northwest when irises bloom. There is a nice assortment of bearded irises in my daughter’s neighborhood in Seattle. While they’re gorgeous to look at, I never bothered to look inside the flower. This takes a little effort because the upright petals (called standards) need to be peeled back to reveal the interior. Photography is even more of a challenge because of the ‘obstruction’ and the casting of a shadow when the camera gets close. But, when I took these pictures, it was bright and sunny outside, and I had my camera phone handy. It was worth the trouble.