The Desert Smells Like Rain

In Arizona the desert wildflowers are particularly abundant this year because of the generous rainfall last winter. We’re driving through this enchanting landscape on our way to bookstore appearances at Changing Hands in Tempe and at the University of Arizona in Tucson, but we stop to watch a storm sweep across the desert along the way. When it rains in the dessert, aromas blossom, as though the arid ground was biding its time, eager to release it’s pent up beauty.

penstemon and baileya

Spectacular blossoms of pink penstemon (Penstemon parryi) and yellow baileya (Baileya multiradiata) erupt among the yuccas and mesquites. The beautiful colors of the desert wildflowers amaze and strike us dumb. Their profusion and their diversity inspire us to take way too many pictures.

Mexican gold poppies

Whole hillsides are carpeted with the lovely little Mexican gold poppy (Eschscholzia mexicana) a close cousin of the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Mexican gold poppy is often considered to be a subspecies of the California poppy. It is an altogether delightful little plant that blooms in extraordinary abundance once a decade or so.

desert mountains

When we arrive at our destination we soak up the warmth and the sunshine. How delightful to be here after winter in the chilly Pacific Northwest. Palm trees sway in the breeze and the mountains glow in the late afternoon sun.

car and bookstore

We park in front of Changing Hands in Tempe and meet with the biggest crowd we’ve had on our whole book tour. Amazing. Several people bring in sick plants to be diagnosed and we all have a great time detecting plant solutions for an evening.

table display

In Tucson we give a PowerPoint presentation at the University of Arizona Bookstore. One woman brings in photographs of a Dracaena in trouble. We use the book together to diagnose the problem. The leaves are turning brown and the plant sheds its oldest leaves. This is a natural process, as all leaves have a finite life span.

 It’s really wonderful to get to see how many people find that using the flow charts in our book is much like a game, or like being a detective. It allows people to be forensic scientists as they work through the decision tree to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Who knew it would be so much fun?

 If you have a favorite spot we should not miss, please let us know. We invite you to share your stories of the greenworld, and welcome you to join us at one of our stops on the road. See our events page for all the details (

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