This past Saturday, I received a very excited phone call from my friend Kathleen. She had just returned from 10 days out of town, and said that the whole area around her house looked like a fairy garden. It turned out that while she was gone, the prickly pear cactus had come into its annual blooming, which was also greatly enhanced by all of the rain that we have had this spring. Being the avid photographer and nature lover that I am, I made arrangements to go over the next day to see the display.
Kathleen has been house sitting near Cortez at a house that sits on several hundred acres of pinyon pine and juniper forest. This habitat is characterized by dry conditions and generally sandy soil with bare areas in between sparse vegetation. Springtime wildflowers can be abundant, although by now, most of them have blossomed and gone to seed. June is the time for the prickly pear cactus to bloom, and what a show it put on this year!
These cactus flowers open up in the heat of the day and close up at night. I had gotten to Kathleen’s a bit too early for the blossoms to open up, so we sat on the deck of the house enjoying the hummingbirds sipping nectar from the feeders. The house sits on the edge of a big canyon, and the resident pair of golden eagles could be seen soaring and circling in the distance. As I rarely get much down time, it was delightful just to sit and enjoy the day.
Once we ventured out into the forest, cameras in hand, the sight of all of the blossoms was almost overwhelming. We were looking at single plants, small clusters and big patches of cactus blooming in colors ranging from hot pink to lemon yellow, peach to pumpkin, pale pink to pale yellow and everything in between. Some of the blossoms looked more like roses perched atop the spiny pads.
We went from place to place in a giddy manner, snapping photos all along the way. Everywhere we turned, there was something new and beautiful to see. The cactus fairies had certainly done their work well! It was magical. It felt like we had entered a space of no time, and the cares of everyday life just fell away.
I can’t tell you how nice it was to just be and enjoy. That’s very difficult for me to do at home, so getting out someplace in nature is so much more effective. I highly recommend it for everyone! I hope you enjoy the photos of Kathleen’s fairy garden.