ANYONE WHO GAZES OUT... upon a vista full of prickly shrubs and pretty rocks and distant mountains and proceeds to shrug, stating that the desert never, ever has a floral moment, doesn't know deserts. They're elaborate ecosystems with plenty to meet the eye in a pleasurable way -- the aforementioned mountains and shrubs are gorgeous, any time of the year -- and plenty that's kind of a secret depending on the season. We speak, of course, of the springtime wildflowers, an annual showing of colorful petals that have a way, depending on earlier rains, of popping up around the arid landscape. A first-time visitor in the summer might not believe that such a thing is true, but call upon Death Valley or Joshua Tree or the Mojave or Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at the end of February and into March and marvels of the bud-bursting kind await. And if the autumn and winter rains have been especially intense, the spring show can follow suit, as it is now doing around pockets of the California desert. As for the largest state park in the contiguous United States? Fear not, Anza aficionados: The Salton Sea-close expanse is putting on its petal-y coat for the year, as a recent report attests.
"YEAR OF THE LILY": The Anza-Borrego Foundation says that 2016 "is shaping up to be the 'Year of the Lily'!" Fun stuff for lily lovers out there, but there's more to enjoy among the crags and oases of the vast park. Desert dandelions and pincushions are other seasonal show-offs, and desert sunflowers have been known to do their spectacular thing come the close of winter. Some flowery destinations involve a little getting-there planning -- four-wheel drive and such may be necessary -- but a stop by the visitor's center in Borrego Springs can help the floral fan sort out where can be gotten to with the most ease (or adventure, if you prefer). But it isn't a long moment for our desert wildflowers; if you're going to get out to see them, well, best get got, as the saying sometimes goes. The clock waits for no one, nor does one of the Golden State's most unusual, and beloved, phenomena.