PETALS APLENTY: In much of the world the month of May and the concept of flowers are a longtime twosome. After all, those fabled April showers need to do their work before roses and daisies and lilacs can start showing up in profusion. There are exceptions to this rule, a major one being Death Valley National Park. There's no childhood rhyme for how and when and if flowers appear in one of the hottest, driest places on the planet -- "infrequent winter showers may or may not bring February wildflowers" isn't on the tip of most tongues -- but we like to believe that a lack of popular rhyme just goes to show how special a Death Valley flower is. They do appear, but their annual debut, and how many will turn up, are the mysteries. Let's call them delightful mysteries; wildflower watchers, those people who dutifully keep tabs on our California deserts starting about late January, are very into where petals are showing first. And reporting on that, too.
WHERE TO KEEP A WATCH: If you can't be out in the national park, binocs in hand, on a daily basis, watching, you can turn to sites like Desert USA, which posts regularly on where flowers are popping up. It's also worth swinging by the National Park Service page for Death Valley, too. "Lower elevations" can see wildflowers starting in mid-February, says the page, which gets fairly specific on where to look and when. Oh, and why are we making all this ballyhoo about flowers, something that can be seen outside of our deserts in higher numbers? Because wildflowers and deserts are quite striking together, and should be experienced at least once. Thank you, planet, for wowing us again.