Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Beauty in Your Own Backyard

We often believe that traveling is the way to view the beauty and mystery of the world but that is the furthest from the truth. One need only to look in the backyard to realize that much we love to look at and appreciate is within walking distance from the back door.

Living in the High Desert of Southern California, we do not have the same plant and tree species as other parts of the country where the elevation is lower and rainfall more frequent. No, in the Mojave Desert there are freezing winters, blistering summers, and less than 10 inches of rain per year. Not a great place for greenery without the use of drip systems and other landscaping aides. But even with this somewhat hostile environment for plants there are, as nature provides, opportunities for the most hardy of plants to flourish and prosper.

One such plant is the Yucca brevifolia - or commonly known as the Joshua Tree. This plant, it is not considered a real tree since the root system is different, grows in abundance in the Mojave Desert. In fact, it only grows wild in the southwestern portion of the United States and nowhere else on earth. It is found in California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada (southern sections of each state). It grows at an elevation of between 1,300 to 5,900 feet, can reach nearly 50 feet in height and can live hundreds of years given the right conditions. There was one tree which was recorded at 80 feet and almost 1,000 years in age. Getting the age correctly is difficult since unlike an actual tree there are no tree rings in which to deduce the age. The way to tell the age of a Joshua Tree is to measure it's height and calculate the average growth cycle which is usually around one half to one inch per year.

The plant received its name from the early mid-nineteenth century Mormon setters who made their way through the area on the way to the "promised land." The settlers believed the strange looking 'trees' reminded them of Joshua from the old testament standing in the open with his hands stretching to the skies in prayer to God. The name stuck.

Being fortunate to have two acres as our main base, we have Joshua Trees on our property and the vacant acres to the west, north, and south of us. With spring just a couple of days away, we decided to photograph some of these marvels of nature while they are blooming.

The photographs are breathtaking - but don't take the word of this writer - you be the judge and  enjoy.

For further information concerning the Joshua Tree -


1 comment:

  1. I think joshua trees are absolutely beautiful. I love seeing them around the desert.