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Hiking above Texas Spring campground, Death Valley

WE TOOK A BREAK IN JANUARY IN SEARCH OF SUNSHINE and warmth. It’s hard to believe it has been more than two months since the last post! And now I’ve gotten out of the blogging habit. So time to do some catching up. We spent a total of eleven days in Death Valley over two visits, and explored some old and new territory in Arizona and California. We took ten great hikes in 30 days and plenty of short walks too. So much to see and explore…

Los Banos Reservoir walk

I’m not used to thinking of my phone as a camera, but on this trip I tried to use it as well as the point and shoot. Mixed results with the phone camera; this photo was taken at Los Banos Creek Reservoir St. Park (California) turned out pretty well. This was our first time here and we were the first visitors of the year!

Front of Death Valley railroad locomotive

I had forgotten to bring the regular camera when we walked through the Death Valley museum so used the opportunity to take some ‘arty’ photos with the phone.

Big logging wagon wheels

I managed to take more than 700! photos in 32 days and still have a lot of culling to do. Will post more later.

WHILE WE WERE AWAY the winter blooming clematis that we planted in 2010 began blooming in earnest. Masses of blooms and still blooming!

Clematis cirrohsa

Everywhere around the garden the drive to spring is in full swing.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane"

A yellow variety of hamamelis x intermedia

WINTER’S SENTINELS. I like to think of crocus this way. A bridge between winter and spring. Some are sunny and cheerful, others taller and stately and in a range of colors.

Giant crocus–purple 'Pickwick' with white 'Peter Pan'.

These giant crocus are quite tall at four-five inches tall. Good multipliers, not too vigorous.

HELLEBORES! These cheerful, nodding flowers also show up in many color variations. White, pink, pale yellow, maroon, green, and nearly black. They tend to be free hybridizers so offspring can be a surprise.

An unnamed, lovely pale yellow specimen

Pink ones from Grandma T's garden

Another dark pink/red variation.

We have lots of sun over the last few days, so I’ve tried to take advantage of the naturally backlit petals.

Dried seedheads of eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmot's Ghost".

Even the dried seedheads of long ago bloomed perennials have interest through the winter garden season.

Lichens on ribes sanguineum.

Even the bare branches and trunks of shrubs and trees can be beautiful with the icy, glaucous color of these fluffy lichens and spots of mustard colored ones too with counterpoints of swelling buds of this native flowering red currant.

And to end this sunny day post parade are winter blooming cyclamen. I never tire of their dainty disposition.

winter blooming cyclamen