Spring officially comes on March 21, but for some locations, the colorful wildflower season is in full swing. While El Nino rains have been somewhat of a bust in the Los Angeles Basin, other SoCal regions have been graced with a series of storms late last year – which translates into fantastic (super bloom) flower displays not seen in the last decade.
Case in point is Death Valley National Park which is experiencing unusually dense displays of wildflower at several super bloom hotspots that feature Desert Five-Spots, Gravel Ghost and more exotic sounding plant names. The autumn soakings, followed by cool months for seed germination and now warm sunny days have been a trifecta for wildflowers in the usually stark landscapes of the national park.
The previous super blooms of 1998 and 2005 in Death Valley also occurred in El Nino years.
Park rangers suggest that visitors check out a specular display of Desert Gold flower about 10 miles south of Badwater as well as white and purple flowering show along the Beatty Cutoff Road. In addition to viewing wildflowers from afar in a car, rangers also suggest you get down on their level and walk among them to appreciate their beauty. (Don’t pick them tho!)
Of course, be aware that everyone is planning a trip to the Death Valley right now and campsites and nearby hotels are filling up quickly. Also, rains have damaged park roads and the historic district at Scotty’s Castle. Some major roads are closed, so check Death Valley National Park website for details. www.nps.gov/deva
Closer to Los Angeles, it is unknown if the little rains here will produce equally impressive wildflower shows. But Bloomheads can keep track of what’s flowering by visiting the Wildflower Hot Line Report sponsored by Theodore Payne Foundation. The weekly hotline will be kicked into gear on March 1 and tracks numerous locations – public gardens, trails, open spaces, etc. – that may make for a satisfying day trip excursion. http://theodorepayne.org/education/wildflower-hotline
Keep your fingers crossed that this year’s poppies at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster will have a productive flowering season. Their annual Poppy Festival is slated for April 16-17 which features entertainment, family fun and of course, the golden flower of the state of California. http://www.poppyfestival.com/generalinformation.php