Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Break in the Desert - Day 3

The Kid is now at the age where children are required to sit in displays of spring wildflowers and be photographed. And since I don't have easy access to the Texas Bluebonnets anymore - it used to be so convenient when I was growing up: put on a dress, pile in the car, head down Hwy 360, pull the car to the side of the highway, jump out and snap a few photos, and then carry on with the rest of the day. Unfortunately in the Bay Area there are no good massive wildflower displays. The first Spring the Kid was around I even resorted to photographing him in a field of Oxalis pes-caprae (an invasive weed here in CA that has cheery yellow flowers) the horticulturalist in me feeling very guilty and ridiculous the whole time. I've never understood why CA can't have colorful banks of poppies along the highway in the spring, the way Texas has Bluebonnets. So we had to head out and find some poppies. Not that that was hard to convince me to do. And even though J and I are both Texans and I consider the Kid a Texan by blood, he was born here in California so I guess poppies are appropriate. Someday we'll manage to get to Texas when the Bluebonnets are blooming. I can't imagine the Kid would be able to grow up properly without a photo of him sitting in that sea of blue.

We headed out for the day and began passing fields of Lasthenia californica. I was oohing and ahhing.

lasthenia and snow

And then we got here:


Actually, we knew it was going to be good when we were still quite far away. It must have been at least 20 miles earlier when we could see a florescent orange splash on the hillsides like a beacon. OK, I'm going to quit talking now.

orange sea
orange and gray are nice
poppy field
why one hill and not the other?
poppy trail
poppy view
caution orange

I also really like the Visitor's Center at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. So cool how it is built into the hillside.

visitors center

And it wasn't just orange out there. The Phacelias added a nice purple contrast.

phacelia and poppies

And really the poppies were at their prettiest when set off with the Lasthenia californica. This area also had Lupinus bicolor and Castilleja exserta mixed in.

wildflower mix

And the Lasthenia smelled so good too! The view was fantastic but the smell was divine near the Lasthenia. The air was heady with honey fragrance. I hated to get back in the car. Oddly, I didn't smell it earlier in the day when I stopped to photograph the Lasthenia. It must release its fragrance as it warms. So yummy!

lasthenia hills

And Mission Accomplished:

mission accomplished


  1. WOW I cannot even imagine how awesome that must have been in person! Great photos! I thought it was orange soil at first then I scrolled down some more :D.

  2. Fantastic, I wish I could see something like this. I like how the visitor center almost looks like part of the landscape, in contrast to the track homes of the first photo.

  3. What a year for poppies. The Kid looks enchanted by them. And love his T-shirt!

  4. Oh my goodness- these are beautiful!

  5. Fluorescent orange indeed! Wow, that's an amazing display. Glad you got the Kid in the flowers. But you need to get that bluebonnet picture before he gets too old to pose in them. Mine is 14 and won't pose anymore.

  6. What happens when you grow bluebonnets here? I brought some seed back from Fredericksburg a few years ago, but lost it somewhere.

    Also: awesome pictures!

  7. Thanks everyone. I had a hunch that the poppies were going to be good this year with all the rain we got. And we just got lucky with the timing of our trip. One thing I can check off my must-see list! Bluebonnets are next. Last time I got to see them I wasn't old enough to appreciate them.
    Max-I grew some Bluebonnets one year here. They did OK, bloomed and everything, but they didn't reseed. Plus, now I'm spoiled with the CA native bush lupines that grow well here. I remember as a kid in Texas hearing about Lupines that grew into bushes and it sounded like some mythical creature to me.


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