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Posts tagged ‘Spring Wildflowers’

LOTS OF POPPIES!

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”   Virgil A. Kraft

“When spring is dancing among the hills, one should not stay in a dark little corner.”  Kahlil Gibran

The other day I headed out to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve to find some poppies.  I was very successful!  This year is proving to be another Super Bloom.

I drove to the Poppy Reserve via Tehachapi and Rosamond and then on into Lancaster.  There are usually some poppy fields along Avenues D and I before getting to the Poppy Reserve.  This year was no different. Intermixed with the poppies were some small patches of Fiddleneck, Goldfields, Baby Blue Eyes, and the start of Lupine.

John Steinbeck (East of Eden, 1952) was accurate in his description of these fields of color: On the wide level acres of the valley the topsoil lay deep and futile.  It required only a rich winter of rain to make it break forth in grass and flowers. The spring flowers in a wet year were unbelievable. The whole valley floor, and the foothills too, would be carpeted with lupins and poppies.”

John Muir was rather poetic: “When California was wild, it was the floweriest part of the continent.”

The closer I got to the Poppy Reserve, the greater the crowds.  Cars were parked along the roadside as people wandered out into the fields.  Such traipsing is technically not illegal on land outside of the Reserve.  I would have been in line about an hour to get into the Reserve itself and start looking for parking.  Too many people.

I really prefer the flowers!

“Every natural object is a conductor of divinity and only by coming into contact with them. . . may we be filled with the Holy Ghost.”  John Muir

 “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”  Shakespeare

Spring breezes are a constant companion when out enjoying the poppies.  John Keats noted the same thing:  Through the Dancing Poppies stole a breeze most softly lulling to my soul.”  

I headed home via I-5, so I could drive the Gorman Post Road.  Poppies and Lupine are usually in bloom along this short stretch.  This year, they have not fully arrived yet.  Only one or two poppies were evident and a plant or two of lupine were not yet in full bloom.  The hills were mainly covered by Kern Tarweed.

It was another delightful spring afternoon.

This post is my response to Lens-Artist Photo Challenge 39: Hello April.

Those Blooming Saguaros

IMG_2660Saugaro NP Rincon & West 144I would bet most everyone has seen a Saguaro Cactus, at least in pictures.  It is an iconic image of old time westerns, even though it does not grow throughout all of the southwest.  A great place to view Saguaros is in the Saguaro National Park, outside Tucson, Arizona.  Driving through this national park is an incredible experience with its open vistas and extensive cactus forest.  But it is the Saguaro Cactus itself that is so amazing, especially when it is in bloom.

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For me, some of my amazement over the great Saguaros comes from knowing the basic facts about this wondrous plant:

The Saguaro Cactus is the defining plant of the Sonoran Desert, which runs from Mexico into Arizona and small sections of California.  Its blossom is the state wildflower for Arizona.

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This cactus is grown only from seeds, not from cuttings.

Saguaros grow very, very, very slowly.  At 10 years old, a cactus may be less than 2 inches tall.

Saguaros can live to be 200 years old, reaching heights of 40-60 feet tall.

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The largest known Saguaro is Champion Saguaro, and it is 45 feet tall with a three-foot girth. The tallest Saguaro ever measured was 78 feet tall before it blew over in a wind storm in 1986.

A Saguaro with no branches is called a spear.

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The branches start growing once a plant is about 75 years old.

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Once a Saguaro dies, its woody ribs can be used to build such things as fences and roofs.

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The whole life cycle of this magnificent cactus rests on its flower and pollination cycle.  Each plant can have hundreds of flowers, which bloom in late spring, generating red fruit throughout the summer.  Each fruit contains thousands of seeds.  The flowers are pollinated by insects, birds and even bats.

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IMG_2975Saugaro NP Rincon & West 085I have visited the Saguaro National Monument as well as the Tucson Desert Museum many times over the years, always enjoying the Saguaro Cactus.  However, I never managed to visit when the Saguaros were in bloom.  This year, I finally noticed the details shared in a brochure that stressed that the blooms were most prevalent in May—not earlier in the spring—and that one needed to be there early in the day to see them at their best.  It seems each blossom is short-lived, initially blooming after sunset and closing by noon the next day.

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When they are in bloom, they are gorgeous! 

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Spring in Red Rock Canyon State Park

IMG_5074California’s Red Rock Canyon State Park sits in Kern County, about 80 miles from Bakersfield, 25 miles from Mojave, and maybe 150 miles from Los Angeles.  For me, these details indicate the park is a local attraction.  But one I rarely visit.  The last time was about 20 years ago.  I am so glad I corrected that mistake this spring.

IMG_5022When first entering the park, the area may not seem that impressive.

 

 

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IMG_5069But Red Rock Canyon is impressive. It was established as a state park in 1968 and covers nearly 27,000 square acres.  It is a lovely little place with first-come-first-serve camping sites and a range of hiking trails.  The 300-foot cliffs are marked with rust staining caused by the iron oxide in the sandstone.  The cliffs and buttes at the entrance off Highway 14 are breath-taking! That little mushroom-shaped outcrop is about 25 feet tall.

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The vistas once inside Red Rock Canyon are also impressive.

 

 

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IMG_5020Various trails let visitors wander into the desert landscape to explore some of the cliffs’ nooks and crannies.

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IMG_5036IMG_5031At the end of March, when a friend and I visited this little gem, we were overwhelmed with the wildflower display.  We could not have picked a better day for our adventure.

Desert Dandelions carpeted the floor of Red Rock Canyon.

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There were several other wildflowers bursting forth as well.

Creosote Bush

Creosote Bush

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Owl Clover

Owl Clover

Goldenfields

Goldenfields

Poppies

Poppies

Chollo

Chollo

Joshua Trees were abundant, dotting the landscape in all directions.  Some were starting to bud.

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IMG_5335IMG_5358I returned the next week to see if the Joshua Tree buds were in bloom or other flowers had made an appearance.  Very little luck.  The flowers we had seen were waning, and no impressive Joshua Tree blooms were evident.

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The Indigo Bush was more apparent, and some little white and purple flowers were starting to bloom.  Dozens of Painted Ladies were flying around—although they were very camera shy.

Indigo Bush

Indigo Bush

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Shy Painted Lady

Shy Painted Lady

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Beavertail Cactus by Visitor Center

Beavertail Cactus by Visitor Center

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IMG_5081IMG_5078Leaving the park after the first visit, we headed north.  In about 25 miles, Highway 14 becomes U. S. Scenic Route 395—and we were moving on to see what we could see.  En route, these Globe Mallow caught our eye and the Desert Dandelions were still carpeting the desert floor.  I love the vibrant colors!

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If you have not visited Red Rock Canyon, put it on your list.

 

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