The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all. —Mulan
Wildflower Season. Those were the magic words that inspired our mid-week getaway. But wait, there’s more! A rare “super bloom” is happening right now in the Southern California desert, unlike anything we’ve seen in our area since at least 1999! This, coming on the heels of a five-year drought, followed by a rain-soaked winter….how could we resist?
A Super Bloom is so magical, it’s hard to describe. Even with photo illustrations, I can’t do it justice. But let’s do a little show-and-tell, shall we? Maybe you’ll be inspired to see it for yourself someday, if you haven’t already…
If you drive through Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll see giant boulder stacks, rising like cairns from the desert floor. Look up, and you’ll see heavy clusters of white-green flowers, balanced on the very tips of the Joshua trees’ twisty, spiky stalks.
We wandered among the boulder stacks, stopping now and again to admire the fragrant creosote bushes, just now coming into yellow bloom. But you might choose instead to head for the bajada. Trade-offs…so much to see, no matter where you turn!
And if you’re willing to drive a bit further (highly recommended!), Anza-Borrego State Park is teeming with colorful flowers, warmed by a bright, hot sun in an impossibly blue sky.
630,000-acres’ worth of rare and wonderful sights — like the ones you’ll see below –and clean air, filled with the delicate aroma of wildflowers and the intoxicating fragrance of citrus groves.
Desert Sunflower and Desert Dandelion (yellow); Rock Daisy, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, and Fremont Pincushion (white)
The typically barren landscape is awash in color, splashed willy-nilly over hardscrabble soil…
Desert Sunflower and Desert Dandelion (yellow); Datura, Dune Evening Primrose, and Desert Chicory (white); Sand Verbena (purple)
..and tucked into the spiny remains of a cactus.
Wild Heliotrope/Notch-Leaf Phacelia (blue) and Fremont Pincushion (white)
Mother Nature is the best gardener of all, don’t you think?
A word to the wise: The best time for sightseeing is during the cool, morning hours.
Dune Evening Primrose (white)
Mid-day temperatures reach into the mid-90s–wilting, for most of us–and some flowers close their petals against the afternoon sun.
Gold Poppy (yellow) and Arizona Lupine (purple)
Plan your itinerary ahead of time. If you can arrange it, a weekday visit is best. Roads (hotels, restaurants) will be jammed on weekends, until the last blooms fade–likely at the end of March. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes, sunscreen, and lots of water. Need I mention your camera?
Imagine yourself in this soothing space, alone with your thoughts amidst a profusion of flowers.
Wild Heliotrope/Notch-Leaf Phacelia and Wild Canterbury Bells (blue); Purplemat (fuchsia); Desert Chicory and Fremont Pincushion (white); Gold Poppy (yellow)
Maybe your sensibilities lean toward the rambling, wild and raucous? Southern California deserts have it all, and then some. Desert Sunflowers, Purplemat, Desert Stars, Sand Verbena, Desert Chicory, Dune Evening Primrose, Canterbury Bells, Lupine, Desert Lavender, Poppies, Notch-leaf Phacelia, and Chuparosa…pick your favorite textures and palette.
Desert Sunflower (yellow) and Sand Verbena (purple)
Fortunately, we typically have a “rolling bloom” — meaning that different regions and elevations will come into bloom in overlapping intervals, showcasing several species of flowers at a time.
We hit the jackpot, as you can see. In fact, Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association described this portion of the bloom cycle as “excellent.” We couldn’t agree more.
Brittlebush (yellow) and Beavertail Cactus
Cacti are just now starting to bloom, and wildflowers are peaking. And while the Ocotillo aren’t yet ready to bloom, they’re surrounded by tiny yellow flowers, nestled into a downy-soft carpet of green.
Ocotillo (coral) and Pygmy Poppies
The best views are granted to hikers and off-road explorers. You know that, am I right? But you don’t have to wander too far afield–just keep your eyes open, and expect the unexpected.
If you can’t make this year’s wildflower blooms, why not treat yourself to a scroll through social media? Pull up Instagram, for instance, and see where these hashtags lead you: #superbloom, #superbloom2017, #cacti, #desertwildflowers, #anzaborrego, #desert, #JoshuaTree, #AnzaBorrego,and #borregoblooms.
Tag me when you do. I’d love to see what you discover!