During these sometimes bleak, rainy days, gardeners can celebrate the Golden State’s annual wildflower season. The season extends from December to July, but it follows a rolling schedule that begins in Baja California and continues month-by-month to northern California. (Lassen Volcano National Park, near Redding, has wildflowers in bloom at higher elevations well into August and September.)
The most dramatic displays, with the greatest numbers of blooms from many species, are called “super blooms.” These occur only in years that have had generous rainfalls, so during our recent drought years we have seen relatively sparse presentations of wildflowers. 2019, happily, counts as a Superbloom Year, thanks to our well-above average precipitation.
For those who are not ready, willing, or able to travel to the wildflowers, the California Native
Monterey Bay area appreciators of the natural world can thrill at this seasonal spectacular at several nearby locations:
Pinnacles National Park: The California native plant blooms begin in mid-March and peak in May. According to travel website, Afar.com, the earliest displays include milkmaids, shooting stars and Indian warriors, followed by California poppies, bush poppies, fiesta flowers, monkey flowers, baby blue eyes, and bush lupine. The late-bloomers include clarkia, orchids, penstemons, and roses.
Mount Diablo State Park: This facility is near Walnut Creek, about 2 – 2.5 hours from the Monterey Bay area. Its wildflower displays include blue skullcap, Fendler’s meadow rue, sanicula, Johhny-jump-ups, bush lupine, monkey flowers, globe lilies, California poppies, birds’ eyes, and wallflowers.
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve: This 1,800-acre State Natural Reserve is 75 miles north of Los Angeles, and. Visiting this site from the Monterey Bay area involves a substantial trek, about 4.5 – 5 hour drive, but during April and early May, it provides a world-famous, show-stopping display of our state flower (Escholtzia californica), plus desert pincushion, blue dicks, California aster, and blue lupine.
Fort Ord National Monument: This site is off of Highway1, just south of Marina. According to the Bureau of Land Management, “In the late winter and early spring, monument visitors are treated with colorful displays of baby blue-eyes, ceanothus blue blossom, Hickman’s popcorn flower, buttercups, lupine, goldfields and sunflowers. In the summer and fall visitors see blooms of sticky monkey flower, nightshade, chaparral current and California golden rod. There are many rare plants at Fort Ord including the federally protected Contra Costa goldfields and Monterey spineflower.”
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: This extraordinary site, three miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, is the home of a botanical trove of California native plants, including annual wildflowers and many blooming perennials. Click here for a list of these plants.
The largest displays of wildflowers are found in southern California. If you will be
Reserve the opportunity to enjoy nature’s seasonal display of beautiful and fascinating wildflowers. You’ll be glad you did.