Now available: 2023 Landscape & Nature Calendar

Patchy Spring Flowers

The wildflower displays in spring here are often “patchy” – what I mean with that is: it’s no Carrizo Plain, where flowers carpet the entire plain, and overtake hillsides. Instead, the flowers here come up in spots between the taller shrubs, in particular in coastal sage scrub, which is less dense that chaparral.

Just like at Carrizo Plain though, it is an astonishing transformation: these open spots between the shrubs were all but bare, pale beige and dry in summer and fall. And then with the right mixture of winter rains and sunlight, those bare spots are taken over by delicate and colorful wildflowers, at least for a little while. (for a comparison, take a look at the older article “Transition” and this photo of a Sage Scrub Hillside in Summer.)

Here are some impressions of what those wildflower patches look like. :) I’ve been hanging on to these photos for quite a while – they’re nice, but not much individually (in my opinion…). Together, they make a lot more sense. What finally tipped the scale in favor of showing them was the last image, “Flowing Goldfields”, which is the only one of the five from this year.

On small-screen devices like phones or tablets, you can just scroll down. On larger screens, you may also click on any image to open it in the slideshow gallery view – for the best effect, I suggest switching your browser to full-screen mode (Windows: F11, Mac: ^⌘F).

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5 thoughts on “Patchy Spring Flowers”

  1. It really is amazing how the landscape transforms from the almost monochromatic browns and yellows to these bright splashes of color against the rich shades of green. Flowing Goldfields is a great title with that river of gold. Beautiful work, Alex.

  2. It’s very interesting to see these, Alex. Some are like rivers of wildflowers – more by far than I usually see at once, even if they’re patchy to your eyes. :-) I do understand the radical transformation that happens after the rain. As I’ve probably said before, our summers are really dry. Everything starts looking like the photos you linked to but again, not in large sweeps but in smaller pieces of the landscape. Then the rains come and from late September or so to June or July – much longer than where you are – everything is green again. It’s so different from the east coast and from where you grew up, too.

    • I guess the sense of abundance and density overall may be a bit misleading – the photos are from years with really good winter rains (2017, 2019 and 2020 were all very good wildflower years). On average, we do see more sparse appearances of wildflowers, perhaps more like what you’re seeing up north.

      And how I’d wish for rains from September through June! :)


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