Celebrating Our Native Flowers

This spring, the so-called “super bloom” of California, has received a lot of attention, thanks to social media. Selfie-seekers and satellite photos have really fueled an interest in a phenomena that has happened for a millennia (not specifically for “millennials”, although many may argue that point).

In 1868, John Muir wrote, during a visit to the Santa Clara Valley, “The hills were so covered with flowers that they seem to be painted”. What a  beautiful, evocative image.  Now of course, the Santa Clara Valley is more commonly known as Silicon Valley, so fields of wildflowers are a little harder to find.  While several years of winter-drought has had an effect on the flower show in the places that remain.


Fields of wild poppies (Eschscholtzia californica) blooming in southern California. They are getting a lot of attention this year. This photo is from 2010, not even considered a super-bloom year. (Joy Albright-Souza)



poppies and fiddlenecks Joy

California poppies bloom into the distance, with yellow native fiddleneck standing up in front. Illustrating John Muir’s quote that the hills “…seem to be painted.” (Joy Albright-Souza)



wildflowers carizzo plain

The Carrizo Plain National Monument, with it’s annual flower display, is the largest single native grassland remaining in the west. National Monument status may be in jeopardy and is currently “under review”. (Joy Albright-Souza)



frank picture of wildflower goldfields

You can still get wonderful photos along side roads and trails. No need to trample the delicate, once-blooming plants before they make their seed for next year.



tidy tips and goldfields Joy

Little native Goldfields (Lasthenia californica) with their larger bi-colored cousins Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa). Working together these two California natives can make an amazing annual display.



california wildflowers per-joy

Looking close at a native flower field, you can see poppies with goldfields and diminutive purple Lupine. Often there is a sequence of species over a period of several of months.



sunning in poppy field

This is how we all feel, when seeing a glorious field of flowers. But, as flower-viewing gets more popular, it’s best for the flowers, if we just dance with our eyes and our hearts. (Joy Albright-Souza)



poppy seedpod

To insure the continuation of the species, our annual wildflowers must bloom and set viable seed, as quickly as possible, while the growing conditions are good. So trampling, or even picking the flowers, keeps the plants from making seed for the future. The slender pod on the right will yield hundreds of tiny black seeds, that can lie dormant in the ground until the right amount of rain signals germination.



champagne with poppies and joy

Grow your own poppies and throw a party. I just plopped down in my friends gravel pathway to get eye to eye with these spring beauties and it looks like I’m  ready for a refill on my prosecco.



spring native flower salad

Celebrating the colors of the season. Turn a spring flower salad into a picnic and really appreciate the moment. Shown here; arugula, tulbaghia, violas, fennel, pea shoots, shaved asparagus and native Miner’s Lettuce from my own garden. Serve with Green Goddess dressing and a coastal Pinot Noir.


Almost everyone can appreciate even a single blossom up close and personal. Share the moment with a companion. Poppies are easy to grow if you scatter the seeds in the fall in winter-wet climates.


poppy sunset cocktail Joy

A poppy inspired cocktail, or any festive drink, is always more fun in the garden. Or with a friend.



Drinking With Flowers;

This is my take on a classic cocktail. Just right for sipping in celebration of our super spring.

Recipe; California  Sunrise with Hibiscus Syrup

1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

shot of a good herb-y gin

sparkling water to taste

3 T   hibiscus syrup *  – slowly poured at the very end, to create that red-at-the-bottom sunrise effect


*To make the hibiscus syrup;

3 dried  hibiscus blossoms – (available at South East Asian or Latin American markets. Called Jamaica in spanish)

1/2 cup just boiled water

1/2  cup sugar

squeeze of fresh lemon

Steep the dried hibiscus in the hot water for 3 minutes. You are making Jamaica “tea”. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the lemon juice. Extra keeps in the frig for a week.









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Categories: Native Plants, Things to Eat


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4 Comments on “Celebrating Our Native Flowers”

  1. Susan Souza
    April 30, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    Beautiful photos Joy, especially the one of you!

  2. May 1, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    Beautiful tribute. There is nothing like a California “super bloom” to become awe struck by nature! Although, I’m sure that Hibiscus Sunrise would help. Love all these photos!

  3. Susan Duncan
    May 8, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    Nice post Joy. When Tom and I went for a couple of nights to Carrizo Plain last month I was shocked by the circus atmosphere and crowds trampling the roadside fields. Of course, I have walked and hiked cross country myself, but the crowds picking and so on just seemed sacreligious. California beautiful all over this year, lots of great wild flower scenes taking back roads to my mom’s through Napa and Lake County. Keep up the posts.

  4. May 10, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    Don’t remember if I sent a comment on this post or not. Love your pictures and your writing. Look forward to the next one. Jan

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