Will 2015 be a dynamite Spring wildflower season?

Wildflowers at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona
Wildflowers at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona

Can it be that winter is almost over? Even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Groundhog Day confirming six more weeks of winter, it depends on where you are whether the warmer weather on the West coast means Spring has already arrived or the Arctic blast now hitting the Midwest and East coast will continue for weeks more.

If you are in the right area, the grays of leaden skies and drab browns of barren earth will soon give way to a riot of color as spring wildflowers wake from their winter slumber and dapple the earth with the spatters of Mother Nature’s paint brush.

Typical of every new season, the intensity of the annual bloom is predicated on Mother Nature’s whims. Did she provide enough soft gentle soaking rain and warm sunny days during the long winter, which the dormant seeds need to germinate? If so, the desert floors are the first to explode in vibrant carpets of sand verbena and Mexican poppies. Desert marigolds and blue lupine grow along the roadsides, while dune primrose, Canterbury bells, and blue phacelia poke up from their winter beds.

Sand Verbena spreads across the desert floor
Sand Verbena spreads across the desert floor

The wetter coastal and inland valleys follow with early blooming hound’s tongue followed by lupine, gold fields, and tidy tips spreading across the fields. The last areas to bloom are the higher elevations, plateaus and forests, followed by the alpine flowers—shooting stars and glacier lilies—which bloom for brief periods, quickly producing their seeds before suffering the effects of the high country autumn.

Where are the best places to look for wildflowers? Everywhere. Take your eyes off the road (unless you’re driving) and scan the roadsides. These disturbed areas, though appearing lifeless in winter, often receive the first spring flowers, since they receive extra moisture from rain run-off from the road. Look also out across the open sunny areas that are not grazed by cattle or chewed up by off road vehicles. Whenever you stop for a break or lunch, take a walk. The exercise will do you good and you will see a lot more flowers than speeding past at highway speeds.

Visit protected areas, like national and state parks where wildflower habitat is protected. Park rangers and visitor center staff can tell you what is blooming and where and when the maximum bloom is expected. Many parks have wildflower hotlines that can be called periodically for current information. Area specific brochures help identify the many flowers that grow in the area. The DesertUSA website provides updates on all the desert wildflower hotspots.

Grab your camera, lace up your walking shoes, put on a sun hat, and take a walk. That’s the best way to see wildflowers. And cross your fingers that this will be another dynamite Spring wildflower year.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version), and my newest Boondockbob’s Guide to RV Boondocking (Kindle). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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