Will they, or won't they? Bloom, that is. Is this a good year or a bad year for the wildflowers? Well, it depends.
Rain didn't occur when it was supposed to this season. In the past few years it's been anyone's guess as to whether we would get enough rain or for that matter, if we would get any at all. Photographers, who wait for the early spring season every year in anticipation of the amazing display that can occur out on Shell Creek Road off Highway 58, don't know what to do. Should we take a ride all the way out there just to take a look? Every few days there is a Facebook posting asking the question, "Has anyone been out to Shell Creek or the Carissa Plain?"
By late February it seemed like the season would be a bust. Then it began to rain. Suddenly little yellow flowers sprang up on lawns and in gardens. The plant, oxalis, is a pest and avid gardeners pluck it out as soon as it rears its yellow head. It can be almost impossible to control. Mixed in between these blooms are white alyssum, also a bit of a pest, but generally accepted as a genuine garden flower. Then there appeared the distinctive blue-green leafing of the California Poppy and slowly their sunshine orange blossoms arrived.
While trekking out into the countryside is always fun and thought to be what you must do to find wildflowers, sometimes local spots offer a surprise. Traveling down Highway 1 towards San Luis Obispo in early morning with the sun shining and the earth sparkling with the not yet dried drops of rain, you will see yellow flowers packed tightly together the length of a football field. The field in question is on Quintana Road just beyond Coast Veterinary office. The flowers are known as mustard, probably not their scientific name, but definitely descriptive of their hue. And what a display they are making. it almost appears like they were planted and cultivated, and a large piece of farm equipment sits right in the middle of the blooms.
April will tell the tale and if the rain gods are kind and keep delivering some much needed moisture perhaps wildflower 2018 will turn out okay after all. If so, you can expect to see a wide variety of flowers such as purple owl's clover, pale yellow and white tidy tips, purple lupine, and the soft color of baby blue eyes. Hillsides that have burned could bring forth a once in a lifetime blooming of fire poppies. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe there is hope!