Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wildflower Conservancy On Facebook!

Wildflower Conservancy on Facebook!

The Wildflower Conservancy now has it's own Facebook page. Along with this website and the @Wildflowernews Twitter feed, hopefully, the new Facebook page will provide a great resource for wildflower locations and reports as well as guidelines for enjoying our native flora in ways that help preserve it for future generations.

Please check out the new page, and join the wildflower fun on FB as well as here.  If you want to receive seasonal reports, please follow us on Twitter too.  Thanks!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer in the Sierra High Country - A Wildflower Bonanza

Waiting for the Aster Bunny...People often think that the beginning of Summer signals the end of Spring wildflowers.  For the deserts and most lower elevations, this is true.  But as you climb into the mountains, the riot of color only begins to peak in July and August. 

On a recent visit to Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra, I was amazed at the variety and abundance of color along the roads and trails leading up to the mountains.

Alpine TreasureI easily could have spent a week or more exploring the area, but only had two and one-half days.  So I focused on Tioga Pass along with Rock Creek and the Bishop Creek drainage. 

While many species flourished throughout the area, some only grew in ceertain spots. Elevation seemed to play the most important role, with the bloom concentrated around 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

White Wolf WonderlandMeadows along Tioga Pass Road were filled with shootings stars, American bistort, buckwheat, Sierra penstemon and others, but for me, the real show was tucked into the granite along the highway. 

It was interesting to walk along the roadside and see how the flowers accommodated themselves to the conditions. Even large shrubs had managed to gain a foothold in narrow cracks in the granite. The hanging gardens along the rock faces were amazing.

Lurking LarkspurParticularly, just west of the turn to White Wolf, these granite terraces were loaded with lupine, Indian paintbrush, larkspur, Mountain Pride penstemon and a number of other wildflower species.

In the Pink...Heading east from Tuolumne Meadows, I found an incredible display of rein orchids, seep monkeyflowers, Lewis' monkeyflowers, crimson columbine, leopard lilies, lupine and more growing in a watery ditch below the tiniest of waterfalls.  Just glorious.  I spent well over an hour parked along the roadside, focused on these beauties.

Scarlet Gilia Basking in Alpine GloryAll along Tioga Pass Road, there were varied displays.  Some blooms appeared periodically along the entire length of the highway, while others were only in a few spots, their populations isolated from all the others.  There was one place west of Olmstead Point where I found Scarlet Gilia in abundance, but didn't see it anywhere else.

Tenaya Before the Flood...Late in the afternoon on Saturday, the second day I spent along the Tioga Pass Road, I found wonderful displays of bush lupine and Indian paintbrush along the granite slopes just east of Lake Tenaya. 

As I was photographing them, a thunderstorm moved in.  I could hear the thunder claps right above me and within minutes, the skies opened up, first with rain and then with marble-sized hail.  I took refuge in my car and watched with fascination as water started streaming down the granite, forming impromptu waterfalls.  It was quite surreal.

Tenaya Falling WaterTrying to photograph through the deluge, I was anxious to see if I could catch one of the transient waterfalls.  With my car window open, hail and rain came streaming in.  I had to wipe my lens every few seconds and I thought my arm was going to freeze!  But I got my shots and headed off to meet up with friends in Mammoth.  A warm and wonderful end to a glorious day hunting wildflowers in the Yosemite high country.
[First posted on August 11, 2010]

Crimson Columbine hanging out at the local watering hole...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day And Go Native...

Aster Sundown
Mojave Aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia)
In honor of Earth Day, please consider using native plants in your garden landscape. There are so many advantages to putting in a native or xeric (desert) garden, including less maintenance once established and often, less water-use.  Plus, they are remarkably beautiful and some species will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Is it the end of an era for the California Wildflower Hotsheet?
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Of course, please don't try to harvest native shrubs and flowers from the wild.  Most don't transplant very well anyway. Species that do adapt nicely to garden use should be easy to find in either seed or plant form.  Just check with your local nursery.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Native Plant Week Continues Through Saturday, April 23rd

Coreopsis ColonyJust a quick reminder to get out there and do something to celebrate Native Plant Week.  If you're looking for activities or ways to get involved, check out the links to local chapters of the California Native Plant Society.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ridgecrest Wildflower Festival Starts Today; Wildflower Conservancy Presentation Is Tomorrow!

This Weekend is the Ridgecrest Wildflower Festival...Just a reminder that I will be speaking on behalf of the Wildflower Conservancy at the Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival tomorrow, April 16th, in Ridgecrest, California.

The presentation, entitled "Capturing Ephemeral Beauty: A Celebration of California╩╝s Wildflowers, will feature my photography and efforts by the Wildflower Conservancy to encourage people to enjoy wildflowers responsibly.

It's happening at the Maturango Museum, 100 W. Las Flores, at 2:30 PM. If you're in the area, please stop by. It's a wonderful opportunity to see wildflowers collected by permit on display and talk with experts in California's Native Plants. Here's a link to the full program: Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival Guide.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Get Ready for the First Ever California Native Plant Week - April 17th - 23rd

Desert GoldThe California State Assembly and Senate have approved a resolution that establishes California Native Plant Week. Beginning this year with April 17th - 23rd, the initiative designates the third week in April of each year as California Native Plant Week.  How perfect to celebrate our native plants in the midst of Spring wildflower season!  Schools, community organizations and individuals are encouraged to get involved in promoting the conservation, restoration and appreciation of California's native plants.

Penstemon PatchCoincident with the week-long event, the Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival starts this Friday, April 15th, and runs through the weekend. If you're in the area, come by and see real wildflowers on display (collected under permit) and visit the different locations where booths and other activities are taking place.

Desert Mariposa DreamsJust a reminder that I will be giving a presentation on behalf of the Wildflower Conservancy at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, the 16th, at the Maturango Museum.  It's entitled, "Capturing Ephemeral Beauty: A Celebration of California's Wildflowers." Hope to see you there!  Kahlee

Friday, March 25, 2011

California Wildflowers: Hoping the Best Blooms Are Yet to Come...

Hurricane Vista
Will the Temblor Range look as colorful
in 2011 as it did here in April of 2010?
Although Anza-Borrego Desert and a few other Southern California locations have reported nice displays of wildflowers in some areas, Spring is slow to get out of bed this year.  The unusually cold and rainy weather definitely has played a part in delaying the wildflower season in much of the state.

Scattered wildflowers are just starting in the Alabama Hills and Owens Valley, but just to the south, the Indian Wells Valley around Ridgecrest has been warm enough to encourage large displays of goldfields with other varieties just coming to life. Too much cold and snow to get things rolling yet in the Kern County Mountains and Tehachapis.

Hillside Lupine Dance
It's "wait-and-see" as people
hope for a bloom like this along
California's Central Coast
Similarly, Figueroa Mountain along the Central Coast seems to be confused with snow on top of the peaks and plenty of cold weather and windy conditions that are likely to delay any spectacular blooms in this area for a while.

Although rain is always most welcome in our drought-stricken landscapes, it's difficult to tell if it has come too late to get the wildflowers to make a grand appearance this Spring.

Two Track to Paradise
The Sierra Nevada foothils above the
Owens Valley in May, 2010
At this point, it looks like the middle to end of April as well as the month of May are promising for areas along the Central Coast, Owens Valley and high deserts, while the best bloom of all may occur early this Summer in mid-range elevations of the Sierra and later in July and August for the high country once the warm weather melts a good deal of that snowpack.

Wildflower reports are being updated here almost daily as well as going out in short form on Twitter sometimes several times a day so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival...

This Weekend is the Ridgecrest Wildflower Festival...On behalf of the Wildflower Conservancy, I'm honored to be the keynote speaker for this year's Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival on Saturday, April 16th, in Ridgecrest, California.

The presentation, entitled, "Capturing Ephemeral Beauty: A Celebration of California╩╝s Wildflowers," will feature my photography and efforts by the Wildflower Conservancy to encourage people to enjoy wildflowers responsibly. 

It's happening at the Maturango Museum, 100 W. Las Flores, on Saturday at 2:30 PM.  If you're in the area, please stop by.  It's a wonderful opportunity to see wildflowers collected by permit on display and talk with experts in California's Native Plants.  Here's a link to the full program:  Ridgecrest Desert Wildflower Festival Guide

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back Country Wildflower Hunting After A Series of Big Storms: There Is No Joy in Mudville...

Why I need 4WD High Clearance...With so much rain in recent days and more to come, Spring wildflower hunting can get trecherous.  Even paved roads can get washed out and dirt roads can turn into rivers of mud that are virtually impenetrable by any kind of vehicle. 

Chances are, it's going to take a couple of weeks for the flowers to show after these latest storms anyway.  By then, the roads should be at least somewhat dry and passable with care.  With luck, they'll get freshly graded so rock falls, trees and other hazards are out of the way. 

Of course, if someone with a huge vehicle drives through them while they're still muddy, you could be facing something like the road depicted here.  Even dry, negotiating this in my Corolla was quite the challenge!

Unless you have a 4x4 with high clearance, wait until things have a chance to dry out thoroughly.  And even if you do want to be adventurous and test the limits of those all terrain tires, make sure to check locally for the latest road conditions.  It is not fun to get stuck.  Be safe out there!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Watershed Moment for the Wildflower Conservancy...

A Watershed Moment in My Photographic Life...This morning, I was thrilled to see that the latest issue of Watershed Wise, a quarterly regional publication of the Los Angeles San Gabriel Valley Rivers Council is out and available online.

This is very exciting as it's the very first magazine to feature one of my landscape images on the cover. They contacted me a while back and asked to use one of three of my shots from the Station Fire that they had found on Flickr. I suggested this one, and, as promised, they provided a "Front Cover" credit on the second page along a nice mention of the Wildflower Conservancy including the website.

If you want to read the whole magazine, it's pretty interesting: Watershed Wise - Station Fire Recovery and Rehabilitation (Note: This is a 14MB PDF!)  -- Kahlee

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Still Waiting for the Wildflowers?

Above the CrowdToday's Los Angeles Times has a nice article on So Cal wildflowers: What will flower season bring?  While it primarily covers Anza-Borrego and the Antelope Valley Reserve, it provides an indicator of how the season is shaping up so far.

Please remember to email your reports to the Wildflower Conservancy.  New ones are starting to come in every few days as the season gets growing.  And don't forget, mini-updates also are being posted daily on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Look What's New: Online Wildflower Indentification Resources!

Desert Candle in the WindIf you're looking to identify those beautiful flowers, we now have a page for links to helpful Wildflower Identification Resources.

Further down, there is separate section that includes contact info for various local chapters of the California Native Plant Society.  This fine organization does wonderful work in wildflower preservation, and is a great place to get involved at the local level.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wildflower Reports Are Coming In From Various Locations!

Incandescent Mariposa...While I try to figure out how to get a direct news feed set up for the Recent Wildflower Sightings page, please feel free to stop by periodically and check out our incoming reports.  Just posted a few today with promises of more to come from some very talented photographers and other folks who follow this blog.  Please don't forget you can follow along on Twitter @wildflowernews.  Many thanks!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Got Time for a Quick-e? The Wildflower Conservancy is now reporting California flower sightings on Twitter!

Wild BeautyHere's your chance to get quick e-news on the latest wildflower happenings in California.  As new reports come in this Spring, we'll summarize and tweet them here: @wildflowernews.  You're welcome to follow along, and please be sure to email your own reports for publication on our Recent Wildflower Sightings page. Thanks!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sahara Mustard: The Challenge of Eradicating an Invasive Exotic to Preserve Our Native Wildflowers...

Henderson Road
Henderson Road in Anza Borrego Desert
State Park.  A photographer's favorite, this
location is well-known for its vast expanses
of Spring wildflowers.  This was shot in 2010.
That lush green carpet you see behind the
Sand Verbena and Desert Gold is mainly
Sahara Mustard. As a result of its amazing
proliferation, not nearly as many native
plants flourish here now as they have in
years past.
Although this battle has been going on for a while, it's becoming more and more urgent that action is taken to stop the spread of Sahara Mustard across the deserts of the Southwest. There already are a number of programs underway to organize volunteers to get rid of this year's mustard crop in several areas. For more information and ways to get involved, here are a few links to check out:  Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce - web page on mustard eradication; USGS Western Ecological Research Center - discussion on weed removal and habitat restoration, Morongo Basic Conservation Organization - info page on Sahara Mustard; Anza Borrego Foundation's Sahara Mustard Task ForceArizona-Sonoran Desert Museum - info page on eradication of "Invaders" such as mustard and other exotic species.