Thursday, February 18, 2010

Orange County flowery Season

Orange County is a county in Southern California. The trails in Orange County’s wild hills cut through walls of green, still mostly as unreadable as a Sphinx. But here and there, eyes of blue, white, yellow and red wink from the brush, and experts say it’s just a taste of what’s to come: an explosion of wildflowers unseen here in years.

A series of powerful storms set the stage for what likely will be a showy spring, both in Orange County’s wild lands and in the interior deserts.

The rains saturated the soil, raising groundwater levels and ending three years of below-average rainfall. Like clockwork, they were followed by sunny skies a recipe for a riot of a flower season.

Park rangers and flower experts in Orange County are already reporting a few early risers. Popcorn flower is popping, along with red maids, gooseberries and wild hyacinth.
At the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park near Barbara’s Lake, the seed pods of wild cucumber have swollen to the size of baseballs. Near the Nix Nature Center, standard favorites helped along by irrigation include bush monkey flower and wild morning glory.

It’s still a little early, so finding the subtle blooms requires a bit of hunting. Hidden behind hillside brush, for instance, was a fiery-looking prickly pear cactus-flower.

On a list of California sunflower, mulefat, branching phacelia and golden yarrow, among others. Many flowers were small or well-concealed enough to be easily missed. Willow flowers, called catkins, were downright tiny.