Bodacious Blooms & Bountiful Butterflies

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Spring Has SPRUNG in Southern California!

The California Poppies at Lake Elsinore stretched as far as the eye could see!

The California Poppies at Lake Elsinore stretched as far as the eye could see!

When you live in Southern California, you become spoiled by the weather.  I’m not kidding when I tell you, if the temperature gets below 70 degrees, or above 79 degrees, most of us will be complaining, one way or the other!  It’s been a much needed rainy winter.  We need the rain, but still….many of us complain.  You know the old saying, April showers bring May flowers?  Kind of true, with a little “tweaking.”  Spring comes a bit earlier here in Southern California than it does in other parts of the country. By the time May gets here, spring will be finished and we will be experiencing “May Gray.”

This shows that the mix of flowers, which from a distance look like a solid mass of orange poppies, are actually a mix of poppies, mustard, popcorn flowers, California bluebells and lupines! What a beautiful bouquet they make!

This shows that the mix of flowers, which from a distance look like a solid mass of orange poppies, are actually a mix of poppies, mustard, popcorn flowers, California bluebells and lupines! What a beautiful bouquet they make!

This spring has been like no other I have seen in Southern California in my 40+ years of living here!  The super-blooms are everywhere and the migration of the butterflies has been amazing! People attribute it to our rainy winter, but I’m telling you folks, I’ve lived here through some rainy Southern California winters.  I’ve lived here through our “El Ninos.”  I’ve never seen either of these phenomenons like I’ve seen them this year.

Sitting among the flowers! (No flowers were trampled in taking this photo! I am on a pathway, although you can't see it!)

Sitting among the flowers! (No flowers were trampled in taking this photo! I am on a pathway, although you can’t see it!)

We who live in San Diego county are probably the luckiest people on earth!  Within 90 minutes driving time,  I can currently see the poppy super-bloom in Lake Elsinore, go skiing in Big Bear, enjoy the fragrance of the Lilacs in Julian,  savor the desert flowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert or relax with a book at our lovely sandy beaches, before the tourist fill them up for the summer.  It is incredible how many visual delights we are able to experience within such a short distance!

The Poppy Apocalypse!

The hillsides in Southern California are a kaleidoscope of colors right now!

The hillsides in Southern California are a kaleidoscope of colors right now!

This past Wednesday, Don and I had one of our “Date-Daytions” where we take the day off and go play.  (If you don’t know what a Date-Daytion is, I suggest you check out my previous article, What the Heck is a Date-Daytion? which explains them!)

Don and Me, taking time to "smell the flowers" on one of our Date-Daytions!

Don and Me, taking time to “smell the flowers” on one of our Date-Daytions!

We decided to head toward Lake Elsinore to see the “super-bloom of the California Poppies, because we had heard so many people oohing and aahing over it! They weren’t exaggerating!  The brilliance of the poppies on the hillsides are unbelievable!  From a distance, all you see are bright orange hillsides, but when you get in close proximity, you realize that they aren’t just made up of the brilliant California Poppies, but there are also Lupines, California Bluebells, Popcorn Flowers and Wild Mustard.

Although the picture didn't really pick it up, the reason I took this picture is that when you looked at this hillside there were patches of lime green, mint green, seafoam, thaos blue and other blues! The colors in nature were unbelievable!

Although the picture didn’t really pick it up, the reason I took this picture is that when you looked at this hillside there were patches of lime green, mint green, sea-foam, thaos blue and other blues! The colors in nature were unbelievable! The pictures of this super-bloom just doesn’t do it justice!  When you see it in person it is absolutely breath taking!

I was glad we went on Wednesday, because the traffic around the area was a bit crazy mid-week.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like on the weekend!  There were actually articles referring to this weekend’s viewing as The Poppy Apocalypse!  

Weeding through the traffic and hoards of people proved to be well worth it, however!  When we got near Walker Canyon, we were left almost breathless from the endless beauty!  We were also pleasantly surprised to see bridal couples having photos done, engagement and family photos being taken, and artists set up catching the beauty with their paintbrushes!  I does my heart good to see so many people taking the time to enjoy the natural assets Southern California has to offer! Our society has become so busy, and our noses are often so planted in our cellphones!  It’s wonderful to know people are taking the time to “smell the flowers!”

The poppies are so delicate looking when you see them up close!

The poppies are so delicate looking when you see them up close!

This couple was having photos taken on one of the hillsides. Don't ask me how she got up there in that dress, but what beautiful photos she will end up with! I couldn't help but wonder if the wedding had already taken place, or was set for a future date, as I doubt it was actually their wedding day on a Wednesday afternoon!

This couple was having photos taken on one of the hillsides. Don’t ask me how she got up there in that dress, but what beautiful photos she will end up with! I couldn’t help but wonder if the wedding had already taken place, or was set for a future date, as I doubt it was actually their wedding day on a Wednesday afternoon!

Butterflies “On a Mission!”

One of the other phenomenons that we have experienced this past week was a migration of Painted Lady butterflies.  (When I told my daughter they were called Painted Ladies, she said it sounded like the name of a strip club!  Kinda’ does, right? “Hey honey, the guys and I are off to The Painted Lady for  few drinks”……. )

Painted Ladies, for those of you who aren’t familiar with them, look like tiny Monarch Butterflies. The coloring is very similar.  This week they were migrating up from Mexico, and our skies were filled with them.  Don’t picture a sky full of meandering butterflies landing on your flowers, floating about your yard.  This isn’t what it was like at all!   Picture instead, “butterflies on a mission!” Each and every butterfly you saw was flying north at top speed!  Zip, zip, zip- they were moving like they were in the race of a lifetime! It was just crazy! I guess that when you only live a few weeks, you have to move fast to accomplish your migration!  No stopping to smell the roses for these ladies! They would come, en mass across my street, up my driveway and right over my house at the speed of lightning it seemed! Every intersection and freeway had them darting across by the hundreds, right in the middle of traffic! So many of my friends were posting how sad they were that they felt they had killed dozens of butterflies when they were driving!  It was the craziest thing you have ever seen!  Unfortunately, getting a good picture of them, where you could really get a feel for the number of butterflies was difficult.  They just didn’t really show up well. The attached article explains about the Painted Ladies, and also has a lovely video of the Poppy superbloom! It’s worth checking out!

The Desert is in Bloom!

The Borrego desert is in bloom! It is amazing the many different flowers you can see there!

The Borrego desert is in bloom! It is amazing the many different flowers you can see there!

We haven’t gotten out to the Borrego Desert yet this season, but last year we made a day trip of it and enjoyed the beauty of the desert flowers.  My friend, Adam Snider went out there just a few days ago, and shared some of his pictures with me. He is an avid hiker, and said that due to this year’s rainfall there are plants blooming that haven’t bloomed in many years! Every time you go, you are sure to see something different!

My friend Adam shared a few of his photos from his trip to Borrego this weekend. There are plants blooming this year that haven't bloomed in years!

My friend Adam shared a few of his photos from his trip to Borrego this weekend. There are plants blooming this year that haven’t bloomed in years!

If you haven’t ever taken the time to do so, it’s well worth it. When we went,  I was amazed how you could see one type of flower in one area, go 1 or 2 miles up the road and experience a whole different type of cactus’, flora and fauna!  This is not something you can enjoy from the car.  You MUST get out to see the many types of tiny little flowers you can’t even see with the naked eye while you are driving by!

Close up of a desert Lily

Close up of a desert Lily

Julian’s Lovely Lilacs

Nearby Julian has its own beauty to enjoy! People often think of going to Julian in the fall when the apples are ripe.  It’s too darn crowded there then for me.  I prefer spring in Julian!  Being a “mid-west” girl, one of the things I love, and miss dearly are spring Lilacs, daffodils and crocus’. Julian is just the place to get your “lilac” fix.  You can usually see the lilacs starting about the 3rd week in March, through the first week or so of April. Unfortunately, the past few years I have seen a lot less lilacs in Julian, because there has become such a demand for people to sell their lilacs to the flower stands in the San Diego area.  (If you try really hard you can imagine my sad little face about this detail!)  I remember that I used to drive up to Julian and you could find large bushes of lilacs, full of blooms just outside of town.  No longer!  Now if you want to bring some lilacs home, you are most likely going to be buying them. Lilacs are expensive, and only last 2 or 3 days once they are cut!  Even so, it’s a great day, driving to Julian, seeing (and smelling) the lilacs, enjoying a bit of their apple pie, seeing the coastal live oaks and driving home. Another “bonus” is that Julian is close enough to the Borrego desert that you can go and see both in the same day if you choose to make a day of it!

Yes, we spend a lot to live here, but I don’t know too many places in the country where they can find the diversity of beauty that we have at our finger tips!  If you live in Southern California, take some time to enjoy the beauty that is ours for the taking- just minutes away!

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  • Sandy Rau
    March 21, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Great article Patti – we are indeed fortunate to live in So. California 🙂

    • Patti
      March 21, 2019 at 11:31 pm

      Sandy, I agree! Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!