Superbloom Death Valley
Wildflower Peepers Delight
Roadside extravaganza. Desert floribunda. Botany bloomfest. Superbloom Death Valley is on again as wildflowers sprinkle and spread a dramatic carpet of colours in one of the bleakest places on earth.
Death Valley is having a flower show? Unpredictable and even more rare, this floral showing is wilder than just wildflowers. Once a century, and recently with El Nino, once a decade, a wildflower extravaganza hits the dismal emptiness of this valley turning a typically hostile environment into a flower festival.
Less than occasionally and sometimes once in a century Death Valley gets more than it’s allotted four trickles a year in rainfall. AND a critical amount splatters the blistered desert in the fall. Wildflower seeds wait for decades for enough moisture to wash off their outer coating allowing germination to perform nature’s magic. The following spring, after a lot of hope and anticipation that this year will be The Big One, Mother Nature nods in approval and the valley turns into a superific extravaganza of colour. Superbloom Death Valley explodes continuously for weeks as the seed to flower to seed cycle progresses from floor (sea level) to ceiling (mountains over 5000 feet) across and up and down this typically barren landscape. With climate change and wet events like El Nino, “normal” is uncommon, and for the second time this century, a “once in a century event” has imploded again.
Everywhere. Watch your step! Please do not step on the desert sunflowers. They are responsible for the entire desert floor taking on a sunshiney yellow hue.
Missing the 2005 Superbloom Death Valley meant a chance of the century passed you by. But last fall the rain gods descended on the desert seeds again with another superbloom. If you miss it you may have to wait another century or a lifetime or maybe just a decade this time.
For more on fragile places and California spring, see also:
…. the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together
look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox
you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me ….
It is Spring Equinox and the flowers are prime, if only in the grocery store for some folks. Enjoy the prickle and the bloom, where ever you are.
If you want more inspiration for late winter solstice:
Reflecting On Desert City Cycling
Most folks have skedaddled from the desperate desert heat up north with the hawks and shorebirds and warblers to their summer nests. Those who remain get their fans out for the waves. In these parts the only waves coming in early summer are heat waves, over and over.
A few more spins around the desert will keep the desert memories alive during a summer northern squall. Leave early enough in the day and the Mourning Doves will still be cooing to your efforts from the sidelines. Sporting a red hat will not only cut out the menacing sun but the Costa’s Hummingbirds who are not preening in the foliage will check you out intimately as you grind your way up the Desert Willow path. Shiny black bees are polished plastic against the delicate, pink willow blossoms, their fragrance luring you to hang out. Experience has taught that the desert heat will soon be unforgiving. Slog on with your trusty two-wheeled steed; the unknown beckons exploration and the only way to get there is to crank the foot pedals. Past palm-lined boulevards, bougainvillea-strewn walkways and sticky-to-you cacti, which grace the landscape up to the granite mountain, riddled with cougar dens peeking below. A feisty Northern Mockingbird gives chase to a crow, David and Goliath battle it out in the cloudless sky. Reflections in an arid, desiccated climate? – lakes and streams are absent but mirroring is available on most streets. With all of this cooing and humming and buzzing and pondering your rhythm picks up.
Take a break to learn some rose growing tips from the Mexican gardener who shares the varietal name but not the secret fertilizer formula for year-round floribunda even in the desperate mid-summer heat that is about to grasp the throat of the desert. He blesses your transport mode with a long stem and, with a nod adieu!, it is back to self-propulsion again.
For other posts on cycling in California and other lands, see:
California Desert Bloom In Spring
Like most places, spring in the California desert varies from year to year. Sometimes a whimper, sometimes a bang.
Unlike northerly climes, contending with snowstorms, erratic temperature swings (usually in the direction of a dip), the southern California desert bloom depends on winter rainfall and spring heat. A wave of escalated temperatures has spring botanical specialties retreating into self-preservation mode (i.e., seed-making). Faster than you can say, “bloom today, gone tomorrow”, that delicate cactus floriad barely makes its one day appearance. “How quickly the bloom fades” has a whole new meaning in the California desert.