The golden poppy is California’s state flower. We often see this cheery orange flower growing along the side of the freeway, in roadside medians, and in the landscaping of public buildings. It’s both delicate and hearty.
As a California native, I’ve seen these poppies my whole life, but I’ve never seen them like I did over the weekend. Drought has become a way of life in southern California where I live. Our average rainfall is only 10 inches per year, so those years when the rainfall falls well below (I know we’ve had recent years with only 5 inches–for the entire year!) are devastating for plants and animals (and humans too)! This year we are already well above average for rainfall, and the season doesn’t end for a few more months. That means our landscape is greener than usual…and flowers are everywhere!
On our way home from Saturday’s adventures (you can read more about those here and here), we decided we would stop by to get a glimpse of some poppy fields at the peak of their blossom. As we headed back from the desert, we swung through a part of Riverside county called Lake Elsinore. Even before we got to our destination, we could see hillsides in full bloom!
We weren’t the only people who wanted to see these beauties, traffic snarled as we got close. We saw the highway patrol ticketing cars that folks had parked on the shoulder of the freeway to try to circumvent the traffic to photograph poppies!
Our patience paid off with the opportunity for some close up views of these massive fields of poppies. Unfortunately, we were late in the day as the sun was dipping below the clouds and the temperatures were dropping, so many blossoms were beginning to wrap up tight for the night.
In spite of the challenges, I enjoyed my poppy experience. I’ve been noticing more poppies in my own community as well. I passed several small patched of poppies along the roadside on my way home from work today. And I’ve seen many people I know posting pictures of poppies…from Lake Elsinore and many other hillsides around the state! They are beautiful…and a cheery indicator of a wet winter and spring’s arrival.