It has proven to be a glorious spring. The colors are remarkable. Hills splashed with shades of pink, purple, green, blue, yellow, orange… just about every color. And as if colored with scented markers, the hills and the spaces in between are deliciously thick and sweet with the smell of sky lupine. sky lupine is one of the most abundant annual forbs around the Monterey Bay area. Along the coast range you will find many types of lupine, but the sky lupine will shout for recognition from afar, radiating sun beams of purple frequency across the landscape and filling the air with sweet whiffs of pure spring magic.
This year has been especially great for wildflowers. From a short winter’s nap the chaparral awoke, first with the pink blossoms of manzanita. Week after week we spotted the slow emergence of new flowers, a blue forest of lilac, an occasional footsteps of spring, the highest ridge with a pool of shooting stars, milk maids in the understory by the trail side. I counted every species and wrote down every flower name and location. It seemed to be a slow awakening, when one day I looked around and saw so many different species flowering that I lost count.
Maybe there are so many flowers this year from all of that rain that we keep getting. I do not remember it raining last year in April, which is why I was surprised by this year’s April showers, and even more surprised by the rain we got all last week, in the end of May.
In the past the the fiesta flower, a white or purple flower that creeps about under the large lounging oak trees, was the first to disappear. By this time last year they were long gone. They have had a long run this year, and although they are starting to loose their petals and grow large pregnant styles, most of them are still showing off to the flies that pollinate them.
It seems to be that annual plants die because they dry out, desiccating in the dry earth and racing to set their seeds before they crumble to dust. The rain this year has supplied them with youth and longevity. The plants sip up what may not return for another year and nurse new buds in hopes of putting more seeds in the bank.
However, the months are passing quickly and the early spring flowers are beginning to set seeds. I become frantic with great plans for collection. On hands and knees I count the seeds of a shooting star. One seed falls to the ground where many small pink flowers are beginning to bloom. The ground is covered with the next batch of summer forbs, with which I am excited to meet and become acquainted.