Farewell to spring?

I’ve started missing spring. Already. For the past few months every time I went for a trail run I saw something new blooming. But since I came back from my marathon I’ve seen almost nothing new.

Last week I ran up the east fork of Cold Spring. It wasn’t as impressive as it had been a month before. Most things were still blooming, but most were past their peaks now. And there were no new flowers to notice.

On Tuesday I ran Jesusita. In the mist/mizzel/rain. Nothing new there either. The vast fields of arroyo lupine had turned to grass. The fiesta flowers were fading. The great-flowered phacelias looked lovely with the rain/dewdrops on them and the caterpillar phacelias were fun with the rain caught in their hairs… but…

Today I ran up Cold Spring, down to Forebush and on to Mono camp. The Fairwell to Spring flowers — an ominous name, that (or Clarkia bottea)— have finally opened up (they spend April curled into a cone). A little further on I saw the Chaparral pea (a woody scrub) was coming out. I hadn’t noticed it before. A new bloom! first in weeks.

At the pylons I checked the little cluster of teeny-tiny lupines; like their larger cousins on Jesusita trail they had finished blooming. The black sage seemed to be over, only seedpods left. And a bit further up the stinging lupine were also over.

Just beyond the trees I stopped. A plant was blooming on which I’d never noticed a bloom before. From the coiled flower heads it was probably a borage of some sort. A Phacelia perhaps? It turned out to be wooly yerba santa (I think).

Across the trail was an Indian paintbrush (of some nature). I’ve never noticed these blooming in the front country before. This genus is kind of fun because they are all root parasites (they latch on to another plant’s roots and suck nutrients from it).

Up beyond the turn-off for Montecito peak I saw the scarlet larkspurs were getting ready to bloom. Not there yet, but soon.

And I started to notice a few black sage blooms. It looked as though the higher I went the more blooms there were on the black sage. Interesting. It seemed completely finished at lower elevations…

And then up to Camino Cielo and down the other side. In the front country every single humbolt lily I have seen has had it leader chewed off by insects, or rotted. But just beyond Camino Cielo I saw a stand of several plants with buds! No blooms yet, but whole, healthy adult plants with buds.

A little further down I saw a grape soda lupine. I only seen one other of these (at the top of Romero between the trail and the road). It’s the only woody lupine I know of. It started blooming later than the other lupines and it seems to be blooming after they are done.

I rounded a corner and in front of me were a patch of larkspurs. Until now I had only known of one patch which started blooming back in February — I had thought it would be almost finished by now. But here was another. As far as I could tell the same species. Odd. (When I got to the original patch it seemed to be reinvigorated. Perhaps it had gotten confused and bloomed too early? And then when I got to Mono camp there were larkspurs all over the place. So it seemed as though this was the proper time for these guys to bloom).

Right beside the larkspurs was a patch of what looked like strawberry flowers? or blackberry? except the flower was cream coloured not white. And smaller. Same three-fold leaves. The wildflower book gives it the unappealing name of Sticky Potentilla and it is related to the strawberry/blackberry clad.

And beside that was a small cluster of — well, they looked like monkey flowers, but they were yellow and not orange. Common monkeyflower according to the book (except that in Santa B the bush monkeyflower is the common one).

A little further down was another member of the borage family (from the coiled flower spike). Again I guessed Phacelia and this time I was right. Phacelia imbricata.

I trotted on, and then stopped to admire some more larkspurs, when a lovely little bloom caught my eye. It turns out to be a clover, Tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii)

Down to forebush camp, and then up the other side toward mono camp. I passed a clump of stinging lupine, and they were in bloom. Rather bedraggled and run down, but still blooming. Further up was a patch of arroyo lupine, also with a few blooms left (while there are none on Jesusita trail). Things in the back-country seem a bit behind… or is it elevation more than location?

At the top of the hill that divides blue canyon from mono I met my first Yerba Santa bloom of the year. Yet another member of the borage family.

Just round the bend is a milkvetch, or locoweed. When I was last here it was in full bloom, but now the blooms are almost over and it is in full seed pod. These seed pods are like little rattles and whisper to me as I brush past them.

And here is the white fairy lantern. A beautiful little lily we don’t get in the front country — lovely globe shaped blooms.

I’m almost at mono camp now. There are lots of larkspurs (and lots of poison oak leaves too). And here, just as I’m about to turn around, is another Clarkia, not “Fairwell to spring” over on this side of the mountains, instead we get fourspot.

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6 Responses to “Farewell to spring?”

  1. BB themes Says:

    Nice blog, i like it, its informative,
    i will visit his blog more often.
    i like your article specially about
    Farewell to spring?

    Cheers

  2. Gary M Says:

    Some who knows her flowers better that I says the Mariposa Lily is just about to bloom. Nice flower piece George.

    • georgeruns Says:

      Down near Forebush, I saw a butterfly Mariposa (Calochortus venustus) just starting to open its bud today (5 days later), I don’t think it was there last week. Where does your “someone” go to look for Mariposas?

      • Gary M Says:

        There are Mariposa Lilies on the Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point, coming from the Tunnel Trail. They are roughly half way up on the right, and as of a few days ago, had not yet bloomed.

      • georgeruns Says:

        The Calochortus weedii vestus are in bloom now on Jesusita trail. Indeed, I’ve never seen such abundance for this flower before. There are even more (amazingly more) on Inspiration Peak itself. It’s well worth a trip!

    • georgeruns Says:

      Rats. I could not find them in the fog. Maybe next week…

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