Posted by: Brad Nixon | May 1, 2017

The California Super-Bloom in My Neighborhood

I’ve traveled several hundred miles this Spring to see my previously drought-stricken state draped in green, full of colorful blooms, courtesy of a record-setting rainy season.

Santiago Oaks Brad Nixon 6571 (640x480)

I saw spectacular scenery in recent weeks in Santiago Oaks Canyon, above, as well as Joshua Tree National Park and, below, the normally arid and harsh Anza-Borrego Desert:

Anza Borrego Brad Nixon 6610 (640x478)

One of the central tenets of Under Western Skies is that one needn’t travel far or confine the search for interest and adventure to exotic locales. Over the years, I’ve written more than a few blog posts about “travel” to places a few blocks or no more than a few miles from home.

I’m fortunate to have some eye-catching scenery just a few miles from my front door:

Point Vicente Brad Nixon 2179 20100102 (640x472)

That’s the Point Vicente lighthouse on the Palos Verdes bluffs, about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, photographed in January 2010. Palos Verdes boasts large tracts of nature preserves along the coast, not exactly wild land, but some of the most extensive open areas in greater Los Angeles outside the national forests in the nearby mountains.

The Counselor and I hike the bluffs often, and headed there this weekend to see what effect California’s “Super-Bloom” had on the local landscape. While the coast gets its share of fog and moisture from the Pacific, for the past few years the area has mostly been covered by dry, brown, brushy chaparral, as in this November 2011 photo of The Counselor on a favorite trail.

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 8026 201111 (640x475)

It’s a lovely scene, but you can see the dry state of the vegetation. That’s been a normal condition for a number of years.

Here’s a shot of the same trail taken 7 months ago, in September 2016 before the rains came, looking the way we’ve been accustomed to seeing it during the long drought:

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 5055 201609 (640x480)

Now, 7 months and many inches of rain later, here is what we encountered this weekend:

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 6961 (480x640)

And this …

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 6955 (480x640)

And this shot, in which The Counselor’s hat (circled) barely shows above the astounding profusion of green that reached more than 8 feet high in many places.

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 6959 (640x480)

For direct comparison with the 2011 shot of the bluffs above, here is the same cliff face now, photographed from a lower point on the trail:

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 6966 (640x445)

A super bloom, indeed, as seen in this scene of the ravine that ends at those cliffs:

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 6960 (640x480)

That pale yellow-green bloom is primarily wild mustard, which has exploded into life across southern California hillsides and valleys. Nearly everything, though, is either in bloom or some shade of green.

Palos Verdes bloom Brad Nixon 7592 (640x480)

It won’t last. The rain has almost certainly ended for some months, which is our normal weather pattern. The hillsides will get drier and browner as the heat and sun of a California summer prevail. When October or November come, cold, damp air may move down from the northern Pacific, bringing more rain. If not, the drought will resume.

We certainly enjoy the spectacle now, as do the insects, birds and animals that eat them and live among them.

They say it never rains in California. For once, they’re wrong. Lucky us.

© Brad Nixon 2017



  1. Cool blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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