Carrizo Plain: Wildflower Wonderful

Goldfields are making a stunning showing at the national monument.

What can be said, really, except this: Flowers, like the people who adore them, are delightfully, and often maddeningly, fickle.

Death Valley National Park experienced a rare "super bloom" in February and early March, while hopes for carpets of poppies at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, near Lancaster, weren't quite met.

There are still pretty poppies, and other flowers, as March ends, take heart, but the reserve revealed that the "season appears to be ending early, as the rains a couple weeks ago came too late to sustain the bloom that had barely gotten started." As for the outlook? "(T)here will only be a few wildflowers left by our usual mid-April peak."

Oh, fickle flowers, you do bewitch us with your capricious ways.

But look further north, to Carrizo Plain National Monument, where a glorious showing of goldfields has popped up in the second half of March. It's not quite a super bloom, says a monument representative, so don't cleave to that notion (and avoid disappointment). The showing is strong, however, and if goldfields happen to be one of your must-see wildflowers, best get up there before April truly gets going.

If rains return, the blooms will have a more lasting run, but if heat settles in, bye bye, blooms. Since it is a bit of a drive, best check ahead on how those flowers are doing, if you're making a day of it. 

Truly, though, let us not fuss over the fickle state of the wildflower: Antelope Valley still has some stunning spreads, even with its early-ending season, and Carrizo Plain is a quintessentially classic California destination, whether wildflowers are present or not, thanks to its arid-awesome expanses and photo-ready vistas.

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It keeps Californians on their toes, year after year, to see where the daffodils and poppies and irises and sunflowers might show, or not, and in what numbers, and for how long. 

Feels like a March Madness-style bracket is needed for this Marchtime event, the wildflower search.

It isn't over yet, take heart. And stay tuned: Our mountain towns and meadows still have some April petals up their sleeves, in terms of 2016 blooms action.

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