flowers

Poppy Talk Is on the Wind

Pandemic considerations are a major focus. And a lack of rain may impact the spring bloom at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

Charles O'Rear

What to Know

  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster
  • The visitor center traditionally opens on March 1 each year, with blooms possibly following later in March and April
  • The 2021 season, including the possibility of not opening to the public, remains in flux; Poppy Cam remains active, however, for home viewers

So many of our hopes surrounding the tides and time of nature are very much of the "wait and see" variety.

Patience is required. So. Much. Patience.

We need to wait and see if the wind will stop, if hoped-for snow will fall, if our tomatoes will ripen, if the weekend weather will be warm, and what's happening on the sometimes mercurial, always majestic wildflower scene.

Fathoming that last bit, about what will happen with the famous wildflowers of Southern California's more remote and spectacular areas, is never easy.

And what exactly will occur at our region's best-known wildflower location is still squarely seated in the unknown column as January 2021 proceeds.

But wildflower seekers surely understand that we've all just embarked on a highly unusual year, one that is asking us to, yes, be patient.

Pandemic safety is giving many of Southern California's popular springtime destinations, especially those places that draw a lot of flower fans, much to weigh.

Here, though, is a fresh 2021 update from the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, a world-famous spot for orange-amazing carpets of April-sweet petals.

For starters? Rain has been an issue, or rather the lack of the moisture, with less than an inch falling in recent months at the Lancaster reserve.

Still, Jean Rhyne, a State Park Interpreter, noted that superblooms can take people by surprise, even when rains arrive later than expected or hoped for (see: the impressive bloom of 2020).

Add to that the many considerations of social distancing when poppy lovers descend upon the park, and whether people can truly make space for each other, even in the spacious spot.

Whether the park opens or remains closed will be decided as spring grows closer, probably around March, after several factors are considered.

In short? Patience, please, poppy people.

But a few reasons to find cheer in a topic that usually cheers so many of us?

Poppy Cam, a live cam that keeps an eye on the rolling hills of the reserve, is still on and active. So, for sure, you'll be able to enjoy the March/April show, if there is a big show, from home.

Of course, fiddlenecks and other notable blossoms often make a gorgeous showing, so keep an eye out, even if the poppies don't truly pop.

You can find a link to the Poppy Cam near the bottom of this informative page.

Something else that has some hope at its heart? The reserve is looking to hire ten Visitor Services Park Aides for the season, beginning on Feb. 1.

Operating the entrance station is a main duty the aides will take on, but there are other requirements and roles. For more information, contact Matthew Williams. Mr. Williams can be reached at 661-369-1148 or Matthew.Williams@parks.ca.gov.

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