Carla Brennan's Blog

Reflections and Photos from The Big Trip and Beyond . .

Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada Mountains

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July 6, 2017 – Lake Tahoe, CA

Chris and I had a short break and headed to Tahoe City on the shores of Lake Tahoe for a couple days. This is prime wildflower season in the high altitude of the mountains. Nearby was the Tahoe Rim Trail in the national forest which promised a waterfall and a summit view on Twin Peaks. I, of course, wandered so slowly, taking in the beauty and the many flowers that we didn’t make much progress in terms of distance (no waterfall or summit.) But I brought home yet another “photographic bouquet” of wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

This gallery contains 55 photos

2017 Wildflower Bouquet #2

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Here are some of the wildflowers I have stumbled upon in Santa Cruz County during the last month. Two of the flowers were new to me, the musk monkeyflower and the delightful stream orchid. The aptly-named orchid I discovered blooming along the banks of the San Lorenzo River in Henry Cowell State Park. I had to crouch in the river (in my bathing suit) to get the shot.

Please do not reproduce any photographs without permission. Prints are available for purchase for some photographs. If you are interested, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com. You can also find Carla’s photographs, paintings and jewelry on her Etsy site (Stones and Bones): https://www.etsy.com/shop/stonesandbones

This gallery contains 27 photos

2017 Wildflower Photo Bouquet #1

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Here are some highlights from this year’s spring bounty of wildflowers. The most spectacular display has already been posted from the Carrizo Plain superbloom in March 2017. Go to: https://carlabrennan.com/2017/04/02/carrizo-plain-national-monument-march-2017/.

The photos in this post are from much closer to home in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. By now, I know where and approximately when to find specific flowers, although there is some variation year to year. I may not see the same individual, but I am likely to discover an offspring.

BTW, I’ve given up trying to identify which wild iris is which. This area is home to a variety of native and endemic showy irises. Some iris species can vary widely in color, from pale yellow to to deep purple, making identification confusing. And, honestly, I haven’t buckled down to learn the distinguishing characteristics. In the past, I tended to call everything a “Douglas iris” but they could also be a native Fernald’s iris, Central Coast iris, bowltube iris, or one of the invasive non-native species. So now an iris will just be called “iris.”

Many of the flowers and other plants in California are non-natives brought here by the early Spanish explorers, ranchers, farmers and gardeners. Some native species, especially grasses, have been pushes aside, becoming rarer to find. I have indicated which of the plants I’ve photographed are non-native.

I stumbled upon a few flowers new to me this year (or at least I don’t remember them): Elegant Cat’s Ear (mariposa), California Milkwort, Prettyface, White Brodiaea and Yellow Glandweed. And I love that crazy reed with the strange reproductive organs as well as those berries with thorns.

More flower photographs are likely to come. June and the summer months bring a host of additional blooms. However, sadly, the biggest display is probably behind us for this year (except at high elevations!).

Please do not reproduce any photographs without permission. Prints are available for purchase for some photographs. If you are interested, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com. You can also find Carla’s photographs, paintings and jewelry on her Etsy site (Stones and Bones): https://www.etsy.com/shop/stonesandbones

This gallery contains 59 photos

Carrizo Plain National Monument – March 2017

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Carrizo Plain National Monument, CA
March 2017

The main event was yellow. Pale yellows, golden yellows, lemon yellows, schoolbus yellows. Acres of yellow carpeted the wide flat plain, yellow crowned the foothills, yellow stretched up the mountain sides, yellow was underfoot everywhere. It reminded me of the spectacular autumnal display of yellow aspens in the Rockies and Sierras but here there are no trees, the color flows along the ground.

The next color in competition was green. There were at least fifty shades of green (and much sexier than gray.) It was our first trip to Carrizo Plain but I knew that green is not its usual color. Most of the year it is dry, dusty and brown. It is semi-arid natural grassland (the last great stretch of it in California) and the annual rainfall is only 9 inches per year.

Other shades of the rainbow were blooming too, if you looked closely. Purples made a show of it and highlighted the yellows. One hillside was painted sky blue with baby blue eyes. Pinks, oranges and whites were scattered about. Below the taller plants, tiny many-colored flowers vied for their place in the sun close to the earth.

After an exceptional season of rain and previous years of drought, it is a superbloom of tremendous proportions. In the Santa Cruz Mountains where I live, this rain brought down trees and power lines, washed out roads and triggered land, mud, and rockslides. We are gradually cleaning up the mess and rebuilding our roads. But in the deserts in central and southern California these rains created great masses of flowering plants. The most stunning superblooms are supposedly in the deserts much farther south, but we could only fit in the four hour drive to Carrizo Plain.

I was in my bliss and glory among the blossoms!

Please do not reproduce any photographs without permission. Prints are available for purchase for some photographs. If you are interested, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com. You can also find Carla’s photographs, paintings and jewelry on her Etsy site (Stones and Bones): https://www.etsy.com/shop/stonesandbones

This gallery contains 46 photos