Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in the February 2010 issue of the Newsletter for Members.
Spring wildflowers are notoriously localized and hard to quantify. Wildflower seasons are easier to describe, but both lend themselves to fanciful hyperbole, mainly because their emotional impact often overshadows the reality on the ground. There is morbid silence or low grumbling during poor wildflower years, but in great years, like 2001, it’s not unusual to hear a field botanist fawn over a hillside of Mexican goldpoppies with the same adjectives as a Grand Canyon visitor might use at his first look over the South Rim.
Emotional descriptors like “amazing” or “incredible” or even “mind-bending” don’t add up to much when appraising the last decade of wildflowers in the vicinity of Boyce Thompson Arboretum. For that, I had to sift through the detailed field notes that I’ve kept over the years, skip over the plethora of oohs and aahs, and try to drill down to the nitty gritty of what was actually observed. [Read more…]