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Wildflower hunting

A Page of History

My mother Marion Deaver loved flowers – of all kinds. This is a second installment on her love of flowers and how we all learned about them growing up.

She loved to make flower arrangements and she liked to grow flowers in her home garden. She also adored it when the desert was blanketed with seasonal wildflowers in yellow, blue, purple, white, orange and even red some years.

She would tell my dad Paul early each spring it was time to drive around the desert near Mojave and "scout" out the flowers to see what was coming up. I, of course, went on all these trips; my parents did not hire baby sitters.

We would also check out the Joshua trees to see if they were forming buds, how many buds there were and how big they were getting. My mom was told by area old-timers that spring flowers would not be plentiful unless fall rains came in November to begin germination of all the plants.

Then we would wait ... when the first shades of yellow coreopsis began to cover the desert areas around Mojave we knew it was time to hit the desert again, enjoy the warm weather, the colors and search for some flower that was rare or that my mom had never seen before.

Through this process I learned a lot about native plants and flowers and where they grew then – and now.

I learned where the desert candles, also known as squaw cabbage, grow and was thrilled to discover some already this spring. I discovered with my parents desert holly growing, a rare find indeed.

I learned that certain wildflowers only grow along windswept hills at higher elevations. A patch of bush lupine has been growing in the same place for as long as I can remember and I am anxious to check it out soon.

My mom taught me that the coreopsis usually blooms first and others then follow. The Joshua trees start to bloom even earlier and right now they are in full glory west of Mojave and along Highway 58 heading to Tehachapi.

Wildflowers are blooming all over Southern California right now. There are profusions of poppies along hillsides from Lake Elsinore to the Carrizo area.

They are beautiful. But if you are a true wildflower aficionado you know where the less common flowers grow and you search and search all over the Tehachapi Mountains and the Eastern Mojave Desert until you find their familiar faces reaching out to the sun.

God has a great plan for sustaining life on this planet and I discovered that not all the wildflowers bloom at the same time. The longer blooming season provides nectar for the bees, other insects and some birds, allowing them to live out their life cycles also.

I so enjoy watching for the later blooms to decorate the hills and desert, including desert asters, orange mallow, Indian paintbrush and others.

Driving along the 58 to Bakersfield in late spring when we see "Farewell to Spring," pink flowers growing along the cuts made for the freeway, we know that it is about done and it is going to get hot and dry soon.

My mom told me all these things and I stored them away and now try to teach my children and grandchildren about wildflowers. They are not quite as enthralled as I was as a child. Nonetheless, I still share with them whenever I see something blooming.

I mentioned that my mom loved flowers - what she did not love was . . . sheep!

The grasses would appear with wildflowers mixed in and truckloads of sheep would appear and begin to graze – eating the wildflowers!

She would be furious, but there was nothing to be done because the wildflowers grew on the open range areas where the sheep could graze for free.

But again God has a plan. The sheep eat some of the flowers, drop the seeds in their waste and the cycle of life continues.

I found a photo my mom took of sheep grazing on a hill in the desert. She titled the cutline for the photo "please don't eat the daisies" because the sheep were eating coreopsis and woolly daisies.

She fought her battles her own way. She couldn't stop the sheep but she did not have to like it!