Whether growing wild or in more structured environments, blooms aplenty can be found throughout the foothills.
By Mary O’KEEFE
t’s spring in Southern California and, although some would say seasonal change is minimal, the one thing this time of year brings out is flowers. Beautiful colors in local yards, along sidewalks, in gardens and mountain pathways are vibrant reminders that spring in California means rebirth.
At Deukmejian Wilderness Park the hiking trails are lined with a yellow flower called Encelia farinosa, or Brittlebush due to its brittle stems, the purple Eriodictyon crassifolium or yerba santa, and the orange Eschscholzia, better known as the California poppy, the state flower, said Marc Stirdivant, senior administrative analyst for the City of Glendale.
The weather is perfect for a hike along the trails but Stirdivant reminds those who may take advantage of open land that it is still a mountainous area.
“It is very important to stay on the trails,” he said. “We don’t recommend people cutting trails.”
The City of Glendale has created the “Ten Essentials” which are 10 things that hikers should bring on every hike, no matter for how long or short the walk may be planned. Those things include appropriate footwear, a map and compass or Global Positioning System if possible, extra water and a way to purify water, extra food, the correct clothing that can adjust to the changing weather conditions, safety items like a way to make a fire, a flashlight and a whistle, a first aid kit specifically for hikers, a multi-purpose tool, sunglasses and sunscreen and a daypack. And of course don’t hike alone.
For those who are gardeners, this is the time to plant for the spring. In this early part of spring it is best to plant flowers like violas and pansies, in mid-spring it’s time for snapdragons and petunias. Marigolds and zinnias are for hotter days, according to gardeners at Armstrong Garden Center in La Cañada.
With the cooler temperatures, the beginning of spring is the time to plant vegetables like cabbage and spinach and, as it gets hotter, tomatoes, peppers and beans will be ready for the ground.
Of course flowers and plants are only as strong as the soil they are being planted in. Armstrong advises using the proper planting soil, which depends on the type of soil where the flowers and vegetables are being planted. It also has available soil that works to get the most out of every drop of water by having super absorbent granules that release water into the roots of the plants.
Despite the hillsides appearing greener California is still in a drought. The rains that have fallen on Southern California have been more than in years past but have not been what was predicted, nor what was needed, to help move the state out of the drought.
“Not here in Southern California,” said Kathy Hoxsie, National Weather Service meteorologist, of the rainfall. “Most of the effects have been in northern and central California.”
Predictions had been that Southern California was going to get the brunt of the El Niño effect, the cause of the heavy rainstorms in the north, but the reality was much different.
“We have had more rain than in the last few years,” she said. “One of the key sites we track is downtown Los Angeles. For a typical or normal year we get almost 13 inches of rain, and [this year-to-date] we have just about six inches.”
For gardeners it is important to remember that whatever is planted will need watering and water restrictions ebb and flow with the rains.
Hoxsie added the positive side of this El Niño was that even though Southern California didn’t receive a lot of rain, it will still benefit from the rainfall in the north. The southern part of the state gets most of its water from the northern area. Water flows down through the aqueducts.
One of the best places to see what spring can bring is Descanso Gardens where everything seems to be in bloom. The Gardens are open daily, except for Christmas, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $9 for adults, seniors 65 and over and students are $6 and children five to 12 years old are $4.
For gardeners who love tomatoes, Tomatomania, which is promoted as the world’s largest tomato seedling sale, returns to Descanso Gardens on April 2 and 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every type of tomato plant, including heirlooms, will be available to purchase.
Beyond plants, though, will be knowledge. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions about which tomatoes are the best to plant in the area and how to nurture them from garden to table. On April 2 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and on April 3 at
1 p.m. visitors can learn about the basics of tomato growing during a lecture at Under the Oaks Theater, and on both days from 11 a.m. to
3 p.m. will be delicious dishes and drinks featuring tomatoes at “Tomato Faves From Patina” on the main lawn. There will also be cooking demonstrations both days at noon at Under the Oaks Theater where guests can learn some fresh new spins from a Patina chef on cooking with tomatoes.
For more information, visit www.descansogardens.org, www.armstronggarden.com and www.glendaleca.gov and search Deukmejian Wilderness Park.