The Habitat Garden Blog

Virtual Superbloom

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Aquilegia Formosa or Western Columbine

One advantage of living on the other side of the planet for a while is discovering an entirely new wild flora. Spring is still spring, but to my British eyes she appears to have emerged in a fabulous new outfit this year.

From the vaguely familiar to the down right exotic, new and unusual plants are popping up everywhere and after a gloomy grey winter it is a sight for sore eyes. 

 Indian warrior

I find the trouble with wildflowers is they are a little like my three daughters - some days it’s really hard to choose a favourite! And it’s even tougher here in California which is something of a biodiversity hotspot, being home to some 6,500 species, sub species and varieties of naturally occurring plants (the above native is 'Indian warrior').

Purple iris

So I’ve decided to photo bomb you with ALL the spring flowers I photographed on my local hikes here this week. A ‘virtual superbloom’ if you like, but this one begins with a poem...

The Miwok Trail

What a joy this spring has been -

To find the Golden State now green!

And wander her once-dusty trails

Past languid snakes and fussing quails

Breathe air revived by rain-washed scent

Of coastal sage and bay and bent 

While grasses quake in meadows sweet

Where, through the mallow, man-root* creeps

Though fire waged war upon these lands

These legion blooms did not disband 

But, woken from a golden sleep, 

Their million tiny eyes now peep

And gaze up with ephemeral grace

(Spurning drought, renewing faith)

To claim their moment in the sun

Expectant, hopeful, every one 

*refers to Californian man root (Marah fabaceus, pictured below) a wild species of cucumber which looks a lot like bryony and is one of the first species to recolonise after fire.

 Wild cucumber or Marah

The Miwok Trail

The Miwok Trail (named after the native American Miowk people indigenous to this landscape) which we are lucky enough to live near.

Trail framed with lupinus

The trail framed by lupins (Lupinus).

 California poppy

California poppies

I am not going to pretend to know the binomial nomenclaure (or even just the common names!) for all of these plamts but I will have a stab at them. Above is the unmistakable California poppy or Eschscholzia californica.


Echium - the pollinators love these!

Bush monkey flower

Bush monkey flower.


Ceanothus (Californian lilac as it is known here).

Burr marigold

Burr marigold.

Convovulous arvensis

Field bind weed - Convovulous arvensis.

Purple irises

More dwarf purple irises.

Lupinus among the quaking grass (Briza maxima) with Artemesia

Lupinus among the quaking grass and coastal sage (Artemesia).



Scarlet pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel - not so elusive afterall!

Viola spp?

Californian golden viola




A very busy apiary - its safe to say these honey bees were spoiled for choice!

Wild garlic

Wild garlic (or what is sometime known as 'ramsons' in the UK). The leaves are finer in this species but it still makes a cracking garlic bread and pesto.

Possibly scarlet paintbrush

This was another native stunner, possibly 'Scarlet paintbursh'?

Myosotis sylvatica

And last but not least we must not forget Mysotis sylvatica, growing here among the ferns.

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  1. Sharon Salisbury

    Thanks for the lovely photos. I had my ankle replaced last year and still can't get out much, as I used to, so good to see my old friends. REPLY: Thank you Sharon. I hope your mobility improves and you can get back out on the trails - the wild flowers will be waiting for you!

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  2. Jean McNaughton

    Lovely photos Jilly. Is the californiaac tree also known as the Jacaranda tree? I like the poppies and the Forget-Me-Knots. X REPLY: Hello Jean, thats a spectacular tree that does grow here but originates further south than California (Mexico and beyond) and is more lilac in colour. They are very beautiful, but there is rarely a truer blue in nature than the Californian Ceanothus.

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