SPRING HAS SPRUNG

Yes, it’s wildflower season. Perhaps you have Poppies popping all over your property, but don’t stop there; take a road trip and revel in the bounty of spring.

For Wildflower viewing close to home, go to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The Garden is celebrating its 80th birthday this spring. The Garden’s original benefactress, Anna Dorinda Blaksley Bliss, was a wealthy Montecito resident whose home, Casa Dorinda, is now a retirement community. She was reportedly picnicking on the site that is now Garden’s Meadow when she noticed wooden stakes in the ground. Her companions, Dr. and Mrs. Elmer Bissell, explained that the area was slated for development. Mrs. Bliss promptly donated $16,000 for purchase of the land and the establishment of a botanic garden in memory of her father. This original 13-acre parcel gifted by Mrs. Bliss on March 16, 1926, made establishment of the garden possible.

The meadow is the temporary home of Toad Hall, a sculpture by Patrick Dougherty, created March 2005, and is a popular destination to witness spectacular wildflower displays every spring.

The Botanic Garden is sponsoring the Great Garden Shoot Out, a community photo contest, in celebration of its 80th birthday. This month-long event until the end of April encourages photographers of all ages to submit their best and most interesting photos of the Botanic Garden and/or Toad Hall for judging.

For more information about what’s in bloom at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, special events or becoming a member log onto www.sbbg.org or call 682-4726.

The Valley

Take a drive to the Santa Ynez valley while spring is in full swing. Poppies, Buttercups and Lupine line the road and the hills will never be greener than right now. Though the mountain snow we had in March may have confused some of our colorful friends, spring’s splendor is evident at every turn. I like to drive along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail for views of Figueroa Mountain, wildflowers and the vineyards.

For the more adventurous, don’t miss Figueroa Mountain Road. As you start your drive you will see Buttercups, Fiesta Flowers, Johnny Jump-ups and Hummingbird Sage. Progress up the road a bit further and flaming-red Indian Paintbrush is blooming. A little ways up you will see a small field of Shooting Stars and Popcorn Flower, past this field Sky Lupine is in bloom. As you continue your climb up Figueroa Mountain, watch for Ceanothus, California Poppies, more Lupine, Buttercups, Fiddlenecks and Hummingbird Sage. If you travel all the way to the top there may still be some snow left over from the recent storms.

You don’t need to know the names of the flowers to enjoy this seasonal spectacle. All you need is a sense of adventure and a set of wheels.

For updated information on this year’s wildflower season check out the wildflower hotline, www.theodorepayne.org/hotline.html.