Last month snow again covered the San Bernardino Mountains; probably for the last time this season. That late snowfall arriving in spring laid down an inviting white carpet beginning at the highest ridges of the range and stopping at the front door of my home. Although the beckoning of a winter playground is compelling, it arrived too late for my agenda. Only the week before, we were busy searching for a springtime wildflower photo op.


In a secluded valley away from the housing tracts, dumps, strip malls, asphalt roads, and off-road driving sites we found some flowers protected from human development. Much of the valley had previously been stripped of native plants by the owners of several small ranches. But the well-water proved too alkaline for their agricultural plans and they abandoned the region. No one has tried to farm there for at least sixty years. Removing the natural desert plants that thrive on the high Ph made this area barren and now even the small wooden homes of the would-be farmers have disappeared.


What has survived is interesting. An ugly low growing plant some folks call bush scrub claims dominance on land that had been cleared. But wildflowers are persistent. If unbothered, the hardier flowers are as willing to spread their seeds here as elsewhere. Sometimes the spring blooms appear more prolific on cleared land than in the areas that had been left to their wild natural condition. This contrast is apparent from our before and after photos.


The first is a BEFORE photo of the native creosote bush nestled in a scattering of yellow and pink wildflowers.