(TMU) – Every spring, Californians are treated to a fantastic spectacle of nature as the Antelope Valley bursts with vast and colorful blooming flowers of various types.
And while the main display consists of a range of different wildflowers, the state’s official flower – the California poppy – is the star attraction, bringing visitors from across the Golden State and neighboring states to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in northern Los Angeles County.
This year, the famous poppy fields have been off-limits to visitors due to the state’s shelter-in-place order in response to the coronavirus, preventing snap-happy Instagramers and photographers from capturing the stunning array of velvet orange poppy fields.
Following a long dry spell, the state enjoyed major rainfall in March and April, relieving Southern California of drought conditions and bringing 10.5 inches of rain to the Lancaster area, nearly 4 inches more than the typical amount.
But while we can’t enjoy the poppies in person, photos from NASA are allowing us to view the massive blooms from space.
Orange You Glad It's Spring?Happy Spring! Enjoy some flower gazing from space! Near the western tip of the Mojave…
Images taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite last month and released last Thursday show the breathtaking super bloom at its peak, sprawling across the valley which, fittingly, is located near NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.
In a post to Facebook, the U.S. space agency wrote:
“The poppies open their petals during sunny periods, appearing like a large blanket over the landscape. The flowers tend close during windy, cold periods. While the orange poppies are easy to spot in satellite imagery, the fields also contain cream cups, forget-me-nots, purple bush lupines, and yellow goldfields (a relative of the sunflower).”
California park officials have greeted the blooms as an “unexpected” surprise resulting from the late-season rains, which will help extend the poppies’ lives.
— Los Angeles County (@CountyofLA) April 14, 2020
The shelter-in-place mandate issued by state Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 20 requires that Californians stay at home unless they are engaged in such essential needs as fetching groceries, going to the doctor, or going to those jobs deemed essential. While outdoor exercise is encouraged, the state has urged residents to restrict their walks, runs, and hikes to their own neighborhoods and local parks.
And while crowds have generally respected the order to stay away from the park, images from the poppy fields have filtered out to social media showing folks stealing a quick pic while surrounded by the dazzling display.
California State Parks Interpreter Jean Rhyne told SFGate:
“We currently have a road diversion set up to allow only local traffic into the area around the park, to reduce fence-jumping and shifting the impact of the closure onto our neighbors.
“However, much of the western Antelope Valley is having a great poppy bloom this year, so many people are visiting the poppy fields on the private lands around the area of reserve and tagging themselves as at the park. Only the county roads through them are public and trespassing on private lands is outside our jurisdiction. There are a lot of people not obeying the stay-at-home order, but visitation to the valley is only a fraction of what it would normally be at this time.”
However, the spectacle didn’t last far into May as hot weather quickly returned to the Southwest region.
Last Saturday, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve announced on Facebook that the heat had “rapidly diminished the bloom,” with “almost all of the poppies” now gone to seed.
“It looks like the April rains weren’t enough to get the bloom through to May,” the park said.