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SoCal: Recent rains revive chance of showy poppies, wildflowers

It's been a lousy year for water, but recent heavy rains in Southern California have sown a few seeds of hope that golden poppies in the Antelope Valley just might put on a show this year. Not a big show, but a show.

The brown fields at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster have greened up since storms last week dropped 3 1/2 inches of rain. The moisture plumped up little poppies that had struggled to sprout during drought conditions with flowers so small you'd have to be standing on top of them to take notice.

The recent rainfall gives those poppies a chance of getting bigger and putting out more plants, maybe even turning into the golden carpet that visitors love.

"I have to be very careful about being optimistic," Jean Ryhne, California state park interpreter, said Thursday in discussing the potential bloom at the Mojave Desert grassland. "If I am and anything happens, people get mad at us."

But the blooms will come only if the weather cooperates.

"I hope we don't have a heat wave or a freeze come," she said, adding that high, dry winds also batter up-and-coming poppies. Without major weather woes, poppies should hit their peak bloom time in mid-April.

In other areas of the Antelope Valley, Saddleback Butte and Antelope Valley Indian Museum state parks east of Lancaster are showing promising buds for wildflowers like Fremont pincushion, wild rhubarb, tidy tips and coreopsis. Bloom time should be in mid-March, but don't expect to see poppies in those areas.

Info: The interpretive center at the poppy reserve opens March 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. Up-to-date bloom information on wildflowers can be found at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve's Facebook page.
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