Flames to flowers
17 Images

Flames to flowers

In October 2003, as fire spread across Palmer and Evey canyons north of Claremont, the flames charred not only the manzanita-covered hillsides but also the house that Michael Bright shared with wife Mary. Their life’s possessions were lost.

But as the couple worried if they could recover from the blaze, the landscape surrounding the ruins of their home provided some inspiration. Just three months after the wildfire, signs of life began poking from the blackened ground. Wildflowers, unlike any they had seen, began to bloom: whispering bells, yellow-throated phacelia, fire poppies and Michael’s favorite, the foothill mariposa lily, among others.

By 2006, stands of yellow mustard took over the lupine and bluebells, and nonnatives largely pushed out many of the native wildflowers. By this year, the manzanita had grown back, and the landscape looks more like its pre-fire days, leaving Michael’s pictures as rare evidence of the fleeting flower show. (Photo by Michael Bright)
Vivid, new growth rises from the still-blackened ground in early March 2004. (Photo by Michael Bright)
Caterpillar phacelia (Photo by Michael Bright)
Venus thistle (Photo by Michael Bright)
Wire lettuce (Photo by Michael Bright)
Mariposa lily (Photo by Michael Bright)
Scarlet larkspur (Photo by Michael Bright)
Fire poppy (Photo by Michael Bright)
Indian paintbrush (Photo by Michael Bright)
Desert plantain (Photo by Michael Bright)
Banana yucca (Photo by Michael Bright)
Blazing star (Photo by Michael Bright)
Blue-eyed grass (Photo by Michael Bright)
Humboldt’s lily (Photo by Michael Bright)
Popcorn flower (Photo by Michael Bright)
Purple owl’s clover (Photo by Michael Bright)
Yucca whipplei (Photo by Michael Bright)
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