national parks

A bouquet of southern California wildflowers.

Sunshine has been a bit of a stranger here in coastal San Diego as of late. Our typical May gray and June gloom months have brought moisture that we typically only see in the form of heavy fog at this time of year. It’s a perfect evening to gather together a few of my favorite wildflower photos from this spring and summer as the bloom continues, albeit in a more subtle way than that which made national news. The desert “super blooms” attract large crowds, but there are always plants present to be appreciated no matter the time of year, particularly if you enjoy the hunt as I do.

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), beach sand verbena (Abronia umbellata) and common phacelia (Phacelia distans) overlook the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla.

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), beach sand verbena (Abronia umbellata) and common phacelia (Phacelia distans) overlook the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla.

Ground pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus) growing in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego.

Ground pink (Linanthus dianthiflorus) growing in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego.

Desert or Ajo lily (Hesperocallis undulata) is both beautiful and wonderfully fragrant. I spotted this one growing in the Coyote Canyon area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs.

Desert or Ajo lily (Hesperocallis undulata) is both beautiful and wonderfully fragrant. I spotted this one growing in the Coyote Canyon area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs.

Desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia) is a favorite desert sight of mine and one I got to enjoy during multiple trips to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park this spring. Unfortunately, my attempts at growing it from seed myself weren’t as successful as they were last year due to wildlife interference. I’ll sow more seed when winter rains arrive.

Desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia) is a favorite desert sight of mine and one I got to enjoy during multiple trips to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park this spring. Unfortunately, my attempts at growing it from seed myself weren’t as successful as they were last year due to wildlife interference. I’ll sow more seed when winter rains arrive.

Rays of sunshine and Parish's poppies (Eschscholzia parishii) are framed by the ever sculptural and graceful ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) along the Cactus Trail at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Rays of sunshine and Parish's poppies (Eschscholzia parishii) are framed by the ever sculptural and graceful ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) along the Cactus Trail at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

California centaury (Zeltnera venusta) glow in the setting sun on Del Mar Mesa Preserve near my studio.

California centaury (Zeltnera venusta) glow in the setting sun on Del Mar Mesa Preserve near my studio.

Giant coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea) blooming on Santa Cruz Island, part of Channel Islands National Park off of the coast of Los Angeles.

Giant coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea) blooming on Santa Cruz Island, part of Channel Islands National Park off of the coast of Los Angeles.

The citrusy fragrance of Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) blends with the scent of ocean air at Torrey Pines State Beach just after dawn.

The citrusy fragrance of Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) blends with the scent of ocean air at Torrey Pines State Beach just after dawn.

A splended mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens) glows in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

A splended mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens) glows in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Calico cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii). Mojave National Preserve between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Calico cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii). Mojave National Preserve between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

I watch for the emerging leaves and developing buds of Weed's mariposa lily (Calochortus weedii) every spring in nearby Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, Del Mar Mesa Preserve and at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, the latter being where I took this photograph.

I watch for the emerging leaves and developing buds of Weed's mariposa lily (Calochortus weedii) every spring in nearby Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, Del Mar Mesa Preserve and at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, the latter being where I took this photograph.

I believe the featured cactus here is Mojave prickly pear (Opuntia erinacea). A strangely cool for late May day that was mostly cloudy made for a memorable walk in Mohave National Preserve. It was exploding with colorful desert flowers and I wish I’d had many more hours there to explore.

I believe the featured cactus here is Mojave prickly pear (Opuntia erinacea). A strangely cool for late May day that was mostly cloudy made for a memorable walk in Mohave National Preserve. It was exploding with colorful desert flowers and I wish I’d had many more hours there to explore.

Switching gears a bit, two of my mixed-media paintings inspired by California wildflowers I admired in situ were featured in “The Art of the Wildflower,” an exhibition during Wildflower Week at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, California. From their website: “Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is the largest botanic garden dedicated to California native plants, promoting botany, conservation and horticulture to inspire, inform and educate the public and scientific community about California's native flora. The Garden is a living museum with curated collections of more than 22,000 California native plants, some of which are rare or endangered. Spread across 86 acres in Claremont, California, the Garden is located approximately 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The Garden displays about 2000 taxa of California plants and includes those native to the California Floristic Province.”

As with the wildflower photographs above, you will find prints of these paintings for purchase in a wide range of sizes and on different surfaces by clicking on the images. Please email me if you’re interested in owning one of the original paintings.

Thanks for supporting living artists.

—Robin Street-Morris

Weed’s Mariposa Lily (Calochortus weedii) . 2019. Transparent watercolor and powdered soft pastel on 300lb hot press paper. 13" x 19" (33 x 48cm).

Weed’s Mariposa Lily (Calochortus weedii). 2019. Transparent watercolor and powdered soft pastel on 300lb hot press paper. 13" x 19" (33 x 48cm).

California Poppy ( Eschscholzia californica ). 2018. Transparent watercolor and powdered soft pastel on 300lb hot press paper. 19" x 13" (48 x 33 cm).

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica ). 2018. Transparent watercolor and powdered soft pastel on 300lb hot press paper. 19" x 13" (48 x 33 cm).