The last three days that I stayed at Tassajara Hot Springs with Mr. Mouse as a guest, we actually managed several wonderful hikes, and my favorite was the hike on the wind caves trail. This hike, in the Los Padres National Forest, had quite possibly the most impressive wildflowers, or at least the most impressive perennials. Above, a Dendromecon rigida (bush poppy) looking glorious against the dark blue sky. Nevin Smith says in his book that every California gardener wants a bush popply and a mantilleja poppy (they're actually both not really poppies) and that both plants get much to big for just about every garden. So, good to enjoy them on a hike.
But more was in store. Could it be? The plant everyone is lusting after, right here along the path?
Yes, a Trichostema lanatum (woolly blue curl) in all its glory, right there in its natural habitat.
And the surprises continued. I had never seen a pearly everlasting that was blooming so abundantly (not sure of the precise species, it's a large family).
And it wasn't all just plants. We saw a huge iridescent green lizard.
We saw a 4 foot? 5 foot? long snake that, to our relief, wasn't a rattler.
And we saw many butterflies and managed a photo of one of them visiting some Eriophyllum confertiflorum (golden yarrow). Can anyone name the butterfly?
On the way back, we were especially taken with Eriodictyon californicum (Yerba Santa). This plant, which the American Indians prized for its healing properties, is abundant in the area around Tassajara and beautiful in the spring. Sadly, it reliably gets a black fungus later in the year and is not a desirable garden plant.
Already on the dirt road back to Tassajara, and almost able to smell the treats that were waiting for us, we had to stop once again for a photo of Clarkia purpurea (winecup).
Then we rested from our labors with some tea and a snack, and told everyone else to go see the wildflowers too.