I visit beautiful Tassajara Hot Springs most years and had very much gotten used to see the stunning wildflowers of the Los Padres National Forest. This year, though, we had booked for the July 4th weekend - what would it be like?
We found a strange beauty in the different shades of dry - from brown to white, as in the Everlasting below (not sure which one it is).
Hummingbird sage, so abundant in the spring, was now dried out (just like the one in the home garden), showing off big, beautiful seedheads.
When we hiked past the field of Penstemon centranthifolius (Scarlet Bugler), we saw just one or two blossoms left.
In addition to the different shades of brown, we say the greyish green so characteristic of California summer, especially in yucca.
Here a close-up.
But really, it was all about seeds. Does anyone know what the fluffy seedheads are that we found on this bush?
Here a close-up - I have no idea.
I was also thrilled to see, for the first time, a redberry (Rhamnus crocea) with fruit. This slow growing relative of the coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) is popular with California gardeners, but because it takes a while to mature, it's not often seen with berries.
There were reminders of the great fire everywhere, and even with the new green growth, the fuel load is high.
Some trees came back, and some remain as a stark reminder of how quickly everything can turn into ashes (and yes, the sky was really that blue).
But every year, more green.
On the really hot days - it got to 106 - we skipped the hikes and went to find water instead.
We enjoyed the shade of the California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) and watched the jays trying to steal food as people were eating.
It was wonderful to sit near the creek, surrounded by green.
And the varied beauty made me realize again how special the country that surrounds us really is.