Eschscholzia Californica- Walker Canyon Poppy Reserve Closed today 3-8-23

Started by Mike Lowitz, February 08, 2023, 02:02:23 AM

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Mike Lowitz

Its always an amazing sight to see the poppy's bloom in late Winter at least here in SoCal. 
The last time they put on a spectacular display was 2019. I saw them and took the attached photos, I believe March 14th at the Walker Canyon Poppy Reserve. It's pretty amazing when you are driving the 15 and traffic comes to a dead view the endless carpet of flowers. 
It literally was like the poppy fields in the Wizard of OZ but Orange. ( these are not opium poppy's either, so there is that too) There were police trying to keep traffic moving but people were pulling off the road on an interstate. Jumping the fence, running to the poppy field like there was free money to be found, taking a selfie, walk back to their car and get back into the traffic. It was something I thought I would never see again.....on 3-18-19, the party was over as the city/county decided to save the poppy's they needed to close the park, and just get the interstate moving. 

I can share I saw people being extremely thoughtless,  walking through the fields trampling plants.  There are many paths that meander the park. The poppy's needed a little TLC for sure. Closing the park was their answer.  April came and the short lived display faded. The hillsides and valleys dried to a crisp drab golden brown and summer began. The Poppy issue was put to bed.

No Party in Walker Canyon this year. The park has been officially closed today 2-8-23, for the remainder of the Poppy Bloom. 
The city/county have decided to close the Poppy Reserve prior to any issues developing.
The pictures I have included are from a few days prior to the abrupt closure in 2019. Where are the throngs of people destroying the poppy plants? Luckily it seemed the only areas with lots of people were within about 200 yards of the entrance area. A 10 minute walk up the main canyon and into the hills there was literally no one around.

 Heading out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park, to see the wild flowers this next week. What I have seen online, looks like it going to be well worth it. Desert Lily ( Hesperocallis undulata) seem to be blooming across the park. always a good sign out there.

Eschscholzia califorica from 2019 Walker Canyon Poppy Reserve

Cal Poppy 2019 1.jpg Cal Poppy 2019 2 JPG.jpg Cal Poppy 2019 3.jpg Cal Poppy 2019 4.jpg

David Pilling

I wish I could see the poppies in real life. Here in the UK, I have a packet of California poppy seed for this year, I will be sowing them in March and they will flower from mid-Summer onwards.

At the moment, snowdrops are blanketing the ground - typically around old stately homes.

Martin Bohnet

This is really an amazing sight - annuals are rarely dominant outside of agricultural or otherwise disturbed sites here in Germany. Still, it's not a bulb topic, so I'll move it to general gardening....
Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)

David Pilling

Quote from: Martin Bohnet on February 12, 2023, 11:07:16 AMannuals are rarely dominant...

Not that you are implying that California poppies are annuals. I have often wondered because they seem to have substantial roots, but here they either succumb to frost or gardening. Anyway according to Google they are perennials. They do self set in the UK, but to my disappointment not enough to escape and colour the landscape orange.

Michael Mace

Yup, as someone who lives in its native range, I can testify that the California poppy is actually a perennial in the wild. As a matter of fact, it forms a persistent rootstock that disappears below ground during summer dormancy, meaning it is technically a "bulb" according to the broad definition we've been using for the wiki...


Sometimes perennial. Coastside they don't actually go fully dormant in the summer. That juicy near tuberous roots is irresistible to gophers and the fat brown ground caterpillars. I've never had a plant last into a third year.


That is a very interesting point! I very much enjoyed the pictures, many years ago I was at the same place. The hills seemed to glow from inside from a distance and being in the middle of the orange ocean was incredible. I bought seed at the shop, the plants performed beautifully once here in Portugal but then disappeared. They are definitely perennial in the right conditions which I do not seem to have for them. In some countries Eschscholtzia californica is classified as an invasive weed.
Algarve, Portugal
350m elevation, frost free
Mediterranean Climate

Martin Bohnet

ok, ok, I'm convinced and push it back - mea culpa!

(I assumed them annual not just because they are used so in the cold areas but also because they can spread and survive that way)
Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)

Michael Mace

Martin, you did nothing wrong. This is one of the topics that we gleefully beat to death on the email list years ago. It's kind of nostalgic to revisit it.

I don't know that anyone has ever studied what percent of a year's California poppy blooms were from first-year plants vs. holdovers. I bet the reality is that they're both annuals and perennials, if that makes any sense.