California Cliché: Flower Power.
It’s springtime again, and everywhere I go I see the happy California Poppy popping up like a wild party in the field, by the road side, and on the coastal trail. This inspired me to chose this flower, the official state flower of California, for the new Savvy California logo. Do you like it? I’ll tell you about the poppy in a sec, but here’s why this native wildflower is important to me.
This website, as some of you have figured out by now, is a new spinoff from “Savvy Cities.” If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I started out with a San Francisco Bay Area blog called “Bay Area On The Cheap” in 2009. That was during the economic downturn and real estate crisis, when Troy and I first moved back to California.
Our house sale fell through at the last minute, so we had to make two house payment for a year. Ouch! In 2011, readers encouraged me to expand into Southern California. So I started a second site called “Savvy SoCal.” Then business clients prodded me to go national, so both blogs morphed into the more inclusive “Savvy Cities.”
But, after years of scrambling to do justice to way too many cities (which was profitable but not sustainable), I’m bringing the blog back home. I realize now that while I enjoy traveling to other places, I’m happiest exploring and writing about my home state. And what a state it is, too. I realize how fortunate I am to actually live here.
And the poppies? They’re a symbol of thriving in a natural habitat, and a happy reminder to do what I love and leave the rest behind. Quality over quantity. Integrity and authenticity over speed and greed. Agreed? Then I welcome you to the new Savvy California website.
Now About that California Poppy
If you’ve ever driven into the state from somewhere else, you’ve seen the California Poppy on the highway welcome signs, and the flower also decorates official Scenic Route signs. To see the real deal though, come to California in spring and summer when the poppies are in their most eye-popping, outrageous, ostentatious, full bloom.
Official history — The California State Floral Society chose the poppy as the California State Flower in December 1890, and it was made official by the state legislature in 1903. It took them that long to figure out the poppy’s golden blooms were the perfect fit for the Golden State.
- California Poppy Day — That’s right, this wildflower has it’s own day: April 6.
- Elevator pitch — Eschscholzia californica, a dicot, is an annual or perennial herb native to California and a few other places in western North America.
- How to grow California poppies — These golden delights are easy to grow in your garden. Plant them from seeds in the fall or very early spring. Pull them up when they’re done for the season (when they start to brown and fade). They’ll reseed easily for next year, so let some flowers ripen to seed on the plant and then scatter them. You can replant in the fall, especially in warmer places.
- How to keep a poppy happy — They like to slum it, that is, they prefer poorer soils, especially the sandy stuff. If the dirt is too rich and wet, they won’t thrive. Well, they do like moist conditions at first, but once they get going leave them alone — they can handle droughts. They don’t like to be transplanted. And they don’t like it hot. They’re a cool-season annual, showing their color early in the growing season and fading in the heat of summer. The petals close at night and when the weather is too cold, windy, or cloudy, but they open again in the morning sun.
- Best Place to Gorge — You’ll see California poppies everywhere during the season, from SoCal to the Central Coast to Northern California. But the most notable place, with mile-long carpets of poppies, is a state-protected place called Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, located in northern Los Angeles County (15 miles west of Lancaster). Find out what’s blooming via the Wildflower Hotline: 661-724-1180.