K. Mennem 10:50 a.m., May 23
Coastal Wildflowers, Fremont Cottonwoods, and Bracken Ferns
Warmer Temperatures and less rain coincide with the subtle onset of coastal San Diego's spring season. By April's end, the intermittent showery periods, Santa Ana winds, cold nights, and crystal-clear, sun-drenched days of winter will likely be distant memories. The nocturnal, low overcast hugging the coast, which may linger until the late morning, will gradually build into "May gray" and "June gloom” — the days-long episodes of perpetual overcast most common during May and June.
The Coastal Wildflower Bloom, a fine one on account of months worth of rain and sunshine, will continue through April. One of the best spots for viewing a great variety of flowers is Torrey Pines State Reserve. San Onofre State Beach, just north of Camp Pendleton, should have acres and acres of monkeyflower, with a half-dozen different shades, blooming on the coastal bluffs. On grassy hillsides in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve and in Mission Trails Regional Park (especially in the "grasslands" behind the Old Mission Dam), you might find carpets of California poppies, purple nightshade, pinkish owl's clover, blue-colored lupine, and scattered splashes of color due to a dozen or more other species of wildflowers. North County residents should check out the huge Daley Ranch preserve in northeast Escondido. Its rolling hillsides and grassy meadows should sport an impressive display of wildflowers by mid-April.
Fremont Cottonwood Trees along the San Diego River in Mission Gorge will show off their best iridescent green foliage this month. The Old Mission Dam parking area on Father Junípero Serra Trail, off Mission Gorge Road (west of Santee), is a good place to begin a stroll on trails near the riverbed. Be careful — as April temperatures rise, rattlesnakes will increasingly be out and about.
Bracken Ferns are rising on the higher mountains of San Diego County, their bright green, unfolding fronds (called "fiddleheads") pushing up through the russet remains of last year's growth. By late April or May, fully opened ferns will line the creeks and hollows of the Palomar, Cuyamaca, and Laguna mountains.