On the Ranch
By Conservation Science Director C. Ellery Mayence, Ph.D.
One amazing experience!
Examples are many of Nature’s unparalleled ability to deliver mind-bending spectacles—a feat we at the Conservancy are routinely reminded of by visitors to the Ranch who have either recently returned from, or are about to jet off to, some tantalizing, far-away destination.
Occasionally, Mother Nature delivers an exceptional, sense-stimulating experience close to home. This is how I would characterize this year’s wildflower display in the western Antelope Valley (Mojave Desert), of which Tejon Ranch is an integral part. Though it’s unclear how rare the scale of the display actually was, what is very clear is that it was EPIC—and at peak bloom, arguably the best wildflower viewing in the state this year!
I scouted the region in mid-March with consulting botanist Neal Kramer and both of us concluded—if what we witnessed on that day actually bloomed to its fullest potential, we would have front-row seats to something special. What ultimately emerged were not the typical wildflower displays, but diverse combinations of colors that elevated the senses (yes, both sight and smell) to rarely experienced levels.
Patches of color first appeared on the valley floor, and with increasing sun and warmth, crept into nearby draws and canyons, ultimately topping out on higher elevation ridges and peaks. Purple blended with orange, yellow with blue, and pink with white—creating a stunning kaleidoscope of multi-dimensional color that challenged the eyes. Though subtle and requiring the wind to be calm (not generally the case in the Antelope Valley), the sweet fragrance generated by the blooms perfectly accented what one’s eyes were simultaneously experiencing.
In hindsight, this spring embodies what Tejon Ranch is all about whether one visits daily or only occasionally—the elements of surprise, fascination, open space, and natural beauty. What I and many visitors to the Ranch witnessed this spring has been physically imprinted in our memories—ultimately becoming a benchmark for grading future wildflower seasons, not just on Tejon, but on destinations beyond the Ranch.
What we experienced must have been special if we were able to convert ardent birders to botanical enthusiasts, a feat not easily achieved, even if only for a few hours. Perhaps this is the benchmark of all benchmarks?
If you were unable to visit, or even if you did and need a refresher, what follows is a collection of images showcasing the 2019 bloom. Enjoy—and be in touch—as the Conservancy looks forward to hosting you on a future Ranch outing!
C. Ellery Mayence