You don’t have to rush to the desert this week to see the wild flowers in bloom.
Look around Downey and discover California’s gold, as Huell Howser would say. On Stewart and Gray, just one step east of Paramount on the north side, just beside ABC Donuts, look for a bed of California poppies. They overflow their ground-level planter and we probably have Pacific Burger to thank for such lush landscaping.
We here had an abundance of rain too, and these desert specialties are popping up in gardens and vacant lots everywhere.
If you pull back, you’ll see the traffic flowing through the intersection, but if you look deep you can immerse yourself in a thick field of gold. Tip: go when the sun is out because these shy beauties close up tight when the clouds rule the sky. Truly a plant of the sun, they open and close response to its radiance or absence of it.
Another desert beauty and her well-cared for sisters are flourishing right now in the sandy soil in front of the Downey Chamber of Commerce. This shrub-like succulent is sometimes known as sticks of fire and its coral-colored branches attract insects in season.
Drive across Fourth Place between Rives and Wiley Burke for more beds of this color. There are nice specimens of flowering yucca with stems of crimson umbrels on the south side of Florence Avenue in front of the U S Bank branch, which used to be Downey Saving and Loan.
Home gardeners who want to have these exotics can get them at local nurseries. But after a rainy winter like we’ve had, some of these bloom are popping up for free. These are just a sample of what Downey has to offer right now..
On the northwest corner where Haro Avenue meets Stewart and Gray Road, a thick double-trunked Joshua Tree stands, defying the rule that these yucca giants only grow in the high desert above Palm Springs.
On another day you might take a New England spring garden tour in Downey, complete with gray shingled siding and a pink Chinese magnolia thriving next to clump of silver birches, and red tulips planted with blue hyacinths’ curly petals for their deep color and fragrance. But this week, with imagination as your road map, you can take in the glories of the California desert in spectacular bloom right here in Downey.