Spring hasn’t sprung just yet, but signs of the coming season are already appearing across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. With the abundance of rain this year and Southern California sunshine, wildflowers are already beginning to bloom, bringing pops of color to Orange County. Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers do their part in helping wildflowers flourish through restorative efforts on the Irvine Ranch Conservancy Native Seed Farm.
The Native Seed Farm has two goals: give the local community a way to connect with the land and provide a reliable source of quality plant material for restoration projects. The 14-acre farm is a sustainable way for the Conservancy to help restore thousands of acres of native habitat throughout the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Certified staff and volunteers are key to the operation of the Native Seed Farm, helping to grow and tend to a custom mix of native plants like wildflowers, then harvesting the seed for use on the Landmarks.
Those interested in volunteering at the Native Seed Farm are welcome to join one of Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Dig In! Plant & Protect Wildflowers with the Native Seed Farm activities. These activities are a great way to have fun, connect with the land and watch the progress of your hard work turn into something beautiful. The best part is anyone can do it, whether you have a green thumb or not, no experience is required!
Another way to experience wildflowers on the Landmarks is to get out and explore the trails. Visitors can see wildflowers on trails that venture through Limestone Canyon, Weir Canyon, Black Star Wilderness Park, Bommer Canyon, and more. Coming up on Tuesday, March 5, join the Tuesday Morning Fitness Hike on Paved Hicks Haul Road. This hike allows you to choose between a 3, 6, or 8 mile route. On March 8, you can take a ride through Baker Canyon, located in Blackstar Wilderness Park, during the Baker Canyon Equestrian Ride in Black Star Wilderness Area. If you prefer to view the wildflowers at your own pace, sign-up for Wilderness Access Day at Bommer Canyon, where you can explore with friends and family.
The growing wildflowers not only bring an array of beautiful colors to the Landmarks but also attract butterflies and other pollinators, who thrive when native wildflowers bloom. If you’re interested in learning more about the Native Seed Farm and how it benefits local habitats, sign up for Wildflowers & Pollinators at the Native Seed Farm on March 24. You’ll join Farm Steward hosts as they showcase the flourishing flowers and their pollinators on a nature walk through the Native Seed Farm. During the walk, you’ll learn which pollinators are attracted to these beautiful blossoms and how you can attract these amazing creatures to your own garden. Don’t forget your camera to capture the beauty!
Irvine Ranch Conservancy will give nature and wildflower enthusiasts a chance to virtually admire the wildflower blooms on the Landmarks with a week-long social media takeover. Starting Friday, March 15 through Thursday, March 21, the “where the wildflowers are” takeover will feature three wildflowers each day, with a picture and information on each flower. Be sure to follow along all week, for a chance to participate in a unique wildflower giveaway!
Join the virtual wildflower takeover by “liking” the Landmarks’ Facebook page (Facebook.com/irlandmarks), following on Twitter (@IRLandmarks) and on Instagram (@OCMountainstoSea). Visitors participating in fitness activities or stewardship programs on the Landmarks are encouraged to hashtag #wherethewildflowersare to share the wildflowers you spot throughout the Landmarks.
Visit LetsGoOutside.org to learn more about Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Native Seed Farm and for more details on programs, hikes, and other activities where you can experience wildflowers firsthand.