Scenes of Spring Blossoms in Santa Clara Valley
The Santa Clara Valley, previously know as the Valley of Hearts Delight, was a destination point for Spring blooms starting with the Saratoga Blossom Festival in March. People came from all over Northern California and beyond to see the orchards in bloom. This year spring has arrived a little early and many of our fruit trees have already begun to bloom.
Saratoga will be reliving its blossom fest days in the Saratoga Heritage Orchard and Civic Center Area on March 19th. You can also still catch a glimpse of San José's former agricultural state as the Garden City at Emma Prusch Farm Park. The Prusch High Density Farm Orchard is maintained by our local Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County. UCCE Master Gardener Rebecca Jepsen writes a monthly column on a range of topics for the San José Mercury News for those who want to do some gardening of their own.
The valley has lost its wealth of blooming orchards, however we have a vast array of parks and open spaces where wildflower season is beginning. Solid winter rains have led to an abundance of blooms this season. California has more variety of plant life than any other state in the U.S., many of which can only be found here. At the same time our state is the second most at risk to species loss.
"Together we have endeavored to interest people in the unparalleled beauty and charm of of our native flowers, and the importance of conserving them as valuable assets of civilized communities."
-B. M. R.
The date, April 24, 1915, was proclaimed California Wild Flower Day, by California Governor Hiram Johnson at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. This was initiated by Bertha Marguerite Rice, (1872-1962), the sister of our former mayor Charles W. Davison.
A dedicated philanthropist, Mrs. Rice was devoted to the preservation of native plants and natural resources. She founded the local Audubon Society; the Santa Clara Historical Society in 1906; the California Wildflower Conservation League in 1919; and the Saratoga Boys Outing Farm. She gave lectures and supervised programs for the protection of wild life throughout her life, championing the movement for National Wild Flower Protection Day.
Things to Do
Take a short stroll or a strenuous hike along one of our trails and open spaces or simply drive along the Monterey Highway and see the non-native mustard plant (Brassica rapa) in bloom on the foothills and California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) starting to come up in fields and along the side of the roads.
The Santa Clara Valley chapter of the California Native Plant Society offers field trips, talks and native plant sales throughout the year. This year they are celebrating California Native Plant Week from April 16 - 24th. There are a number of Spring Native Plant events to look out for.
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority offers interpretive hikes and educational events to the public. They manage the Open Space Preserves in the County which offer an extensive number of trails as well as urban open spaces that connect with San José's trail network.
Come to a library presentation and learn about the plants and animals in our Open Space Preserves. Learn about upcoming spring programs and where you can arrange to come see these amazing sights with your family and friends.
- Tuesday, March 8, 11:30 a.m., Evergreen Library Branch, San Jose
- Wednesday, March 9, 6:00 p.m., Alum Rock Library Branch, San Jose
- Friday, March 11 at 4:00 p.m., Pearl Library Branch, San Jose
- Saturday, March 12 at 11:00 a.m., Cambrian Library Branch, San Jose
Join this year's Wildflower Celebrations at Ulistac Natural Area on April 16th, a partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, City of Santa Clara and others. Ulistac is the only natural open space in the City of Santa Clara. Visit and read all the interpretive signs regarding the history of the 40 acre Open Space. The signs are about the Guadalupe River, Ohlone life, flora, fauna and urban history as a Rancho, Golf Course, and now a natural area for everyone to enjoy.
Try Nature Journaling, you can take notes, draw pictures or write a poem to keep a record of what you observe when you are out and about. Close observation can lead to new discoveries. Coming back to the same place each season can be a completely different experience. You can try it out on your own, with a group, a class or as a family. There are some wonderful guides to get you started; try out some drawing techniques offered by expert John Muir Laws; or contribute to the Open World Field Guide.
Hand Colored photographs of California Wildflowers, vol. 3 by Roland Rice, 1894-1962
Follow these links to learn more about wildflowers and native plants:
- California Native Plant Society of Santa Clara Valley
- Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
- San José Parks
- Santa Clara County Parks
- Project Budburst
- SJSU Carl W. Sharsmith Herbarium
Read more about it at the Library:
- Leslie, Clare Walker. 2003. Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
- Popper, Helen Ann. 2012. California Native Gardening: a Month-by-Month Guide
- Minnich, Richard. 2008. California's Fading Wildflowers: Lost Legacy and Biological Invasions
- Blackwell, Laird. 2012. Wildflowers of California: A Month-by-Month Guide
- Schrepfer, Susan R.2005. Nature's Altars: Mountains, Gender, and American Environmentalism
- Santa Clara County. Parks and Youth Science Institute. 1998. Discover Plant Life: a Guide to the Beauty and Diversity of Trees, Shrubs and Wildflowers in Your Parklands
Explore the California Room
Check out these items in the California Room:
- Rice, Bertha M. 1920. Popular Studies of California Wild Flowers
- Rice, Bertha M. 1857. Builders of Our Valley: a City of Small Farms
- CNPS Santa Clara Valley newsletter. The Blazing Star
- Clipping Files - California - WILDFLOWERS
Marin Journal, Farm Section, Thursday, March 15, 1917.
BLOSSOM DAY in the Santa Clara Valley and its celebration at the picturesque little town of Saratoga which nestles in the foothills of the mountains which mark the western boundary of this "Valley of Heart's Delight," as it has sometimes been called, is welcomed each year by those whose homes are located in Santa Clara county not only but by thousands from other sections of the state, who come to view the panorama of white prune blossoms which extend as far as the eye can reach, and to join in the blossom day festivities.