Ann Wright: Fields of gold … and violet, crimson and butter-yellows!
April 20, 2018
What a colorful spring! Although the popular song, "Fields of Gold" by Sting referred to fields of golden barley grass in England, there are fields of gold right here.
Living smack dab in the middle of gold country, it is appropriate that hundreds of glorious daffodils greet us in early spring along Highway 20 and many other locations in Nevada County.
For those who are not aware, these lovely flowering narcissus bulbs have been planted over the years by Nevada County Master Gardeners.
Back in the late 1980s, with community donations and the help of some of the Washington Ridge California Youth Authority participants, hundreds of bulbs were planted along route 20 between Grass Valley and Nevada City. Since then the "Daffodil Project" has continued to be funded by community donations and through Master Gardener fundraisers. The annual fall planting at select locations in the county is one of the hallmarks of local Master Gardener's activities. (The most recent plantings were along the fence at the parking lot of the Rotary playing fields by Sierra College.)
The traditional trumpet shaped, bright yellow King Alfred bulbs have been planted in addition to a number of other types of narcissus with more pale yellow hues. Watch for these fields of gold again next year.
Following the appearance of early spring bulbs, some of the first flowers to make a showing at Buttermilk Bend trail along the South Yuba River are the buttercups – very aptly named as they are buttery yellow and cast a golden hue along roadways and trails.
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Tufted poppies, bright yellow-gold fiddle-neck also follow in early to mid-spring. On a recent hike at the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve near Oroville in Butte County, fields of gold abounded with a stunning display of yellow, white, crimson and violet colored wildflowers.
Some of the gold flowers in bloom included California goldfields (Lasthenia californica) which are in the sunflower family. Poppies (Eschscholzia spp.) – both frying pan and foothill varieties, yellow carpet (Blennosperma nanum), pretty faces (Tritrlexia ixioides) and buttery-yellow "Johnny tucks," known as butter-and-eggs formed a magnificent carpet of gold into which flowers of other stunning colors were blooming.
The vibrant crimson and violet of the purple owl's clover, bird's-eye gilia, lupine, and white tipped clover provided a lovely contrast to the gold and yellow hues. At an elevation of 850' to 1565' at the highest point on the mesa, peak flower bloom is March and April, depending on weather patterns. Warmer temperatures and dwindling moisture in May generally ends the flowery show.
In addition to enjoying the colors of blooming flowers, there are many garden-oriented activities this time of year — including the Union's 33rd annual Spring Home, Garden and Lifestyle Show. It happens today and tomorrow at the Nevada County Fairgrounds (admission is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.)
Nevada County Master Gardeners will be there! Look for us at our booth both days, and bring your home gardening questions.
Additionally, Master Gardeners have other activities coming up. Join us for a free workshop, "Container Gardening Solves Many Problems" 10 a.m. to noon April 28 at the Grass Valley Elk's Lodge, 109 South School St. Coming up in May, don't miss our annual spring plant sale, 9 a.m. to noon May 12 at the Demonstration Garden, 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley. On May 19, Master Gardeners will be available at some of the gardens on the Soroptomist Garden tour (http://www.sierrasoroptimist.org/2018-garden-tour).
For more information about Nevada County Master Gardener events or to ask a question of the Master Gardeners, call our hotline at 530-273-0910, or visit the office Tuesdays or Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon when a Master Gardner is on duty. Our website is http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org.
Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.