While many cities in the US are experiencing the last of winter’s snowfall or early spring showers, San Diegans have the pleasure of enjoying gorgeous April weather and our yearly wildflower season (Midwesterners, just try to hide your jealously). Here in Southern California, where the region is by definition a desert, sparse rains in the winter are enough to saturate the ground so that wildflowers bloom from around mid-February to mid-April. The flowers are especially beautiful out in Anza Borrego Desert State Park and Borrego Springs, where cacti are in full bloom and some fields are absolutely covered with flowers. Since my boyfriend had never been out to the desert, we went for a short camping trip last weekend.
We didn’t have to look far for the flowers, since they lined the road the entire way out to the desert. Off the main roads, we headed out for a hike on the Elephant Trees Trail. Though we didn’t manage to find the elusive tree, flowers and blooming cacti dotted the landscape everywhere we looked.
Ocotillo, which is not really a true cacti but rather a woody shrub…
After the hike, we camped overnight at Agua Caliente, and the next day drove into Borrego Springs. This desert city has gorgeous fields of Dune Primrose, Sand Verbena, and Desert Sunflowers, and also large farms with mainly citrus trees. If you have never been to Borrego Springs, you can find the most flowers on either side of Henderson Road.
To find the citrus trees, just follow your nose: the scent of fragrant lemon, orange and grapefruit blooms will waft right into your car as you drive north along Di Giorgio Road. Right at the intersection of both roads, a busy little fruit stand was offering Tangelos and Ruby Red grapefruits at the ripe price of just $3 a bag! Now, I am the kind of lady that can’t pass up a bargain, and these fruits looked as good as they tasted. Consequently, we decided to bring home one big bag of Tangelos and two bags of Ruby Reds.
We enjoyed the sun and fresh air in Borrego Springs a little longer, then headed to Julian in search of more food. The mountain city was packed with visitors on this particular weekend, and we finally found a parking spot on a side street right in front of Julian Tea Cottage. This store and tearoom is a tiny converted cottage, filled with trinkets, tea pots, and house-made delicacies. I picked up come Hot Cinnamon Spice tea from Harney and Sons, and also some Julian Tea and Cottage Lemon Curd. And of course, you can’t go to Julian without getting some apple pie, so we made the requisite stop at Mom’s Pie House. Heading back into San Diego through Ramona, I also always stop at Pine Hills Egg Ranch to pick up a flat of fresh eggs. This is the largest egg farm in the greater San Diego area, with over 1 million chickens!
After a great weekend out in the desert, we arrived home laden with goodies:
10 pounds of Tangelos
20 pounds of Ruby Red grapefruits
30 farm fresh eggs
So the obvious question: what should I do with all these fruits??? I have a few ideas myself, but if you have any suggestions or good recipes feel free to comment here! With 30 pounds of citrus, I think I will have to get imaginative. But for now, I think it is best to simply enjoy their freshness.
If you live in San Diego, take time away from the hustle and bustle and head out to the desert this weekend. The cheery blooms will certainly brighten your day, and a solid dose of Vitamin D is the best way to welcome in spring.