The First Daffodils of Spring Have Arrived....in January

Garden plants are blooming in the mild weather, but it could be a "pathetic" year for wildflowers, says a UCSC botanist.

Daffodils in January...not common.
Daffodils in January...not common.
There they were, sprouting yellow, pushing their way up to the mild warm sun, months early in Aptos...the first daffodils of spring. 

They sprouted outside the Aptos Center shopping plaza at 7500 Soquel Dr., where frequent visitors remember them sprouting usually in March.
"I usually see them right around my birthday but not before then," said Ramona Pursley, a regular at the Pacific Coffee Roasting Company.

However, it's not a sign of global warming or even the drought, says Stephen McCabe, director of research at the UCSC Arboretum. 

"It's hard to tell in garden situations," says the scientist, whose specialty is bushes such as Manzanitas and Gooseberries. "You don't know whether the bulbs were in some greenhouse and treated to long days and triggered to bloom early or late. A lot of this stuff I wouldn't judge from the commercial plantings and home garden plantings unless it was something you'd been following year after year and someone didn't water or fertilize it."

However, he expects a bad year for wildflowers based on how little rainfall California has seen. 

"I can't find wildflowers at this point," he says. "Usually you'd get a good rain and small plants would do well. Some species will have nothing for wildflowers because we didn't get rain. Early rains in October or November let them get their roots down and established. There's been so little rain that the spring wildflower show could be really pathetic."

He said his studies of bigger bushes shows no change this year. "Manzanitas and Gooseberries are blooming in the wild and it seems like they are on a normal track for large perennials." 


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