The adage goes that “April showers bring May flowers.” With parts of Southern California reaching an unprecedented two feet of rainfall this season, it’s no surprise to see so many beautiful blossoms early in April. Downtown Los Angeles has received more rainfall than Seattle so far this season—giving many sun-loving SoCal residents the winter blues. If you wish to spring out of this gloom, look no further than Heritage Museum’s Gospel Swamp Farm, Natural Area, and Citrus Groves. This spring’s floral fantasy is thanks to our many volunteers who helped with the “seed bombing” effort last fall. With the guidance of Volunteer Coordinator Betzaira Ruiz and Gospel Swamp Farm Manager Sam Guitron, volunteers created “seed bombs.” Seed bombs are small clusters of soil, clay, water, and seeds. Volunteers then scattered the seeds throughout the natural area in the hopes of bringing more beautiful botany into the nature preserve.
This year, the fortuitous combination of rainfall, seed bombing, and sunshine produced swoon worthy scenery. Some call this a “super bloom” – a rare occurrence in California and the Southwestern United States. Super blooms often occur after particularly rainy seasons in which the desert’s dormant flowers all bloom at once and cover the landscape with colorful blossoms. It is also said that when drought precedes heavy rainfall, there is a better chance of a super bloom. Dormant seeds are well-preserved by the dry conditions and there is less overcrowding of weeds and other vegetation. This means that the Gospel Swamp Natural Area may not be the only super bloom sight this year in California.
For many, stepping out into nature is a wonderful reminder of what California looked like long ago. At Heritage Museum, just as the Kellogg House is a monument to Orange County’s past, so is the Gospel Swamp Farm and Natural Area. Years before Santa Ana was called such, the Tongva-Gabrielino native people called this land home. Much of the wildlife remaining in the natural area today was of great practical and spiritual significance to these original inhabitants. This natural area is also home to both the highest and lowest natural points in Santa Ana. The latter is dubbed “Gospel Swamp” to acknowledge the oft-forgotten past of the farmers who gathered in the wetlands to listen to Baptist, Mormon, and Methodist preachers give fire and brimstone sermons. At the outskirts of the natural area are tokens of California’s past, including Heritage Museum’s Gold Mine and adobe. A walk through the natural area will truly transport you through Orange County’s history.
Make sure to stop by Heritage Museum of Orange County Gospel Swamp Farm and Natural Area before the spring is out. From yellow chrysanthemums to neon orange poppies, the sensory experience of visiting this hidden nature preserve is unmatchable. Photographs may encapsulate the visual appeal, but nothing compares to feeling the sun on your face, smelling the fragrant lavender and sagebrush, and drowning out the urban hum with the melody of spring.
Mission Statement: Heritage Museum of Orange County is a cultural and natural history center dedicated to preserving, promoting, and restoring the heritage of Orange County and the surrounding region through quality hands-on educational programs for students and visitors of all ages.
Visit our website, www.heritagemuseumoc.org, for more information and public hours.