The greater Sacramento area is an absolute heaven for all things flowery. When spring rolls around, the earth slowly but surely transforms into a multi-colored landscape, rich with texture, size and the wonderful competing aromas of all the flowers that push their way up into the sunshine. Where do you go to experience all this? Many places, so take your pick.
McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill
18310 Ram’s Horn Grade Road
Volcano, CA 95689
The McLaughlin family has owned this farm since 1887. Originally 36 acres, there are four acres left, and each spring those acres simply explode with daffodils. It is a truly amazing sight. There are over 300 named varieties of daffodils on the farm, spread among 300,000-plus bulbs. The McLaughlins have been planting them for over 20 years, and continue to do so. Daffodil Hill opens to the public each spring when about 25 percent of the daffodils have popped up, and closes for the season when about 25 percent are still in bloom. Timing is critical here. Call ahead to find out when the show has begun.
High Sierra Iris and Wedding Gardens
3170 Hassler Road
Camino, CA 95709
The irises make their grand entrance in late April, and generally last through May. The “Grand Ladies of the Garden” cover the hillsides and make this a true spot of flower eye candy. With over 1,500 varieties, in a stellar array of colors and textures, there will be something for everyone to fawn over. This ranch, in the foothills of Camino, home of Apple Hill, is also graced with hundreds of day lilies spread among blooming shrubberies and trees. The Visman family, who has farmed in Apple Hill since the 1960s, has an eye-popping natural setting and welcomes you to come and share it with them. They also offer their slice of iris heaven for weddings.
UC Davis Arboretum
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
The arboretum at UC Davis is a true jewel in the Sacramento Valley. Located on the campus of the University, it is free to visit and open year-round. The spring bloom is spread over the entire spring, as there are so many different types of flowers, shrubs and flowering trees across its 100 acres. With over 22,000 trees and plants, it is easy to imagine the color spectrum when the rolling show of bloom begins. A wonder to visit any time of year, the spring is especially wonderous. Come prepared to spend the day. Bring a picnic and enjoy a magnificent time as you wander aimlessly through the arboretum.
California State Capitol
World Peace Rose Garden
1315 10th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
The special fragrance of roses envelopes this huge garden of roses on the grounds of California’s capitol. Over 650 roses covering 140 varieties, on less than a half acre, will put your nose into overdrive in spring when they are at their peak. It is impossible to describe the colors that populate these extensive rose beds. Walking through them when they are in bloom will brighten any day. They all have tags indicating what kind of rose they are. Look for signs that explain the process of caring for them so you can keep a sustaining garden of your own.
South side of Highway 88
In between Hope Valley and Woods Lake
El Dorado National Forest
Amador Ranger District
This is one of the best places on the planet to see wildflowers in the spring. It’s not just at Carson Pass either. It’s the entire corridor, from Hope Valley to Silver Lake, and all of the hikes into the high country. Timing is critical to finding the flowers at their peak. The snow season dictates when you are able to get up there and when the flowers pop up to blow you away with the variety, colors and the wonderful alpine setting where they exude joy. Pay attention to the weather, as it can change rapidly in the high country. Call the ranger station for an update on the bloom. They gladly share what they see as the flowers emerge.
Related: A Sacramento Rock Climber’s Guide
Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. He retired from teaching after 36 years in 2010. He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at Examiner.com.