Due to a little extra rain, California’s “super bloom” has been especially vibrant this year. Places like Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Los Padres National Forest have seen a huge explosion of colorful wildflowers this spring compared to years past. The effect is even visible from space. These photos from Planet, a satellite imagery service, show just how dramatic the growth has been. They were first posted by KQED.
The satellite photo above, taken in late March, is an image of the Los Padres National Forest, which stretches along the mountains of southern and central California for almost 3000 square miles. Below is what the exact same area looked like before December 3, 2016. The difference is stark:
The grasslands of Carrizo Plain near San Luis Obispo looked about the same around that time in December, as you can see:
Flash forward to March 31, and the wildflowers and grasses had almost completely taken over.
There’s still a little more time to see the super bloom this year, but if you are in California to look at flowers, take care: Some park and nature reserves are reporting that some visitors are destroying wildlife in their quest for a great super bloom selfie. Stay on the marked paths, guys!
You can now fill your room with 200 kinds of flowers that you never need to water: Simply hang up Pop Chart Lab's bright and beautiful new poster breaking down the blooms of North America.
The print features familiar species like the sunflower alongside weirder fare like turtlehead, fireweed, and giant Rose Mallow. Each flower is accompanied by its common and scientific names and categorized as a perennial, annual, tree, shrub, or vine. There's also a color-coded map of the United States so you can look up where to spot each one.
The print goes for $29 on its own or $120 to $130 if you want it framed. Shipping begins on July 5. To see each bud in detail, head to the Pop Chart Lab website (and don't miss the puns, which, as always, are on point). They have tons more posters for nature lovers, from fruits and vegetables to butterflies.
Being in nature is naturally relaxing, but city-dwellers don’t always have an opportunity to get outside. Gardening can be therapeutic for mental health, but you may not have access to a garden—or even the space to tend a houseplant. You can still have a few moments of horticultural meditation every day. It will just have to be digital.
Over the last few years, video game developers have released a number of mobile games that revolve around the simple act of tending to plants. These games are, for the most part, slow-moving, meditative experiences that focus on beautiful graphics, calming soundtracks, and low-key challenges. They’re a great way to de-stress and pursue your gardening dreams, no watering can required.
Here are five relaxing, plant-centric phone games you can download now.
Viridi is like Neopets for plants. The game is dedicated to nurturing a pot of succulents that grow almost in real time. You can plant a variety of succulent species in your virtual pot. Spritz your plants with water when they’re thirsty and wait for them to grow. Each week, a new seedling will be available for you to plant. The game moves slowly by design. You can let it run in the background, and your plants will do their thing, just like a real plant would. These ones are even harder to kill than real succulents, though.
Toca Boca makes games for kids, but honestly, Toca Nature is pretty fun no matter what your age. You can create your own natural landscapes, adding trees, water features, and mountains. Different natural features attract different animals, and the type of landscape you make shapes whether you’ll get bears, beavers, or birds living there. You can collect berries, feed the animals, or just enjoy planting trees.
In Breath of Light, your job is to bring a garden to life by manipulating a stream of light. Move rocks and mirrors around your zen garden to harness and direct the life-giving light emanating from a single flower. When the light hits another flower, it causes that plant to grow. The very simple puzzles are designed to help you chill out, and the award-winning soundtrack by the audio designer Winterpark features binaural tones that are naturally relaxing. “As a unique, gamified version of guided meditation, Breath of Light helps you enter a state of calm serenity without you even noticing,” according to Killscreen. Sorry, Android users—the app seems to have disappeared from Google Play, but it’s still available for iPhone.
Prune is a puzzle game with a horticultural twist. The object is to plant a tree, then as it grows up, guide it with careful pruning, helping the branches reach the light while staying away from the cold shadows or hot sun, both of which will kill the tree. As the levels rise, you’ll need to contort your trees into ever more complex shapes.
If you like your gardening to be a little more high-stakes, Eufloria is out of this world. Seriously, it’s about colonizing asteroids. Your mission is to grow trees on far-off asteroids, sending your seedlings out to turn gray space rocks into thriving landscapes. Your seeds hop from asteroid to asteroid at your behest, creating a chain of fertile life. Sometimes, alien enemies will attack your flourishing asteroid colonies, but don’t worry; you can beat them back with the power of more seeds. The game can be fast-paced and competitive, but there’s a “relaxed” play option that’s more meditative.