The wildflower season is heralded by wild daffodils as they spring up alongside country roads and across farmers' fields in the Willamette Valley. It is a local tradition to cruise the country roads around Junction City every March, admiring the yellow blooms.
Wildflower season is best April through June. In April, beautiful purple camas and pond lilies in the low wetland areas of the Willamette Valley start budding. Birding excursions at the Delta Ponds or West Eugene Wetlands promise flora as well as feathers. Another splash of purple is the wild iris concentrated around Wild Iris Ridge but found trail-side throughout the region.
Some of the flowers you might see include coast fawn lilies, cut-leaved goldthread, flowering currant, Hartwig's wildginger, Indian plum, Oregon grape, Oregon fawn lilies, Oregon fetid adder's tongue, Oregon selaginella, Marshall's saxifrage, saucer bishops cap, spring gold, trillium, violets, western wood anemone and many more.
Wander through the wildflower meadows at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum and pick up a copy of their local plant list. Mount Pisgah is a natural destination for wildflower hunting. Hiking trails crisscross the two-hundred-acre park preserve from the banks of the Willamette River to the top of the mountain. In fact, Mount Pisgah Arboretum has been featured in Grant's Getaways as a premier natural area of Oregon. Check their calendar for family-friendly, guided wildflower walks. In May, the arboretum typically hosts an annual Wildflower Festival with plant workshops, exhibits and wildflower walks by local botanists. Due to pandemic protocols, there may be virtual offerings instead.
Oregon Coast Blooms
Since 1908, Florence has been celebrating every May with a spectacular Rhododendron Festival. While this has been modified due to pandemic protocols, you can still spot beloved "rhodies" all along the Oregon Coast and in home gardens and parks throughout the region.
Rhododendrons aren't the only magnificent flower on the Oregon Coast — with the advent of spring, the Darlingtonia Californica, a red and green carnivorous bloom, sends up single, nodding flowers followed by larger pitchers to trap their pray. This fascinating flower can be viewed at Darlingtonia Wayside in Florence, a state park dedicated to this rare flora's preservation.
Hike along the coastal cliffs and around coastal lakes to spot more wildflowers. Look for wild iris, beach pea and sand lupine. Nothing is more splendid than wildflowers framed by beach and sea.
Jaunts around town can include everything from poppies growing in the sidewalk cracks to verdant gardens overflowing yards. Enjoy the flush of pinks on the cherry trees and the delicate whites of the dogwoods. Rhododendrons are a popular neighborhood feature, resistant to deer and beautiful for native landscaping. Along with daffodils, Shasta daisies are often amassed along roadsides.
Gardens & Parks
May is also the time for cherry blossoms in shades of white to deep pink. Visit the century-old black tartarian cherry tree in Eugene's Owen Rose Garden. Over 4,000 roses burst into bloom in this riverside garden, peaking with glorious color in June. Not wild, but still a treasured sight for flower enthusiasts.
On the McKenzie River, Belknap Hot Springs Resort offers sprawling mountain gardens. Graveled paths lead to forested riverside glens, moss-covered water features, pretty flower beds or open sunlit meadows.
And don't forget Oregon's native rhododendrons. In Eugene, Hendricks Park's 80-acre woodlands includes a manicured rhododendron and native plant garden — just perfect for a springtime stroll. Inspired by the beauty? Visit one of the region's nurseries for your own garden planning.
Cascade Mountain Wildflowers
And wildflower scouting isn't over yet! As spring eases into June, head into the Cascade Mountains for wildflowers and butterflies along Oakridge's mountain biking trails. Through late July, discover meadows of buttercups, tiger lilies, orchids, bunchberry, Oregon boxwood and groundsel. The higher elevations stretch the wildflower season out until late summer when the terrain starts to turn golden. Places to go include Tire Mountain, Patterson Mountain Meadow and Waldo Lake. Above Cottage Grove, explore Bohemia Mountain.
Along with scenic vistas, the wildflowers make every hike and ramble magical.
In July, visit the McKenzie River Lavender fields which hosts the annual McKenzie River Lavender Festival, at this time by advance reservation only due to pandemic protocols. The festival is a rich sensory experience where sweet-smelling rows of deep purple buzz as lazy bumblebees gather nectar which will be next years local honey. Take home a piece of this early summer festival with a u-pick bundle of fresh lavender, hand-crafted skincare products or delicious local produce. For wildflowers, wander Horsepasture Mountain nearby.
U-Pick Flowers & Farms
Since picking wildflowers or cultivated flowers in parks or on public lands ranges between illegal (where and what being the key factors) to poor trail etiquette (please leave them for others to enjoy) to foolhardy (wildflowers are delicate and the bloom may wilt quickly); the best way to bring home a flower's beauty is from local farms. All along the South Willamette Valley Food Trail are vegetable and fruit farms that also grow fields of tulips, sunflowers, dahlias, snapdragons and zinnias. With a basket, scissors and your camera – because the photo opportunities in flower fields are amazing – gather armfuls of flowers to brighten your day or someone else's! Hanging flower baskets are also a popular take home and can be found at summer farmers' markets and farm stands across the Willamette Valley.
For detailed local information on wildflowers, connect with the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. They maintain lists of rare plants and invasive plants. Please do not pick or disturb wildflowers, plants or animals.