From the monthly archives:

April 2009


by Lorraine on April 29, 2009

This morning I saw out of the corner of my eye, a brief movement of pale yellow.   It was in one of the Salt Bushes, underneath the window I was looking out of at the time.   Then all of a sudden, there it was.   A beautiful Swallowtail butterfly.

So delicate in it’s appearance and lovely with it’s black markings, fluttering gently through the garden and then it was gone.

With the arrival of Spring the garden has flourished, all of the plants have grown larger and there are so many blooming that the Hummingbirds have a difficult time choosing which plants to take necter from.   They are so greedy and territorial and will chase each other out of the garden.

I also saw some Lesser Goldfinches, eating small insects off the leaves of the same bush where the Swallowtail butterfly had been and then the Rufus Hummingbirds once again appeared.

Which flower to chose?   The Wooly Blue Curls, the Giant Penstemons, or how about the Mallows?   All were alluring to these “speedsters” as they darted about the garden.

Last year there were a pair of Quail but I haven’t seen any this Spring, much to my disappointment.   But the garden is lovely, tranquil and busy with life.

It is a reminder where life is to be found.   In the “moment” and all around us if we’d just take a deep breath and see it.   With all of the turmoil and suffering throughout the world, a garden and nature are loving antidotes to despair.


Lions Canyon Trail/ II

by Lorraine on April 25, 2009

We continued along the trail as it gradually climbed, giving us a beautiful view down into the gorge of Lions Canyon.   I’ve been on this trail many times and it remains one of my favorites in the Sespe area. This day it was a surprise to see how much water was in the creek bed as typically there isn’t too much of it.  It’s difficult to see it in this photo but the water was running very well and much more than I’ve seen in the past.

  This section of the trail is quite narrow and rocky, with a great deal of scree and if you’re not careful and paying attention as you walk along it, you could end up having a fall.   And in this area, that wouldn’t be advisable as it’s a long ways to the bottom, bouncing off of rocks and being impaled by Yuccas along the way to your watery destination below!  

 I saw many patches of Indian Paintbrush, Blue Dicks ( don’t laugh), also know as Wild Hyacinth/Brodiaea pulchella and Chia that happens to be in the Salvia family of Sages and also a member of the Mint family.

I have Chia in my garden and I thought that it was a bit odd, that here I was at an approx. elevation of 3500′ and it was blooming, whereas it wasn’t in my own garden at a lower elevation.  Weird, but in the last few days, I’m seeing it bloom there, too.

Eventually the trail drops down  and intersects with another that comes over some low hills from Rose Valley. And this was where we were heading to work the new section of trail around the sinkhole.   Here is a view, crossing over the creek.

I have more pictures to share and some really great ones of these huge buds coming up from Yucca plants/Yucca Whipplie or the common name, Our Lord’s Candle.  They were everywhere on the connector trail and I’d love to go back sometime in May and see all of them blooming.   It will be spectacular!


Earth Day & Being “Green”

by Lorraine on April 22, 2009

Well, this is certainly after the fact because the day is almost over and I had wanted to share something that I  just read about how native gardens can offset CO2 whereas a traditional one, cannot.  It resonated with a lecture that I had attended at the Theodore Payne Foundation last year with Steve Gerischer of Larkspur Garden Design.

The topic of the lecture was how to remove a lawn prior to doing a native plant garden and at  time, Steve shared some very amazing figures about how much a “traditional” garden creates greenhouse gases and waste.

He gave out some very shocking figures about how the average landscape contributes to greenhouse gases due to the use of gasoline powered equipment, pesticides and fertilizers.  And he also mentioned how much of our garden waste, fills landfills.

Composting is the answer for that, of course!

A native plant garden, per the National Wildlife Federation’s April-May magazine discusses this in detail.  And if it’s done correctly, it actually can become a very effective carbon “sink”.   Exciting to think about, huh?

And as of yesterday, the City of Los Angeles has mandated water conservation due to the obvious fact that we are in drought for these last three years and it’s time for people to re-think about those very, very thirsty lawns.

I’m not sure if the article is available on line but here is the “address” for the Wildlife Federation.  This is an excellent article and it has some very good suggestions on how to make your landscape more friendly to the enviornment, regardless of where you live.   Check it out!

My next post will be a follow up on the hike into Middle Lions in the Sespe Wilderness area and completing the re-route of the trail around the sinkhole.   Plus, more pictures.

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Middle Lion’s Creek

by Lorraine on April 19, 2009

Last Saturday, nine of us who regularly volunteer with the Forest Service, got together to work on rerouting a portion of trail where a huge sinkhole had developed.   We met in Ojai at the Forest Service office, loaded up the stake bed truck with our tools and four people and then a second truck to carry the rest of us.

We headed out, up Hwy 33 to our destination of Middle Lions campground.   From there we hiked into the canyon, crossed the stream and then onto a connecting trail that runs over to Rose Valley Falls.   The hike in was about 1.5 miles and it was along this portion of the trail where we would be working.

The day was perfect, as you can see form the pictures and all along the trial, there were flowers and plants blooming.   I took many pictures, some didn’t turn out too good but overall most of them show how beautiful the day and the area, was.

The first part of the hike takes place in the canyon, itself and it is filled with Alders and Big Cone Spruce trees like the one in this photo.   There was quit a bit of water coming down the canyon and it was a real pleasure to be hiking near it.

On the first part of the trail, there were several spots where Indian Paintbrush/ castilleja was blooming along the slopes of scree in various shades of red to light orange.

In this photo you can see a Thistle growing just behind them and then it drops off several 100 feet to the creek bed below.   This is one area on the trail that you have to pay attention to your footing or you’re going to end up getting hurt.   FYI; I’m guessing that the elevation is around 3500′ and in the Winter the area does receive snow.

More pictures in the next few days.


Birds & My Native Plant Garden

by Lorraine on April 18, 2009

With the warmer weather and the arrival of Spring, there is quite a bit of activity in my garden these days.   Not only is everything blooming but I’m seeing more birds returning to my garden.   There have been a number of Anna’s Hummingbirds but the other day I saw two that looked different.

I referred to my book on birds in the S. CA region to find out what kind of Hummingbirds they were.  They coloring was beautiful and instead of being green, they were bronze and creamy.   My book said that they were either Allen’s or Rufous Hummingbirds.   I certainly wouldn’t know the difference but I loved seeing them and I hope that they come back soon.

I’m beginning to pull some of the Poppies out, as the foliage is turning a drab gray and they are not blooming as much as they were previously.   They look messy and I decided to pull them out just a few at a time when they begin to look bad.   Not an easy task.   Boy, of boy…do they ever have deep roots and actually look quite a bit like a carrot root.   But I don’t think that I’ll be eating some anytime soon.  

Here is a photo of a hybrid Douglas Iris that is a light shade of purple with a pale yellow stipe down the pettle.   I thought that I had saved the I.D. on the two that I bought last year at the Theo. Payne Foundation, but of course…I can’t find it.   That means I can’t give you the name of it, all that I recall is that it is some sort of hybrid.

This next photo is of a Royal Penstemon, Penstemon spectabilis.   They can grow to be very tall and I have three in the garden.   One of them toppled over a bit and at first I was thinking that I should have staked it sooner but having it flopped over worked out fine.   It’s in front of another one and it fills in the space below the taller one and looks quite good.

Last year when I was visiting the nursery at Theo. Payne, I noticed that they had pulled panty hose over the longs stems and it certainly looked funny.   Then I realized why they had done that.   They were collecting seeds from the plant.   Pretty clever, huh?   Another way to recycle your old hosiery!

Here’s an additional photo of a low growing Penstemon that is a hybrid known as Margarita BOP.   I believe that the story behind the name, is that someone had a Penstemon growing on their back porch and it happened to get cozy with another variety that was in the same area.   And the result?   BOP!

Chico brought in a Grasshopper a moment ago (thank goodness it’s not a lizard, I’d be running around the house trying to catch it) and Biscuit confiscated it from him and needless to say, has been having a great time torturing it.  

Here is a photo of Biscuit from last Summer when the Fuschias were blooming and it looks like he sniffing at it, but it’s just the way I shot the photo.   I ‘ve noticed that the Fuschias are getting quite large and when they start to bloom later this Summer, I’m expecting quite a show.

Soon I’ll be following up with some pictures that I took a week ago in the Sespe.   I took so many, that it will be difficult for me to choose which ones to post and I’ll probably do it over several days.