Peritoma arborea

I should try to get bladderpod established on our block. It’s apparently easy to grow from seed (and readily self-seeds). It‘s drought-tolerant and fire-retardant, and it attracts native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. And deer don’t eat it.

The only downside is that it hosts the harlequin beetle which can be a serious pest on brassicas, which I do like to grow in the veggie garden. I wonder how far apart that two kinds of plants would have to be, for this to not be a problem? Hmm, this warrants some further research.

Acmispon glaber

I’ve been looking at a lot of deerweed flowers, and I’m not convinced by the prevailing wisdom about their varying colours. If an individual flower turns orange after pollination, as I’ve often heard, then I would expect to see a more random distribution of orange flowers. But it’s very consistent — the further down the stem, the darker (and more shrivelled) the flower. There are no yellow flowers down low — am I to assume that every single blossom was pollinated? And there are no orange flowers up high — why not? I see bees up high.

It really seems to me that every flower gets darker as it gets older; that it’s age, not pollination, that makes the colour change.

Schoenoplectus acutus

The wetlands in Legacy Park are alive with red-winged blackbirds, great-tailed grackles, mallards, coots and egrets. I like to sit by the tules and watch the interactions. Today there were a lot more drakes (9) than ducks (2); the females were getting persistently pursued and didn’t seem too happy about it.

Salvia apiana

Carrying ladybug larvae to an ailing plant then watching them crawl all over the leaves is a very satisfying way to spend half an hour. Just sayin’. But then I decided it would be best to plant the sage in the ground. Hopefully it will soon bounce back to good health, with or without the help of ladybugs.

fostering plant love

We kicked off the 2023 Junior Ranger program at Malibu Creek State Park today, with my session on plants. We had 23 kids in our target age group (7 to 12 yrs old) plus another 40-odd parents + older/younger kids. Many questions were asked. Many leaves were fondled. I think we all enjoyed ourselves—I know I did!

One enthusiastic young miss informed me that she wants to be a veterinarian. And because she loves animals, she also loves plants, because animals need plants. And we humans need both animals and plants. We are all connected. Yes, wise one, we are.

Viola pedunculata

Viola pedunculata, the Johnny jump-up, California golden violet, or yellow pansy, is a perennial yellow wildflower of the coast and coastal ranges in California and northwestern Baja California. The plant grows on open, grassy slopes, in chaparral habitats, and in oak woodlands. We see its cheerful yellow flowers in the Santa Monica Mountains from early to late spring.

Salvia apiana

Our white (sacred) sage plant was being crowded by a bush sunflower. In pruning back the sunflower, I inadvertently broke two of the sage’s growing tips. I hope I can strike the cuttings—I‘ve had good success with basil; fingers crossed on the sage.

Salvia apiana is an evergreen perennial shrub that is native to these parts, though it wasn’t growing on our block until I planted it. It is widely used by Native American peoples on the Pacific coast of the United States, medicinally and ceremonially. Illegal poaching of wild white sage populations for the commercial sale of ’smudge sticks’ is a concern held by many; if you purchase such a product, you are contributing to the world-wide demand that fuels the poaching. Instead, consider growing your own sacred sage.

Eustrephus latifolius

I’ve been wanting to stop at Boondall Wetlands for the longest time, and today I finally did. The reserve supports various plant communities including eucalyptus and melaleuca woodlands, remnant rainforests, ironbark forests, casuarina forests, grasslands, tidal mudflats, mangroves, swamplands, hypersaline flats and salt marshes.

It’s a great birdwatching site—apparently over 190 species of birds use the various habitats throughout the year—but I visited in the middle of a hot day so didn’t see much bird action. Definitely worth a return visit at other times and seasons.