agave americana

Agave americana (maguey) is a huge, sharp, blue-green succulent that blooms once, then dies. The flower spike ranges from 12-25 feet (3.5-7.5m) in height — this one by our driveway is just getting started. The bloom trigger mechanism is not well understood, but it generally flowers at about 10 years of age. The fruit are edible — I’ll be collecting and sautéing them when the time comes.

descanso gardens

The stone-fruit trees are flowering at Descanso Gardens, so I went with Urban Sketchers LA, on a chilly morn, to enjoy (and sketch) the display.

While there, I wandered into the California Native garden (designed in the 1950s by legendary nurseryman and native plant advocate Theodore Payne) and saw a ground cover sage that I think would do really well at our place. I believe it’s Salvia Bee’s Bliss — gotta get me some!

warrior’s plume

It was another windy, chilly day at the coast so I headed over the hill to my favourite sheltered trail, the section of the Backbone between Piuma Rd and Tapia Park, also known as Piuma Ridge Trail. I love that place—it’s shady, ferny, moist, and mostly human-free. Perfect for just sitting on a mossy rock and breathing it all in with eyes closed, enjoying my daily dose of nature therapy.

I saw an interesting and new-to-me plant, so did some sketch-noting and looked it up when I got home. It’s Warrior’s Plume (Pedicularis densiflora), a perennial root parasitic herb that attaches to the roots of other plants to obtain nutrients and water. I only saw a few plants; I wonder how widespread it is. It doesn’t appear on the 1983 list of the Flora of Malibu Creek State Park, so maybe it’s a more recent arrival, or perhaps it’s too rare to have made it on the list? Regardless, it’s very pretty!