romneya coulteri

The Matilija (ma-TILL-uh-hah) Poppy, often called the Fried Egg poppy, has the largest flower of any native California species, 6+ inches (15+ cm) across. It’s native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja. These ones were growing by Serrano Road and had probably escaped from a garden, as I don’t see them growing natively in this part of the SM Mountains. But it’s always such a treat to come across them.

topanga banjo fiddle contest

The thing I love best about the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival is not the contest itself, or the professional acts, but the many folk and bluegrass jam sessions under the oak trees.

Despite the event’s name, it’s not held in Topanga, but rather at Paramount Ranch, famed Western movie set turned National Park, which suffered terrible losses in the 2018 Woolsey Fire. Nearly the entire Western Town burned down; only the church and railway depot were saved. Then COVID came along, putting a stop to the festival for the duration.

But now it’s back! It was good to return to the Ranch yesterday, and hear the music once again. I wandered from jam to jam, sketching the artists and audience while tapping my toes. Good times.

digger bees

A large section of our hiking trail was a-buzz with bees, and it was quickly apparent that the action was happening on and close to the ground. Not knowing much about these ‘ground bees’, we gave them wide berth and I did some research when I got home.

What I learned was so fascinating, that V & I went back yesterday to observe them more closely. Each bee, laden with pollen, was crawling into a hole then emerging a few seconds later to collect more. How did she know which hole was hers? How long will she live after her work is done?

Now we know where they are, we’ll try to go back in 10 months to see the next generation come forth and mate. Fun!

mitten rock

I paid a visit to Rocky Oaks Park today, a great place for a 1 hour easy hike. The wildflowers are abundant right now, and the only other person there was a scientist (?) collecting data down by the pond. At least I assume that was what she was doing with her clipboard and frequent stooping. We waved to each other from a distance and I continued on my way.

don’t eat the lilies!

After completing this sketch, I was hiking back down the trail, and met a group of young adults on their way up. One guy asked me if there was asparagus growing nearby, because he’d just picked and eaten some. Uh … no. There is no asparagus growing here. After reminding him that all plants in the Park are protected, and that some are poisonous, we parted ways. A little further down the track I found the broken plant. I knew it was some kind of lily about to flower, but it wasn’t till I got home I learned that it was Toxicoscordion fremontii (Frémont’s deathcamas or common star lily). As the name suggests, it’s highly toxic to livestock and humans.

I hope he’s OK, but … what a foolish human being! People, don’t go eating plants in the wild unless you know for sure what they are!