ammannia coccinea

Don’t overlook the teensy ones!

Guided by some online resources, I went looking for this flower by the pond at Rocky Oaks. I was expecting a plant between ankle and knee high (my wildflower book says it’s up to 16″/40cm tall). I scanned about but couldn’t see any likely candidates. Then I had the urge to just sit awhile right there on the bank.

You guessed it! I soon realized I was surrounded by the plant I’d come seeking — tiny (1.25″ high) scarlet toothcup plants with miniscule magenta flowers. Such a delight!

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!