New bent and twisted series

I have a recent interest in the odd shapes of some of the plants I come across. I plan on putting my observations into the category of bent and twisted.

bent and twisted pine tree with Dan and David Gutierrez

A recent hike in the San Gabriels with my buddy Dan and his brother David.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Urinate in the shower to save a wee bit of water

This is not my personal recommendation; the BBC is reporting this water saving approach.

University students are being urged to urinate in the shower in a bid to save water.
The Go with the Flow campaign is the brainchild of students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.
They want the university's 15,000 students to take their first wee of the day while having their morning shower.
Mr Dobson, 20, said the idea could "save enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times".
The pair want those taking part to pledge their allegiance on Facebook and Twitter and have offered gift vouchers to the first people to join the challenge.


Hedge Nettle (Stachys ajudgoides)

I picked up Hedge Nettle (Stachys ajugoides) at the monthly White Point Nature Preserve native plant sale. I've been twice and it seems the sale is usually quite small - perhaps they are selections left over from plants grown for restoration. People tend to hover and swoop in for the few that they want. Still, there's some interesting possibilities even after the swooping is done.

I got it in the ground right away on the small north-facing slope next to my driveway. My hope is that it will fill in between the Iris 'Canyon Snow' with which I am gradually replacing the agapanthus.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


"...endangered by climate change and manly and shit"

On The Public Record is back with a three part commentary on California water issues.  Recommended reading.
Are farmers in the SJV more deserving of my sympathy than the failing restaurateur down the street being squeezed by food prices? He and his family work 14 hour days too. Do they deserve my sympathy more than Syrians drawn into a civil war started when Syrian farms started failing from drought? Do SJV farmers deserve my sympathy more than migrating birds that are starved of food and resting places as they migrate this fall?

...You could [write about] rugged resource extractors on boats that their grandfathers built, idled by drought, pulling up to some nostalgic ice cream parlor in the Delta. The story could be the exact same, only with mournful ship bells clanging for atmosphere. That group is the direct competition for water with growers, equally picturesque and endangered by climate change and manly and shit. Why care about one and not the other?


Artemisia douglasiana

I planted the very smallest bit of Artemisia douglasiana (California Mugwort)on this slope adjaent to my driveway earlier this year.  It's gone crazy.  Here it is towering over the two year old Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud) and the Agapanthus (slated for removal).  Mexican sage in the background.

The brown flowers in this photo are all A. douglaisiana.
Up close they look like this. 


Grasshopper on Arctostaphylos refugioensis

This grasshopper looks like he's sleeping on a young Arctostaphylos refugioensis (Refugio Manzanita).


Fox and coyote?

While camping with the Scouts I camera trapped these two critters.  I thought they were the same animal, but one of my leaders pointed out the time difference in the photos and suggested one was a coyote and the other a fox.  The motion in the second photo makes it so blurry that it's hard to tell.  I'm leaning towards thinking it's the same animal both times.

Fox: (?)
 Coyote: (?)

A skunk, a raccoon, and about 60 cats

I set up my new game camera in the side yard and I was gratified to find that it works! I had about 100 photos over the course of more than a month, but only 1 skunk and 1 raccoon in that time.

Here's the skunk's tail
A good shot of Ricky Raccoon (aren't they all named Ricky?)
Just one representative cat photo (of the tens in the camera):


0.10" rainfall; New weather year and a tropical storm gives us an early start

Sept 1 is when the "weather year" starts for the upcoming (2014-2015) season and we had an early rainfall on 9/8/2014 to kick off the year. This is the earliest that I've recorded rainfall since I've been keeping records. The next earliest was 2007-08 rainy season when I started on 22 Sep. All others have been in October. 8-Sep 0.10" Update: An earlier report of 0.07" in this blog post was taken from a nearby weather station. Actual accumulation in my back yard was greater. Just shy of 0.10" was what was left in my rain gauge a couple days after this storm came through so that's the total that I'm using in my updated report.


Backwards Beekeepers will relocate hives in Los Angeles

Backwards Bee Keepers might remove your hive themselves (if a member needs a brood) or, if not, then they have a list of companies that do live removal for a fee. I've always liked the idea of a back yard beehive. I recommend exploring their web site for more information. Nice.
(moments later) Oh wait. It looks like they are defunct. Still, there seems to be some useful links and contacts there. For example, http://honeylove.org/rescuebees/


Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the CNPS videos

Everyone must either know this or be able to search for it by now, but in case there is one person who doesn't, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has a web page where they host a number of pertinent videos.


That's all.


Pete Veilleux - native plant gardens on Pinterest

Follow Pete's garden pins at http://www.pinterest.com/ho2cultcha/california-native-gardens/.

I guess that many of the photos are his own.  This one jumped out at me because it seemed a signature container style of his. see https://flic.kr/p/o5Gw7v

Pete is the owner of east bay wilds.

My pins (not of Ca native plants, yet) are located at http://www.pinterest.com/brentamorgan/


The Fifth Season

Sent to me via email from Jake Sigg.  I think this is an eloquent restatement.

The old complaint about California not having seasons is, of course, wrong.  The dry season is California's winter, its plant dormancy period.  For some reason, though, our culture doesn't really want to acknowledge the dry season.  Millions of people swear by cold winters, and like nothing better than to put on down parkas and romp in the snow.  Very few revel in cavorting through the chaparral and dry grass on a blazing California August day.  The very idea seems perverse, although dry-grass cavorting is actually the more "natural" of the two pursuits according to generally held theories of human origins.  A biped ape of the African savannah would certainly be happier in a California August than in an Ohio January.  Perhaps modern humans are repelled by the dry hills because it reminds some forgotten corner of their brains of a time when there were leopards and baboons in the tall grass.

Californians tend to treat their dry summers as though they were embarrassing lapses of taste.  They cover them up, sweep them under the rug.  Cities are full of evergreen plantings and painstakingly watered lawns.  For every garden of native grasses, chaparral plants, and oaks, there are thousands of artificial edens of hibiscus, banana trees, and tree ferns.  Freeway borders are carefully, almost obsessively, planted with evergreens--eucalyptus, oleander, redwood, pine--anything to avoid showing the traveler a bare branch or a patch of dead grass.  Somehow the barrenness of a snowscape is considered pretty, that of a bare landscape ugly.

I think we lose something important by covering up the dry season--the element of change.  Change is the one universal attribute of life, and it is often very frightening; but attempts to avoid it usually turn out worse than letting it happen.  The green and white California cities look a little like cemeteries during the dry season.  There is a similar preoccupation with an eternal springtime.  Like most easterners (I grew up in Connecticut), I was favorably impressed with eternal springtime when I first came to California in 1968, but I've since come to view it with suspicion.  There's something embalmed about it.  The wrinkled body of the old, unwatered California may be a little scary, but it is the true source of renewal here.

There are difficulties about coming to terms with the dry season and giving it an honored place beside the four traditional Anglo seasons.  For all its harshness, the California dry season is actually quite fragile.  It very quickly shows the marks of mistreatment or neglect.  A golden meadow of dry grass and tarweeds turns into a dusty trash heap when subjected to any degree of trampling or littering.  The native perennial grasses are beautiful plants perfectly adapted to living through dry summers, but they've been largely wiped out by livestock grazing and competition from introduced annual grasses.  The native oak trees seem to be headed in the same direction, since the heavy grazing that goes on in most areas makes it difficult for them to reproduce.

David Rains Wallace, The Untamed Garden