PV Blue!

Feast your eyes on the PV Blue in this photo. It's about the second best photo I was able to take with my phone during a recent PV Blue release that I participated in.  I released two of the butterflies out of about 100 that were released that day. Thank you, PV Land Conservancy!
Palos Verdes Blue butterfly



Iris 'Canyon Snow'

This photo of Iris 'Canyon Snow' was the first to show its face this season on 3-15-2014. I've planted several of these Iris in a drift that should get more and more beautiful as they mature. As I write, there are numerous blooms - enough that looking ahead I decided that I'd stay away from additional white Iris and my latest acquisitions will start a drift of ruby colored hybrid Iris.


And we wonder how they get there...

Sometimes I wonder how known bad actor plants get into our wild areas.  I guess I don't need to wonder that much.  Here's photo from Sunday's grocery shopping trip to Sprouts market.

Rain 1.0"; season total 5.18"

In the morning on Mar 2, I had 1.0" accumulated in my back yard (1.5" at the San Pedro annex) from the day and night before.  I'd been away in Monrovia  (a more inland area up against the San Gabriel mountains) all day and the rain there was torrential at times, so I expected much more than the 1" that I measured back at home, but  1" is a good amount for this area.

Mar 02 1.0; season total 5.18"

This post sat in draft mode for a while, so it's a bit stale as I write this.  However, there is the benefit that we now know that we could get a drizzle later this week.  A short rain year it has been indeed.


Rain 1.5"; season total 4.18"

Today's rain was heavy at times, but broke often enough to let the ponded water soak in. 
More rain on the way tomorrow.

28 Feb 1.5"


Lunada Canyon in early February

I volunteer in Lunada Canyon and recent rains mean the weeds will go wild.  Euphorbia terracina is the worst offender.  I pulled more than 74 seedlings (mostly) and mature plants (only a few) in early February when we hadn't had much rain at all. 
Euphorbia terracina seedling (with key for scale)

Euphorbia terracina mature plant (with mattock for scale)

On the other hand, the restoration areas will benefit quite a lot and it will be nice to observe the changes over time.  In Early February the bees were loving this Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade Berry) which had both flowers and berries at the same time.

Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade Berry) leaf, flower and bee

Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade Berry) leaf and berry

Rain 0.83"; season total 2.68"

Last night we got a good amount of rain, 0.83".  At times it came down really hard, leaving me with 2.68" for the season with another, bigger, storm right on the heels of this one.  The San Pedro annex had 0.5" for the same time period, despite being only 4 miles away.

Additional updates after the coming deluge.


North side garden 2-2-14

There's not a whole lot to recommend my north side garden. I had plenty of plans for it, but ended up neglecting it terribly until recently.  After an inspirational primer on pruning fruit trees that I took at Armstrong Nursery, the established fruit trees have all taken a severe cut. Though following pruning guidelines, I still have regrets that I've done too much.  We shall see. 

In the mean time I can enjoy some other parts of the yard.  Under the trees are a few natives and this one was one of the most pleasing in early February. It has a marvelous scent, seems to thrive on the neglect that I'm giving it, and if you click the link for more you'll see some of its beautiful blooms.

Lepechinia fragrans (Pitcher Sage)


Article notes nascent awareness of the ecological impact of our urban forests

An article in The Guardian observes a nascent awareness of the ecological impact of our urban forests street trees forests.  I'll go with urban forests, which seems to be the au courant term for trees we plant along streets and in parks.  The article has an east coast focus, but the lessons are apropos for any area.

Though it may be too soon to call it an urban wildlife movement, initiatives focused on urban biodiversity seem to be catching on. The U.S. Forest Service, which once laughed off the idea that anything urban could be wild, now supports a growing urban forest program. Urban ecology and urban wildlife programs are also proliferating on university campuses. There’s a "Nature of Cities" blog, launched in 2012. University of Virginia researchers recently announced the beginning of a Biophilic Cities Network devoted to integrating the natural world into urban life... 

...a single pair of Carolina chickadees needs to bring 6,000-9,000 caterpillars to the nest to rear a clutch of a half-dozen nestlings. Black-capped chickadees probably need more. If you want the birds, he says, you need the caterpillars, and to get the caterpillars you need the right trees. "All plants are not created equal," [Tallamy] says. "Natives are more likely to be beneficial than non-natives, but even among natives, there are differences." 

Accommodating wildlife in cities doesn’t necessarily require massive investment.... You can bring in more birds...just by breaking up endless lawns with the right kinds of shrubs, to create structure and variety. Mowing those lawns a little less often — not weekly but every two or three weeks — will increase the population of native bees and other pollinators.


Rainfall 0.30"; season total 1.85"

We had a nice rain last Thursday with 0.28" in my back yard.  It got clear for Friday when I was out backpacking with the Scouts.  It stayed clear for us, though cold - nights were near freezing.  Back at home, I'm told that there was a little rain and that's consistent with the damp yard and ponding that I came home to.  My rain gauge isn't accurate for low rainfall and I was a day or two late to measure, so I'm guessing 0.02" for a total this season of 1.85".  If I lived in Los Angeles and this were the season-end total, we would be in the lowest 1-2% of historical rainfall totals.  But I'm not and it isn't. 

More after the break.


Rain 0.19"; season total 1.55"

At last some much-needed rain.  Over night we had about 2 tenths of an inch of rain, following a tease of trace rain in the previous week, bringing the season total at my house to 1.55" of rain - a small amount to be sure.

29-Jan 0.001 1.36 trace
2-Feb 0.19 1.55 

There's more rain in the forecast on Thursday, but the weekend should be clear.

Rainy days like yesterday are my signal to water the yard. That's right, water.  The neighbors probably think that I'm crazy to be out watering in a rain storm, but the way I see it the optimum time, temperature, and sun exposure were just right to add a bit more helpful moisture to our native plants.  We ask our native plants to last through the summer without much water, so the least we should do is give them adequate water when their natural rhythms require it most.


It's not that dry a winter, yet

I hear a lot of people saying that this winter is the driest on record, but that doesn't seem true to me - at least not yet.  Still, the local NBC station is stating, "Never has Los Angeles gotten less rain than during the calendar year that will end New Year's Eve. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013." 

I think it's only the driest that people can remember.  Since people's memories seem to only go back a few years, this isn't surprising.

At this point in the season I've measured 1.36" in my back yard and the NBC affiliate is claiming 3.6" at USC.  That's a low water year for certain.  However to the degree that I can directly compare either amount to data archived at NOAA, it's not the worst on record.  As recently as Jan 31 of 2007, the dataset that I downloaded from NOAA indicated 1.27" and on the same date in 1999 it indicated 1.19".  Jan 31, 1974 LA reported 0.34" cumulative rainfall and in 1962 reported 0.72"!  How's that for dry?

What can be going on with those numbers?  Why don't they agree better?  I think the answer is that weather is doing what it does best: varying (by location).  In this case it looks like the reporting locations of USC and the dataset I have from NOAA are not the same.  However, I think we can all agree that it is dry.

Water your native plants well now!