0.01" rain; 14.64" season total

Threatening storms decided not to give us much more rain, and we picked up only 1/100th of an inch over the course of a couple days.

Embedded water II

Recently, I linked to a BBC article that quantified the amount of water embodied in production of a variety of goods (hidden or embedded water). National Geographic reports a similar analysis of U.S. products. Their article is on the high water costs of pet food, but a related app (Flash required) lets the user click and compare the hidden water in many foods.

I didn't like the way they presented their data, so here's a little table that I made to compare hidden or embedded water in beverages. Wine leads the list of beverages that require high amounts of hidden/embedded water. They attribute this to water used on the grapes. I wonder how they separated grapes produced for the table from grapes produced for wine from grapes produced for grape juice. The cultivation practices and prime growing climates can be very different. It's not unheard of to dry farm grapes for wine but that practice wouldn't get you very far if you wanted to sell dry farmed grapes for the table.

Beverage / liters of water to produce one liter of beverage
Wine / 1004
Apple juice / 949
Milk / 876
Coffee / 876
Orange juice / 848
Beer / 686
Tea / 127


PV native garden tour

Juli and I went on a garden tour sponsored by the South Coast chapter of the California Native Plant Society in Palos Verdes Estates last weekend. The tour was of two gardens. One extended down into an easterly canyon, the other was on the edge of some land conservancy property overlooking the coast and had experienced fire in the past year that burned right up to the house.

Link to photos


Desert visit

I was in the desert briefly and took these photos.

0.05" rain; 14.63" season total

On 4/19 we had 0.05" of rain. I held off reporting this rainfall since two more days of rain were predicted. However, despite a little bit of drizzle, we didn't get a recordable amount of rain.

Statistically speaking, there is a 75% chance of getting about 1.25" or less rainfall in April. We've had only 0.93", so the present amount of rain in April is "normal", though we have exceeded the median April rainfall of 0.45".

More storms were predicted, but the threat of rain seems to have diminished as of today's weather report. If the rainfall total for the year exceeds about 15", then I'm willing to call it as a wet year (the third quartile of annual LA rainfall is 14.94"), but chances of significant storms from here on out are very low.

Backpacking Point Dume

I went backpacking with the Boy Scouts to Point Dume back in March.

I'm happy to report that the wildflowers were magnificent! There were more Giant Coreopsis that I could have imagined, all in the prime of bloom. Ceanothus was just past prime bloom. The particular variety that grows in the canyons we hiked had a pale blue color to the flowers. Some were almost white. It's not hard to imagine one of the white garden selections having these particular plants as ancestors. Mimulus was growing in profusion - I think it was the dominant plant in several areas, and I saw several Venegasia Carpesioides (Canyon sunflower), a plant that I found almost impossible to find in the trade but that was right here in our backyard. Some bulbs that I couldn't identify and Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis)rounded out the flowers.

I'll try a slide show of selected photos below:

For those without Flash, here's link: direct link


Embedded water

An article that I read today on BBC News summarizes a report by Engineering the Future alliance of professional engineering bodies which discusses a potential problem of Britain's import of water by proxy. Through the import of crops and good manufactured in developing countries, two-thirds of the water used to make UK imports is used outside its borders. The concept of "embedded water" is developed to account for all the water input into various goods.

Embedded in a pint of beer, for example, is about 130 pints (74 litres) of water - the total amount needed to grow the ingredients and run all the processes that make the pint of beer.

A cup of coffee embeds about 140 litres (246 pints) of water, a cotton T-shirt about 2,000 litres, and a kilogram of steak 15,000 litres.

This isn't a new concept, but I don't recall seeing firm figures attached to so many different foods before: 10 liters for a sheet of paper, 140 liters for a cup of coffee, up to jeans at 10,850 liters per pair, and so forth.

The article suggests that the fresh understanding of where water is used in the manufacture or consumption of imported goods may affect public policy.


Margaret's mallow

Margaret's mallow is getting large! She writes that the trash can is in view because of some nearby cleanup.


City of Los Angeles low impact development

LA Team Effort is the blog site that serves as community outreach and a focal point for to City of LA's effort to publicize best practices and methods of compliance with the soon-to-be adopted low impact development (LID) ordinance.

Beginning with a May 20th launch meeting, the City of Los Angeles will coordinate the volunteer efforts of LA residents, stakeholders and non-profits in the formulation of a LID Handbook. While the Handbook itself will be technically oriented, we have a few different roles so that you can get involved in this critical process regardless of your level of LID expertise

Once more reminding us that all environmental concerns return to water, the focus of LID is heavy on water:

LID can be described as the use of practices that encourage site sustainability and smart growth in a manner that respects and preserves the characteristics of the City’s watersheds, drainage paths, water supplies, and natural resources. Or in simpler wording: bringing nature back to our City to help with urban runoff management, water conservation, and improving the quality of the City’s waters. LID reduces the impact from urban development and provides the benefits of:
Replenishing groundwater supplies
Improving the quality of surface water runoff
Stabilizing natural stream characteristics
Preserving natural site characteristics, and
Minimizing downstream impacts.


0.75" rain; 14.58" season total

What a surprise to get 3/4 inch of rain last night! I expected mild showers, not the at times torrential rain that we actually got. Another one of those and we really will have had a wetter winter.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Prisk Elementary native garden

Mike Letteriello was at the CNPS meeting last Monday and invited all to an open house at Prisk Elementary School in Long Beach where they have an established native garden. I went on Sunday and it was marvelous. The garden is 7800 square feet and incorporates many different habitats. Mike is a community member who is retired and has worked on the garden since it was founded.

It turns out that the garden was recently profiled in the LA Times, something I discovered while visiting, so I'll share some pictures and let them cover the commentary.

Wind poppies were magnificent and a wildflower that I hadn't previously paid much attention to. I'll now be looking for a wat to incorporate them in my gardens.

I think these were desert bluebells. Amazing blue color.

The interesting thing about this cactus was that the paddles had a purple cast.

Two colors of mallow.

Pink colored Baja Fairyduster.

I'm not sure what this is.

There's a raised bed vegetable garden as well.

This spikey flower was nearly open. I thought the spikes were impressive on their own.

I spoke with a parent and garden foundation member who lamented that the teacher who has founded the garden had retired and there seemed to be no school site champion to develop lessons and be an advocate for the garden within the school. Given budget cuts in the schools, the future looked uncertain for this gem of a garden. This last year the foundation had hired a part time science teacher to incorporate lessons from the garden in the curriculum but next year the district required that the teacher go full time and be under contract with full benefits - something the foundation couldn't afford. Teachers seemed ill equipped to teach lessons from the garden.

My suggestion was to bring the plants to the children. For example, some large Clatonia perfoliata leaves, cut into bite sized pieces, could tie taste into 4th grade California history. The common name for C. perfoliata is Miners lettuce; 49ers were said to eat it as a salad substitute having learned about it from indigenous people. Understanding biodiversity in the garden could be a 5th grade science topic. There must many other similar examples.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Back yard blooms

This is the season for native blooms and my back yard is no exception.

The only non-native pictured here. This is lovage which has reseeded from last year. It's supposed to be edible, and that's why I originally bought it, but I've ended up enjoying it as decoration only. I think the backlighting is particularly nice here.

Globe gilia in blue and the ever present yarrow in white.

Checkerbloom has a small red flower. It's in a pot with some new bulbs.

Tidy tips, Douglas' meadowfoam, and a small bay tree in a pot.

Some of the first blooms from Penstemon 'Margarita BOP'. Of three of these plants, two florished and one died.

Coral bells 'Wendy'.

Alium that's a bit out of focus.

Western red bud with ceanothus in background.

Miner's lettuce resprouted from last year's seed. I struggled for a couple years to get this going, and now it does it all by itself after I've given up and moved on.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

The wild flowers were very nice at the SBBG.

Unfortunately this was the last photo I tool with my phone before the battery died unexpectedly.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Gopher tale

Here's a photo of a Matilja poppy flourishing in its second year in the midst of a huge gopher colony and Algerian ivy.

This is the hill where gopher predation is so rampant that even the above ground vegetation gets eaten. The same hill where my brother and I planted hundreds of acorns, which still sprout but get eaten before they are a year old.

A little farther up the hill is a clump of sages and buckwheat that is similarly unmolested by gophers.

Chalk a couple up for the natives.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Trip to Santa Barbara

Juli and I were up in Santa Barbara over Easter weekend. Here's the garden highlights of our first stop just south of Summerland.

This is an interesting nursery off of 101 at Santa Claus Lane.

Lots of cool garden art. There were a lot of rocks wrapped in iron to make animals. This one is a kinetic sculpture - its head bobs up and down.

Lots of nice fountains.

An egret joined us.

Then flew away.

Not a huge emphasis on natives - more other Mediterraen climates.

An interesting jumble of a plant.

You should visit.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

0.13" rain; 13.83" season total

I was happy to be proven wrong to the tune of better than 1/10 th of an inch of rainfall last night. I'll post new rainfall graphs later, when I'm back at the desktop, but there's really no change in the overall season assessment at this point: completely average.

More rain is in the long range forecast, so maybe we'll pick up a bit more as we wind down spring.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone