Almost 16" of rain this year!

An incredible week of rain gave us nearly 2-1/2 inches in one day bringing the rainfall total to 15.93". That's a substantial amount for most places in coastal Los Angeles and on the fat side of a "normal" annual rainfall.

Something I particularly appreciated was being at home during the rain.  My work is normally quite insulated from weather, so it was nice to hear and see the rain falling.

I doubt there's much rain left in the season, but it didn't disappoint.
Date    Amount (in.) Cumulative
11/20/2019 0.53 0.53
11/21/2019 0.03 0.56
11/29/2019 1.88 2.44
12/1/2019 0.35 2.79
12/4/2019 1.02 3.81
12/7/2019 0.15 3.96
12/23/2019 3.29 7.25
12/24/2019 0.04 7.29
12/26/2019 1.69 8.98
1/17/2020 0.28 9.26
2/9/2020 0.13 9.39
2/10/2020 0.03 9.42
3/8/2020 0.05 9.47
3/10/2020 0.19 9.66
3/11/2020 0.02 9.68
3/12/2020 1.05 10.73
3/15/2020 0.35 11.08
3/17/2020 0.08 11.16
3/20/2020 0.16 11.32
3/23/2020 0.99 12.31
3/24/2020 0.01 12.32
4/6/2020 0.4 12.72
4/8/2020 0.4 13.12
4/9/2020 2.49 15.61
4/10/2020 0.32 15.93


0.40" of rain on 8 Apr. More on the way

Our rainfall total is up to 13.12" as of Wednesday the 8th.  That's quite a nice amount for us. Rain continues this week - it's a cold storm, unusual for April, and the heater is on, mostly, while the rain falls though sometimes during interludes of sun the sliding door is wide open to the fantastic flower display in the back yard.


Engagement and being a citizen

As I write this, (April 2, 2020) we are in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which seems like to disrupt the normal course of our lives for the next year or more.  After you've taken care of yourself, your family, and your friends, I urge you to turn your thoughts to the institutions that you support. 

Aside (skip this paragraph if you want):  The title of this article taps into a feeling I have that societal engagement is part of a citizen's job and I credit the novel Corona virus for giving me the space to articulate this thought on virtual paper.  I'll leave it at that, lest this paragraph become more weighty than the others. 

I suspect that government and corporate grants will enter a down phase in the next year or two, so if you believe in a cause then you might want to consider investing in it.  This doesn't have to be money, though that is sometimes the easiest investment.  It could be a gift of your time to create a bit of content.  It could be engagement by showing up at (virtual, for now) events or commenting on a blog post or news article.  All of these activities are things I would consider investments but the sponsoring institution also sees as engagement, which is one metric that they will use assess success or failure, to solicit grants, or to sell advertising.  It's one thing to count web traffic, but it's quite a bit more powerful to count people that are willing to pay to support you.

Since this is a native plant blog, the examples below pull where they can from native plant and ecology-oriented examples.

Change your CNPS membership into a sustaining monthly donation.  Why do a basic annual membership ($50) when you can donate starting at $5/mo as a Perennial Monthly Sustainer ($60 annually).  As CNPS puts it, "[Monthly Sustainers] provide much-needed, predictable income for our programs. Your gift will be automatically repeated every month."  Sometimes constancy trumps total value, as it allows year-round planning with a steady budget.  Don't forget to patronize our local nurseries and other native plant institutions such as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (reciprocal membership policy gets you in free at other particiapating botanic gardens, including the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden) and Cal Flora.

Donate to a local organization.  Go big with an endowment in your will or go small by picking a favorite charity through smile.amazon.com.  The Palos Verdes Land Conservancy was my pick at smile.amazon.com, which donates a portion of each purchase to the charity of your choice - smile requires that you use the web version of Amazon to pay, so if I'm on my phone I will fill my cart from the app, then log in through the browser to pay.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is an end-of-life bequest.  The SCCNPS was fortunate to receive such a bequest from the Conze estate, and has used it to good effect to promote native plant gardening.

Engage directly with news media by visiting their web sites, commenting on articles, and most of all subscribing to a news service such as a newspaper or monthly journal.  Journalism and research aren't cost free and a subscription supports this directly with the added benefit that it  may get you past a pay wall to view more content.  I subscribe to the LA Times since I support hometown journalism as well as High Country News, a western states monthly news magazine.  Neither subscription is ghastly expensive and occasionally I give a bit more to HCN.   But remember, even viewing the news and commenting could be valuable.  Imagine in the newsroom: "Look boss, our article on California native plants got 1,500 more views and 20 more comments than expected! Let's feature more of that." If you are already a print subscriber to the LA Times, then I believe you can access the online version with no added cost.  LA Times is running a limited time special right now - 8 weeks online subscription for $1High Country News has made their COVID-19 content free and offers a year of magazine+online delivery for $37.

There are many other worthy organizations that I am sure I overlooked.  Please comment with your own suggestions.


Storm drops about 1" of rain; season total now 12.31"

There's been a lot of news on my feed about continued drought in California, including the area that I live in (Coastal Los Angeles). However, my backyard tally shows that, at least locally, we are within normal amounts of rain. I'm well aware of the Sierra snowpack issues, but for those of you gardening with established, locally-native plants your watering needs for the year have been met. Of course gardens don't necessarily need to look like they have dried up completely during the summer, so many native gardeners will add supplemental water to maintain some green. But consider that in a time of water scarcity, that this year we received enough as a gift from Nature. Date Recorded Amount (in.) 11/20/2019 0.53 11/21/2019 0.03 11/29/2019 1.88 12/1/2019 0.35 12/4/2019 1.02 12/7/2019 0.15 12/23/2019 3.29 12/24/2019 0.04 12/26/2019 1.69 1/17/2020 0.28 2/9/2020 0.13 2/10/2020 0.03 3/8/2020 0.05 3/10/2020 0.19 3/11/2020 0.02 3/12/2020 1.05 3/15/2020 0.35 3/17/2020 0.08 3/20/2020 0.16 3/23/2020 0.99


Rainfall total 11.16"

I hope you are well

Just the basics, today as with so many previous days. I'm maintaining the South Coast CNPS web site these days too, and I find that I have little spare time.  If you are here because I often post about native plants, take a look over there from time to time too.  Content is being added and the site is evolving.

Date  Amount (in.) Cumulative
11/20/2019 0.53 0.53
11/21/2019 0.03 0.56
11/29/2019 1.88 2.44
12/1/2019 0.35 2.79
12/4/2019 1.02 3.81
12/7/2019 0.15 3.96
12/23/2019 3.29 7.25
12/24/2019 0.04 7.29
12/26/2019 1.69 8.98
1/17/2020 0.28 9.26
2/9/2020 0.13 9.39
2/10/2020 0.03 9.42
3/8/2020 0.05 9.47
3/10/2020 0.19 9.66
3/11/2020 0.02 9.68
3/12/2020 1.05 10.73
3/15/2020 0.35 11.08
3/17/2020 0.08 11.16 

More rain is on the way and the garden is already looking quite nice from the recent water.



Earlier this year we took delivery of a pre-owned spa. I built a pad of crushed rock (roadbed) for it to sit on at one end of the garden. I spent a lot of time using a compactor (both a rented "hopper" from the local big box and a hand-driven plate compactor.

This hard-working crew brought it into the yard.  The guy with his back to us was the lead and he had three helpers.  It came in on a plastic sled in order to clear the edge of the eave.


0.16" rain; 9.42" rain for the seaon, so far

Sunday brought 0.16" rain split between the AM and Sunday night / Monday morning.

Date     Amount(in.) Cumulative
11/20/2019 0.53 0.53
11/21/2019 0.03 0.56
11/29/2019 1.88 2.44
12/1/2019 0.35 2.79
12/4/2019 1.02 3.81
12/7/2019 0.15 3.96
12/23/2019 3.29 7.25
12/24/2019 0.04 7.29
12/26/2019 1.69 8.98
1/17/2020 0.28 9.26
2/9/2020 0.13 9.39
2/10/2020 0.03 9.42


Garden engineering: Trellis and gate

I label garden projects and thoughts about garden projects as "garden design".

Sometimes, it's enough to take a picture to visualize how experienced gardeners implement projects.
These are Tayberry bushes (growth habit looks like a blackberry) in England.

Of note is the wire (appears to be a medium gauge of galvanized), staple securing the wire and their method of keeping the uprights from bending inward. The garden timbers appear to be larger and longer than the commonly available 8' lengths in the US.


wild Gladiolus? No.

When we asked we were told this beautiful plant was a "wild Gladiolus". Perhaps they have naturalized in Sissinghurst, which is where this photo was taken. Web searches on "wild Gladiolus" don't immediately come back with an unambiguous identity, so I emailed Sissinghurst, who, everhelpful, corrected us.

Hi Brent,

The plant you saw was Dierama pulcherrimum, Hopefully, when you google it now, you will be able to see it. It’s a lovely plant and easy to grow too.

Kind regards,

Helen Champion

What a rewarding email to read.  Indeed, Helen has it exactly right.  It's also known as a Fairy Wand or Wand Plant according to Native Sons Nursery who seem to occasionally stock it.

See also Pacific Bulb Society.

It turns out to be a hard plant to find in my area.  I have ordered one bare root plant and 20 seeds from out of state.  We'll see how it goes.


Rain 0.28"

1/17/2020 0.28"

We're now at 9.26" for the season, which is not a cause for panic or for joy.

As of today, the 10 day forecast has a few days with 10% chance of rain, so I'm not expecting much change in rain totals for the near future.


Malva propagation

I waited for the easy time of year to make cuttings, soak, coat in Root Tone (use your preferred brand of rooting hormone) and place in small pots. Several days of rain shortly after kept them hydrated.

I place two or more cuttings per pot to allow for attrition.


Environmental timeline

Environmental timeline

1600-1870 The number of buffaloes was almost always uncertain: observers used language like immense numbers, countless numbers, countless thousands, dense masses, one great mass, herds that blackened the plains, bulls roaring like distant thunder or like a river's rapids, bison in such numbers that they drink a river dry or the ground trembles with vibration when they move. The images were striking. The annual migration across the prairies awed all who experienced it. Estimates of numbers range widely. Some thought (clearly in error) that there were hundreds of millions of even billions; others estimated (far more reasonably) numbers at from 30 to 1000 million in A.D. 1500. Ernest Thompson Seton, the naturalist, was the first to estimate population on the basis of what was called "range allowance" (or carrying capacity) and settled on at least 60 million. Since his day the tendency has been to lower the estimates because bison were unevenly distributed over their range and because drought periodically struck the Plains. According to Dan Flores, an historian, no more than 30 million bison roamed the Plains prior to the arrival of the horse.

1641 -- The Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted as their Liberty 92 (of 100 "liberties" which were in fact the laws of the colony) the statement that "No man shall exercise any Tirrany or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man's use." This is the first humane law adopted by any western nation. (M. Clifton, 2007) (Also cited in US v Stevens, 2010).

1685 -- Jared Eliot. Born Nov. 7 (Died 22 Apr 1763)A physician, clergyman, physician, and agronomist, Eliot wrote Essays upon Field Husbandry about reducing inefficiency and waste in colonial American farming methods. He had first become concerned about soil when he noticed that water running from a bare hillside was muddy, unlike water running from grassy and forested areas. He conducted experiments such as plowing green crops back into the soil to enrich it, and planting grasses and legumes to make better pastures for livestock.

1690 --Colonial Governor William Penn requires Pennsylvania settlers to preserve one acre of trees for every five acres cleared

1706 -- Benjamin Franklin born January 17 in Boston, Mass. Franklin's concern for sanitation and pure drinking water was a part of his lifelong concern for the improvement of Philadelphia in "small matters." But Franklin also saw a larger question -- one of "public rights" as opposed to private rights -- in many of these controversies.

1723 -- Lead in alcohol stills causes serious stomach pains, a commission of inquiry learns. The commission, based in Boston, investigates complaints about New England rum from consumers in North Carolina. "It poisoned their people, giving them the Dry Bellyache," Benjamin Franklin said while describing the incident in a 1767 letter to a friend who was investigating a similar problem in Devonshire, England.

1739 -- Benjamin Franklin and neighbors petition Pennsylvania Assembly to stop waste dumping and remove tanneries from Philadelphia's commercial district. Foul smell, lower property values, disease and interference with fire fighting are cited. The industries complain that their rights are being violated, but Franklin argues for "public rights." Franklin and the environmentalists win a symbolic battle but the dumping goes on.

1762 --1769 -- Philadelphia committee led by Benjamin Franklin attempts to regulate waste disposal and water pollution.

1773 -- William Bartram (1739-1823) American naturalist sets out on a five year journey through the US Southeast to describe wildlife and wilderness from Florida to the Mississippi. His book, Travels, is published in 1791 and becomes one of the early literary classics of the new United States of America. See the Travels of William Bartram web site.

1783 -- US diplomats make fishing rights in waters off Newfoundland a high priority in negotiations over independence from Britain.

1784 -- Benjamin Franklin notes that the switch from wood to coal had saved what remained of England's forests and he urged France and Germany to do the same.

1785 -- April 26 -- John James Audubon born in Les Cayes Haiti. He moved to Philadelphia in 1803 and failed at business during the depression of 1819. In 1826 the first edition of Birds of America, an ongoing collection of color engravings, was published in Scotland. He returned to America in 1839 to continue collecting and painting. He died in 1851. The Audubon Society, was founded in 1905 in his honor by George Bird Grinell. Also see Audubon Society biography.

1785 -- Thomas Jefferson publishes Notes on the State of Virginia which, in part, argues against the European superstition that the new continent had degenerate animals and plants. He writes about quadrupeds "not to produce a conclusion in favour of the American species, but to justify a suspension of opinion until we are better informed, and a suspicion in the mean time that there is no uniform difference in favour of either; which is all pretend."

1786 -- Charles Willson Peale opens a museum in Philadelphia displaying the first reconstructed skeleton of the "American mastodon" and other native animals, along with portraits he had painted of Washington, Jefferson and other revolutionary leaders.

1789 -- Benjamin Franklin leaves money in a widely publicized codicil to his will to build fresh water pipeline to Philadelphia due to the link between bad water and disease. Within a few years, one quarter of the population of the town dies in a yellow fever epidemic.

1790 -- Emergence in Vermont of the Dorrilites, a short-lived vegan sect which allegedly practiced "free love," and may have inspired both the Millerites, who became the Seventh Day Adventists, and Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. (M. Clifton, 2007)

1791-- The New York state assembly closes the hunting season on the heath hen. The species is extinct by the early 1900s.

1794-1851 -- Life of Sylvester Graham, U.S. Presbyterian minister and temperance crusader, who invented the Graham cracker as an alleged cure for lust. Sylvester Graham became a vegetarian circa 1826 under the influence of the Rev. William Metcalfe, founder of the first vegetarian church in Philadelphia. Metcalfe had been a member of the first vegetarian church in England, the Bible Christian Church founded by William Cowherd near Manchester in 1809. Graham's followers included William Alcott, M.D., the first prominent vegetarian in the Alcott family, cousin of Bronson Alcott.; pioneering newspaper publisher Horace Greeley; and Seventh Day Adventist Church builders Ellen and James White. Two others, John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., 1854-1941, and his brother W.K. Kellogg, 1860-1951, went on to invent and popularize peanut butter, corn flakes, granola, and soy milk. (M. Clifton, 2007)

1803 -- Louisiana Purchase finalized April 30. France sold 828,000 square miles stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Idaho.

1803 -- May 3, Ralph Waldo Emerson born. Emerson writes Nature in 1836 and is a leader of the Transcendentalist movement that includes Coleridge, Byron, Shelly, Keats, Thoreau, Ruskin, Whitman and others. He died in 1882.

1804 -- John Pintard, first Health Inspector in U.S. appointed in New York in response to epidemics of yellow fever. From 1810 -- 1838, health inspectors are a branch of the police department with duties including environmental sanitation, vital statistics and law enforcement.

1804 -- Smoke in Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh official Presley Neville wrote "the general dissatisfaction which prevails and the frequent complaints which are exhibited, in consequence of the Coal Smoke from many buildings in the Borough, particularly from smithies and blacksmith shops..." The smoke affected the "comfort, health and... peace and harmony" of the new city. As in most other cities, the remedy of the age was to build higher chimneys.

1804 -- May 14 -- Lewis and Clark expedition begins the journey up the Missouri River to explore the geography, flora and fauna of the interior of North America.

1805-1844 -- Life of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, better known as the Mormons. Smith wrote in his History of the Church that he "exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger." A later Mormon church president, Joseph F. Smith, wrote in Gospel Doctrine that, "I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life."

Industrial Revolution: 1810 - 1890


Living conditions in urban areas horrify reform minded commissions in London in the 1840s and America in the 1850s and 60s. Progress is slow but the common interest in pure drinking water and sanitation is spurred by epidemics of typhoid and cholera.
Water pollution carried disease, but no one knew exactly why until the 1880s. Some concerned reformers didn't wait for exact knowledge: John Snow, a London physician, traced a part of the cholera epidemic to a contaminated water pump in 1855.
Smog episodes begin killing residents of large cities like London.
Demands for conservation of wilderness areas accelerate with the felling of an enormous redwood, called the "Mother of the Forest" in 1851. The outrage over the act leads to calls for a national park system.

1817 -- U.S. Secretary of Navy authorized to reserve timber lands producing hardwoods for naval stores.

1818 -- Massachusetts bans the hunting of robins and horned larks, both popular foods, as a conservation measure.

1820s - Hudson River school of painting puts nature at the center of emerging American culture.

1823 -- James Fenimore Cooper writes The Pioneers, which contains the idea that humans should "govern the resources of nature by certain principles in order to conserve them."

1824 -- Farmer's Guide, published in Providence Rhode Island by Solomon and William Downs, discusses causes and remedies for erosion.

1827 -- John James Audubon begins work on his illustrated book, Birds of America.

1827-1915 -- Life of Ellen Gould (Harmon) White. An early convert of Seventh Day Adventist Church founder William Miller (1782-1849), she along with the other "Millerites" prepared for the "Second Coming of Jesus" in 1844. When the Second Coming did not come, Ellen White and her husband James White built the remnants of the sect into a substantial vegetarian religion. The Adventists have de-emphasized vegetarianism since her death, and the deaths of those who knew her, to the point that the majority of Adventists today are not vegetarian. (M. Clifton, 2007)

1828 -- New York passed the first U.S. state anti-cruelty law, followed by Massachusetts in 1835 and Connecticut and Wisconsin in 1838. Every state had an anti-cruelty law by 1913, including Alaska, whose first anti-cruelty law actually preceded statehood by 46 years. Obtaining meaningful enforcement in any state really only began in 1990, when a Massachusetts man became the first American known to have actually been jailed for abusing an individual animal. (M. Clifton, 2007)

1832 -- Arkansas Hot Springs established as a national reservation, setting a precedent for Yellowstone and eventually, a national park system.

1832 -- George Catlin, a U.S. artist and author, first proposes the idea of national parks encompassing major areas in which Indians and wild country could both be preserved. In the same decade ornithologist John James Audubon is arousing an interest in wildlife conservation. Catlin is two years into his artistic crusade to paint and document the lives of Native Americans.
1833 – Buffalo extinct east of the Mississippi
1835 -- Ralph Waldo Emerson writes the essay Nature, beginning an American tradition of Transcendentalism continued by Thoreau, Fuller, Walt Whitman and others.

The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit...

1838 -- April 21, John Muir born in Dunbar, Scotland.

1842 -- New York city physician John H. Griscom,, appointed inspector for the Board of Health, begins writing 'The Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of New York City." The report is among the first to outline the connection between poverty and disease. It especially condemned landlords who turned basements into "living graves for human beings." Filth from overused facilities was another cause of disease. Like his predecessors in New York, he argued for the elimination of common nuisances and the worst slums. But he also wanted reform -- universal sewer and water systems, regulations on housing cleanliness and density, and replacing politically appointed health wardens with medical experts empowered to make inspections and close down buildings. Griscom's reforms were politically unacceptable, and he was not reappointed. His report was reissued in 1845. Burrows and Wallace's book Gotham notes:

"Among Griscom's many striking departures from conventional bourgeois wisdom was his refusal to blame the poor for their wretched housing. He knew that lack of fresh water and adequate sanitation made it impossible for residents to keep clean and pious homes... On the other hand, he didn't blame the rich, as the reformers did. rather he appealed to them to provide decent housing, not just as "a measure of humanity, of justice to the poor,' but as a matter of self interest. Bad housing meant sick workers, and sick workers meant lower profits, higher relief outlays, and higher taxes... Griscom was convinced that such rational appeals would have weight because the problem seemed to stem from lack of understanding: 'One half of the world does not know how the other half lives.'"-- Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham, A History of New York City to 1898, (Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 785.

1844 -- Formation of the New York State Association for the Preservation of Fish & Game, a distant ancestor of the National Wildlife Federation. In 1881 it hosted the massacre of 20,000 passenger pigeons--the last great flock netted in the wild--at a Coney Island fundraiser.

1845 -- Massachusetts Sanitary Commission formed; survey of Boston slums shows alarmingly high infant and maternal mortality rates as well as many communicable diseases. A second report by Lemuel Shattuck in 1850 confirms findings. In 1869 a the first state board of health is established.

1845 -- Mar. 18 -- Johnny Appleseed (John Chaptman) dies at age 70 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.. The legendary but real man planted apple trees across Ohio and Indiana for nearly 50 years.

1847 -- US Rep. George Perkins Marsh of Vermont notes destructive impact of people on the land in a set of speeches around the country. In 1864 he will publish Man and Nature: The Earth as Modified by Human Action.

1848 -- The year 1848 holds the same type of symbolic significance in world history as, for example, 1968 or 1989, in that great revolutions in human thought and organization took place. Since this occurred mostly in Europe, it went more or less unnoticed in US history. However, several web sites are devoted to the Spirit of 1848.

1848 -- American Medical Association formed with two main initial goals: license physicians and survey sanitary conditions across the U.S.

1848 -- Gold discovered at Sutter's Mill on California's American River.

1850 -- U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service founded; among the first attempts to regulate technology on behalf of public safety.

1852 -- "Mother of the Forest' -- a giant sequoia tree 300 feet high, 92 feet in circumference and about 2,500 years old -- is cut down for display in carnival sideshows. The tree was in Calaveras Grove, part of what will become Yosemite National Park. Public opinion is aroused by the act. Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, called it "vandalism" and "villainous speculation." Gleason's Pictorial, a popular Boston magazine, said, "To our mind, it seems a cruel idea, a perfect desecration, to cut down such a splendid tree... what in the world could have possessed any mortal to embark in such a speculation with this mountain of wood?"

1854 -- Walden by Henry David Thoreau is published. [ See The Thoreau Project at Northern Illinois University ]

1854 -- Tetraethyl lead (TEL) discovered by German chemist as a curiosity. It is first added to gasoline as an octane booster in 1921. Banned in the U.S. in 1986 and Europe in 2000, it takes until 2012 to have lead removed from gasoline in the developing world.

1855 -- First comprehensive city sewer plan in U.S. in Chicago. By 1905, all U.S. towns with population over 4,000 have city sewers. The Baltimore city sewer system, begun in 1915, is the last to be built.

1857 -- State of Vermont commissions study on depleted fish populations in Connecticut River. George Perkins Marsh gets the job.

1857 -- Frederick Law Olmstead appointed to develop New York's Central Park with space catering to all classes of people. Class mixing, he thought, could elevate the character of the poorer classes, especially if it occurred in properly designed environments like English style landscaped parks. Yet initially the park's rules banned all martial displays, civic processions and public oratory. And class mixing could hardly occur when the middle class moved through the park with horse and carriage while the poorer class walked. "Once again a cultural enterprise designed to mitigate the divisiveness of metropolitan life had served only to exacerbate it." (Burrows & Wallace, Gotham, p. 795).

1859, Aug. 25 -- Edwin L. Drake strikes oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania but kerosene sales start slowly since the market is already dominated by an alcohol-turpentine blend called camphene. (Whale oil by this time has become far too expensive and scarce to be widely used).

1860 -- San Francisco based journalist Thomas Starr King writes an  eight article series on Yosemite for the Boston Evening Transcript. King was a champion of conservation and, after his death in 1864, a giant sequoia was named in his honor.
1860s – Civil War: Throughout the South and onto its northern and western fringes where war raged, farms were mere clearings, small ones, usually, in a vast forested landscape that also sustained enormous damage. Soldiers were forester-engineers nearly everywhere—felling trees, stripping limbs, chaining trunks to horses and mules for snaking to campsites and fortifications, where winter quarters and breastworks were almost always made of logs. Artillery fire, especially during sieges and set battles between large forces, also destroyed trees.  Forests. Edmund Ruffin and other eastern farmers lamented the disappearance of "good" trees long before the war. They meant deciduous hardwoods appropriate to building, especially fences. The typical southern farmer's shifting system of fieldmaking involved setting fire to the woods, cultivating the new field for a few years, abandoning it to a succession that in most places yielded loblolly pines, then returning to the original plot and firing it again. Deciduous trees had little or no time to mature and shade out the pines. So, if we share Ruffin's valuation of deciduous above coniferous trees, much of the South had been undergoing profound forest degradation for at least a thousand years, since Native Americans practiced fire/shifting culture before the Europeans and Africans arrived. The Civil War took (one can only guess) hundreds of thousands of trees of many species, pines especially

1862 -- US Dept. of Agriculture established. President Abraham Lincoln calls it "the people's department" since 90 percent of Americans at this time are farmers.
1863-64 Frederick Law Olmsted, already renowned as co-designer of Central Park in Manhattan, spent parts of 1863 and '64 in California, studying the Yosemite Valley and recommending a preservation plan to the state government.

1865 -- August -- A group of interested journalists and members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Schuyler Colrfax tour the new Yosemite Valley protected area. Springfield Republication editor Samuel Bowles said, upon seeing the region for the first time: "All that was mortal shrank back, and all that was immortal swept to the front and bent down in awe."

1866 -- The term Ecology is coined (in German as škologie by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919) in his Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Haeckel was an anatomist, zoologist, and field naturalist appointed professor of zoology at the Zoological Institute, Jena, in 1865. Haeckel was philosophically an enthusiastic Darwinian. Ecology is from the Greek oikos, meaning house or dwelling and logos, meaning discourse or study of a thing.

1867 -- March 23 -- Officials in Chicago open new waterworks valves to fanfare and celebration. The new system takes water from a point two miles out into Lake Michigan. Previously, drinking water had been taken from the Chicago River. "The sewers of the city discharged themselves into the river, and consequently the refuse of the city found its way to the water-works, and was re- distributed through the pipes, causing much inconvenience and ill-health. This became such an intolerable evil that it was resolved to secure pure water by other means..." Harpers Weekly April 20.

1869 -- John Muir begins his "Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf" -- The book, published in 1870, describes his "botanical excursion." By that time, Muir had moved to California, and most of his subsequent writings involved preservation of the western US.


Earthside Nature Center in Pasadena

I was combing through cobwebs of the internet and came across this blog post celebrating an Earthside Nature Center that had never heard of before.  Sadly, it seems long gone.

My attention drawn to promoting native bees this morning, led to thinking about annual wildflowers, which reminds me of the most beautiful native garden I ever saw.
It was the grounds of Earthside Nature Center in Pasadena, the work of Kevin Connelly, whom I was privileged to meet with there.
The author of Gardener's Guide to California Wildflowers (Theodore Payne Foundation, 1991) he tended those gardens with loving care -- showcasing beautiful beds of California native annual wildflowers.
In previous times the indigenous glory of the low-elevation areas where most of us make our "native gardens" was largely our native annual wildflowers. Entirely too few of our "native gardens" are graced with baby blue eyes, clarkias, gilias, goldfields, meadowfoam, phacelias, tidy tips and the like.
Too few of our "native gardens" also, graced with our native geophytes such as blue dicks, colony onion, fritillaries, Ithuriel's spear, mariposa lilies, soap root, and the like.<\em>


Sadly, it looks it's  long gone - There's no recent mention in the LA Times, which does offer this article:

LA Times:
Earthside Nature Center Offers Annual Wildflower Walkabouts
April 11, 1987|BONNIE SOULELES

If you don't want to drive to the Antelope Valley or trudge up a mountain to view California's annual explosion of color, pack up a picnic lunch and take the family to the annual Wildflower Walkabouts at the Earthside Nature Center, 3168 E. Del Mar Blvd. in Pasadena. Informal guided tours of this secluded, tranquil environment will be led by knowledgeable docents today, Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The center, once an eyesore used for dumping trash, nestled between a flood control channel and Southern California Edison power lines, is now a microcosm of the California plant world. Inside this magic kingdom, it is shady and cool and the only sounds are the crunching of leaves and the chirping of birds.

You can expect to find a festival of blossoms including baby blue eyes, phacelia, black sage, wild iris, lupine and the ubiquitous poppy. A stroll down leaf-strewn paths, past a serene pond under spreading oaks and sycamores demonstrates what can be accomplished when land is reclaimed and cared for.

Admission is $3 for adults, $1.50 for students under 18 and senors over 55. The center can be reached from the 210 Freeway. Take the Rosemead off-ramp south to Del Mar, then right for approximately one-half mile. Park along the curb and enter on foot via the driveway at the east side of the Girls Club building. The guided tour takes about one hour. Picnic facilities are available next door at Eaton Blanche Park. For information call (818) 796-XXXX.


Pillared rose using a timber post

In England we saw a number of ways of trellising roses that aren't commonly seen in S. California.  There's this drift of rambling rose over a felled tree that I though was particularly picturesque:

Rambling rose on a felled tree, England, 2019
This requires the sort of space that we are typically short on in S. California, but there was another technique we saw that I subsequently learned was called pillaring: A climbing rose is planted near (12" from) the base of a wooden post and twined about it making more efficient use of space and allowing incorporation vertical garden elements.

The following two pictures after the jump make the concept clear.


2019 Western Redbuds were outstanding

2019 was the year that Western Redbuds along my driveway really were impressive.  They were planted in early 2012.   In previous years I was happy with them, but this year the colors - even after their bloom - were outstanding.  Redbuds bloom in the early months of the year, but quickly way to pods.  The flower bloom is beautiful but ephemeral.  Something happened this year that was unexpected: Normally, I dislike these pods which follow the flowers that the tree is known for, but this year they were such a deep red / mahogany color that I felt they just continued the beauty show.  Here they are in May:

More below the break


Erigeron glaucus in a pot

Here's an idea I could implement at home. The photo is from Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and doesn't look all that imposing.  However, that is Erigeron glaucus, which has a wonderful extended bloom during other parts of the year. The photo was taken at the end of summer (10/5/2019) so it's looking nice and tidy given the extended heat it's been through.


CA natives in England

Juli and I found this ceanothus at Hidcote gardens in England when we visited last summer.
What is likely Tritelia and a poppy were other obvious California natives.


Timber Posts

It's true - they do exist at specialty providers like C&E Lumber.  I wrote about an impending visit earlier.
More photos below the jump.