Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wildflowers of Russian Ridge

The last few weekends, I'd been getting ready for the garden tour, so I was really ready for a wildflower expedition this Sunday. After a solid breakfast, Mr. Mouse, two friends, and I piled into a car and drove 30 minutes up to Russian Ridge Open Space Preserves. And even though Russian Ridge is so close to home, the flowers were almost as amazing as in the Sierra foothills.
At the left, the first tidy tip (Layia platyglossa). While these pretty daisy-like flowers usually have a lighter colored edge, I'm still pretty sure that those are tidy tips, and we later saw some with the characteristic halo. Yellow was the color of that first part of the hike, with fields of California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus).
In some places, they were so thick that the meadow actually looked yellow, as in this picture I took a little later in the hike.
Then came the first wonderful surprise, one of my most favorite flowers, Delphinium californicum (California larkspur).
I first saw this stunning plant at Edgewood Preserves, a very wonderful nature preserves. Let me quote from their site: "Because most species brought in with European settlement cannot live in serpentine soil, such areas form natural preserves of native plants and the animals that depend on them. Any time of year, Edgewood can show how our area looked before European settlement. Edgewood can be thought of as a living museum with a window to California’s past." And it's really true, it's an amazing place to see wildflowers. I still remember when I took my mother there every year, and how enchanted she was by the delphinium, with its beautiful large blue blossoms. Impossible to grow in gardens, it's a joy to discover in the wild.
On we went to find whole fields of blue Lupinus bicolor (minature lupine).

Only a few inches tall, these lupine cover whole areas, and this year had late rains but sun in April so there are more wildflowers than I've seen in a long time.

As we came to a shadier area, we saw some native Trillium. Being a gardener more than a botanist, I must admit I don't precisely know which one, just that it was very beautiful. These trillium are not garden plants, and perish when removed from their native habitat, so it's a treat to enjoy them in the wild.


Upon our return to the parking lot, I badgered everyone to go up the other side of Russian Ridge because I remembered the fields of owl's clover (Castilleja densiflora) on the serpentine in previous year. Strangely enough, this was not the year for them, though we did see a few and snapped a few photos. I've been told that you can see little owl's faces in the white part of the flower if you look at them just the right way.


By then, we were in need of some refreshment and drove down to Cafe Borone for a light repast. And after that, a nap. What a perfect Sunday!

7 comments:

GardenJoy4Me said...

Hello Town Mouse !
What beautiful drifts of wild flowers : )
It is amazing how well mother nature can plan such a pretty picture !

WiseAcre said...

Thanks for the tour and some nice images from afar. I like seeing wildflowers from other areas and this time I got stopped in my track. I never thought Lupines would be 'miniaturized' like that.

I blame nature for my inclination to mass plant. (often mixed) While the individual flower is to be admired a mass of them inspires me at least.

Gail said...

They are beautiful...I told another blogger that this is the California of my imagination...beautiful spring wildflowers! gail

Pomona Belvedere said...

Some of my favorite wildflowers - and it was interesting to hear about the growing requirements of the wild delphinium - that explains why I've never been able to get it to go in my garden (you can get seeds of wild California delphinium from JL Hudson).

Barbara Eisenstein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wild Suburbia said...

Lovely pictures. Must say that the Trillium was my favorite, though the Delphinium was a close second.

lostlandscape said...

You've got a terrific preserve there with some great plants. I love the ranunculus--the one in my garden has just died down after a couple months of brightening up the garden. I can definitely make out the owl faces in your photo of the owl's clover. We still have a few patches of that in bloom.