Tree work 2 - Chaparral-shape-up

I didn't feel so bad about the chaparral clearing from the plants' viewpoint. A fire sweeping through would have had similar effects. and there was so much old gnarly dead straggly intertwined branches in there - plus, poison oak. But I was concerned about nesting critters. So - we decided to stop with this portion for the breeding season. There is plenty more chaparral for the critters. Afterwards, there was just one pair of dark-eyed juncos who twittered about me, and in a storybook way I could imagine them saying - "Oh woe is us - What have you done with our nest, you cruel human!" But on the other hand they could have been saying - "Hey thanks for all the bugs, we're having a heck of a feast!" So - enough of the anthropomorphizing. Here are some before and after pictures.

BTW you should know that many chaparral shrubs are 'stump sprouters.' After a fire, the top growth may be gone, but the roots and crown are able to regenerate the plants. The guys cut down to the stumps all of the chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) which is very flammable, and also all of the coyote brush (baccharis pilularis). They left the small oaks, coffee berry, manzanita, and some of the ferns and monkeyflower. Later I'll decide where to put narrow paths and what can be allowed to come back, given fire safety considerations.

And I'll plant more monkeyflower, California fuschia, and bunch grasses, mostly propagated from indigenous plant material, as well as some penstemons and eriogonums from nursery stock for more garden color. I have about 200 plants I think - growing in little pots on the deck.

Looking up from the road towards dad's cottage - Before:

Looking up towards dad's cottage - After:

Looking up from the road towards the house - Before:

Looking up towards the house - After:

Just so's you know - standing at this vantage point, if you were to turn around and face the other way, there is more than this amount of chaparral on the other side of the road, continuing down the slope, and it's part of our property too. It's untouched. Also there is about the same amount of chaparral farther round the bend - we've done a good amount of clearing there in prior years ourselves. This is the first time I've hired workers to help. I was nervous at first, but they did a good job, and trimmed up the manzanita well as they went along.

Looking down from the driveway to the road - Before:

Looking down from the driveway - After.

Having the truck there gives you some perspective, some idea of the size and angle of that slope!

BTW as I've been working on this blog entry on my laptop, sitting upstairs in my living room looking out on a deck and the hills beyond, I keep seeing a pair of little rosy house finches pausing on the deck railing, sometimes with twigs and grasses in their beaks. They have decided to set up home in the rafters of our garage, right in the middle of a Webster duster that's stored up there - you know, those green brushes on a stick used for clearing cobwebs from ceilings! Now we can't close our garage door for the duration of the breeding season. I hope we get to hear the chirping of tiny birds by and by. Well, at least I can feel that if they do raise a brood, it's some atonement for the birds we may have dispossessed down in the chaparral.


lostlandscape said…
Impressive amount of work you've done there! Delaying further clearing makes sense to me. Brush clearing in our local mountain areas is mandated for fire-suppression purposes, but it's verboten during nesting season.

It'll be interesting to see the after the after images, once you have things planted on the slopes.
Town Mouse said…
How exciting! I really must come up soon to see all this, and I'm glad it all got done before the fire season.