Belly plants of Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve. Etc.

But first an apology.

And no, this is not Paul Heiple apologizing on my behalf. He's just looking at something very, very small in the kingdom Plantae.

So many interesting topics have come up for blogging - then fallen by the wayside due to the business of life outside of the blogosphere.

Ben Lomond spine flower (Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana) is just one of the special rare and endangered plants growing at ant-level in the Santa Cruz Sand Hills habitat (and other types of habitats) of this reserve. Here is a Wikipedia article about what makes the sand hills so special.

First I was going to do a post about all the fabulous ferns we found on a CNPS hike in Fall Creek Extension (of the Henry Cowell State Park).

Then, one about how I've been studying oaks to try and make identifications in my neighborhood: do we have just coast live oak or also interior live - and maybe Shreve oak, and a scrub oak or two as well? But I wasn't very good at that, as it turned out.

This fairy-sized plant, just budding out, is everlasting nest-straw, (Stylocline gnaphaloides)

Then I wanted to write about how Mr Woodrat and I explored a lot for sale "with acreage" on a nearby ridge. Wow!  a huge stand of purple needle grass up the hillside!! I've never even seen purple needle grass in our area before! I took pictures you may never see.

Then Town Mouse posted her lovely ungarden tour photos of her garden - and I thought: I should do a post of my garden, it would make a nice pairing. But my garden wasn't nice enough then. It'll never be nice like Town Mouse's garden - and that's a topic of another post too - but things are popping all the same and I'm very happy about it all (except the weeds).

The Martin fire burned through the reserve in 2008. These are probably dead ponderosa pines. Local botanist Toni Corelli has an album of Bonny Doon photos on Flickr with some photos from one year after. It's amazing how quickly things started growing - and how overgrown some areas have become now compared to then - with Ceanothus and other shrubby fire followers.

Several other post ideas came and went. Like rediscovering paths that had become mostly hidden under the spread of a Bees Bliss sage planted in the wrong place (such a sprawler - it really needs a lot of room!). Paths are a good gardening topic. Nope. Didn't write that post either.

Another thought was to steal content from my recent article on pollinators or maybe focus on some aspect of the research that got left out because I was writing for a general Santa Cruz Sentinel/Monterey Herald audience. Or - maybe you'd like to just read the article itself. They gave it the title Embracing Insects.

I just liked this dead tree. I turned the photo into B/W.

Then there was the short article I wrote in our CNPS chapter's newsletter (which I edit) about telling bee plant (good) from eupatory (oh so bad) - which I thought I might repurpose. You can look at that too if you want - it's useful to know, and it's imperative that you pull eupatory (Ageratina adenophora) on sight! Be aware this link takes you to a 4.5 MB file.
(Editor's Note: the above link takes you to whatever is the current newsletter. If I don't update this post when the next newsletter comes out and this one shuffles off to the archive - you'll find the article in the page of past newsletters, which you can get to from the home page ( It's the May-June 2015 edition.)

And I've been reading some good books on gardening with California natives - a new one: The California Native Landscape by Greg Rubin and Lucy Warren, and the first one I ever read - Gardening with a Wild Heart, by Judith Larner Lowry. They both have the word "restoring" in their subtitles - but what the two books mean by it are somewhat different things. Both interesting and valuable books - and it would be good to write a post about them.

Part of the "moon rocks" area of the reserve - off limits to visitors (we just walked to the base, on the officially sanctioned trail).

All these topics and more I've now forgotten have come up for sharing — and gone nowhere due to the busy nature of life after retirement.

So — to get to the point. Oh. But, I've run out of time - yours and mine both.

I thought I'd do a quick post on last Sunday's hike at Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, led by Kevin Bryant. But I took so many photos, I had to winnow them to about a third, and then I wanted to annotate them all - they're on Flickr in an album here — so I still didn't get to blogging. But - well here we are!

All kinds of things to see everywhere along the trail with other happy hikers!

Mainly the thought I have with me now as I write (apart from the eternal nature of weeds) is —  the pleasure I took on the hike, not just in the plants, but in the company of like minded people, beginners and professionals and in-between hobbyists like myself.

Sally Casey

And in particular I was delighted to find Sally Casey among our number. Sally is a CNPS Fellow, an expert in California native grasses. She was a botanist in her professional life. She is associated with the Santa Clara Valley chapter (as is Kevin Bryant, the trip leader).

Is Sally looking at whatever Kevin (with black beard) is pointing out? One of the local manzanitas that grow in the reserve, maybe?

And this 93-year-old can hike! My dad got a bit wobbly in his nineties so — at first I was sticking close to her a little nervously, or checking that someone else was - then I realized she was doing just fine and ended the five-mile hike with the rest of us, happy as can be.

Western Azalea! - in the dry chaparral/sand hill environment? It's because sandstone - and schist - hold moisture, and schist has fractures that become seeps where a water loving plant like this Rhododendron occidentale can put down roots.

How wonderful to be able to hike and enjoy such lovely plants and be able to inhale the sweet sweet scent — at any age!

So regarding all those topics - I do intend to swing back and pick up some of them — or at least, when other topics roll around, to write about them before I get swamped with the next next thing!

Keep on smiling!


Town Mouse said…
Wow, amazing photos! Once I'm retired I'll want to go on hikes like that myself. Glad you have a lot of topics you want to write about since we all know I'll be otherwise occupied for the next few months....