Friday, February 29. 2008
It's hard to resist taking pictures when spring starts popping out. I took a walk around the place on 2-23 and here is some of what I saw.
You can click any photo to see one a bit larger.
First, the little stuff. The shrubs are nice, but hard to photograph. Besides, the closer you look the more you see. That's when you begin to understand the richness of the environment we live in. Here is a random shot at the ground from very close up. This whole patch of ground is probably not more than 3" diagonally. These are bryophytes. The pointy ones are related to mosses, and the flatter ones are liverworts. (Thanks, Kay!)
Look at this tiny liverwort. It's probably somewhere in the dime to quarter size range. There are a lot of them out right now, but I don't know what it is. If you know, please click here. Another photo is here.
Black sage comes in a small size, too...
I'm not so sure about this frilly stuff. Anybody want to guess what it is? Click here to tell me. [Cindy B. tells me this is Chaenactis or Pincushion.]
Ah me, looks like we've still got work to do. Cindy B. says this is Senecio Vulgaris, a non-native dandelion, confirmed by Kay S. and Greg R. It's gone now.
I posted a photo of a cluster of these plants a week or so ago. Here's a closer view. Those buds don't appear to have changed. We're pretty sure this one is Mirabilis californica. (Thanks again, Kay!)
Here's a closer view of that deer weed. Doesn't look like a weed to me.
Come to think of it, the monkey flowers don't look like monkeys, either.
That's all for now. I can edit these entries, so if anyone wants to name a plant in a photo, let me know and I'll do it.
Friday, February 29. 2008
A few days ago I posted a photo of a live oak just beginning to bud out. Boy, when these things decide to grow they move fast! Here is the same branch of the same tree this morning, just 4.5 days later:
And here's another one, just because I couldn't decide which photo I liked best:
Monday, February 25. 2008
Here is an email Greg Rubin sent to the Encinitas fire department on redwood mulch and its performance in the Cedar fire. His accompanying photos are at the end of this entry. (Published with his permission.)
Monday, February 25. 2008
We have been encouraging some live oaks to grow up in our front yard. When they get large enough to make some shade we will remove the eucalyptus that is there now. These oaks belong to this area and are relatively very fire resistant, the eucalyptus are non-native and more likely to burn. We trimmed the eucalyptus radically last fall because one of the oaks was shrinking away from it. That side of that oak is now budding out like crazy. Here's the tip of one branch:
(You can see subsequent photo of this branch above in the blog or click here.)
Sunday, February 24. 2008
wildbird in Wildfire
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Greg Rubin, a San Diego area landscape designer and contractor, helps people to design their yards so as to be beautiful, use little water, and survive wildfires. Here is a letter that he sent to the California Native Plant Society's San Diego chapter last week. (Used here with his permission.)
And he sent along some photos to corroborate his statements. Click on any link to see a full-sized image. Again, his words:
Here is another photo he sent later:
Thursday, February 21. 2008
It looks like the final damages are in. After the second round of clearing was finished they actually spread straw around on part of it. I'm not sure what this is supposed to accomplish, but they have now seeded the area with a whole load of weed seeds.
If you click that photo you can see a larger version. That appears to be the end, but we'll see what tomorrow brings.
Thursday, February 21. 2008
It looks like yesterday's fiasco wasn't the end of it. The brush clearing guys are back today.
And it appears that they have the blessings of the fire inspector. You can click this photo if you want to see it larger:
If you want to see a bit more of the surroundings, click here for a big view. (And I'll warn you: it is pretty big.) You will notice that I have pointed out the houses that this clearing is meant to protect. Do they look protected now? Nope. And the first clearing appears to have been for the purpose of protecting a few cages containing exotic birds which probably shouldn't even be here. All destruction, no gain. Some fuel management was needed, we agree - just as we have done on our place: thinning and removal of dead material. But not this.
It has been suggested that we call the code enforcement office and
Wednesday, February 20. 2008
We called the weed inspector about that abatement notice and he came to look at our property yesterday (Tuesday) morning. We talked to him and showed him around and he said it looks fine. He said that if he sees something questionable he issues the abatement notice, then it is up to the landowner to call him and get it straight. He said that his notice was based on looking up the hill at our house and from that angle he could not see well enough to know if we were in violation or not.
So the lesson is that abatement notices are not unquestionable edicts from above. They can be issued in error, as was the one we received in 2006, or when there is a question, as was this one. If you get an abatement notice, don't just go out and raze everything. It is unnecessary, unhelpful, and very destructive to the land and the ecology on the land. Look what our neighbors did in response to their abatement notice. (The bad news. Click the photo to see it larger.)
If the photo looks fuzzy it's because it was pouring rain while they were working. They just ruined about half an acre of perfectly nice chaparral doing this. And after Janet spent a lot of time explaining the issues and offered to help them select which plants to cut and which to save. In the end, I guess expedience was the most important thing for them and to hell with the land and the creatures who depended upon it.
Don't cause irreparable damage to your land. You must, and should, comply with the law, but you cannot be forced to cut or clear any more than is required by law, so don't panic. If you get a weed abatement notice or brush abatement notice ordering you to clear your chaparral or other native plants, call the inspector. He's a reasonable guy. Have him come and show and discuss what needs to be done. And question him if you think he is overstepping. These guys like to use the word "clear" - I think as a convenience. But "clear" doesn't mean scrape-to-the-dirt. The law is specific about that. If he starts saying "clear", then politely confirm that he really means to manage the vegetation in conformity with the law. And if you do need to do some work, don't panic about the 30 day deadline. Deadlines can be adjusted if you are reasonable and are clearly doing the work.
Whatever you do, please don't just hire a machine to eat it all to the ground. You don't have to do that. So don't.
You are welcome to contact me if you have questions. I'm not an official or a lawyer, but I'll help if I can.
Monday, February 18. 2008
I found this quote on Tom Chester's website:
Man should not destroy what man cannot create!
I don't know if they are his words or someone else's, but they are excellent advice.
Saturday, February 9. 2008
wildbird in Plant Inventory
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Continuing from yesterday, not all of my photos required the kneepads. Janet is the plant IDer here at our house and she is out weeding right now, so if I get any wrong, don't be shy about telling me!
Here is the first bloom of California buckwheat at our house.
I think this next one is California Sagebrush. There is quite a bit of it growing on our land. It is an important ingredient in California gnatcatcher habitat. The gnatcatcher maps show their habitat extending right up to our property line, but left us out. Who can fathom the mind of the bureaucrat? Anyway, we are trying to encourage these shrubs in the hope that they may provide cover for some of the gnatcatchers that were displaced by the fires last October. (Just click this picture if you want to see a bigger one.)
We don't know what the following plant is. It is low growing. This photo covers a width of a couple of feet. Maybe we'll catch it when it blooms and ID it that way. If you recognize it, please let me know. [We have a suggestion of Mirabilis laevis - Wishbone - for this one, and another suggestion of Mirabilis californica. Janet has been thinking Mirabilis, too. Maybe we'll know for sure when they bloom.]
I am kind of embarrassed about this next photo. Janet says the plant is Deer weed. But you might have a hard time realizing it from this photo. It's almost as hard to see in real life. That's the thing about this chaparral: it is all intertwined. It's difficult to go through and even difficult to see as individual plants. I will have to put some work into learning how to photograph it.
Janet has spotted a weed and pounced. Notice she wears a long-sleeved denim shirt, even though it was a hot day? The chaparral will get you if you let your guard down!
Janet thinks these next plants are Pincushion, but she isn't sure. They're still pretty small, but growing rapidly. These were in the shade, as were most, but not all, of them. (The bright spot is a bit of sun shining through the Laurel sumac canopy.) If you click the photo you can see a bigger image. [Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia - Common Eucrypta - has been suggested. Janet researched that and agrees that it is very possible, but we'll wait until it blooms to be sure.]
Here you'll see some of the possible Pincushions along with what looks like some more of the Phacelia campanularia that we ID'd here on the blog last year.
We have found three or four Wood rat nests on the property. This is one of them. I suppose this pile of dry twigs is a fire hazard, but we can't bring ourselves to put the rats out of a home. (Nor do we wish to drive them into ours.)
The Indian cucumber is blooming...
And finally, another reason not to clear the chaparral. This is our neighbor's lot - this is the land next to us which is included on the California gnatcatcher habitat map. They cleared it and now it is a weedy, eroding mess.
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