Aren't these Ella Nelson buckwheat Eriogonum nudum 'Ella Nelson's Yellow' blossoms lovely? This particular strain of California nude buckwheat was collected along the Eel River in Mendocino County by Eric Nelson, who named it for his grandmother. The blossoms stand on several feet tall stems that spring from spoon shaped leaf rosette bases. We planted the seedlings in the native buckwheat area of the native garden, which has rocky, clay soil. The blooms will last through th
Oh, how I love this time of year when many native and other bees arrive and find nectar sources in the garden! Now that the blackberry blossoms are opening up, it's easy to observe bees all day long on the patio. Above a Van Dyke's Bumble Bee Bombus vandykei buries its face in a blackberry blossom as it collects pollen and nectar. A Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee Bombus vosnesenskii lands on a Coastal Tidy Tips Layia platyglossa blossom. Look at those orange pollen baskets! I couldn
The other evening I happened to glance out the kitchen window, noticing some movement on our walkway. A California Towhee was hard at work pecking hard at what I first thought was a thick blade of grass. But that blade of grass had thin long legs, and soon hung limp in the towhee's beak. Alas, it was the demise of an India Walking Stick Carausius morosus. These walking stick insects were originally imported to the United States as ideal pets for children to care for. They are
ever! I had never seen an Echo Blue butterfly before, but look who visited our garden yesterday afternoon and lingered for about half an hour! It rested in the sun on an evergreen hedge after visiting our native plant garden. The Echo Blue Celastrina ladon echo, also known as the Spring Azure, is said to be common in the Bay Area. They visit many kinds of flowers, and some of their host plants are in the Ceanothus species. I wonder if there are Echo Blue larvae developing on
It's been a very cloudy day, and very gray. Only at sunset, when the sun could be seen below the clouds, was it actually sunny. A few days ago, between the rainstorms the cloud formations were so lovely. The formation on the left looks like a young elephant raising its trunk in a curve. But now as that cloud stretches out it's starting to look like a dinosaur. These clouds have a lot of action going on, with many layers.
Painted ladies Vanessa cardui spend a lot of time in our native garden. This one is sipping nectar from Siskiyou Wooly Sunflowers Eriophyllum lanatum 'Siskiyou' . Look at that long proboscis! Interesting that it is sipping nectar from the petals. This painted lady is enjoying the warmth of the sun on its wings as it rests on a wood chip path in the garden. We always notice the lovely patterns and colors of their wings, but I only realized now what lovely faces these butterfli
Here is another one of those lucky shots of birds in action in the back yard. The female house finch, on the right, was drinking water from the birdbath. Then a male house finch, on the left, landed on the bath platform and stood very erect, watching the other finch. It's not a great image, quality-wise, but I love the moment caught here. The male finch seems to be checking to see just how much water the female finch is going to drink, and whether there will be enough left fo
Sometimes you can get lucky and capture and an interesting image just by chance. I was photographing the bird on the left, which I believe is a young California Towhee. It was late afternoon, and the bird rested for about ten minutes on a branch of a crabapple tree. While I took pictures of it, two Anna's Hummingbirds suddenly flew past the towhee. The towhee is ducking down on the branch. It looked like the hummingbirds were chasing each other and weren't interested in the t
As you may remember from posts last month, fourteen monarch caterpillars grew big and plump after devouring leaves on our narrow milkweed plants. Gradually they disappeared, looking for places to pupate. I first discovered four who were in "j" stage, then chrysalides the next day. The other three I found in the same area of the backyard, near the milkweed pots, already as chrysalides. They attached themselves, through their resilient silk pads, onto the side of one our garden
Plants look refreshed after the steady rains that lasted for a day and a half. The reflections in the raindrops caught in the plants are very interesting. For example the drop caught between two bee plant blossoms Scrophularia californica. The raindrop on this spent bee plant blossom acts as a lens. I wonder how many raindrops formed this large bead of water on a nasturtium leaf. Lovely sweet peas Lathyrus odoratus 'Enchante' glistening like jewels.