Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Turning of the Seasons

Here in Northern California Indian Summer is in full swing, with day time temperatures soring into the 90's right along the coast and the absence of foggy mornings. Inland, of course, the temperatures are in the 100's with no breeze. As one can imagine the air quality is not very good especially with all the wild fires raging throughout Northern California. Margaret, of Mostly Natives Nursery, in Tomales, California, said Sunday past, "It's scarry," as we were discussing the drought and heat affecting this October, the month that is historically the planting time for natives here in our region. Climate change is making its indelable mark as those of you in the Southwest are experiencing with the repeating deluges of rain, the remnants of the numerous hurricanes affecting Baja this season. 

Sunday San Francisco Chronicle’s "Earthweek: a diary of the planet"

for the week ending Friday, October 3, 2014:
Five independent studies found that decades of burning fossil fuels made heat waves far more likely. 
Finally research, for the first time, has connected human behavior and extreme weather. Well duh!
Human exploitation of the environment is 50% greater than nature can withstand: between 1970 and 2010
more than half of the world’s wildlife population has been killed off.

We as humans cringe when we see a hawk taking out one of our favorite birds
or a bobcat eating one of our backyard chickens or a deer decimating our prize
rose bush, forgetting that all BEings in the food chain must eat to survive.  It seems
to me the human species is the sole planet Earth inhabitant that indulges him/herself
relentlessly. Which reminds me: “those who buy what they want often cannot buy what they need.” 
--Stephen B. Howard (my late wise stepfather). 
“ . . . it has been unfortunate that basically good ideas
 (of institutions and organizations with noble ideology) have been defeated by 
man’s inherent self-interest.” --Dali Lama. As the Chevron with Techron TV ad 
says "Humans are weird.”

In spite of full awareness of the changing climate, Indian Summer/Fall restoration activites are unfolding here at MuRefuge as in past years. Over the week past a plethora of Todd planters has been filled with potting soil and scattered with native seeds gathered right here at MuRefuge: both Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) and Red fescue (Festuca rubra), Blue wildrye grass (Elymus glaucus), June grass (Koeleria cristata) as well as native perennial flowers:  Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)Beach aster (Erigeron glaucus), Red flowering buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens), Coast lotus (Lotus formosissimus) and Shaggy alumroot (Heuchera pilosissima). Purchased seed from Larner Seeds in Bolinas of the perennial Northern California Coastal poppy (Eschscholzia californica var. californica) was also scattered on one Todd planter.

These Todd planters are my favorite seed propagation containers. Althorough the material, styroform, is not to my
liking, it is long lasting with many of these 20+ years old. Each cell has slanted sides and a hole in
the bottom for easy perforation with a large nail head of the start. With the root pretty much intact
the start, once ejected and planted out, suffers very little transplant shock. 
The two Roger Red grape vines produced the most grapes since taking up their home here at MuRefuge. The ripe and now wizened grapes are being scarfed up by the mockingbirds, my late Aunt Donna's favorite bird, and flickers

The visiting flicker(s?) are also tidying up the patio from fallen and/or trampled grapes which is very helpful in keeping Shasta's paws from bringing them into the house. And speaking of birds and the turning of seasons, my very favorite LBB has arrived: the fox sparrow, one of the few LBBs I easily identify. Recently a retired ornithologist, a La Jolla, California high school friend of Dwight's, visited. With his trained eye id-ing our Fall/Winter LBB residents is easier and rather more fun, too!

MuRefuge's late apples are now available for plucking from the trees. My all time favorite eating right off the tree apple is the heirloom Spitzenberg.

The Spitzenberg apple was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple, so the legend goes.
A quick and easy light evening meal enjoyed here at MuRefuge is just picked heirloom Gold Medal tomato diced,

just picked finely chopped Peron pepper (a perennial) which is hot but with delish flavor

and tossed together with herb flavored organic olive oil (from McEvoy Ranch and herbs infused from MuRefuge) and finely chopped fresh chives and cilanto. This tasty, juicy mixture can then be scooped up with organic blue corn chips (Garden of Eatin') . . . m-m-m-m-m-m!

Notice the denuded large white seeds of the Island or Catalina cherry (Prunus lyonii). 
This "cherry"is not relished by humans but is a favorite with 
the fruit/berry eating birds that frequent MuRefuge in search of food.
Another perennial native shrub much loved by MuRefuge's vistors is the Coyote bush. Soon this spectacular flowering bush will be covered by a mass of chipping bushtits.

This is the low growing or prostrate form of  Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis).

As the turning of the seasons continues may each of you


  1. What are LBB's? I would have never thought to plant a Coyote bush in my yard, but they do attract the insects. I love your information--Rob

  2. An email received: "Hi Cathie, I appreciate your latest blog thoughts and notes. FYI : Our daughter's boyfriend put this calendar together from some of his recent work. I think it's beautiful.... All the Best, Ann"