Welcome to my Garden Blog

Nature: wild & untouched. Photographing it, preserving it, taking walks and drinking in the landscapes as they unfold.

Gardens: touched by loving hands. Cultivated, nurtured. Drinking in those landscapes is wonderful, as well.

In my garden one enjoys some of both. Generally unpruned & wild, my plants reshape the garden as they grow.

Beyond the garden borders, natives from the Santa Monica Mtns await. Oak trees with their shady canopies. Cactus & Sage in the sun.

Always there are animal creatures to join in the fun.

I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with you as they unfold.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Magic of Monarchs in Winter

                           Monarch Nectaring on Baccharis salicifolia,
                           Leo Carillo State Park, Photo by Kathy Vilim

I could scarcely believe my eyes! A large orange Monarch waited for me to go get my camera, flirting, attending to the puffy blossoms of Baccharis salicifolia (commonly called Mule Fat) and flashing his open wings at me.  I couldn't believe my luck :-)

I have been seeing Monarchs at this campground in Northern Malibu, near the coast for about six weeks now. I still wonder if they overwinter here or fly on to one of the better known overwintering spots to the north.  This one was out in mid-day, enjoying the warm sunshine, in no hurry to return to the shade of Eucalyptus trees.

It is so special to see the Monarchs.. the way they fly, their large wings make their movements slow, proud and graceful. It was the best Christmas present nature could have given me that day, as I shared the moment with a friend who had never seen a Monarch before!

I will give you an update soon on the numbers of West Coast Monarchs that Xerces.org will come up with after Dec.31st.  Also, you can read more at http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/monarchs-on-christmas-eve.html

May Nature fill your Holidays with Wonder!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Why Not Eat Local AND Eat Native, too?

                                Blue Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea)
                                   Photo courtesy of laspilitas.com

     Reading about the wild, edible native plants of California, got me thinking about the Native Americans of California, how they lived in concert with the land.  They were a part of the land, just like the Bear or the Quail, or the Butterflies.  They took time to look at the skies, to track the movement of the sun, and to observe the gentle changes of the Season—which in So California are so very subtle compared other places in this America.  How different the Native American’s lives were from ours today.. how simple.

     Finding food was obviously a major part of the day, just as it is for all creatures.  They therefore must have used their powers of observation to learn what the land offered, what was possible to eat, and what was not.  Some things turned out to be nutritious or filling and satisfying; others turned out to just be yummy, like the sweet “tuna” fruit that grows on the end of the Prickly Pear Cactus, which is so abundant in the chaparral of So Cal.  Unlike other wild berries, which tended to be sour, tuna would have been a sweet treat!
                                                        Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
                                                        Photo courtesy of laspilitas.com

     It got me to wonder what native berries do we have here in So Cal? I discovered several native berry bushes: Some of the fruit bushes native to Southern California are:
     Blue Elderberry (Sambucus Mexicana)
     Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
     California blackberry (Rubus ursinus).

These berries would have been an essential part of the native people’s diet.  In my post for BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com, Autumn Harvest, Thankful for the Bounty, I focused on nutritious acorns, nopales (cactus pads) and wild spinach. Foods of sustenance!  But fruit is a vital part of diet, too, both now and then.
     You can find these berry bushes right now in a So Cal Native Plant Nursery, and you can add them to your yard, giving you a delectable wild food source.  It is so enjoyable going out and packing fresh fruit from your own garden.  Why not eat local AND eat native?

     I for one have great fun picking nopales pads and cooking them.  For one thing: They are Free.. which stretches the grocery budget.  But also, it is nice to watch the plant grow more fleshy, edible pads than I could possibly eat, and know I am not harming the plant or taking it away from the wildlife that also depend on it for nectar or shelter~


Wildflowers, Santa Monica Mtns

Wildflowers, Santa Monica Mtns