Saturday, December 15, 2018

California's glorious Spring wildflower displays are almost gone

😲 Really ??? Gone forever ??? 😞 Well, not quite 😒
Image taken off Google Earth

Clearly a radical change is needed or the entire planet's various ecosystems will collapse and fail for good. Oh no, I'm not talking about another one of those mythical 6th Extinction faith affirmations constantly chanting on social media sites. Rattlesnake Mountain once had a plethora of native wildflowers which for the mst part no longer exist up there. The photo above is where I grew up in El Cajon, Californa and this mountain is that mountain known as Rattlesnake Mountain. Today it is awash in non-native invasive annuals from the Mediterranean like Black Mustard, Wild Radish, European Oats and Yellow Star Thistle. Believe it or not the native wildflowers in the photo below use to cover Rattlesnake Mountain every Springtime year after year. In fact most of the native coastal sage scrub has been choked out as well.

This photo on the right was taken by Jay Beiler. I'm not sure of the date, but it's reminiscent of the intensity of the wildflower displays which were once common for me when I first moved to anza in 1981. Interestingly between the dates of 1978 to 1983, Southern California had experienced one of it's longests and wettest El Niño weather events, in fact for many of us it was the first time we had heard of that term. But that El Niño event followed a milder drought period back in the 1970s and provided the energy for an explosion of wildflower growth. The early 1980s was a magical sort of time for nature lovers armed with cameras. All maner of native wildflowers like the iconic state flower California poppies, owl's clover, lupines, tidy tips, gold fields, etc. Everywhere you went out on a drive was every bit as breath taking as the scene above. Other areas like Aguanga, Sage, Hemet Valley, Winchester and further on down south to Warner Springs in San Diego county all reflected this same magnificent brilliance on a massive scale. But then of course things weren't as extensively developed in those days. Sadly that's all gone now. Take a close look at the radical contrast below. How quickly the local peoples forget.

Image from Cahuilla Creek Motorcross

Image from Google Earth
Fast forward to the present and this region has a whole new different look. The photo above is the exact spot today where the wildflower displays were a common sight years ago. And amazingly, this all takes place on the large Cahuilla Indian Reservation. This is not about picking on Native Americans and their wish to prosper economically. I mean I get that. But aren't these the very people the environmentalists have told us are by their very nature were always one with the land and whose example we need to follow ??? Funny thing is, I remember back in the 1970s & 80s how much of a target the Native Americans were by most all Environmental organizations with Greenpeace taking the lead. Not only were they targeted because some Tribal groups encouraged less than eco-friendly businesses with risky & dangerous polluting types of industries onto their reservations because the Rez lacked regulations, rules, and red tape, but also because some tribes had traditions of hunting Whales, Seals, Salmon fishing right privileges at sensitive locations, etc. Actually Greenpeace still has a beef with many tribes for whale hunting and they've recently engaged in a vicious threatening pursuit against one young Native American teenager in Alaska over a whale hunting affair just last year. Still it is interesting that such a business as a motorcross track would be allowed to be placed in one of the most beautiful spots on the whole reservation known for it's spectacular native wildflower displays which has now disappeared forever. Of course it's their land and they can do with it as they wish. Still, it's puzzling. This Google Earth image at upper right, can be clicked on to provide a bigger picture of the exact location and the extensiveness of the destruction and damage of the former wild meadow. I guess it's also the general shock for me every time I visit Anza Valley seeing ALL of the negative changes which have taken place everywhere, including my own former acreage on Table Mountain which has been stripped of most of it's native chaparral vegetation and turned into an industrial Marijuana Farm complete with massive industrial greenhouse infrastructure by some Asian business interests. Unfortunately for me I'm cursed with the memory of what my place once was. 😞
But there's something more Serious here than large corporate targets with deep pockets 😲
Image from a Temecula Real Estate Co.

This picture above could be any property for sale up in the Anza & Aguanga area. It is representative of your average land speculator, developer or average weekend ranchette property owner who purchases land and eventually strips it of all chaparral vegetation. The only exception would be if the shrub were a Manzanita or beautiful scrub oak. People make biased judgements about what plants to remove by mere outward appearances much like they do with each other. But why strip the land down to bare soil ??? In almost all cases invasive non-native weeds will move in and take it's place, especially land in the deep soils of the Valley floor. Now take a look at Anza from this Google Earth from a Satellite point of view.

Image - Google Earth

Image - Salton City (eyetwist)
Many of the more well known Environmental organizations are fond of targeting large corporate business entities because of their ability to cause wholesale damage on a grand scale within any environment, not to mention the other important fact that they also have deeper pockets to satisfy "sue & settle" strategies. But there are also the individual small land owners who often go unnoticed on the eco-activist radar, yet collectively these small land owners can ruin much larger regions of land far more than any single corporate giant. It was one of my pet peeves when I lived in Anza for almost 20+ years. People buy raw land and the first thing they do is hire the local Joe Sixpack and his mighty tractor to strip their property bare of most all of it's chaparral vegetation. I've often wondered why ? If that was their original goal, why not purchase raw dirt (literally) cheap land in somewhere like Salton City for pennies on the dollar which is already devoid of plant life ? But this degradation goes completely unnoticed and is absolutely never discussed by the eco-activists. Click on the google earth image above for a larger view and see how much land has been stripped of vegetation so far at this point. Don't pay so much attention to those larger tracts of farmland being cultivated, they've been there for ages. Focus on all the smaller 2, 5, 10 to 20 acres parcels together collectively.

Image Anza Electric Coop

Image - Calflora
Now this photograph above I found on the website or Facebook page of the Anza Electric Cooperative. The photographer's location is taken from the top of Hill Street up at the foot of Thomas Mountain north of Mitchell Rd. The valley below way in the distance is actually an ancient lake bed close to the Terwilliger area on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, but it could be more accurately be described as a giant vernal pool in wetter years. When the Spanish Expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza came through here in 1775 along with Frair Pedro Font, they named this ancient lake, "Laguna de Principe" and paid special attention in their writings about all the spectacular wildflower displays seen for miles in every direction you looked. Check out a 2013 post I wrote on Anza's accurate account of his Spanish Expedition through Anza. They really were in awe of this area's raw untouched unspoiled beauty and they also described the even larger more vast the wildflower displays of Hemet Valley a week later after arriving from the mouth of Bautista Canyon. The photo below here is the area of west Hemet near the Auto Mall along Hwy 74, from Hemet the elevation only drops one inch all the way to Winchester. So quite often massive shallow vernal pool lakes use to form every Spring and that is prime habitat conditions for Goldfields. While a single Goldfield flower is pretty, the tiny flowers are barely noticiable on their own, but in company with millions of their friends, they create a spectacular golden display so bright, they are often too tough to observe without squinting or wearing sunglasses in the powerful sunlight. Hence the plural name Goldfields. Sadly, most of those former prime flat habitat areas which historically have had the best vernal pool habitats in Southern California are also prime flatland for commercial land development.

photo - Richard Cummins

This is probably the last brilliant photograph of the Goldfields to be display in western Hemet Valley that people will ever see. Those expansive vernal pool fields are now weed infested with cheatgrass, foxtails, mustard, etc. Also while visiting there I noticed recent housing tract encroachment and major commercial development everywhere in west Hemet and further south of this location. Add to all of this the extreme drought pattern which has become the new abnormal in SoCal and the newer improved flood control infrastructure the authorities have installed to quickly expedite rainwater out of Hemet Valley on it's way west to Canyon Lake and no more mass vernal pools will appear ever again which Goldfields in this area thrived best in after they dry up.

Satellite Image W. Hemet - Google Earth

This google earth picture above provides the exact location of where those large masses of Goldfields you see above at the foot of the Saddlback hills in the background. But like I stated previously, that brilliant blindingly beautiful Spring wildflower display of Goldfields will no longer appear here ever again. The field now is just too weed infested and another unfortunate change will be the rerouting of water runoff through newer flood control infrastructure which will now limit the vernal pool formation.

Hwy 74 Roadside View - Google Earth

Note there are some patchy remnants of Goldfields here, but they are overwhelmed by the invasive weeds brought in as a result of increased human activity. The Hill on the left is the one seen in the beautiful photo above. Take note of the housing encroachment.

Image - EPA

View is looking west from the Hemet Automall
The Vernal Pools of South and Western Hemet (Anza Expedition extra)
The San Jacinto River Valley that Juan Bautista de Anza saw
The other big problem ??? 😕 People are just simply loving Nature to Death 😔
Image - Billy Savanh / Flickr
The original photo at the top of this post was not a well known protected preserve or tourist area for viewing wildflowers. It was a dot on the Cahuilla Reservation map. But other not so well know location are getting publicity exposure through social media now days. The Vance Creek Bridge in Washington in the photo on the right is a favorite with celebrity Instagrammers. This too was once an off the beaten path location which is no longer well hidden. Such secret hidden areas do however run the risk of ruin because of modern technology. Why do I say that ? Well here's one example, read this article: INSTAGRAM IS LOVING NATURE TO DEATH. As the article put it plainly,
"Lesser-known lookouts are suffering under the weight of sudden online fame. Five years ago, Horseshoe Bend saw only a thousand visitors in a year. But this year, over 4,000 people a day have come to see the bend, take selfies at the rim, and dangle their feet over the exposed edge. Social media gets blamed for everything — but this time, it really is Instagram’s fault."
You should know that the region of Horseshoe Bend referenced is on the Colorado River and is also right next to the Bears Ears National Monument, a place which almost no one outside of the area really knew about prior to the original debate publicity in 2016. Now almost everyone knows about it and the increased traffic jams are living proof more and more are finding out about it. With industrial recreational corporate giants like Patagonia, Black Diamond and North Face on the prowl nothing is sacred or secret anymore. Their goal is not so much about preserve as it is to promote. Seriously folks, the business schemes of all industrial recreational giants are growing. Add a greenwash label to your industrial receational business model and you're declared righteous by environmental groups because you're not like those conventional dirty oil, gas and mining companies. Eco-Tourism is now being hailed as a planet's saviour. But interestingly, these dirty industries have no interest in Bears Ears National Monument. But industrial recreation also ruins the landscape. If you think this will never happen to California's designated wildflower Preserve areas, think again.

Photo - Andrew Cullen
Spring 2017: "Southern California 'Super bloom' wildflower trail closed indefinitely after photo-seeking visitors trample flowers"
In the Spring of 2017 thousands of people descended on Southern California's wildflower fields (most of these were the protected preserves), where the disastrous environmental impact was evident as large swaths of wildflowers were flattened by selfie-seekers, instagram celebrity wannabes who blazed new trails through the wildflowers on a daily basis. Why would nature lovers do such a thing ??? For one they've been encouraged by leaders/owners of environmental non-profit organizations who post pretty little photos on their Facebook & other social media accounts and reassuring their followers that all was well with Nature because it's still resilient even after five years of devastating megadrought in California. Another factor is that the majority of viewers also want instant Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus or Twitter fame. And finding that one perfect shot may require lots of trampling. But hit that perfect shot and post it on your social media site profile and you're an instant viral photo celebrity. Take note of the damage that  results when over aggressive nature enthusiasts go overboard in the pursuit of that viral photo which will provide them with social media celebrity fame in this very well done illustrative video.

When it comes to onlooker reactions to spectacular videos or photos, a good example comes from an earlier video of a Firenado  filmed this past July 2018 on Youtube taken in Blythe California and there's one comment under the Youtube video by an anonymous user which illustrates perfectly what motivates so many to pursue the same goal:
"This..... is.... AWESOME!  C'mon, when does one capture such quality images like this... once in a lifetime. Simply wow."
But What About Those Protected Wildflower Preserves ? Aren't They Safe havens too ? 😳
Image from Mike Rich

Lately the Eco-Activism groups have been up in arms and on the warpath again. Their collective voices are outraged once more. Why ? The mission this time is to stop those evil Oil Companies from drilling for gas and oil on the Carrizo Plains. Others are up in arms over keeping the Tejon Ranch from building a housing tract complex known as the Centennial Development. Of course the area is a well known wildflower viewing region with the most famous spot known as the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve. Tejon Ranch is just west of this California wildflower reserve by about 15 miles or so. But is the threat to such protected areas really coming from conventional development schemes ? Both regions (Carrizo & Antelope) are heavily invested (or infested) with massive alternative energy schemes known as Solar Farms. These often are given a free pass. But there is also another even more sutle danger and you can see it here in the socks and hiking boots of the Nature lover above right who may come visit. Cheatgrass stickers and seeds of other invasives annual non-native plant species are an even bigger threat as you can see from the very top photo above where cheatgrass encroachment is flowing into wildflower habitat like an overwhelming montrous unstoppable Tsunami wave.

But the wild beauty that brought so many here to these wildflower locations in the first place will soon be gone. Social media certainly gets blamed for many things these days, but this time, it really is their fault for encouraging this kind of stardom behaviour. Even if the natural attractions aren’t suffering from social media crowds, they still have to keep a lookout for the infamous social media Graffiti Artists, offroader stunts, etc. But rather than continue on with my rant about this anymore, I'll admit that I'm not really trying to discourage anyone from enjoying the outdoors. But here's a good piece written about what Jackson Hole Wyoming is trying to do to encourage responsible behaviour in the wildlands.

Image & Article by Larissa Faw, November 19th 2018

"Wyoming's Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board (JHTTB) is launching what it calls a first-of-its-kind campaign to educate people about how social media, specifically Instagram, is causing travelers to unintentionally abuse precious natural areas in pursuit of the perfect image. 
The Tag Responsibly message, developed with Colle McVoy, provides Instagram users about to geotag Jackson Hole’s pristine natural amenities with the alternative, generic location tag: "Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild."
You can read the rest of the article in Media Post:
"Jackson Hole Seeks To 'Tag' Social Media Travelers"
Other similar Articles with the same Wildflower viewing Theme
Country Living: "The Tragic Way Social Media Could Be Killing Wildflowers"
Selfie stampede - Destroying California's super bloom for the Likes

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Gray & Silver Plants to Brighten up your Landscapes ???

"Gray is a cool, neutral, and balanced color. The color gray is an emotionless, moody color that is typically associated with meanings of dull, dirty, and dingy, as well as formal, conservative, and sophisticated. The color gray is a timeless and practical color that is often associated with loss or depression."
Bourn Creative: Meaning of the Coloer Grey 
Image - Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Uvalde

Agave neomexicana - image, Grootscholten
Growing up in San Diego county, I was surrounded by adults, many of whom came from the midwest. Their midwest biased choices for landscapes were predominently massive lawns, a few trees, some flower beds, but mainly their choices were based on preferences of rich greens like the environments they were transplanted from. I can relate. I grew up around a much more rugged landscape of drier Mediterranean chaparral & desert ecosystems. Hence the patterns and colour schemes regarding my preferences in landscaping are a puzzle over here to most Swedes who no doubt would relate to people from the eastern United States. Take the photo above of the Texas A&M research station. Most people in a Retail Nursery in California will still prefer plants which offer the most brilliant of greens over greys if given a choice. Very few would choose what they would consider the dull grey-blue New Mexico Agave seen above right. But I think mainly it's a lack of ability of visualizing such a specimen in the correct location and with the perfect companion plant which can offer accented colour hightlights which can bring out the richest most effective colour scheme within their gardens. Let's take some examples of human taste in decoration of interiors with greys & whites. Two of the most used colours here in Sweden.

Image -
Somewhere somehow a human a designer of home decor observed this gray and red accent highlight colour pattern before making their decision in use of these colour schemes. The various shades of grays and charcoals on their own would appear boring and depressing, but add splashes of red here and there and the complete picture is beautiful. The opposite would be true of red, overused and it would be too loud, busy and hardly relaxing. But how does nature handle this problem ???

Image by Wyoming Game Warden Bill Bish

Image - Susan Pedrini
My favourite combination of these colour schemes is found in the rugged beauty of a Silver Sagebrush (Artmisia tridentata)  dry high desert habitat interspersed with the bright reds of Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) In many cases the Silver Sagebrush can be found in a high desert monculture which for most people would be boring. But almost always the Indian Paintbrush requires a host. Some say the Indian Painbrush plant is semi-parasitic plant, but not in the negative way you may consider parasitism. The idea behind a parasite is that it only takes without giving anything back, but I believe there is more to this than meets the biased scientific researcher's eye. As with everything else of course.

Image - City of Monterey Park

These are the beautiful flowers of the California Zauschneria (California Fuchsia) which is another of those very gray foliage plants which no one would ever give a second look at were it not for it's lipstick candy red flowers. 

Image - Yerba Buena Nursery

And yet another plant with dull gray-green foliage would be the native state flower known as California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Without the flowers, who would be interested ???
Exotics we wouldn't bother with either if it weren't for their Flowers 😁
Image - Arizona Flowering Plants

Image - Las Aventuras
In the hotter regions of the Southwestern United States (Arizona, California, New Mexico & Texas), there are some popular exotic shrubs from the Caribbean we would not give a second look at were it not for their spectacular colourful flower displays. One of them is Mexican Red Bird of Paradise or Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). The compound leaves and pattern of the shrub is interesting, but again it is the flowers which provide the eye-candy people want. Other similar types of Caesalpinia are also attractive, but only with the flash colour of their flowers. So with numerous examples of what nature does with colours, we can biomimic in our designs in our gardens and large urban landscapes utilizing other plants as companion plantings if all the desirable qualities do not exist on the same plant.

Image - Dave's Gardens
Same is also true of this South American native, Desert Yellow Bird of Paradise - (Caesalpinia gilliesii). Nobody would ever plant it were it not for it's flowers. Because the otherwise dull gray-green foliage is not overly remarkable other than the decorative pattern of it's compound leaves.
Accenting large Chaparral Shrubs with beautiful red flowering vining natives.
Image - proyectos11

Image - Tree of Life Nursery
Many chaparral shrubs around the globe have been described as dull and mundane, but they have interesting partners which provide interest for both wildlife and humans. Take this example. This beautiful native plant to California's interior hills and valley's in it's Mediteranean climate is called, Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea). A coastal or Channel Island variety of this is Galvezia speciosa (Island Bush-Snapdragon). Whenever I have seen this in native plant in the plant nurseries, the people purchasing them usually want them as a specimen plant all by itself. After they get older they generally look like nothing more than a large mounding shrub ball. While the plant is beautiful, the setting is boring. Of course you can do that, but that is not necessarily how I have found them when out hiking in the wild. In landscape design, I want a more wild natural look in the landscape. I deliberately chose both these photos which reveals a pampered plant which is happy because it has all it's favoured conditions met. Notice they have lots of long leggy streaming vine-like branches ??? Where I have found this plant in wild chaparral biome canopy, these long leggy streamers are usually poking straight up through the shrub canopy with vine-like branches flowing over the top of the shrubs from openings. Not overwhelming the shrubs, but just enough to provide wonderful accent of that lipstick red colour. Here is a link to information on this native plant from Tree of Life Native Plant Nursery about them.
Tree of Life Nursery: Bush-Snapdragon – Galvezia
Pipestem Clematis & Chaparral Clematis (Clematis lasiantha)
Image - Las Pilitas Nursery

Image - Philip Bouchard (2010)
This is another one of those interesting vining plants in the chaparral plant community called Clematis. This Pipestem Clematis (Clematis lasiantha) is deciduous and grows to 8-20' and has showy, creamy white flowers from March-August. Pipestem or Chaparral clematis is native in the coast ranges and Sierra Nevada mountains. I've found it previously when I lived in western Riverside County in California just east of Temecula right along Hwy 79. It apparently grows as far south as Baja California. The Clematis fruits are plume-like which you can see here on the right. Another type of Clematis is Clematis ligusticifolia which is a little more vigorous. But it needs a chaparral lattice or tree ladders to climb and support it's vining habit needs. I've never seen anyone use this plant in the landscapes, but for me it has good potential.

Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Santa Margarita California has a link on their pages to a long list on native plant vines.

Dallas Texas Lanscape - Lee Ann Torrans

Image - Burger's Onion
The landscape above has Santolina and native grasses in a perennial garden. That is Russian sage in the background just about to burst forth in lovely feathery blooms and Salvia Greggii in the front with pink blooms. But in SoCal you can also use various native Sages and even the exotic Mediterranean Lavenders. Also keep in mind SoCal has other native plants like Aloes, Agaves, numerous succulents, even San Diego's native Dudleyas. A good write up on San Diego Dudleyas Yuccas and other native Southern California succulents can be found below.
Burger's Onion: "Succulents of Coastal Southern California: Dudleya"
Challenge yourself next time with landscape design ideas and concepts bordering on those gray areas 😉 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pointleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens): Health Benefits from Desert Plants ???

Image by Imelda Marcias

First time I ever heard of the use of Manzanita berries down in Mexico was from a family (Benjamin Larios family) I use to visit who lived on an old Adobe walled farm house in Anza California back in the early 1980s. The husband (Ben Sr) worked for the giant potato grower from San Jacinto up there, Agri-Empire, and his wife was known by the hispanic workers as the lady who made and sold both corn and flour tortillas (two dozen for a buck). So I also purchase my tortillas from her, since in those early days there were not a lot of stores which sold anything Mexican, unless you drove over an hour to Hemet & San Jacinto in the valleys below. She once showed me jar of Manzanita berries from which she crush and made a type of vinegar to get the goat milk to curdle and make cheese. They looked exactly like the picture above right. The Larios family was one of the nicest most humble families you could ever meet. But here below is the story that triggered my memory of my early times in Anza. Nice story from a couple days ago from NBC San Diego you can read here:
Woman Who Reached 118 Years Old Says the Secret is 'Good Food' from Desert Plants
Photograph by Telemundo Local/efe (NBC San Diego)

Image - Marie Bornman
The older woman above is, María Félix, who is from Mexico and she just turned 118. She attributes her health and long life to eating "good food" specifically foods from the desert. Along with the usual better known native foods like the Tunas from Prickly Pear cactus (Nopales), Purslane (commonly cursed by gardeners) and something referred to as quelite. Much like the Southern folk's usage of word/term “greens”, which can refer to collards, kale, mustard, spinach or who knows what, but in Mexico the word quelites is used to reference pretty much any green leafy vegetable. Prickly Pear tunas are a given for Mexican foods. My flavourite are not the store bought, but rather wild collected Nopal which are native to Southern California where I come from. In the Spring time, the tender new grow of the beavertail looking pads are collected, know as Nopales, where the flavour reminds me of green pole beans, but a bit stickier and slimy like Okra. The store bought tunas and pads just do not have the same rich flavour as wild collected.

Imafe by 
I've eaten Purslane in the past which is a well known little weed. The flavour and texture is very reminiscent of Broccoli. It is freely available as you all know and very commonly known by most Mexican descended people as a vegetable. Gringos however have problems with many things commonly viewed as weeds. Yet their ancestors who came out of the great depression often ate such things. Beans were common to eat when I was a kid, but this is viewed as poor peoples food now and I dare say, unless Gringos go to a Mexican restaurant where they serve beans, very few eat them anymore. But the use of Pointleaf Manzanita is what most interested me. From what I said at the top here, it was used by Berta Larios to curdle goat's milk for cheese. Indeed, almost anything with acid content will curdle milk for cheese. This Manzanita can reach between 1 and 3 meters in height. The stems are the typical red bark and a smooth texture, their branches are short and from them are born leathery textured leaves with a bright green color. They have spherical flowering clusters with each individual flower always reminding me of Chinese lanterns and their fruits are a drupe that measures about 5 to 8 millimeters whose pulp is very fleshy and edible. Sweet n Sour like Granny Smith. The fruits to me are sweet and sour which are used in the production of alcoholic beverages, smoothies, syrups, jams and even to flavor soups. But what stands out among the properties of pingüica is its powerful diuretic action. Caution should be used like everything else in the herbal field, but many will always over do it. Humans always have this idea in the back of their minds, "If a little works, more must be even better."

Image from

The fruit tastes like the sour green apple of a Granny Smith or Rhode Island Greening. But dried and the powery interior of the seed is tart and sweet like the old Pixie Dust candy sticks. Among the supposedly beneficial properties of pingüica, the site stresses that in countries like Mexico its fruits and leaves contain very useful compounds which are used in their traditional medicine such as the tannins, gallic acid and arbutin (see link below in references). The later chemical property stands out for being the one that gives it its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also these acid-like properties which cause the milk for curdle for cheese making. But I've provided further reading below. Some sites you'll need to turn on your translation feature from Spanish to English.

Image - Mi Herbolaria
Anyway, aside from it's uses in traditional medicines, foods, etc, it's also an excellent landscaping shrub for hotter areas for which I'm providing a link below from Las Pilitas Nursery and Bert Wilson's description and uses for this native shrub in your garden.
Further Reference Reading: (Spanish - translate)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Before & After Photos: What do you see as different ???

This isn't Rocket Science. Yet almost everyone misses the obvious! 😕 If it was a Rattlesnake, you'd be dead. 😲
Image - Steve Schmollinger (1973)

This was posted on a Facebook page by a user in the group, Abandoned Rails. The member, Jon Severson, provided tis commentary:
"At the east side of Pipestone Pass, Montana the Milwaukee Road had a passing track and small yard named "Donald". East-west meets were common here and since US Hwy 12 crossed over the Continental Divide at this location as well photo opportunities were easily to achieve. In August of 1973 Steve Schmollinger captured a tremendous photo of the Butte helpers (Boxcabs) that have just cut-off from the eastbound train they have assisted over the pass. A track inspector follows the eastbound on the main to eliminate any fires started by sparks from her locomotives before they get out of hand. Forty-four years later nothing remains of the tracks, trains or railroaders at Donald. Abandoned in March of 1980 the Milwaukee fled its Western Extension in the hopes of returning to its Midwestern roots and surviving. Aquired by the Soo Line, the Milwaukee and its once strong engineered route to the Pacific has faded away among the rocks and pine trees."
Yup, sure enough that was interesting. No argument that it now looks different with no railroad tracks, trains and their crews. But what else can you see that's different ? In the Abandoned Rails group, not one person picked up on the dangerous Mojave Green Rattler in the photograph. Okay okay, there's not really a Rattlesnake, but something equally as dangerous and life threatening. Anybody else notice the dead and dying forest ? 😟

Image - Jon Severson (May 2017)

I'm seeing numerous before (historical) and after (present) photos from almost every physical location on the planet irrespective of the subject matter being discussed and what I notice first is the change in the vegetation health in the wild. For most folks this sad anomaly goes right over their heads. Why ??? Because apparently these days debating various versions of failed political ideologies of one over another on Social Media sites, watching who wins the World Cup or Super Bowl, or any other worthless time wasting endeavour etc appears to hold more importance to one's short attention span these days than if there will ever be a tomorrow. In other words "they take no note" of the world around them and where it's really headed. And many of the worst offenders are those who claim to be a champion of Nature. Yet, as we see in other photos like the one below, on a small scale some positive change for restoration is possible. Especially in one's own urban landscape. Unfortunately at the present time this can only be done on a small scale. Oh yes, such small scale activities get a lot of P.R. as success stories, but generally these projects are milked for all their donations drive worth. The idea of something on a grander global scale is often nothing more than a fantasy dream. In other words, don't hold your breathe for real world viable change.

Before & After Image - CEEweb for Biodiversity

The main failure of the eco-organizations who claim they just want to change the environment for the better is that they see the world through the corrective lenses of multiple materialistic fixes. You know, sign the petition, vote for my guy, protest & occupy a specific location for media attention, claim to have the moral high ground even when you're miles away from it and completely ignore the real causes of environmental ruin. Gain what appears to be massive amounts of followers through social media sites, advertise for more followers to join your organization, even if the majority of followers are fake (appearances are everything), then keep those followers stirred up and angry with misinformation as you beg for more and more donations to fight the good fight. There is a text below taken from 2 Timothy 3:1-5 which highlights with glaring detail the true causes behind environmental degradation. You can verify the truthfulness of those words as you flick on the television and watch any brand of nightly news. Yup, it's just that simple. As long as humans display such traits globally, the Earth will never heal. And the amazingly no one group is targeted over another as to fault. Both the Secular (not open to any agreement) and Religious (having a form of godliness, but proving false to it's power) elements which make up mankind bare major bloodguilt responsibility for global environmental ruin.

"But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but proving false to it's power; and from these turn away."
Think and look harder the next time somebody posts before and after photos  😟

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bitter-Sweet Vacation in Southern California (April 2018)

Cambrian College Grapgic Design 
[definition - "pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret"]
Image - David Broberg
First the Bitter: I suppose this really starts with the world being turned upside down over the past two years since my last visit in early 2016. There has been a constant barrage in the Media of social unrest and combative ideologies claiming to have the moral high ground over the other side and the reality on the ground is that both sides being dead wrong. No wonder I previously lived for 20+ years in a rural mountain environment on the edge of wilderness where TV reception was lousy and summer thundershowers were the main entertainment on the covered porched. On landing at LAX, renting an SUV and driving south to San Diego, it was clear from the start just how far down hill California has really gone into the proverbail cesspit. First indicators of course were the deteriorating visual of the area's native vegetation as we drove along. Seriously the native vegetation has gone incredible down hill, despite all the smokescreening wildflower photos by the local SoCal non-profits who try and reassure their followers on social media that all is still well in Nature because it's so resilient in the face of mass degradation. Then in almost every major city we went through, there are literally 1000s of homeless everywhere. BTW, for everyone's information, Sweden is having the same cancerous pains as everywhere else, despite the propaganda to the contrary. Homelessness and increased crime are found everywhere. My hometown, El Cajon, is overwhelmed with homelessness and the culture has become over 30% Arabic speaking. Not that, that is a negative, but like many other immigrant migrations, the refugee peoples are finding that the grass hasn't been as green as they were first promised it would be in so-called progressive industrial secular nations. Same exact issues exist over here in Sweden, but you won't hear the Media uttering a peep about this. Then came the incredibly sad news of so many friends, family and former neighbours who either have gotten Cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons or have simply died. This later news hung over me like a dark cloud my whole trip, much like the cool dark clouds in the SoCal weather which characterized my whole stay when I was so looking forward to a striking contrast of warm hot weather with clear blue skies as opposed to the cold wet of the Scandinavian climate.
Gardening/Landscaping is my only real therapy away from Sweden  
(generally when I return, I need a vacation from my vacation because I work so physically hard)
Image - Mine 2018

Photo - Mine 2018
The Sweet The well known familiar looking plant above is called by a number of common names. Desert Bird of Paradise, Yellow Bird of Paradise, etc, but it's science listing is Caesalpinia gilliesii. This plant is native to Argentina and Uruguay, but has now naturalized in portions of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts in close proximity to inhabited areas. I've also seen it naturalize in some places around San Diego County in close proximity to urban areas where gardeners have installed it within their landscapes. One of it's amazing qualities aside from being a tough drought and heat resistent small tree or shrub, is it's magnetic attraction to Hooded Orioles. I'm not sure what's in the flower's nectar, but they love it. So it was pleasant to watch them spend a lot of time in my mum's yard at these small trees. Also pleasant to see them finally taking more interest in the native Fan Palms which have grown bigger, allowing them to gathering and harvesting of palm frond fibers for their perfectly woven nests. Maybe one day as the palms gain far more height, they will finally build their nests in these palms. They are shy birds and tough to get close enough for photos. The other long time favourite is the Mexican Red Bird of Paradise or Pride of Barbados whose science name is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Very heat loving plant and easily propagated from seed and once germinated, grows faily quick with the right care. I've often wondered why folks would purchase one at a nursery when germinating seed is so easy as is the care for this plant. Once innoculate with a healthy mycorrhizal fungal blend, just mulch once a year and NEVER feed it with science-based junk food from the local Home Depot or Lowes. Just leave it alone and carefully prune and thin it once a year like I'm doing above along my mum's driveway. Of course, the strict nativists won't like these plants, but I have no problem with them and neither does it seem the wildlife.
At least a sort of sweet surprise in Idyllwild California - Western Redbud
Photo mine in Idyllwild California 2018

Image Mine 2018
I purchased this Western Redbud from Lawson Valley Native Plant Nursery (1983), donated and planted this one gallon Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) which was about 10" tall, in front of the Kingdom Hall in Idyllwild California in 1983. It's amazing how large and wonderfully healthy it has become with little to no care. It's actually one of the few healthy living things in Idyllwild. I neglected to bring my camera from Sweden, so all photos are from my wife's phone. Most of the pines up there are sickly and dying. I've previously made mention of my conversation with former US Forest Service, Wildlife Biologist, Tom Roberts, back in 1983, who told me that one dat all the pines in and around Idyllwild would eventually die out and their best replacement would be Giant Sequoia (Sequoia giganteum). Well that doesn't seem to have worked either since all the Giant Sequoias in Idyllwild are in steep decline now. (HERE) is a 2009 photo in Wikipedia where the decline of Seqoias in downtown Idyllwild is evident. The newspaper there, Idyllwild Town Crier, however has written an article about the decline back in (2017) and appeared encourage by improved health, which may have come from the higher than normal rainfall after the drought the five years previous. But the Sequoias in that new Park (with restaurant now gone) didn't look at all healthy and vigorous when we were there. As of my visit in April, I'll predict next year that some will most likely be taken down. I've already posted about the massive old Ponderosa that finally had to come down in Fern Valley (HERE). On a bright note, La Casita, our flavourite Mexican Restaurant is still there with great food and atmosphere. Now look below here.

Photo was taken by Frazier Drake  (June 1, 2018) & publiched in My-Idyllwild

Thomas Roberts
More Bitter This is the worst photograph I've ever seen of Idyllwild, California. The entire ecosystem up in the San Jacinto Mountain is collapsing before our very eyes. Actually, this is what I saw on the ground while driving through all the community backroads and streets, but it becomes far more dramatic when a view is taken from a drone by Frazier Drake from Idyllwild Elementary School playground. You can clearly see at the bottom of the photo all of the Giant Sequoias are dying, not to mention 1000s of the Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pines. So much for everyone's Mountain getaway paradise. Garner Valley and Anza Valley are not much different just southeast of here. Tom Roberts was both right and wrong at the same time and that's doubly sad. Well, in a bit of an update, here is Thomas A. Roberts obituary from last year, November 27th, 2017 in I seriously do not know if there is even anybody left in Idyllwild California who would even remember Tom Roberts. Most of the people I remember from there are dead or gone elsewhere.
Okay it's official, you really can never go home again
Image is mine from 2012

Image Mine 2013
More Bitter Went for a visit on the way to Idyllwild and stopped by my old place in Anza on 60180 Burnt Valley Road and to visit two old neighbours. The first neighbour is a French couple from Paris who moved here before I left and they're doing fine. But the long time Anza postman, Charles Confer, isn't doing so well. He is bedridden and has a terrible time with Parkinsons. He was always such a tall strong man and well liked by everyone. He's so frail now. Standing at his place and looking back up the hill at my place, the property has been stripped of most all of it's native vegetation (Old Growth Chaparral) and numerous greenhouses have been installed for the purpose of growing Marijuana. It made me sick. They did leave all the pines, but the entire perimeter now is giant chainlink fencing with black heavy greenhouse shade fabric to prevent anyone from viewing inside the property. Some Asian investors from Los Angeles bought my old place and they have someone else living and caretaking the plantation now. Dobermans run loose everywhere. It's like some kind of military build up and fortress compound. Amazing how rapidly down hill everything has gone in California. After the amazing documentary "Weed" on Marijuana by CNN's Dr Sanjay where they showed the almost miraculous change effect of children with over 300+ epileptic seisures a week and no normal life or speech making complete turn arounds with a single dose or two of cannibis oil (not the THC junk that makes stoners high), I wrote a post about the amazing effects of the Cannibis Oil parents placed on the child's food. Three months ago I deleted that post because all manner of annonymous dope sellers were posting comments with their filthy website links to sell weed. So Colorado was the first State to legalize and others have dominoed ever since. 

Image from Google Maps

Above is my former acreage and house presently turned into a disgusting Marijuana Farm where most of the manzanita and native pines have been bulldozed for the greenhouses and other side plantings. The disgusting thing about the legalization, especially for the kid's sake, is that during all the petitioning and activist movement towards legalization, all the recreational marijuana using stoners refused get on board unless their addictive recreational use habit could be included in the new regulations and laws. And it was all rammed thru with no real world forethought of things like dangers of driving under the influence, etc. Oh well, that place above and the photo below are no longer mine and ultimately none of my business. So they have the right to do with it as they will. But they did leave a few trees around the house.

Image Mine 2018

This is the view looking up at my old place from Burnt Valley Road at Jim and Margarite Saunder's old place. This view is looking west from the new owners (nice couple from Paris), place at the Geodesic Dome house on Burnt Valley Rd. The smaller Coulter Pines which were not visible from this spot when I left have now risen above the Chaparral (Redshank) and looking quite healthy with five and six years old growth of pine needles still hanging onto the tree and amazingly all that through the worst 4 or 5 years of drought the State has experienced. Through all the negatives I saw however, these native trees I experimented with (Torrey, Coulter, Jeffrey, Tecate Cypress and Aligator Juniper) are still successfully surviving with zero supplemental watering through all those years of horrible drought is a real bonus. Their success provides proof of the value of utilizing native Chaparral to provide hot summer period hydrological services by means of the natural phenomena known as Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution.
Nice Friday evening at Barrett Junction Cafe near Mexico
Image, Elisabet and Mum 2018

Image - Barrett Cafe
More Sweet Barrett Junction Cafe is quiet location away from the insanity of all the cities to the west in San Diego county. All points east from Barrett Junction Cafe on the Hwy 94 drive are Tecate Mexico and the Railroad Museum in Campo and eventually ending in the towns of Boulevard and Jacumba and then back to Interstate 8. The Cafe hasn't changed it's decor nor menu from the day of it's opening. It's like stepping back in time to the 1930s or 40s. I mean the Cafe counter and furniture still look early 1940s. It's loaded with antiques of all sorts, some of them for sale. In the old days it was more packed out on a Friday evening to where the overflow room in the large old military styled Quonset Hut was used more often than now. My wife and I took my mum there to get away from El Cajon. It was truly relaxing. We often vacationed in the past with a month or more to do things, but this time we had less than three weeks visit. So every day we had things to cram into our itinerary. But the Barrett Junction Cafe trip was perfect. Nothing changed.
"I wish there was a way to know that you're in "The Good Old Days" before you've actually left them.." Ed Helms

Image - Barrett Junction Cafe

Yup, Barrett Cafe's Menu's signature plate hasn't changed in decades one iota. And it's not just what is on the menu, but the flavours are exactly the same as I remember them from my very first visit in the 1960s. But it was nice to do something for my mum and sprucing up her landscape. Getting back to Sweden is always a let down weatherwise, but believe it or not  the weather every single day from May 1st to June 6th today has been hot and dry (temps - in the 80s F - 30C), with the except of one day of thunderstorms. The plants here in Scandinavia cannot take heat and they are so entitled (which requires life-support), because it generally rains almost every other day here and is most often cool or cold. They simply wilt and die in prolong heat with no rain, often with many of the forest trees dying. It's pleasant today, work has picked up incredibly, so hard to finish posts like I wanted. The Media over here is still pimping their usual lousy new reports. A recent Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony news video yesterday was posted over here in Europe, in which the school authorities in Palastine had the kids stage a mock military attack and hostage-taking play. I watched not even 30 seconds of the 5:00 minute video which was all I could stomach. How in all good conscience can mature adults do this with children ??? It's amazing and we keeping hearing about how things are improving and getting better. Yeah boy, "Peace and Security" just around the corner. So anyway, how's your summer vacation going ??? 😆😎