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It always seems like a rare blessing to come upon a patch of blooming trilliums Trillium chloropetalum during a winter walk in the woods. To me it is even more surprising to come upon this strange three petaled flower in places where you wouldn’t expect them. I have seen them in coastal scrub and in a dense Read more…


January is right smack in the middle of our rainy season and the world once again begins to put on its newest green robe. Here on the central coast our winter temperatures are mild, on average ranging from the mid 40’s to mid to the mid 50’s. The short days, cool nights and moisture stimulate grasses and Read more…


Our Western Winterberry aka ToyonWhile visiting folks on the east coast this Thanksgiving I happily took in the somber browns and grays of that frozen landscape. Vermillion was far from my mind while hiking in the open fields and coastal forest. And yet there in glorious contrast to all else, I stumbled across a leafless shrub completely Read more…


An all around peculiar plant. Much sought after by habitat gardeners as it is the only food for the caterpillars of the lovely large black and blue pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Dutchman’s pipevine (Aristolochia californica) is a whimsical looking deciduous vine with flowers shaped like an old time Dutch smoking pipe. The flowers appear in winter before the Read more…


Yerba mansa is an unusual plant found in aquatic environments but adaptable to garden conditions. It can be fun to watch if you fancy making a wetland in a pot. Its odd cone shaped flowers are displayed on upright stems to one foot tall. Yerba mansa is native to creek and pond edges and found in the Read more…


Red ribbons (Clarkia concinna) can be best described as a pinwheel of hot pink blossoms in mid-spring. This annual wild flower comes to us primarily from the central and northern California Coast Ranges where it is found in open woodlands, forests and chaparral. Its four dark pink elongated petals sit in clusters at the tips of compact Read more…


Our local larval host plant for the monarch butterfly, the narrowleaf milkweed, feeds baby butterflies (caterpillars) and more. The tarantula hawk (in photo) also visits for a snack. Strong alkaloids in milkweed’s leaves can be poisonous to some herbivores, like cattle, but can be critical to feeding insects who evolved to tolerate ingested toxins as protection from Read more…