Friday, March 11, 2016

Ready or Not, Spring is Here

I haven't been able to post for a couple of months, and now stuff is happening all over the garden. Let's start with this Monarch butterfly on a Giant Coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea).

This Leptosyne (formerly Coreiopsis) is native to the Channel Islands and just a handful of locations along the coast, such as the Pt. Mugu to Malibu region and maybe Torrey Pines. It has been planted in many locations by Caltrans so now you will see it along I-5.

Here's another butterfly, a small one. This one is a Mournful Duskywing. It is distinguished by the white band along the bottom edge of the hind wings.  I was lucky that it stayed there so long to feed so I could get a good shot of it. Although they use oaks as host plants, this one is feeding on a Dichelostemma capitatum. I hope it found a mate and deposited some eggs in my oak tree. Speaking of the oak tree, it is putting out tons of new growth, but I don't have a good photo of that.

The Dichelostemma is pretty popular with the butterflies. Here's some kind of Skipper. You are supposed to be able to identify them to species by the pattern on the under hind wing, but I can't do it.

While I'm talking about Dichelostemma, it reminds me that in a previous post I talked about how I have this fairly large patch of them that don't flower much but produce lush foliage. Here's what they look like now. I don't give them any supplemental water. When it rains, they just put out huge quantities of foliage and a handful of flowers. I should probably dig up some of these and move them to a sunnier area, but I can't bring myself to do it.

Here's a bumble bee feeding on the flowers of my Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor). I am really happy to be seeing bumble bees this year because last year there were almost none due to the drought. The one below was crawling all over the Manzanita flowers in order to get to every flower. I am not able to identify the species of bumble bee. I'm just glad to see it.

Here are a few more plants that are blooming right now. First is Wind Poppy (Papaver heterophyllum). It is native to the coastal strip from the Bay Area down to Baja and the southern Sierra foothills. It is often found in oak woodlands, so I have it planted under my oak tree.

Next are some Dudleya candida that are endemic to the Coronados Islands, just off the coast of Tijuana. They seem to like it in my garden with other Baja species. With so much flowering, I am hopeful that I'll get some seedlings coming up nearby. The taller cactus in the background is Cochemeia halei from the Magdalena region of Baja.

The Dudleya pulverulaenta (Green form) are also putting up lots of flower stalks. They have already produced numerous seedling which I have written about previously. Pretty soon I'm going to have more of these than I know what to do with.

Continuing with the Baja theme, below is a Baja Bush Snapdragon (Gambelia juncea) followed by a Baja Chuparosa (Justicia purpusii). The flowers have a strong resemblance to each other even though they are in different families (Plantaginaceae vs. Acanthaceae). It doesn't make any difference to the hummingbirds who love them both equally.

In the shade area on the north side of my house, the Ribes viburnifolium is trying hard to attract some pollinators. It is native to Catalina Island and probably should be with my other Channel Islands plants, except it really likes shade so this is the best spot for it. I'm not seeing any seedlings from it, but it is spreading itself by tip-rooting. It has a great fragrance even when not in flower.

The Blue-eyed Grass that I have in a container on the west side of the house is doing fabulously well.

Lastly, the Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera) that blooms consistently is doing so again. Here is a shot of it after the rain. It seems pretty happy. It has never produced any fruit, so the Yucca Moths must not be able to find it yet. However, I have seen fruits on other Yuccas in Encinitas, so I know they are around.

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