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Autumn Foliage, Southern California Version

Leucadendron 'Ebony'  displaying Southern California's version of autumn foliage
It has finally cooled off enough to garden again here in Southern California.  I've been pulling out victims of two months of terrible heat--the Leucadendron in the above photo, as well as the Grevillea 'Royal Fanfare' which looked happy in spring but did not survive the heat.  Two choice plants.  Ouch. 
Some of the Pittosporums also suffered--one of the P. tenuifolium 'Wrinkled Blue's had several branches die.  I spent yesterday cutting them out. There, the center-left one.  Looks a bit better now.  There's still a few dead bits that need to come out.  
The four 'Tasman Ruffles' P. tenuifolium to the right look very bad, much worse than in the photo.  The long drought of 2011-2016 damaged them and they lost their health and beauty.  They should be lusciously dense, not scraggly.  Remove and replace with new copies?  Replace with something else?  Cut back hard, to…

Another Heatwave

Mockingbird Lookout

Another heatwave.  I'm doing cleanup as I can, when it is coolest: early, or late in the day.  The greatest activity has been with the neighbor's oak (Quercus agrifolia), which is full of ripening acorns.  

The squirrels rats-with-better-tails have been at the acorns... have the Mockingbirds and Scrub Jays:

California Scrub Jay

Most active and most plentiful have been the Acorn Woodpeckers, which fly between the oak and their granary tree, a Palm across the road.  Back and forth they fly, all day long:

The NYT had a recent article (paywalled) on the complex social structure and behavior of this species.   Much of the same information is covered here. at under "Behavior". 
Since I am looking around the garden quite carefully, wondering what to cut back next, a couple of plants I hadn't noticed surprised me.   First,  an orange-flowered California Fuchsia (Zauschneria aka
Epilobium canum) re-emerged where I planted and subsequently pulled it all out at least fifteen years ago.
I think it must have come back from a small bit of root due to the generous 4" of rain we got back in April.  That's all I can figure.  It waited fifteen years???  Wow.   

Second, found last year, and pulled as a weed, I replanted this because I wondered what it was:

Hesperoaloe parviflora?   Hesperoyucca whipplei?  But how did it appear in my garden?  H. whipplei is native to the area.  A bird dropped a seed?  A mystery.     

Another oddity:  a strange cloud in the sky.  It resembled a butterfly.

That's what it looked like to me, anyway.
That's wazzup here.  Birds and squirrels eating and storing acorns.  Plants cut back.  Not much else.


  1. That cloud did look like a butterfly, especially with the rainbow coloration on the right side. The drill is pretty much the same here, without all the acorn-related activity. We peaked at around 92F here today.

    1. Today is supposedly the peak heat, then slow cooling. The air is very hot and still, no breeze at all. Stagnant, even.

  2. Oooo ... I like how you've drawn the butterfly in the sky. We have purple air again, but at least this time it coincides with the heatwave and it won't be so frustrating as it was when the weather was good but the air quality required you stay in the house.

    1. Purple air again, oh, yuck. Still it is much worse up north. Much, much worse. :(

  3. It is always fun to find things happening in the garden. 15 years is a long time for a root to hang on. Maybe it was a seed that was sitting there that long?? It will be interesting to see what that seedling is when it grows up. I wouldn't get anything done in the garden from watching the birds caching acorns if I were you. ha...

    1. I was amazed at how focused the woodpeckers are. Back and forth back and forth for hours. I was watching them pull acorns off the oak, they twist around, end upside down--rather comical!

  4. Despite the heatwave it's nice to see blue sky especially with the 'butterfly'. I had just listened to the lead author on the woodpecker study talking on the radio. Pretty violent for birds. A bit of an anthropological link to some of our more unsavory behaviours.

    1. Here it is clouds that are the novelty sky, lol.

      Yes the description of war-like Acorn Woodpecker massacres was very creepy, and...reflects as you say some of our species' unsavory traits. Watching the woodpeckers--they are very focused, task-intent birds. The mockingbirds on the other hand, sometimes it seem they sing purely for the joy of it, for the beauty of it.

  5. There is a saying over here that a large crop of acorns comes before a hard winter. And we’re clearing them up by the bucket load, never seen so many. When they fall on your head you know about it too, as I found out to my cost. I can do without a hard winter over here, on top of everything else. But if it brings you some rain? I shall keep my fingers crossed for us both.

    1. Here, a large crop of acorns comes after a rainy winter. We don't really have winters that are "hard"--it is our fire seasons that are. Fall on your head? Ow!

      Hope your back is feeling better.

      Fingers crossed for the whole planet at this point. Please keep your fingers crossed for the US on November 3rd. We need all the good wishes we can get. Anyone with any brains in their head is terrified.

    2. I will indeed keep my fingers crossed, I have been following developments (and polls) avidly and watched the ‘highlights’ of the debate on the BBC. Well, for as long as I could bear it. Which wasn’t very long.


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