Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrating The First Day of Spring 2017

This year the Vernal Equinox finds Southern California lush from winter rains. The garden is flush with flowers. The Lady Banks rose has more blooms than leaves. While she isn't a native, the birds love this thatch of thorn-less climbing rose. The house finches and white-crowned sparrows actually nibble on the rose buds. It is a great place for small birds to hide when the Cooper's hawk is on the prowl.

Several natives are in bloom already. It has taken this ceanothus (snow flurry) years to establish itself, but this year the white blooms are stark against the deep green foliage. Typically our blue-colored ceanothus (concha) is more visible.

The native verbena have been strong bloomers throughout the years of drought. Several of the sparrow and finch species explore beneath them. They may be eating tiny seeds produced by the plants or be thinning out the native insects that are attracted to this flowering species.

Rising summer temperatures in our area have pushed us to incorporate more natives from Baja Mexico into our backyard habitat. This Euphorbia xanti, or Baja spurge, flowers in spring and has tiny green leaves year round. It can be invasive, but up on our hillside it helps with erosion, is drought tolerant, and provides another thatch for avian parents to leave their youngsters. It has served as a play pen for our California towhees and Bewick's wrens. The maze of tiny branches provides roosting and protection for young birds left on their own during parts of the day.

While native plants are a priority for me, I have to admit that two of my favorite flowers in the yard right now are decorative non-natives: the wisteria and the clivia.

Named in honor of Lady Clive, Charlotte Percy the Duchess of Northumberland, in the early 1800s, Clivia miniata, or Kaffir lily, are beautifully flowering plants from shadowy forests of Africa. They are incredibly sturdy. The hybrid individuals in our yard came with us to this house over 20 years ago. They were separated from ancestors in Pasadena about 30 years ago. Clivia are somewhat drought tolerant if planted in shady protected locations. And if they don't seem to be thriving, you can dig them up and move them. Some of my plants have been moved three or four times before finding a location with protection, but enough morning sun to inspire blooming. One huge plus: the gopher won't eat them.

The Wisteria sinensis is a Chinese import, but known for adapting to Southern California weather. My wisteria is doing fine in a pot on the patio. It is also drought tolerant, but in a pot requires closer water attention. Not only are the blooms natural art, the valley carpenter bees love to visit them. This surprises me, but I am thankful that such a beautiful flower plays an important role in my backyard habitat. The hummingbirds also like to sit on its thin vine stems.

On this first day of spring. Take a moment to refresh your mind and spirit with the new life around you. Our first hummingbird chicks of the year fledged on Friday and the Bewick wrens have seven eggs in their nest. Soon the yard will be filled with baby birds.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

L.A. Women's March Jan. 21, 2017 - Activists Should Come Together

Where were you on Jan. 21, 2017?

Yesterday was a historical day. You felt that in your bones if you marched in one of the Women's Marches and saw images of like-engergized people around the world. 

I've heard disgruntled people saying "The election is over, stop whining." To these people I say "You are missing the point."

The president, his administration, and ALL of our elected officials need to hear the voices of the democracy. The people have the responsibility to speak out.

  • We marched to support women's rights, from Choice, to equal pay, to health care, to civil treatment around the world.
  • We marched for a healthy environment for our children and the future.
  • We marched for justice and fair treatment for all people, ALWAYS.

In Los Angeles we experienced a respectful, joyous, merging of all ages, racial backgrounds, sexual identities, religious faiths, and political priorities. If you hear someone speaking words of fear mongering and hate, claims of violence at the March in L.A., you are not hearing the truth. Ask what that source has to gain from those statements? Are they trying to silence your voice?

If you want to know what happened at one of the Women's Marches, talk directly to someone who was there. So many people were involved, that someone you know or have a connection to, marched. Ask a participant, reach out to a primary source. Here's our video of the day.

As a white woman, active in women's rights and environmental issues, marching beside activists from other priorities was a moment of awakening. When Black Lives Matters activists or Marriage Equality & LGBTG activists are marginalized, I am marginalized. When immigrants or people of any religious group are marginalized just for who they are, I am marginalized. When women are treated as second class citizens, humanity suffers. When the environment is compromised, the future is threatened for us all.

Let's galvanize the powerful inclusion demonstrated around the world on Jan. 21, 2017. Let's come to the table to find common strengths and shared values. Let's open our minds and hearts to understand each other and work toward shared solutions.

Divided we are issue activists. United we are unstoppable.

Why is the Endangered Species Act important?