January at Rancho

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On Saturday at Rancho I taught the class, From Lawn to Garden (see presentations). More and more people are interested in removing their lawns in favor of … well something more interesting. It is exciting to hear what people want to do and how they are going about doing it.

The class was more of a how-to, not so much on why. The reason why seems to be getting out there. Still for those who remain unconvinced, I recommend the book by Douglas W. Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home. Although it has an east coast (Pennsylvania) perspective, the argument holds wherever you are. Just started reading this – been meaning to for some time now – and it is excellent! There are awesome pictures and lots of information on how and why.

But back to Rancho. After the talk, and a bit of visiting with former colleagues, I took a walk through the Garden, spending most of my time in the Communities (the wilder part of the garden). And this is what I saw…

Backlit goldenbush (Ericameria pinifolia).

One of my favorite plants, mortonia (Mortonia utahensis) in bloom. I have taken so many pictures of this plant because I love its leaves, flowers, shape, color, but mostly its unusual texture.

These pictures are in no particular order, so here I am back at the front of the garden taking a picture of the oldest living plant in the collection, ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), planted I believe in 1951. It often looks kind of dead – but with a bit of rain it leafs out as it is doing here.

The sugar bush (Rhus ovata) has these wonderfully colorful flower buds at this time of the year. When I staffed the Garden Hotline, many visitors asked what this plant was. When asked to describe it, they noted the deep pink to red “berries.” No matter how much I tried to convince them that these were flower buds, they often remained sure they were berries.

And indeed it is “arcto season.” Some have finished up blooming, others are still in bud and many are in glorious flower (Arctostaphylos insularis).

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita).

Rainbow manzanita (Arctostaphylos rainbowensis) is a CNPS rare and endangered listed plant, and endemic to – only found in – California. This southern Californian is doing very well outside the Seed House.

I’ve enjoyed this large, floriferous shrub for years. I believe it is Arctostaphylos catalinae.

A visit to Rancho without a stopping off to see the grandest plant of all would be lacking. I’ve taken so many pictures of this ancient coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and none does it justice. It has an aura about it than can never be captured.

It is spring here, and the western sycamores (Platanus racemosa) know it.

And finally a picture in the desert area of the communities. The mortonia is in front with yuccas and cacti, manzanitas behind, and the mountains beneath clouds in the background.

5 thoughts on “January at Rancho

  1. lostlandscape(James)

    I agree that the mortonia has lots of character that lets it coexist on an equal footing with the strong forms of cactus and other desert dwellers. CNPLX shows that it's available from one source only–Rancho–hmmmm, another reason to try to make it up for a visit during this prime time of year.

  2. That mortonia is a new one for me. Looking at the upturned, small leaves, it probably doesn&#39;t like too much fog and other Bay Area weather hijinks, does it?<br />Gorgeous photos, Barbara- those manzanitas make me wish I were a hummingbird!

  3. James – Not sure about how many Rancho has for sale though they certainly seem to well out in the communities with a bit of neglect. <br /><br />Christine – probably not so good with fog, but who knows. It is a great looking plant. The manzanitas were a buzz with bees also. Some bees even &quot;stole&quot; the pollen by drillng holes in the flowers. Thieves everywhere!

  4. A wonderful peek into Rancho Santa Ana – really interesting plants and views! I&#39;m also a sucker for sculptural looking plants with interesting structure.

  5. Great manzanita pic.&#39;s…

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