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Friday, October 30, 2015

Santana Winds Come to Los Angeles October 29, 2015

The Santana Winds have come to Los Angeles.
 October 29, 2015

The term "Santana winds" is said to have originated in Spanish California when the hot, dry winds were called "devil winds."

Maybe you've heard of them as "SANTA ANA WINDS"? 

At the turn of the last century, an Associated Press correspondent mistakenly identified Santana winds as "Santa Ana" winds in a 1901 dispatch.

Raymond Chandler wrote a 1938 short story about them called 
 "Red Wind"
"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks.
Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."

View a video from our yard as the winds parch the drought stressed plants early the  morning....
 And view more in Southern California : at
View more videos!
 (CA towhee, band-tailed pigeons, ruby-crowned kinglet, Bewick's wren, CA desert tortoise) 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Discover the Headwaters of the Los Angeles River

Do you know the L.A. River? Really?

Discover the River walkway from the Headwaters to DeSoto Ave.


They say the river begins where Bell Creek and the Calabasas Arroyo combine. Since the 1940s that location has been fixed just north of the intersection of Owensmouth and Vanowen in Canoga Park. (Just a skip away from the Topanga Mall.)

The sculpted 'V' of the waters coming together forms a jut of land that is topped with the Canoga Park High School sports field. From Owensmouth east, a foot path has been added along the River. Native plants provide habitat for butterflies and birds, while thin riffles of water flow over narrow sandbars on a cement stream bed. 

It's quite beautiful really: the lines of the bridges, sweeping fins of concrete, heron-themed gateways.  

During a walk from Owensmouth to DeSoto and back, I saw a variety of bird species, including yellow-rumped warblers, a pair of white-crowned sparrows, and a black phoebe. 

small group of migrating least sandpipers
 Least sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) were stopping to feed on watery insects. While, American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) played 'catch the stone' mid-air over the water.

There were views of the Santa Susana and Santa Monica Mountains, where the water originates.

Benches built along the pathway offer respite for a thoughtful moment. Trash cans and dog waste stations are plentiful. Walk the north side of the River and the path will take you under Canoga Ave.

I'm excited to embrace the L.A. River as a place to visit, but this ideal is fragile. Neglect and trash can quickly mar the opportunity. Let's take ownership of our river. Use the plentiful trash cans and dog stations. We have a chance to recreate something soulful and living. Let's not allow apathy and ignorance to destroy this chance for a Walk by the River.

Discover more walks with wildlife around Los Angeles
Hidden Gardens of L.A.

Other Rivers and Streams:
Hike Limekiln Canyon Park, CA (Pacific tree frog, western fence lizard) 
Malibu Creek - Feel the Cool in Malibu Creek State Park, CA 
Arroyo Seco - Angeles National Forest
Discover Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, CA  
The Voices of a River - (Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains, Nevada)
Floating the Outlet Stream - Squanga Lake, Yukon, Canada (arctic grayling)
Take a Cruise on the Yellow Water, Kakadu, Australia (birds & saltwater crocodile)


Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Tall Is a Redwood Tree?

It can be hard to understand the true size of a California coast redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) until you measure it out. 


That is exactly what school children from the Santa Barbara Charter School have done at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden as part of a temporary fiber arts installation. 

See more of the fiber arts in the garden.

Walk the length of the world's tallest tree: "Hyperion" a 379 ft California coast redwood tree.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden's redwoods are only 79-90 years old. They are still babies.

More Earth Minutes with:
California native plants
Morning in a Habitat Garden
Redwoods State & National Parks
Sequoia National Park - More than big trees 
Yucca Blooms on Angeles Crest Hwy

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

How Do Trees Dream?

In vivid color.

Take a walk through the dreams of trees and plants as envisioned at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Look for the "rain catcher."


fiber sculpture California poppy
"Dormant Dreams" is a temporary fiber arts installation by Yarn Blaster Babes and their collaborators at the Santa Barbara Fiber Arts Guild and students from Santa Barbara Charter School.

Especially in the quiet rain, you could hear the trees dreaming.

More Earth Minutes with CA native plants:

CA Native Plants with Leaves to Fight Drought

Morning in a Habitat Garden

CA Locations for Hiking

More Earth Minutes with Art:
Malibu Legacy Park
Walk to the Getty Center 
Temple of Aphrodite

Visit Weekly for a new Earth Minute

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Leaves on CA Native Plants Fight Drought

San Nicolas Island buckwheat
Despite the drought, you can still have green landscaping in California if you go native. Take a minute and appreciate the variety of leaves among our native plants.


These natives are green and healthy even at the end of a dry summer. 
CA coast redwood

How do they do it?  Adaptations to their leaves help them avoid moisture loss. 

Some leaves are fuzzy with tiny filaments that help break of the sun's pounding rays. A velvety leaf also reduces air movement across the surface, thereby reducing transpiration of moisture.

Waxy leaves help seal in moisture, also reducing transpiration. 

San Nicolas Island chamise
Narrow leaves reduce surface area exposed to the sun. Some plants like the fairy duster (Calliandra) respond to direct sunlight by closing up their leaves to further reduce exposure. When the sun is less severe, the narrow leaves unfurl and open wide.

sword fern
Many California native plants have evolved with combinations of these adaptations making them successful drought survivors and good choices for planting in yards.

Here is a list of the plants as they appear in the video:
  • hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ilicifolia) more on CA native cherry
  • ceanothus (Ceanothus variety of species) flowers in the spring
  • white sage (Salvia apiana)
  • San Nicolas Island buckwheat (Eriogonum grande timorum)
  • manzanita (Arctostaphylos variety of species)
  • hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ilicifolia
  • coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)
  • toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) more on toyon
  • lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia)
  • penstemon (Penstemon variety of species)
  • prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica)
  • San Nicolas Island chamise (Adenostoma fasciculaton 'Nicolas') See more of San Nicolas Island
  • pink fairduster (Calliandra eriophylla)
  • sword fern (Polystichium munitum)
  • CA coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
  • giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
  • Santa Rosa Island torrey pine (Pinus torreyana insularis)
  • western sycamore (Platanus racemosa)
  • mallow (Sphaeralcea variety of species)

See how native plants create habitat in a backyard

For more California Native plants see:
Visit Malibu Legacy Park - Hidden Gardens of L.A. #2
Visit Pierce College Botanical Garden - Hidden Gardens of L.A. #3
Visit Conejo Valley Botanical Garden - Hidden Gardens of L.A. #4

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