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Archive for March, 2009

Las Pilitas 3/28/2009

 

The Las Pilitas nursery had a wide selection of native plants for all your native plant needs.

The Las Pilitas nursery had a wide selection of native plants for all your native plant needs.

 

 

I think this term I’ve gotten to know the I-15 freeway quite well, considering how often I seem to be driving on it now. Not that that’s a bad thing, it really isn’t, it’s just more of a comment really. Saturday March 28 seemed like a good day to head to Las Pilitas nursery (I didn’t have work that day, so I figured why not take a trip out that way and do a little exploring?) So, my mom and I took my car (I get slightly better gas mileage with my RAV4 than she does with her Highlander, but it isn’t really too much of a difference. Probably about 5 mpg or so, so not a HUGE difference. Also, I do a little more driving than she does, so I kind of know my way around these areas). So up we went to Las Pilitas, which I must say, was a very pleasant drive (there wasn’t too much traffic on the freeway). After about 45 minutes (at least, that’s what Google maps said it would take. I think it was a little less), we arrived and it was rather warm. I don’t really like really warm weather, but this wasn’t too bad. Only about 79 degrees, which was tolerable. 

We wandered around quite a bit, taking pictures of all sorts of native plants and I must say, it was a nice little nursery. I don’t recall seeing so many native plants in one area (ok, maybe the Wild Animal Park and Quail Gardens could be put into that category as well), but there were certainly a lot plants that I don’t recall seeing when I was visiting those other places. 

 

This is a shot of some blue-eyed grass, which doesn't really look all that blue, but it is a native plant and would probably look good, surrounding some oak tree.

This is a shot of some blue-eyed grass, which doesn't really look all that blue, but it is a native plant and would probably look good, surrounding some oak tree.

The above blue-eyed grass was definitely one plant I hadn’t, or didn’t recall seeing before. I don’t know why it was called blue-eyed grass because it sure didn’t look that blue to me, unless it’s supposed to be sad, but it didn’t really look that way to me either. It looked more cheerful if anything. 

I think there was one plant there that we really both liked. That was the Joyce Coulter Ceanothus (my mom had to buy that plant because her name is Joyce and it just seemed fitting). Truly a pretty little native plant that we were going to plant somewhere on our back hill, which would look very pretty once it really takes off.

My mom had to get this plant. She just fell in love with the color. It's kind of hard to see the little purple flower on it, but it is there.

My mom had to get this plant. She just fell in love with the color. It's kind of hard to see the little purple flower on it, but it is there.

We continued to wander around, taking pictures of all sorts of native plants. There were so many different kinds of mallow that I didn’t even know existed. There was the tree mallow and bush mallow, both I don’t remember seeing on any of our other trips. Both were pretty, although they both looked the same. Still, I thought they were both pretty would make nice plants for the yard. 

 

This was the bush mallow in bloom. I don't remember it having much of a fragrance, but I think it did.

This was the bush mallow in bloom. I don't remember it having much of a fragrance, but I think it did.

This was the tree mallow. Didn't seem to have any flowers on it, but it did look a little similar to the bush mallow.

This was the tree mallow. Didn't seem to have any flowers on it, but it did look a little similar to the bush mallow.

All and all, the trip was pleasant, albeit a bit warm and a lot of fun. I wouldn’t mind taking another trip back out there again some time in the near future. There were so many wondeful plants and the area itself was pastoral and peaceful.

This was a shot of a nearby oak tree and some scrub. Just a small sampling of the area surrounding the nursery.

This was a shot of a nearby oak tree and some scrub. Just a small sampling of the area surrounding the nursery.

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Quail Gardens was a wonderful little excursion in my own backyard. It was fun visiting there, since I hadn’t been there in quite sometime. We decided that Wednesday would be the perfect day, since I didn’t have to work that day and the weather was perfect. We had originally planned on just going for breakfast at the local Coco’s, but I grabbed my camera and decided that we head to Quail Gardens afterwards. 

After a tasty breakfast of omlettes and waffles (they do have good waffles), we hopped in my RAV4 and away we went…which was less than a mile and we arrived at Quail Gardens where we hiked all around, looking at the many different plants. We took more time with the California native plants, since that was mainly what we went there for. Of course, there were other plants to look at, which we took time for afterwards, but the native plants took priority. 

 

Jojoba is native plant that the Native Americans used for medicines. Also found in many lotions today for its nutritive properties.

Jojoba is native plant that the Native Americans used for medicines. Also found in many lotions today for its nutritive properties.

The collection of plants that Quail Gardens had was immense. There were so many plants that I don’t think we had encountered on other field trips (maybe that’s not entirely true, but there were some that I don’t remember seeing). Anyway, we headed over to the California native garden and noticed a local resident “sampling” some of the lawn. I guess he was just doing his part to keep the lawn trimmed. If you haven’t guessed already, that little local was none other than a cute, little, bunny rabbit, out for a midday snack.

A "local" having a snack, or possibly doing his part to keep the lawn trimmed. With the economy being what it is, the park should be glad he works for free!

A "local" having a snack, or possibly doing his part to keep the lawn trimmed. With the economy being what it is, the park should be glad he works for free!

It was definitely a good time of year to go, since many of the plants were just starting to bloom or were already in bloom. The lemonade berry was in bloom and we thought it was pretty plant. I explained to my mom that the berries have a sour taste and taste just like lemon candy. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any berries on the plant, so I couldn’t show her (she wouldn’t have eaten them anyway). Oh well, maybe next time. 

 

The flowers of the Lemonade Berry. Unfortunately, I didn't see any berries on it, so much for tasting them.

The flowers of the Lemonade Berry. Unfortunately, I didn't see any berries on it, so much for tasting them.

As we continued our hike, we trekked on over to the Native People, Native Plants area of the gardens to see what else was over there. There were other plants that we didn’t see over at the other native plant garden. I didn’t see many signs or indicators for a lot of the plants, saying they were native (I guess there was a lot of overgrowth covering them up. Either that, or the lizards ate them). However, there was sign that did mention what the natives used some of the plants for.  Some such uses of some native plants were medicines, food, poultices, and seasonings.

An informative sign, describing some the uses of native plants.

An informative sign, describing some the uses of native plants.

 

Another informative sign about native plants that we discovered while we wander the gardens.

Another informative sign about native plants that we discovered while we wander the gardens.

After we explored the native plant gardens, we explored the rest of Quail Botanical Gardens and found some very interesting topiaries. They were very clever, being shaped like people and all. It was a cool way to shape ivy, and give it a little personality as well. 

 

This topiary was one of the most interesting ones I've seen. A lady of ivy, whom I appropriately nicknamed, "Ivy."

This topiary was one of the most interesting ones I've seen. A lady of ivy, whom I appropriately nicknamed, "Ivy."

Quail Botanical Gardens was a lot of fun and I will definitely go back there, since it’s so close. There were numerous little gardens all blended together. They were truly inspirational and truly enjoyable. I always enjoyed flowers and gardens and this garden was no exception.

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Indian Rock was an interesting little location, that being in the middle of Suburbia. Looking at it from a distance, you would think of it as just some ordinary field, surrounded by a fence and in the middle of the suburbs. Well, that’s what it does look like from afar, but when you get closer, you find it’s a lot more than that. The truth is, it was once used as a women’s ritual site, where such fertility rites were performed.

The central rock of the site, defaced by taggers. Such a shame that people think they have to deface such sacred property.

The central rock of the site, defaced by taggers. Such a shame that people think they have to deface such sacred property.

The crowning rock is surrounded by ruins of what looks like a house. According to one of our guides, there was a house there at one time, but I guess it burned down or was torn down after it was abandoned. On the rock, there were a few pictographs, although the graffiti took away from that beauty. It really is a shame people think they just deface anything they want. It’s downright disrespectful and not to mention illegal (well, I’m not really sure about the illegal aspect of it, but I’m sure it probably has to be in some, if not all, jurisdictions). Still, it was truly an interesting site to go to. Who knew such a site existed in suburban Vista and the view was simply amazing. You could see all Calavera Hills (located in Carlsbad), Camp Pendleton (at least I think was Camp Pendleton), some nameless hills (I just called them Generic Hills, since there really wasn’t a name for them), and the hills overlooking CSUSM. 

 

The hills of San Marcos as seen from the rock. I was told it looks like a woman lying down. Look at it hard enough and you'll see what I mean

The hills of San Marcos as seen from the rock. I was told it looks like a woman lying down. Look at it hard enough and you'll see what I mean.

 The guides we had were very informative and gladly explained and showed us some the ecology and plant life of that area. Many of the plants were definitely native, but there were a few that seemed to have blown in and blended in with the area. One native plant, called stinging lupin was a plant that helped to clean up the area by enriching the soil and making room for other plants to grow. It was definitely called stinging lupin for a reason–it would sting you if you touched. Pretty plant, but stay clear if you don’t want to get poked. Also, another plant that I found interesting around here was the wild cucumber (no, this isn’t the kind that tastes good on those little tea sandwiches, it’s a wild, pointier version that’s rather toxic). This plant looked like nothing I’ve ever seen, but I sure thought it was kind of cool.

This is a cucumber pod. Looks like something from another planet, but it's actually from Earth. Don't eat it, it is poisonous.

This is a cucumber pod. Looks like something from another planet, but it's actually from Earth. Don't eat it, it is poisonous.

 

 

 

This was some of the stinging lupin. I wouldn't recommend touching it, that is, if you want to feel a slight burning sensation on your hand.

This was some of the stinging lupin. I wouldn't recommend touching it, that is, if you want to feel a slight burning sensation on your hand.

 

Our guides explaining the area and the many different plants to us. Truly an informative field trip.

Our guides explaining the area and the many different plants to us. Truly an informative field trip.

I must say that trip itself was really interesting. I think on this trip I saw a few more creatures around here than I have on previous trips (ok, so I saw more animals at the Wild Animal Park, but that was zoo, so it’s technically kind of different. You’re not actually seeing them in the wild. Here, there were a few more animals to see that were wild, not that the suburbs are all that wild…though I suppose they could be). It was still pretty interesting to see so many lizards and butterflies roaming around. 

I really enjoyed this trip immensely. There were so many different plants that I don’t think I’ve seen on other trips as well as more animal life, such as lizards, ladybug larva, and butterflies, just to name a few. This truly was a pretty cool field trip. 

 

A couple lizards were nice enough to pose for me as they sunned themselves on the central rock. There were a lot of these fellows running all over the place. I don't think I've seen so many lizards in one area at one time.

A couple lizards were nice enough to pose for me as they sunned themselves on the central rock. There were a lot of these fellows running all over the place. I don't think I've seen so many lizards in one area at one time.

 

Capturing butterflies is hard to do, but fortunately I was in the right place at the right time.

Capturing butterflies is hard to do, but fortunately I was in the right place at the right time.

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Our trip to Rincon was pleasant, a little on the warm side that day, but pleasant nonetheless. I thought it was kind of fun to be getting down and dirty, planting some of the native plants for the reservation’s ethnobotanical trail. I really had fun participating in that activity because it really made me feel good to volunteer, helping out a community. I don’t really get many opportunities to do things like that. I also really enjoy getting myself in the dirt ( yes, I was one of those kids who loved making mud pies and just playing in the mud, sand, dirt, etc. when I was kid. I still enjoy that now.) They say dirt (or mud, but we didn’t really use mud) is supposed to be good for you, so I guess I did something…healthy? Ok, I didn’t eat the dirt (eww!), but I certainly dug around in it. I was happier than a pig in slophouse! (Well, maybe that’s a little too messy, but you get the idea). 

 

Toyon was just one of the many plants my group and I planted.

Toyon was just one of the many plants my group and I planted.

There were a good many plants that my group and I planted. Toyon was on of them and I think we planted that one somewhere near the middle of the trail, near the first bench. It was either the toyon or a plant that seemed to look like it.  We also planted the black sage, which I think is one of my favorite plants, simply because it smells quite good and just has a very relaxing scent.

Some of the sage my group and I planted. Has a very nice, relaxing smell. Kind of earthy, a little woodsy, and just all around pleasant.

Some of the sage my group and I planted. Has a very nice, relaxing smell. Kind of earthy, a little woodsy, and just all around pleasant.

After digging for awhile, it seemed like a good time to take break, and what better way to take a break, but to take a hike (by hike I mean a small stroll to the nearby riverbed. There wasn’t any water in it, but it was still nice little stroll). I enjoyed that little trek, since it helped me to learn more about some of the native and not so native plants that reside in our state. One of the non-native plants that I encountered was called mustard weed. Pretty plant, but I get the feeling that it wouldn’t really be that tasty on a hot dog ( I realize that was a pretty bad joke, but can you blame me? Mustard. Hot dog. Yeah, I realize that wasn’t one of my best.) Well, it was a non-native plant that I thought was pretty, but it was also pretty invasive and was one of those plants that needed to be controlled or removed altogether. 

 

This little beauty is a non-native mustard weed. Controlling plants like these encourages native plants to thrive much better.

This little beauty is a non-native mustard weed. Controlling plants like these encourages native plants to thrive much better.

The area surrounding the reservation was really awe-inspiring. It sure made the perfect backdrop for some wonderful gardening. The view itself was definitely beautiful, being surrounded by the mountains and hills. Sure it seemed isolated, but it was nice just being away from civilization for awhile. 

 

A view such as this really inspired people to work and the air was most refreshing indeed.

A view such as this really inspired people to work and the air was most refreshing indeed.

What I thought I was pretty neat about that area we all were in was that as we were digging and taking pictures was that you could look across the field and see the Harrah’s Rincon Casino. It seemed so out of place, as well as being the only real civilization from miles around. It seemed a little out of place and yet it was also very interesting and just kind of amusing in a way. 

 

Harrah's Rincon Casino, as seen from the Rincon Reservation.

Harrah's Rincon Casino, as seen from the Rincon Reservation.

I enjoyed the trip and really enjoyed getting down and dirty. As with all rewarding hard work, I was exhausted and partly achy, using muscles I didn’t really know I had. It was tiring, but totally worthwhile and I felt good about doing something like that. If the opportunity to plant something for a community, organization, etc., I’ll probably be there, getting grubby and just having fun.

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Pechanga 3/9/2009

Pechanga was an interesting trip, which I really enjoyed. I really had no idea where it was ( I knew it was located way out in the boondocks and not any place really local). I didn’t realize that the Pechanga Reservation was located in Temecula (not that that’s a bad thing, I just didn’t realize we’d be out in Riverside County. I hadn’t really been there until that day.  I must say the view from where we gathered was absolutely breathtaking, albeit a little chilly and not to mention windy.

One of the many awe-inspiring views of the area.

One of the many awe-inspiring views of the area.

It was interesting to learn about cultural revitalization among the youth of the Pechanga tribe and how many of the kids of the tribe learn to make  a variety of grown-up decisions.  One of the most beautiful areas on the reservation was the Cove, which was the entry to the little village of willow huts, used for the cultural revitalization program they have in the summer.

The Cove was beautiful a part of the reservation

The Cove was beautiful a part of the reservation

Our guide, Willie Pink, was very knowledgeable about all the goings on on the reservation as well as many of the native plants that grow around here. I for one didn’t know about yucca having the similar flavor as that of pumpkin or sweet potato. I knew yucca was a native plant, but I didn’t know that it could be substituted for pumpkin in a pie recipe.

Our guide, Willie Pink, demonstrating how to prepare a willow reed for weaving a basket.

Our guide, Willie Pink, demonstrating how to prepare a willow reed for weaving a basket.


 
 
Yucca is a native plant that can be used for a pumpkin-flavored pie. Tasty!

Yucca is a native plant that can be used for a pumpkin-flavored pie. Tasty!

 

This live coastal oak is the largest I've ever seen at over 100 feet high!

This live coastal oak is the largest I've ever seen at over 100 feet high!

I think one of the most awe-inspiring things we saw on this trip was the Great Oak. That tree was quite large and the age is unknown and the size of it was immense. The tree itself is estimated to be anywhere from 500 to 2000 years old, possibly older. It just looked like that that kind of tree you’d like to climb, but doing so wouldn’t be a good idea since it would be disrespecting the land and its people, so it wouldn’t be nice or noble thing to do.

All in all, I found the trip to be very enjoyable and I really learned a lot about the area and how the tribal elders are trying to make their youth more active in reservation affairs as well as trying to revitalize their heritage and make them aware of their history.

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When I heard about the field trip to the Wild Animal Park was excited. I hardly ever get a chance to go there, and I was really looking forward to it. I had a friend who I know would love to go (I pretty much twisted her arm to go. Well, not really, since she was already pretty willing to tag along.) We got kind of a late start, hoping that we’d make it on time. Travelling from the coast wasn’t too bad and blazed down the 15 south, battling traffic all the way, and pushing my RAV4 to her limits (well, not really her limits, but sure gave her engine a little work out. Thank God for excellent gas mileage!) For a Friday morning, why so many cars? Sure didn’t make a lick of sense to me. 

We made it to our destination a couple minutes late. We got our tickets and mingled around until we were able to go on our tour, which I must say was most interesting indeed. We hiked up a long hill to the very top of the park. I don’t think many people even knew about the native plant garden up behind the park, probably because no one wants to hike up that far and who can blame them, it’s a pretty steep climb.

 

Brittlebush is a native plant. Funny name, but doesn't really look all that brittle.

Brittlebush is a native plant. Funny name, but doesn't really look all that brittle.

The above image was from one the many plant species that are housed there. Brittlebush is a native plant and extends down into Baja California. Another interesting plant I encounter was bladderpod. It too has a funny name, but is also an interesting plant. Capped with yellow flowers and these little pods, that look like bladders, it’s hard to be unable to identify this unique plant.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one interested in this plant. This bug seemed right at home on this flower.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one interested in this plant. This bug seemed right at home on this flower.

 

 

 

There were also a good many plant species that I had no idea even existed in our area. It was fun to learn about many of the native plant species around here.  For instance, I hadn’t really known about how many of the plants were utilized by many of the Native Americans around here. I’d heard of yerba, but I never really knew what it was used for. Maren, our guide, was very informative, telling us how important it is for us to protect our environment and how conservation was very important for the well being of our world.

I think it was the first time I’ve been to that region of the park. I’ve usually done the basic and probably more well-traveled areas of the Wild Animal Park, but I think this was the first time I went to farthest part behind the park. My friend said it reminded her of being at sleep-away camp. She used to be a camp counselor for the Girl Scouts and while she said it was fun, she decided to pursue other interests. 

There were so many interesting plants and the whole tour (well, trip) was really interesting. I was very glad I went, learning more about the native plants and what they were used for.

A local resident of the Wild Animal Park.

A local resident of the Wild Animal Park.

 

I believe cat claw is used in medicines and vitamins.

I believe cat claw is used in medicines and vitamins.

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I have to say her work is very different than most photographer’s works I have seen. She addresses the issue of loss and death, giving it a form instead just an image with her photography. She seems to address the idea of death as a form of art in a way, making the concept of mortality seem tangible, instead of making it seem so etherial and mysterious. Furthermore, much of her work just seems to address the many aspects of life, such as childhood, family, joy, sadness, suffering, and even death. The way she orchestrates her photographs just seems so real and puts such realism that I don’t think has been seen for some time

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