We are enjoying a beautiful spring thanks to the late drenching rains that have nourished life on the mountain. New growth unfurls in the oak trees, the fruit trees are blooming. We avoided the devastation that could have caused much more loss of life, due to the welcome rain.
There is no artificial irrigation that can equal the penetrating enlivening quality of rain. The chaparral family of plants has tremendous power to hunker down, conserve moisture, and wait out the dry periods that occur periodically.
The little family of quail that forage on our place survived the drought. Birds are carrying nesting materials, and the hawks are soaring above. Great horned owls call to each other at night. Orioles are coming to our nectar feeder. I know the dry winter was very hard on wildlife, so it is good to see these signs of normalcy and a possible end to drought.
There has been very little growth of the ground cover this year in the Trout Club and even less in the drier rocky areas of the mountain. The wildflower bloom is minimal, but I have seen a few poppies and lupines on the Pass. The ceanothus is putting out a feeble bloom this year.
If you feel like celebrating spring with some planting consider salvias. White sage, black sage, hummingbird sage, and many others thrive in our dry soils. The Botanic Garden nursery has a nice selection and it will give you a chance to see the spectacular wildflower display in the large meadow.
The staff has torn out all the lawn and excess grasses to return it to the look it had back in the old days with extravagant wildflowers. You can also see the amazing recovery of the land since the 2009 wildfire. Nature’s power of regeneration is truly amazing.
We are cutting out all of the dry branches, dead trees, and detritus that we can reach in an effort to reduce fuel in the coming fire season. If ever there was a year to get serious about defensible space, this is it. We have had a reprieve with the recent showers, but that will probably end soon.
I have reduced my irrigation system to include more drip emitters, and I’ve torn out some thirsty plants in anticipation of a dry summer. The pictures that accompany this season’s column show the “parklike setting” we are working to achieve in the Trout Club.
The idea is to reduce “ladders” from the ground fuels to the canopy thereby starving fire that could spread from embers thrown by the wind. If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to leechiacos @gmail.com
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