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January in the foothills: barefoot wandering at Santiago Oaks Regional Park

January 16, 2012

After a wonderful three days of sitting and learning in San Diego at the California Native Plant Society State Conference on Jan. 12-14, I was ready for some face-time with native plants yesterday.

So . . . off to Santiago Oaks Regional Park, my favorite place to wander–it’s an easy 15-minute drive through Orange to a whole other world of native plants and creatures. Although it’s been grazed and burned and invaded by non-native annuals and slashed through with trails, it remains a place of beauty and biodiversity . . . here’s a few images from my wanders:

After three days in shoes, this is how I spell relief.

.

I saw six deer, in two groups a couple miles apart. Here's one.

Mule deer mean mountain lions might be near; I always feel safe in my backward-looking cap (since mountain lions only go for fleeing prey, right?)

Just a few newly blooming wild flowers: this is the only wild hyacinth I saw in over two hours (Dichelostemma capitatum)

I also found one spot along the Bumble Bee trail where a few red paintbrush were growing and glowing (Castilleja affinis)

It's called "twiggy wreath" 'cause the flowers come right out of . . . twigs

Flowers on twigs = twiggy wreath plant. Stephanomeria virgata is the scientific name; "virgata" means "wand-like"

Raindrops on the trail–nothing smells better!

Mule deer does and fawns at Santiago Oaks.

The CNPS conference was an excellent learning experience, full of interesting sessions about all-things-native-plants–and so many knowledgeable and friendly¬† experts in so many different areas. It’s going to take me a while to go through my pages of conference-session notes and process it all–and make a few poems out of the experience, I hope.

The conference really made me realize (as if I needed reminding!) what a wonderful ecological treasure our Southern California wildlands are. The challenge remains: make sure everyone in SoCal gets a chance to experience them, learn to love them, work to preserve them.

Step one (according to Rick Halseyof the Chaparral Institute): NEVER use the word “brush” when referring to our local flora. Start with “chaparral” . . . learn what that means, and the appreciation will follow.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2012 5:58 pm

    What a delightful blog, love the photos, your passion for the land. I too hike the hills, mostly around Laguna Beach, that’s where I live and where I hike with my dogs. Hardly any place to do that anymore.

    • January 23, 2012 8:25 pm

      Hi Thea. I was just here two days before you. Unfortunately, I missed the deer (and the flowers). I must not have been paying close enough attention. Lovely photos of the wildflowers!!

      [K]

      • January 27, 2012 8:41 pm

        Hi Kim–thanks for the nice note! I checked out your blog and enjoyed the stories/photos as well. The wildflowers at Santiago Oaks are few and far between, but they are there. And today I was privileged to see a coyote in the middle of the day; it was windy and he didn’t see/hear me coming around the turn. We both sort of jumped sideways, and then he loped away up a brushy gully.

    • January 27, 2012 8:35 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. The South Coast Wilderness around Laguna Beach is a wonderful place to hike (and live! you are so fortunate!). If you want more info on hiking w/ dogs in and around Orange County, I highly recommend the blog trailingfriday.com — the author is on a mission to visit and write about all the dog-friendly hikes in OC and beyond…lots of great pictures and trail descriptions (and of course, Friday the dog).

      Happy Trails!

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