Great hikes:  Desert Wildflowers (& why to support conservation efforts)

Great hikes: Desert Wildflowers (& why to support conservation efforts)

Wow. Yesterday I wanted to go for a hike and headed to the Whitewater Preserve close to Palm Springs. The Whitewater River flows into dammed pools of water, which became a trout fishery for many years, but no hiking into the canyon was permitted. That is, until the Wildands Conservancy was able to buy it, saving it from becoming a housing development. The Pacific Crest Trail weaves through it and I hiked a portion of it yesterday – with no expectations of the beautiful scenery and wildflowers galore.  [Read more...]

School’s Native Plants Attract Higher Test Scores

School’s Native Plants Attract Higher Test Scores

I was out of town last week, but my husband forwarded me a Los Angeles Times article called Just Attracting, Naturally.  The front page article featured an urban LA school’s native landscaping that ended up “attracting insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their test scores in science rose sixfold” according to the article.

[Read more...]

Pesticides Negatively Affect Human Health

Pesticides Negatively Affect Human Health

You’ve likely seen the headlines the last few days. In our local paper, the Los Angeles Times’ “Pesticides suspected in mass die-off of bees discussed mounting evidence that pesticides negatively impact bees. I’ve written two prior posts on the collateral damage of pesticides on wildlife – this one addresses human health effects. I think my aversion to pesticides started when my father would get out the can of Raid and spray it on the wasps attracted to our plates of food when we ate outside on hot summer days in Chicago. That led to many a battle between us. If he was still alive, I’m sure we would have a lively discussion on the mounting evidence. [Read more...]

Animal Tracks: Bear, Coyotes and…. a robin

Animal Tracks: Bear, Coyotes and…. a robin

People in snowy climates are lucky in one regard – they can see great animal tracks after snowfalls. Here in So. California I need to drive a half hour up to the mountains. The last two times I’ve seen some interesting tracks in the snow. On yesterday’s hike to a favorite area of mine  (Jenks Lake off Hwy 38  -San Bernardino National Forest, close to Big Bear) I got to see coyotes stalking, of all things, ducks on the lake.

[Read more...]

Helping Ourselves through Conservation

Helping Ourselves through Conservation

I heard an amazing speaker last month here in Redlands CA – Peter Raven – a world leader in conservation who TIME Magazine has described as a “Hero for the Planet.” Awarded the highest U.S. award for scientific accomplishment (Medal of Science), Raven is the long-time president of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, oldest botanical garden in the U.S., a former Stanford University professor renowned in botany. [Read more...]

Critters in Lawns versus Native Landscapes

Critters in Lawns versus Native Landscapes

As I mentioned in my blog on replacing our lawn with native and drought-tolerant plants our landscaping now offers a home for a variety of butterflies, birds, lizards and insects.

What took over our dead lawn soon within weeks after planting?

  • An Anna’s hummingbird claimed the new landscape soon after we planted
  • One pair of California towhees immediately started working the ground, mining the pillbugs that have multiplied under the mulch (as well as attacking the mirrors on our vehicles parked nearby, the male I assume…)
  •  Others include numerous ladybugs that eat the aphids, an assortment of butterflies, and yes, plenty of bees.  [Read more...]
Wildlife Cam Shots–While You’re Sleeping

Wildlife Cam Shots–While You’re Sleeping

Nothing like a wildlife camera to show what’s out on your property — We live in a suburban area on a half acre, 2 houses from a golf course. There is an alley in back, where I saw coyotes trotting by one early morning, so figured there were more critters to be had. We’ve also preserved native plant habitat and are creating more, so wondered what was out there when we were sleeping or not looking. [Read more...]