Taking Care of Our California Native Oaks

Taking Care of Our California Native Oaks

I love our majestic old native oaks here in California. And like many, I get distressed when I see one dying, especially from improper care.

Background: There are nine species of native tree oaks in California – In SoCA most of our live oaks (called ‘live oaks’ because they are green year-round, not deciduous) are Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) or Valley Oak (Quercus lobata). Scrub Oaks and the rarer Englemann Oaks are common ones in our area.

But back to dying oaks. [Read more...]

Big Bugs!

Big Bugs!

On the way to Pasadena to see family we stopped by a favorite place of ours – Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont CA- and they had this great exhibit of larger-than-life wood sculpture insects, David Rogers’ Big Bugs, which has been traveling since its 1994 debut in Dallas. It was so nice to see how popular it was with kids. As the exhibition guide says, it gives you a chance to imagine a world where insects (which outnumber us humans millions to one) gain a size advantage. [Read more...]

Plant Smarts: Do Plants Feel?

Plant Smarts: Do Plants Feel?

I’ve always been intrigued with research that shows that plants communicate and may even show feelings (see my experiences below) but am aware of skepticism surrounding the subject. There’s a 1973 book “The Secret Life of Plants” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird that talks about polygrapher Cleve Backster’s studies with plants. Briefly, Backster, a well-respected lie detector expert, on a whim attached electrodes to a leaf on his office dracaena plant, curious to see how it reacted. [Read more...]

Pesticide Use: Consider the Collateral Damage

Pesticide Use: Consider the Collateral Damage

Asian Citrus Psyllid

A couple things have prompted this post. First, we have a potentially devastating disease hitting citrus trees in SoCal with the arrival of an insect Asian Citrus Psyllid. To combat it, a pesticide spray composed of two common insecticides is being applied to local trees. Second, I read a Sierra magazine article called Parkinson’s Alley, on the high rate of Parkinson’s disease in a Central California town surrounded by high agricultural pesticide use. [Read more...]

Wine Drinkers: Choose Corked Wine

Wine Drinkers: Choose Corked Wine

During the last year I’ve read about the importance of cork trees and recently read another article on the topic in Living Bird magazine, which expressed concern that wine bottlers were replacing cork stoppers with plastic or screw caps.

Main takeaway: The cork stopper in your wine bottle represents a rich history, vital income for generations of Europeans and a key to conserving European birds, plants and a number of endangered species. [Read more...]

Tree Pruning: Resist Topping Trees

Tree Pruning: Resist Topping Trees

Here in southern California, and especially in our city of Redlands, which is bestowed with 100+ year old trees, we have an epidemic of terrible tree trimming. Also, tree topping or pollarding seems to be rampant, prompting a columnist in the local paper to call it a plague. (columnist’s short version)

Case in point: A neighbor of ours had his 3 foot diameter lemon bark eucalyptus tree topped a year ago, leaving one sorry dangling branch of leaves (see photo below). [Read more...]

The Value of Old Growth Trees

The Value of Old Growth Trees

We’ve lived in Southern California now for 9 years and several years ago moved to Redlands, CA. This city has a long history dating back to the 1880s where it became the winter home for many wealthy Mid-westerners, similar to Pasadena. One thing that attracted us the most were Redland’s numerous old trees, many dating back 100 plus years. [Read more...]