Saturday, March 3, 2012

habitat ~ 03/03/12 ~ Jacks Peak County Park

Jacks Peak County Park
March 3, 2012

Sometimes I feel a bit ho-hum blogging about places that I often hike. I've already blogged about this rare native closed-cone Monterey pine forest, how Andy regularly runs to this highest peak of the Monterey Peninsula from home, and the incredible views one can have from this big hill. Given the nature of the Monterey pine forest, I haven't noticed too much change through the seasons or the years, and yet it still takes my breath away. With the very warm 83.1°F this day, the scent of the native pines was soothing and amazing. For one little tidbit of new info, Jacks Peak is named after the same man who sold the first Monterey Jack cheese.

what do other blogspot bloggers do?

Fremont's star-lily / death camas
Toxicoscordion fremontii (formerly Zigadenus fremontii)
Melanthiaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

While I was examining a couple shoots, a lady stopped to chat with me. She had a well-behaved dog who sat there panting patiently while we talked. Shocking, right? The dog didn't jump all over me or knock me over into the dirt, it didn't bark and growl at me, it didn't stick its slobbery nose up where it didn't belong, and it didn't rub me all over with poison oak. OK, I've previously maligned dog owners on trails, so, to be fair, I need to point out that I also meet many dogs and their owners who are quite respectable.

This lady is a local who regularly walks the trails at Jacks Peak. She remarked how all the star-lily blooms were very early this year because of the mild winter we've had. Yes, it has been an unusually mild winter here in CA, but I disagreed with her observation of early blooms (this is not to say early blooms haven't happened elsewhere). I told her I believed it was, in fact, the right time for star-lilies to be blooming. She was highly skeptical. Too bad I didn't have access to my blog, because I have photographic records of these plants blooming 3 weeks earlier in the season on February 11, 2011 here at Jacks Peak. I also have records of them blooming at Wilder Ranch on March 7, 2010 and Fort Ord on March 14, 2009. To me it's not surprising to see them blooming right now. Of course, they could continue to bloom for a while.

Part of why I started Nature ID and am so persnickety about backdating picture IDs to the date of my photos is to record when things occur. I already knew my memory is fickle. Had I not been keeping track of bloom dates like the Fremont's star-lily, I would have come to the same conclusion as the lady with her dog. However, I've slowed down in posting repeat IDs unless the date or some other observation is unusual. The reason for this is I've reached 66% of my blogspot storage capacity, and I'm starting to wonder what I'll do once I reach max capacity. I'd like to continue my blog for a while, because I know I have many more new IDs yet to make. One can purchase additional storage, but I'm not sure I want to go down that road.

What do other blogspot bloggers do when they reach maximum free photo space?

In addition, google made major changes throughout February 2012 with the way people can comment on blogspot. In response, I've been testing out the different comment features, which will be ongoing. I removed the CAPTCHA, because the word verification test to make sure you're not a robot became extraordinarily difficult to decipher. I'll admit that I sometimes skip commenting on someone else's blogspot if the CAPTCHA is too murky. For a couple weeks I was inundated with anonymous spam once I turned off word verification, but now for some reason those kinds of comments have ceased. Then, I also switched from my favorite of pop-up window to embedded comments. Embedded comments are now the only way they can be subscribed, but only if you have a gmail account (see lower right below the comment box). I haven't taken advantage of the new reply to comment feature available in the embedded comments options, since I don't want to inundate those who subscribe with extra emails. In my search for fixes to google's changes, I found a quote I liked, "You're not a customer of google; you're their product."

What do other blogspot bloggers do to fix their comment features?

ps 03/19/12 - Looks like google blogspot bloggers are not the only ones having issues; WordPress has also apparently changed its comment settings. Very odd.

black sage ~ 03/03/12 ~ Jacks Peak

Ever since my Doh! moment of finding junipers on Juniper Canyon Trail at Pinnacles, I realized I could pay better attention to the names of trails and why they might be named that. So, when I headed down Sage Trail, I kept my eye out for sages. This is a new ID for Nature ID. Black sage is found at all my favorite hiking haunts, but I have never bothered to take note of it before. Two sites that have great information about sages in CA, are Las Pilitas Nursery (I especially like the section titled "Other stinky things that are also called sages but are not.") and Wayne's Word (He starts off with a cursory review of sages around the world and ends up in CA.).

Does anyone know if black sage leaves can be used in cooking? One of my favorite sauces to make is crispy sage with browned butter. I grow garden sage in the windowsill just for this purpose.

habitat ~ 03/03/12 ~ Monterey City

garden flax
Linum grandiflorum

(ID thanks to Neil of microecos and Oryctology)

This is going to be an unusual post for Nature ID. The numerous photos and unidentified garden flowers are not what I prefer for my blog. However, I want to show why I love living here in Pacific Grove, an easily walkable 2 miles to downtown Monterey along the Monterey Bay Rec Trail. I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful historical Secret Gardens in Monterey. It was gloriously warm weather this first weekend of March (70-80°F/22-27°C) from downtown Monterey, to Jacks Peak, to Del Monte Forest (posts forthcoming). If you can help me ID some of the blooms, I'd greatly appreciate it!

grape hyacinth
Muscari sp.
(Darn crappy photos from the point-and-shoot!)

Hyacinthus sp.
(Sadly, it took me until 03/09/12 farmers' market to recall that this is a white version of the dark blue/purple version that looks like a solid column of flowers. The Greek mythology of Hyacinthus and Apollo is tragic.)

Larkin House gardens

This is the epitome of what I consider a secret garden, like that book by Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett. There seems to be blooms here of some sort all year-round.

Technically these are not part of the State Park historical secret gardens, but they're part of Monterey City's Colton Hall historical landmark, which is just across the street from the Larkin House. The flowers in the garden are showy, but I don't know if they're native plantings or not.

Norfolk island pine
Araucaria heterophylla

Euphorbia martinii
(ID thanks to Megan of Far Out Flora)

Monterey Institute of International Studies
Our Green Thumb Project

I've somehow watched the progress of this abandoned lot that was filled with weeds several years ago to being turned into something very useful and valuable for the students. I love it. Andy particularly liked trying out their two swings in the back of the lot near the compost bins.