2018 February Flower – Thistle Sage, Salvia carduacea

I’ve made a big discovery!  In searching through one of George’s many boxes of transparencies and negatives I found two steno pad notebooks.  I can finally match the “codes” on the slides with the “codes” in his notebooks!  This is going to allow me to determine where and when he shot his images!  I knew George had a system as he was pretty meticulous with his work, I just hadn’t been able to figure it our until now.  Maybe you can see in the photo that 2-42 indicates “Mojave Thistle Sage” Salvia carduacea, Ridgecrest ’81 – February’s flower!  Also note the steno pad cost 81 cents and on the back illustrates shorthand forms.

While Salvia carduacea is refered to as Thistle Sage, it is actually not related to the Thistle family (Asteraceae), but the mint family (Lamiaceae).  It can be found in dry areas of Southern California, preferring dry sandy, gravelly ground.  It blooms March – June.  The Lady Bird Wildflower website shows several nice examples of the entire plant.

George would have frequently passed by Ridgecrest in his meanderings along Hwy 395 to the Owens Valley.  Starting out from Santa Barbara in early morning he might have eaten breakfast in Mojave and continued north on Hwy 14 til it meets 395.  Springtime would have brought a carpet of desert wildflowers to photograph.

Just south of Ridgecrest on Hwy 14 is Red Rock Canyon State Park – take a look!  I think you’ll recognize the incredible rainbow of rock from old Hollywood Westerns!  I remember camping there a number of times on our way up to Lone Pine or Bishop.  We would usually arrive after dark and quickly prepare for bed.  Upon waking we would be treated to the Red Rocks looming over us, blazing with colors.  Their formation reminded me of a cathedral, and that is what if felt like, to be in Nature’s Cathedral.

2018 is here! January’s flower is Pride of California

Happy New Year to all!

  In 2018 I will be posting about each month’s calendar flower – where you would find it, when it blooms, who its related to, etc.  I’ll also include anecdotes about George – his life, favorite places, his love for being outdoors in nature.  So let’s begin –  January 2018.  Enjoy!

Pride of California, Lathyrus splendens, is found in Chaparral ecosystems from Baja California north into San Diego County.  In the sweet pea family, Pride of California’s long vine-like stems need the support of Chaparral shrubs, which it covers in a crimson/pink blanket of 1-2″ flowers.  Blooming time is April – June and is attractive to birds and butterflies.

The Chaparral is made up of very dense, drought resistant growth, with sclerophyllous  vegetation – meaning they have hard leaves that slant toward direct sun.  In the fall, the dry chaparral, combined with the Santa Ana winds make for perfect wildfire conditions – as we have seen recently in Southern California.

As with other ecosystems, such as the Prairie, Chaparral can benefit and renew from wildfire.  A hot, fast moving fire will destroy invasive plant seeds.  Native seeds benefit from the fire splitting open their seed coats.  Subsequent winter rains can then penetrate the seed helping it to sprout.

Both the San Diego Botanic Garden and Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens have beautiful walks through Chaparral ecosystems.  I recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

Update:  Since publishing this post yesterday, torrential rains hit the Santa Barbara area.  I’m sure you have seen how the swiftly flowing mudslides have ravaged the area.  We are all holding this community in our thoughts and prayers.  The photos are all too familiar, as it is an area George and Eleanor once lived, high on a hill overlooking Montecito and the Pacific.  In addition to concern for lives, I worry that many of the seeds that would rejuvenate the hills (and help the soil stay in place) have been washed away.  All very tragic.

October’s Flower – Evening Snow

Evening Snow – unfolding

October’s Calendar flower is Evening Snow, Linanthus dichotomus.  Evening Snow likes to blanket hillsides in serpentine conditions.  Blooming in March – May, it shares blooming time with California Poppies.  They take turns sharing the spotlight!  By day, profuse displays of poppies paint the hills orange and yellow.  As the sun sets, the Evening Snow unfolds and replaces the hills with soft pink/white hues.


While I don’t have an exact location of George’s, Evening Snow image, I do know that it was taken in April of 1983.  California experienced very heavy rainfall Winter of 1983, making the Spring flower display tremendous.  I can imagine that George may have been on the way home from Death Valley, along the Tehachapi Mts. as dusk descended, the hills glowing.

Introducing Wildflower Musings

I am starting this Blog page as a companion to George’s photographs.  I hope to provide a tapestry of George, nature, and wilderness; information about George, family camping trips, experiences in nature, thoughts and philosophies!

Where to start?  How about this month’s, calendar flower:  Sierra Lily, Lilium kelleyanum

These brilliant orangey-red and yellow flowers can be found by lakes and streams throughout the High Sierras in July and August.  The plant can grow up to six feet tall and are often found alongside elephant-head and bog orchid.  The flowers are like shining lanterns swaying from a tall poll.

I remember a hike through the meadows around Rock Creek with George and Eleanor and my daughter, Katie-Sarah in 1989.  The Tiger Lilies were in great abundance so it was like walking through a forest of flower lanterns.  Katie-Sarah was only four years old, so they loomed high over her head – a magical experience!

George’s notes indicate some dates and places he photographed the Sierra Lilies.  I have included links to websites where you can see the habitat of the flowers:

Kearsarge Pass – 1980     Hiking Kearsarge Pass

Piute Pass – August 25, 1983    Trail information about Piute Pass

Treasure Lakes – August 2, 1984     Treasure Lakes photographs and trails

2018 Calendars will be ready and on the website October 1st!