Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chalcedon Checkerspot

I was trying to get pics of the beautiful Western Azalea in bloom at the UC Botanical Garden when a couple of butterflies showed up. A Western Tiger Swallowtail in the Azalea, and a Chalcedon Checkerspot in the Wallflower. They didn't stick around for a carefully composed shot, but I did get photographs of them. But I have been back several times since then to this same spot with no luck. Those winged insects keep moving around!

Children's Fairlyland in Oakland

Andy and I were at Children's Fairyland in Oakland on Saturday. The kids were all fascinated by the caterpillars. It was a nice opportunity to reuse the menagerie that Andy had put together for the film showing earlier in the week. Now he has to keep it going until we get to the old folks home next month. That is going to be exciting. We have never been to an old folks home before.

In the lCompany of Wild Butterflies

Andy and I have been busy lately. We recently showed my film, "In the Company of Wild Butterflies" for the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. It was very well attended. The whole room was crowded with people. And they really seemed to enjoy all the beautiful specimen jars that Andy put together. And it goes without saying that they enjoyed the film. And I got to take a walk in the UC Botanical Garden as it got dark. I am so rarely there at that time of day. It was heavenly.


While on our trip, we had dinner one night at Marstellerz at the Walker House in San Dimas. Very good food, and I liked eating outside on the front porch.

The last plant of our trip was the Yucca I took a picture of on the way home. Can you see it there among the brush on the hill? It was in bloom.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Huntington Gardens

The Huntington was the last garden we saw before we came home. They had termites on display and one display was about how orchids mimic insects to get pollinated by pseudocopulation. The children's garden was was fun, even though we had no children. The wire house covered with vines was lovely. And they had some water features designed to keep the kids cool on hot summer days. It was really crowded. It was Saturday, and even though we arrived at opening time, the parking lot was almost full because they were having a plant sale the same day.

The roses were really pretty. And so were the rest of the flowers.

We had to go inside at least one museum. We picked the right one, because it had vintage light bulbs in a very artistic display, perfect for an energy engineer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden was big and beautiful. We happened to visit the day before the Butterfly Pavilion was to open. Bill Gendron was so kind, he let us in and explained the whole thing to us so we didn't have to come back the next day. A lot of work went into that display. And it was especially wonderful because it was California natives, just like the Garden. I have seen a few local butterflies in butterfly houses before. Mostly they were trying to get out. I have heard that the tropical butterflies are used to flying in shady understory conditions so they do better in the reduced light conditions found inside. But all the butterflies in the tent at Rancho Santa Ana seems fine inside. They must be doing something special.

This Garden also had a huge patch of pipevine and many Pipevine Swallowtails. The caterpillars were in the wander phase, walking everyplace.

I loved the woolly blue curls. Every time I turned around there was another big beautiful patch. And many mourning cloaks, too. A very special day.

Wrigley Roses

Ever wonder where all that money you spend on chewing gum goes? It goes into roses in this garden in Pasadena. Mostly roses. But they do have a few very impressive avocado trees. The trees are so tall it takes two guys and a very long pole picker to get the fruit out of the tree.

Pseudobombax ellipticum--Shaving Brush Tree

Of all the gardens we visited, I think the South Coast Botanic Garden was my favorite, partly because I had never heard of it and had no expectations. But they also had the prettiest gazebo ever, surrounded by purple flowers. And the Shaving Brush Tree, which I had never heard of. And a very cute children's garden. The kids loved pumping water.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

At the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, we stopped to smell the roses. The native roses really are fragrant, just like it says in the descriptions. This garden was not on our list, but at the B&B someone told us about all the wildflowers, so we couldn't resist. There were tons and tons of yellow sunflowers. And, I saw my first butterfly of the trip, a monarch on the fence.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

After Lotus Land, we had dinner at the Spiritland Bistro in Santa Barbara. It was a so nice! Several menu items were marked gluten-free, and they had some tables outside so I could get away from perfume. Then we stayed at the Bath Street Inn. I didn't like it because the sheets had been washed in smelly detergent. But breakfast on the patio was nice. Very yummy, in fact. But I can't understand why they put so much energy into homemade granola and then serve packets of Carnation powder if you want hot chocolate. But she fixed gluten-free toast special for me, so I am thankful for that.

Lotus Land

Our only docent-led tour was at Lotus Land. We heard fabulous stories about the very rich and very frugal Madame Ganna Walska. She loved looking for free thinks in her chauffeur-driven limo, like the slag glass pictured here. The visitor center with plants for sale was once the bath house for the pool. Now the pool has lotus and other water-loving plants in it. The very large very expensive ant sculptures out front were impressive. One was half underground burrowing, another was laying eggs.

Callistemon viminalis--Weeping Bottle Brush

We stopped at the mission in Solvang to visit the garden. It was a bit boring, mostly lawns and hedges, but the weeping bottle brush was pretty.