27 degrees at the Potrero John trailhead at 9am New Year’s Day.  I have never really experienced ice in or around Ojai unless it was melting in my bourbon.  Sun is low so these are a tad washed out but enjoy!

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Rambler Reruns

I believe that after 230ish posts I have the right to occasionally rest on my laurels (but not laurel sumacs) and post some pics from the good old (flowerful) days.  In honor of my host on my recent trip to Brooklyn, here are some pictures he took from way back in February 2012 on Laguna Ridge:

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Mutual Mastication

Some of you may have noticed the change of scenery in the so-called orange grove at the Ventura River Preserve.  If you haven’t you probably need glasses.  Big changes are afoot and I’ve gone straight to the source to get the skinny on the heavy machinery that has altered the local landscape.   The Queen of coyote brush, the Sultaness of sagebrush, the Doyenne of Deerweed, (or just plain ole OVLC restoration manager), Jill Lashly:


Before picture, looking north

Continue reading

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Prickly Pear Preparation Primer

I have a friend in town from New York and he usually joins me on my morning travels through our magical valley.  He has little interest in plant identification, all he wants to know is, “what can I eat”. Continue reading

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OVLC Fall Plant Sale & Hootenanny

While we do aim for a festive atmosphere, I cannot guarantee that an honest-to-goodness hootenanny will break out.  What I can guarantee is that we will have the following plants for sale (while supplies last), in addition to the ever-popular wildflower seed mix packets for 5 bucks a pop.  All plants are 8 dollars, proceeds going to the Land Conservancy to protect your views and trails and wildlife and all that other good stuff.

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See you all 9-12, Saturday morning the 17th on Besant Road in Ojai, around the corner from the Ranch House restaurant.  It’s also Ojai Day, so get your carcass out of the house.

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Ad Aster Per Aspera

I’m a bit of a crossword fanatic, been doing them about every day since I was 15.  One of the more hackneyed clues I used to come across (now thankfully edited into oblivion by the venerable Will Shortz), is “Fall Bloom”, five letters long.  As you all surely know, this is a vague and botanically questionable reference to “ASTER”.  As summer wanes and the evenings dip into the 50’s our only blooms are the ever-reliable aster family members.

The inscrutable title to this post refers to another hoary crossword clue.  “Ad Astra Per Aspera” is Kansas’ state motto and is loosely translated as “To reach the top you’re gonna have to crawl through sh*t”, or something like that.

Now that I’ve digressed you into virtual catatonia,  enjoy the following aster family members I spotted on a brief hike yesterday.

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Don’t forget, plant sale 10/17, I will have a preview post sometime soon.

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A is for Acorn

Believe it or not it’s acorn collecting time again


Collecting as many as we can for restoration projects

Drought has seriously hampered acorn production in California

Exudation is the sticky substance you find on damaged acorns.  Leave them be.


Find an oak with grass underneath for a soft landing and better chance of survival.

Green acorns should be left on the tree to ripen a bit more.


Hoping to gather 2-3 thousand acorns, which will be directly planted on the OMP

If the acorn is cracked, damaged or has a hole in it don’t bother


Jays can collect and hide up to 5,000 acorns in a season.

jay acorn

Kids make great helpers, less bending over for us old folks

Lobata is the species for Valley oak, whose acorns are far larger than the Coast Live’s


Most oaks are bereft of acorns this year, making your help crucial

Never pull an acorn off an oak, a gentle twist should be enough

Oaks are homes to literally hundreds of animal species


Please store them in paper or plastic bags, indoors, out of the sun

Quercus is oak’s genus.  Means oak tree in Latin, duh.


Remove the caps from the acorns please


Stratification of the cold variety in a refrigerator helps germination

Tap roots on oak trees can grow 2 feet before foliage even starts


Usually oaks are trimmed up and hard to reach so find them in the wild

Ventura River Preserve is a good place to look

Where to find Valley oaks?  Downtown Ojai, Libbey Park, Arbolada


Xeriscaping is your friend, we live in a desert ya know?

Yellow acorns are OK to pick off a tree, just before they drop

Ziploc storage, open a bit, with some moist peat or sand.  Drop it off at the sale 10/17.

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