G*dd@mn Southern California Winters

OK sorry for the blasphemy so early in the day.  I’ve lived here in California for almost 7 years and once.. just once I want to hear a local say, “wow what a normal winter we are having”.  I’m not saying I long for the biblical strength hurricanes and car-burying blizzards of my New York City past, but man this cold/drought stuff is for the birds.  Yeah yeah I know, its 71 and sunny every single day stop your whining but gimme a break.  You know if I’m leading off with Phil Collins videos things must be amiss (though I like that Eric Clapton and Jeffrey Tambor are in there, and is that Carl Weathers as the janitor?)

Since it most likely will never rain again (like that reverse psychology weather gods?) this months Calendar of Events is back and better than ever.  See we’ve gone from blasphemy to hyperbole, nice segue no?  Check it out, if you see anything I missed give a shout.

Now for the moment that you’ve all been waiting for.  Bloom of the Month for February 2013, drumroll please…

California Peony

California Peony

Ain’t she a beaut? These are positively everywhere this year, they were anxious after last year’s poor showing in which most of them died before blooming or didn’t bother to come up at all.  Paeonia californica is endemic to California and one of only two peonies native to North America.

The fresh foliage starts to emerge from the ground in early winter after the first rains.  Deeply lobed leaves of green, purple and red give a verdant lush carpet to partly shady hillsides and chaparral


Heavy drooping maroon flowers start to emerge in February and last through May.


The plant is summer deciduous and by August there is nothing but a pile of dead leaves.  If you are lucky enough to find one of these in a nursery they will require part shade in Ojai, as well as perfectly drained soil.  Peony has large yam-like roots which will rot with summer water.

The roots have some medicinal uses that are worth noting.  Ground into a powder, Native Americans would treat colds and sore throats.  One could also make a tea used for relief from stress, depression and menstrual pain.

Best place to see these are the first leg of Cozy Dell, Kennedy Ridge and many north facing slopes on our chaparral trails.  I found these amazing beauties almost 2 foot tall and 3 foot wide in the full sun in Rice Canyon.


As I type this there are predictions of rain next week.  If as usual we get nothing we can all point to me as the one who jinxed it.

This entry was posted in Bloom of the Month, Native Plants, rambling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to G*dd@mn Southern California Winters

  1. doctorkdog says:

    Beautiful peony pics! As for the rainfall, in my opinion, our so-called “normal rainfall” stats are skewed upward by the occasional 100-year-flood years. In my 40 years in Ojai we have consistently been below the “normal” but we are definitely in a drought cycle right now. It’s anybody’s guess, though, how long it will last.

  2. Micki A. says:

    Hooray! Thank you for finally revealing this plant’s identity! I really can’t recall ever seeing this beauty up in the mountains behind Santa Barbara, but I could be wrong. You can bet that I’m not going to mistake this one for anything else again! Also I’ll have to do a rain dance to counteract your jinx, your welcome.

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