Friday, March 4, 2011

Early Blooms and Flower Clocks

We headed back to an old familiar spot for our nature study this week - Bolsa Chica Wetlands. It's really amazing to be able to visit the same places over and over throughout the year to see how everything changes with the seasons. So many things were in bloom, it made the whole place look fresh and alive.

Here are just a few of the sights:


Harlequin Bug on Bladderpod

I believe this is Black Sage (we have so many kinds of fragrant sage here I'm never quite sure) with California Encelia in the background.

Rose Buckwheat - a more vibrant variation from the California Buckwheat we often see.

Buttercups galore!

We noticed on the way back, I believe it was a little past 3pm, all the buttercups had closed their petals! Then Isabella mentioned that she had heard on a classical station before that you could plant a garden that would tell the time based on the flowers opening and closing their petals - imagine that!

You should have heard the conversation - "I wonder what triggers that?" "Don't you wonder if they don't have tiny muscles that pull their petals in?" "Well they don't have a brain, I wonder how it is they all know to close at the same time!" And this was us adults talking!

Here's a picture of Linnaeus' floral clock...

And here is a link to a page I found through a quick search that seems to explain how it is done: http://www.dewsworld.com/FHowToMakeAFlowerClock.html

What an amazing project that would be ?!

And here is a link to a classical work by French composer Jean Francaix called L’horloge de flore (A Musical Flower Clock), named for the flowers in Linnaeus' Flower Clock.

Here are some more things we saw along the way:

California Encelia


We often saw this tall standing stalk here and there on our nature walks and one ranger told us it was some kind of rhubarb. I recently saw a poster of it on a hike that said it is 'curly dock', which I believe is correct. It turns a deep reddish brown color in the fall.

wishbone bush


wild radish

And here's another Osprey on its perch. The dry limbs of the trees here often remind me of the tree in Tree in the Trail, it's as if they are pointing you somewhere.

crystalline ice plant

A native to South Africa, these are hard to spot as they grow low to the ground, but our native South African, Isabella, noticed it :) Take a closer look - they are covered with glistening vesicles - and soon they will turn bright pink and look like remarkable jewels. Just another one of God's amazing creations that we probably walked by for years without ever noticing.

Here's a Red winged Blackbird that seemed to be chatting and following some of the girls in our group.

Also called Swamp Blackbirds according to our book, Birds Every Child Should Know. Only the males are this color.

"Ke, kong-ker-ee," he flutes from the willows and alders about the meadows where he and his bachelor friends flock together and make them ring "with social cheer and jubilee." ... By the first of May all have settled down to home life. ... Ever in foolish fear for the safety of his nest, he advertises its whereabouts in musical headlines from the top of the nearest tree ... But how short-lived is this excessive devotion to his family! In July, the restless young birds flock with the mothers, but the now indifferent fathers keep apart by themselves. Strange conduct for such fussy, solicitous birds!

We had a windy walk back and the grass rippled like ocean waves as the wind brushed across it. It reminded me of a favorite hymn

In the rustling grass I hear him pass...

O let me ne'er forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet


  1. Hope! These pictures made my heart soar as we are further away from spring than you are. We are supposed to have a foot or two more of the white stuff next week. Oh, well.


  2. Too bad we can't just swap for a day or two! My kids would love to play in the snow!!

  3. I love the idea of a flower clock! I am going to investigate that further and see how it would work in our area. Thanks for the beautiful post and the great idea.

  4. What a beautiful post, gorgeous pictures.

  5. Amazing! Never seen that ice plant before, and some of those flowers you shared are SO beautiful!

  6. Beautiful! When you go as a group how far do you walk around the Bolsa Chica Wetlands? Does it loop to the nature center on Warner?

  7. We actually start at the nature center on Warner, head over the bridge, walk all the way to the palm trees and the circular lookout and then head back further into wetlands away from the beach which takes you through blooming bushes of encelia. There'll be a fence on your left side and if you look up, you'll see a dead tree with a Great Blue Heron nest in it - usually the herons are there also. We follow that down to an area where the water is on the right and a slope to the left. That's where we saw the osprey.

  8. Wow. That is beautiful. We discovered Bolsa Chica quite by accident when we were vacationing in San Clemente last month. My DD got carsick on the way to Long Beach and we pulled off the road there for fresh air. We ended up staying for 2 hours!

    I've been trying to convince the family that this would be a good place to move, but, they won't agree. I hope the earthquake has not caused problems for you and your family.

    Thanks for bringing back good memories of a "serendipitous day."

  9. I love the clock idea too... and I just wish I could go on a nature walk with you :)

    amy... temporarily out of peru :)

    ps. thanks for submitting this to the cm blog carnival!