I’m lucky to live in a beautiful city–a place where I don’t even have to say the name of my state for people to know where I’m from. Many people I meet have either visited or know someone (often a relative) who lives here. But despite that familiarity, there are many misconceptions about San Diego. So many people expect it to be tropical–like Hawaii or Tahiti–and are surprised when they come in contact with our pervasive marine layer, moderate temperatures (low 60’s in the winter to mid 70’s in the summer with occasional higher and lower temps), and low humidity (we average about 10 inches of rain annually).
Our beautiful skyline and beaches are often framed with tall swaying palms (not native) and colorful hibiscus flowers (also not native). Many species of plants grow well here–especially when supported by providing extra water. Today I vacationed in my own city, taking a trip to Chula Vista to visit the Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center). Located in the wetlands along the San Diego Bay, the center boasts a rich history. Once the domain of the local Kumeyaay people, around the turn of the century this location became a kelp processing plant run by the Hercules Powder Company extracting potash and acetone from the kelp to make cordite–an explosive used for fuses during World War I. After the war, abandoned buildings were taken over by the San Diego Oil Products Corporation and became the largest cottonseed warehouse in the United States. Later it became farmland and after that a site of illegal dumping. In 1980’s the city of Chula Vista helped develop the site into the Chula Vista Nature Center.
As you can see appreciation of our local habitats has not always been a given, even among the local population. We love our beaches and our mild climate, but haven’t always taken the time to understand how to best care for or learn about them. Today, with the help of my macro lens on my iPhone, I spent time looking closely at some of the native plants of San Diego.
The coastal sage scrub community, which grows around our wetlands near the coast, is filled with hearty, drought resistant plants. In the summer many of them look dry and brown. Some might even conclude that they are dead…but just wait until some rain falls…
I noticed today that some of the most beautiful blooms are tiny…often unnoticed unless you take the time to bend down and really look closely. Here’s some of the beauties I uncovered today, all taken with my iPhone and macro lens with no filters applied.
I wish I knew the names of all of these plants. I admire the resilience and adaptations of these hearty natives and know that I will continue to learn about them. It’s so easy to overlook these plants and be mesmerized by the exotic beauty of other more colorful species. I hope you’ll see what I saw when I took the time to look closely–that there is much to appreciate about these natives, you just have to come close and notice what is right in front of you! (Yet another lesson for my classroom…look for the talents and expertise that are not immediately obvious, but there nevertheless!)