Tag Archives: native plants

Weekly Photo Challenge: Floral

I’ve noticed flowers everywhere lately!  Even the little rain we’ve had lately (and this photo was taken last weekend on a rainy day) has brought out the wildflowers–especially the natives.  These bush sunflowers crop up whether or not they are invited.  I love the juxtaposition of the warning sign and fence behind the brilliant flowers.


Most of the native flowers seem to come in yellows, so this purple thistle caught my attention.  The raucous wild fuzzy head atop the grayish-green prickly stem seems too beautiful to be a weed!  (And the more I notice weeds, the more I notice their beauty!)


A walk at the lagoon this week (in preparation for next week’s field trip) brought more wildflowers into view. The hillside was ablaze with orange nasturtiums, bush sunflowers, and these other white and yellow blooms. If you look in the distance you can see the ocean where the lagoon meets the sea.


There were also these spiky white-ish flowers laying close to the ground along the salt marsh.  In this shot I managed to catch the bee buried in the blossom.  I pulled this in close to make the pollinator even more evident.


I had caught a glimpse of some prickly pear cactus in bloom–but was too far away to take a photo.  But as I began to drive away, I noticed prickly pear growing in front of a house along the road.  I just had to stop and snap a few pictures.


And my sweet hubby brought me home some flowers from the market this week, a treat to brighten the house.  I love arranging them in simple clear vases in the dining room where the afternoon sun creates the perfect lighting.


And who can resist these crazy blooms?  Orange and wild, in perfect contrast to the prim and proper red roses.


So what’s floral in your life this week?  Grocery store flowers, blossoms from the garden, wildflowers in untended places…or a painting, upholstery, or a new favorite outfit?  Take a look around and see what you can find.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #floral for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Be on the lookout for all things floral…I can’t wait to see what you find through your lens!

Exploring Natives…and Some Extras!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have noticed my obsession with weeds (here, here, and here are some examples). So when I heard that the Lux Art Institute was hosting an artist whose work features weeds, I couldn’t wait to visit.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Beverly Penn makes exquisite sculptures by casting what others might classify as ordinary or weed-like flora in bronze and then creating beautiful art that seems to breathe, move, and reflect light.  I wish I could have taken photos of the art–but the museum requested no photos in the studio.

And as an added extra, when I had a minute to chat with the artist, she talked about how her current work (that she is working on as she is in residency at the Lux) uses the native plants that grow prolifically on the Lux grounds.  As we left the studio, we headed out into the grounds to see the sculptures installed in the native plant trail…also surrounded by even more native chaparral.

I took this photo of the native buckwheat.  And if you look closely you will see a little extra in the background–one of the fanciful birdhouses that is a part of the sculpture collection at the Lux.

native and extra

As I walked the natives, I couldn’t resist stopping to put my macro lens on to get closer to these often unappreciated beauties.  Seeing Beverly Penn’s sculptures inspired my curiosity and had me wanting to look even more closely at these plants that seem to grow like weeds…and many consider weeds.  Lately, they have been celebrated for their resilience in drought conditions, requiring considerably less water than the decorative plants that many like to cultivate around homes and businesses.

This Hummingbird’s Trumpet uses its brilliant scarlet to attract pollinators…and my eye.

monkey flower

I was surprised to learn that this vibrant yellow bloom is called the California Brittlebush.  I love the bumpiness of the centers when when you get close.

brittle yellow

I’m really not sure of the name of this purple flowering plant.  The bloom is interesting because it includes a spiky ball and then a delicate flower.

purple native

purple native 2

My interest in weeds has also allowed me to find the beauty in the stages of blooming that some might dismiss as ugly or uninteresting.  This plant, the Seaside Daisy, had a few blossoms in full bloom with white petals and a bright yellow center.  But I found myself interested in the blossoms that were past their prime, “gone to seed”–reminding me of dandelions and their tenacious seed dispersement and the beauty of the husks as the seeds blow away.

seaside daisy husk

seaside daisy seed

I was also drawn to the black sage…a common plant in these parts.  The blossoms are now skeletons, and yet somehow their intricate beauty draws me in and the fragrance evokes San Diego summer.

black sage

I loved the extras that presented themselves as I headed off to the Lux today.  I was reminded to appreciate the natives…and look closely to find their beauty and intricacy.  And one more extra: I ran into one of my students (and her little sister who will be my student when school begins in the fall) as they came out of the art studio and I was about to enter.  Their mom mentioned that they were there because we had studied weeds…they just couldn’t wait to see what the artist was doing with weeds as her subject!  What a great beginning to summer!

A #Macro View of San Diego Natives

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).

San Diego skyline from the Coronado Bay Bridge

San Diego skyline from the Coronado Bay Bridge

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!)