The Banana Slug lives in Heaven


There are readers of TheGardenLady blog who tell me that “shh, it is a secret”: but they have found Heaven and it is in California. From looking at the photos below, I think they are correct.

The other weekend these Heaven-dwellers hiked to a favorite spot in the Redwood forest where they not only got to see their favorite slug- the banana slug.  The Pacific banana slug is the second-largest species of terrestrial slug in the world, growing up to 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long.  Banana slugs can move at 61⁄2 inches (17 cm) per minute. But they also got to see their favorite salamanders.

Do TheGardenLady readers agree that these Californians may have found the door to Heaven?







Mojave Desert Wildflowers

Bluebell Wildflowers - In Joshua Tree National Park by MadeIn1953 (on flickr)
Bluebell Wildflowers - In Joshua Tree National Park by MadeIn1953 (on flickr)

In a departure from the man-made gardens that are often the subject of this blog, this past weekend’s adventure was spent exploring the wildflower displays at two unique spots within the Mojave Desert (see here). Covering southern Nevada, western Arizona, southwestern Utah, and southeastern California, this roughly 25,000 square-mile-large swatch of land is home to hundreds of species of plants; many of which produce springtime blossoms of white, yellow, orange, red, lavender, purple, and blue.

Separated by almost 200 miles, the two unique spots included the southernmost and westernmost tips of the Mojave Desert; respectively in Joshua Tree National Park and the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve-both in Southern California. While the blossoms on the two parks’ namesakes-the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)-were an obvious motive behind picking the locations, numerous other blossoming species also inhabit these regions.


The first stop of the adventure, Joshua Tree National Park (see here), technically spans two deserts: above 3,000 feet and on the west side of the Park is the Mojave Desert, and below on the east side is the Colorado Desert, which is part of the larger Sonoran Desert. On the border, between the two deserts, lies the Lost Palms Oasis Trail; a favorite among hikers eager to see springtime wildflower blossoms. The 7.5 mile hike takes you from the Cottonwood Spring Oasis to the Lost Palms Oasis and back. With the right amount of fall and winter rains, and warm enough springtime temperatures, the typically parched, rocky, and sandy landscape between the two oases is transformed with patches of color.

This early-April weekend, at least 20 different blossoming species were on display along the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. Most prevalent were the yellows of the Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix californica), and Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). Moreover, on the way to the trailhead, when driving from the north end of the Park to the south end, a wonderful highlight was the fields full of Desert Dandelion on both sides of Pinto Basin Road.




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The Western Painted Lady Butterfly


A reader of TheGardenLady blog wrote this column about an exciting happening in California on Sat., March 28, 2009.

If we were questioning the calendar, residents in the Bay Area of California knew for certain that Spring had arrived on Saturday, March 28. By late morning, it was well into the 70s and supposedly some thermometers hit low-80s mid-day. The balmy weather, blue skies, and gentle breeze sparked our mass exodus from behind TVs to local parks where all were eager to hit the hiking trails on the East Bay hills. But aside from the hoards of people on the trails, it was for the most part a typical day; while unseasonably warm it was the kind of day that we Northern Californians expect for the next 8 months.

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