Allergies and oak pollen

If you have seasonal allergies to oak pollen, I would suggest you avoid central California, my yard or stay inside. I know this happens every spring but the coating of pollen seems extra thick this year.

Just a mere week or so ago we had rain and freezing temperatures. Then the temperature shot up to the 80’s the last few days and in the photos below you can see what coats my backyard bricks, tables and chairs. What’s even scarier is I cleaned the yard yesterday and wiped the tables down.

My pet hens are very happy to gobble up the pollen which is highly nutritious and will help color their yolks an even deeper orange.

What’s happening in my garden on this warm February day?

In this northern California urban garden there is a flurry of activity.

Pajaro Manzanita
Pajaro Manzanita

Winter is not a time of rest for this native plant gardener. It is a time to get into the garden daily to witness the changes which come quickly at this time of year. The variety of flora blooming and the fauna visiting are changing daily. (Note: We don’t really have winter in most of California, we have a transition period to and from summer)

The floral, honey and spice scent of the paper white narcissus compete with the memory

Paper white Narcissus
Paper white Narcissus

evoking chaparral smells of the native California sage.  The sage oils are being released by the heat of the winter sun and permeate the fresh winter air mixing with the narcissus fragrance.

The baby lizard’s activity increases as the day warms.

Garden Lizard
Garden Lizard

I see them darting under the rocks on my porch.  I’m glad to see that they have survived the winter and have decided to stay in my garden. They must be growing.  On the front brick walkway I find the dry skin that one lizard must have wiggled free from and left behind.

The bustle for this February day is unreal.

Bee Plant Flower
Bee Plant Flower

There are so many different species of song birds.  I don’t know all the species but recognize a few as sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, hummers and robins.  My chickens chase the sparrows out of their free range area of the yard.  I chuckle as I watch them.  They also chase the squirrel’s, but the sparrow chasing is new.

B-Color Daffodile
Bi-Color Daffodile

I’ll be watching to see what blooms next.  I can tell that the California lilacs, sages and poppies are forming flower buds. Buds are swelling on my many small tree’s indicating that the light apple green of new leaves isn’t far away.

Frost kissed Jelly Bean plant
Frost kissed Jelly Bean plant

Other plants blooming today are my

Hellebores, vinca, apple tree, daffodilis, rosemary

Rosemary flower
Rosemary flower

and an unnamed bulb bloom.  Okay, so I still have several plant species that are not native California species.  If they can survive not being watered, I guess they get to stay.  I make one exception though and that is my few rose bushes.  They’re not native and they are water hogs but they have been in my garden for decades now and I don’t yet have the heart to take them out.

Buttercup bud
Buttercup bud

if you live in California, I hope you are noticing all the flowering trees that have started to bloom. I call these popcorn trees, they look like they pop into bloom almost overnight. Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s photos. Soon I’ll blog about some resources for purchasing native plants and how to sheet mulch your lawn.  Stay tuned.

Doffodile cup fringe
Doffodile cup fringe

Backyard birding

Don’t see why you have to get up so early and drive so far to photograph birds. This landed on my backyard neighbors roof around 9 AM while we were enjoying coffee and pancakes in our warm dry house.

Roof top bird - we think it is a juvenile blue heron.
Roof top bird – we think it is a juvenile blue heron.