Last Saturday, while the boy was rehearsing for his school play, Rosanne and I took to the mountains, but we never really left the city. I have been poking around in Google Maps for a while now, looking through the Santa Monica Mountains for small pieces of green that donate public lands. Recently I located two such places, Trebek Open Space, just above Hollywood and just to the west of the much more popular and busy Runyon Canyon — and Briar Summit Open Space Preserve, closer to the Valley side of the mountains above Universal City.
A few photos from our walk
Trebek Open Space is accessible from Nicholas Canyon Road and the up and back route we took was about 1.3 miles in length. You can extend the hike by coming up from Hollywood and/or using streets to create a round-trip route. The trails are decomposed granite covered, yet well maintained fire roads. Briar Summit Open Space Preserve is LA DWP property and also the home to many radio towers on the summit. It is a nice .75 round trip to the top of the mountain and back on a paved access road.
Both locations are quite quiet for being in the middle of the city and both offer excellent views of the surrounding city, too. From Trebek you can see to Downtown LA and beyond and all the way to the ocean in Santa Monica. There were much fewer people at Trebek than the adjacent Runyon Canyon. Where we passed maybe 10 people during our walk the ridge line of Runyon Canyon, visible from the trail, was covered with people.
Below is a slide show from Flickr with shots of the scenery, birds and native plant life.
We are planning on taking this trip with Friends of the Island Fox, a group I have worked with on social media and podcasting for a number of years. We have always planned to take a trip to the Channel Islands, but never seemed to make it. This event sounds like the perfect excuse. Sign up soon to reserve your space! — Douglas
As the population of Santa Cruz Island foxes reaches recovery it is possible to observe them at more locations across the island. Santa Cruz is also the only home of the rare island scrub-jay. With its newly restored wetland area, Prisoner’s Harbor is one of the prime locations to encounter this unique bird as well as many other species.
On the trip over to Prisoner’s Harbor (about 1 and a half hours) there is the possibility of seeing many marine species as well.
Tickets will be $65.00 per person. A percentage of the fee will go to support island fox recovery efforts.
Yesterday I highlighted one of Sue Hubbell’s other books, A Country Year: Living the Questions, where she writes about her time living in the Ozarks and raising bees as a profession.
While A Country Year was meant as entertaining reading, this book is Hubbell giving you clean and excellent information on the keeping of bees, along with some of the poetic language from A Country Year. Just like that book, I will finish this book in a day or two, as it pulls me through the various seasons of the beekeeper. Winter is prep time. Spring brings hard work and maintenance. Fall is harvest and preparing the hives for Winter.
I get fixated on ideas somehow, and Hubbell’s books are feeding my current fixation on bees. My neighbors hive, clearly visible from my back yard, has grown more interesting. It gives me a life model to explore my newly gained knowledge without completely suiting up in bee gear. It is heartening to know that the flowers and trees in my garden benefit from these bees, as much as the bees benefit from them.
“Have you ever seen the delicate flowers of a red maple? The emerging leaves of a tulip poplar? The twigs of a beech? When you look at a tree up close, you begin to appreciate trees in a whole new way. Seeing Trees invites readers to watch trees with the care and sensitivity that birdwatchers watch birds. Focusing on 10 common trees of North America, Nancy Ross Hugo highlights the rewards of tree viewing and describes some of the most visually interesting leaves, flowers, fruits, buds, leaf scars, twigs, and bark of familiar trees. Using software developed for work with microscopes, Robert Llewellyn created incredibly sharp close-up photographs of the tree detail by stitching together 8 to 45 images of each subject—each shot at a different focal point. The combination of these lavish photos with Nancy Ross Hugo’s writing makes each page come alive with the beauty of the growing process. The result is a gorgeous journey into the life cycle of trees.”
Who would have thought that plants could be so important to world history, but from the rubber plant to the quinine to drugs and treatments yet to be discovered, plants have helped human survive and thrive throughout history.
“Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries feature a description of the plant, its botanical name, its native range and its primary functions — edible, medicinal, commercial or practical. Concise text is highlighted by elegant botanical drawings, paintings and photographs as well as insightful quotes.
Many of the plants are well known, such as rice, tea, cotton, rubber, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, wine grapes and corn. However, there are also many whose stories are less known.”
A great online store full of products to help you grow your garden. I discovered them through the weekly #gardenchat (you should join us sometime). Products include kits for helping your organize and store seeds, envelopes to help you capture and store seeds from your own garden, and seed starting containers.
“The Seed Keeper Company came about when we tried to find a better way to store our seeds. Together, we developed a seed filing system for seed packets and captured seeds complete with tips and seed planting accessories. The accessories were chosen because they are important to the seed starting process. The plastic clip-lock container is rugged enough to go to the garden and solid enough to protect delicate seeds until the next planting season.”
I understand that this might be a little specialized for most gardeners, I thought the idea was wonderful for anyone who might happen to have a stand of sugar maple on their properties. We all need a place to start and what might begin with 3 buckets this year could turn into 20 next — if we only knew how to get started. This Starter Kit from Tap My Trees gives you enough taps, hangers, buckets and covers to tap 3 trees. You won’t get a lot of maple syrup, but that you do get will feel — and taste — extra special because it came from your own trees and your own hands.
It is always great to have a pair of these latex-coated gloves around for those wet tasks in the garden. I use them for mixing up potting soil, harvest compost and working in the garden after a recent rain. Sure, we all like to get our hands dirty on occasion, but there are also times we don’t want to have to scrub forever just so we can go back inside.