Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Friday, July 31, 2015

Palms as Icon

How did the palm become such an icon of California? Read about it here: "A Brief History of Palm Trees in Southern California" (Dec. 7, 2011).

Interesting that "The L.A. Department of Water and Power has said that as the city's palm trees die, most will not be replaced with new palms but with trees more adapted to the region's semi-arid climate, requiring less water and offering more shade." (KCET Nov. 26, 2006).

These are old reports. What is LA doing now?

How does the history of palms in Santa Clara & Alameda counties fit in with the LA story? More on that later.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What use are Canary Island palms?

Why were Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis) planted at each California mission? (But first, were they?) This palm does not have edible fruit. So why would the padres bring this particular palm to California?

Did someone accidentally take the seeds thinking they were the true date palm seeds (Phoenix dactylifera)?

What use would it have been to the Franciscans in the late 1700's?

Certainly they were good for building materials (thatch, braces, posts), plotting a course to your local mission, making a hat. What else?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mad about Madias

Madia elegans, Front yard,
from seed from Berkeley Botanic Garden
What can I say about this perfect little flower with the wonderful smell? This tarweed is out there when all the wimpy spring wildflowers have given up the ghost and is still pushing out flowers until the first fall rains. It's one of my favorites.

It's interesting for so many reasons:

  • The pineapply smell that sticks to your legs when you walk through fields of tarweed.
  • The resins trap insects and attract other insects who eat insects. 
  • The great color and petal variations in my area: white/yellow, white/red, yellow, white.
  • How did a seed or seeds of a plant of the subtribe Madiinae from the West Coast of the Americas (California?) make it to Hawaii and evolve into so many other plants.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The oldest nursery catalog in California?

Warren and Son's Garden and Nurseries - is this the first and oldest nursery catalog in California issued in 1853? One hundred and fifty-two years ago?

According to Tangible Memories, Californians and their gardens, 1800-1950, it is.

There is no mention of this nursery in the California Nurserymen and the Plant Industry, however.

The Bancroft libary has the catalog and I went to visit it. This is not a photograph of that catalog, because I signed something saying I wouldn't publish it. This is actually an image that I created using fonts that were simlar to the catalog. So many fonts! It must have been more fun to set them all.