Hell's Half Acre -- Saturday, 4/22/17

Happy Earth Day!  This annual "event" celebrates the planet's environment, and the ways people can take to defend it.  I might have marched in Sacramento today, but chose to hike in Grass Valley instead.  Jimmy and I spent Thursday and Friday taking care of business in Sacramento, and declared enough already.  However, my hat is off to all those who cared enough to March for Science.

I'm a member of Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) -- a private, non-profit membership-supported group promoting natural, historical and agricultural resources in the Bear and Yuba River watersheds of the Sierra Nevada foothills ... where we live.  They do this in three ways:  1) Save Land, 2) Build Trails, and 3) Encounter Nature.  They sponsor guided treks, like today's wildflower walk at Hell's Half Acre, and my choice for an Earth Day celebration.

But first ... here's Rufus in our back deck Dogwood!  This tiny hummingbird is a migrant who shows up each spring at our feeder.  While he's around, we don't see any other variety of hummers.  I've read that he can be a real terror ... maybe the others hide!

The BYLT group met for the wildflower trek at 9am.  Julie Carville, acclaimed botanist, naturalist, and photographer, would be our leader.  I'm here to report, Julie knows all about wildflowers!  You ask, she can fill you in.  We followed a ditch (like our Cascade Canal path, only not as wide) for a half mile or so, looking to see what could be found.  Because it's been so chilly and because NorCal has received 85-100" of precipitation this year, the wildflower season is off to a slow start.  If we were to return in two or three weeks, we'd spot more blooms, and we now know where to look.  The morning temp was a tolerable 60ish and warmed nicely to 70ish.  A lovely day on earth, and no rain!

Scotch Broom is rampant in our area.  Groups organize parties to yank it out.  None of us had ever seen a two-toned, yellow-orange Scotch Broom.  It's probably also invasive, but it is pretty.  Several of us pulled out small plain yellow Scotch Broom plants; you know, each person does what they can to honor Earth Day.

We didn't hike down the hill to this lumber company, but we were told that the saw mill part in "The Christmas Card" movie was filmed at this location.

A close-up of the usual Scotch Broom flower. 

We have Soap Plant in our yard, too.
Native Americans had all sorts of uses for this plant.

Wild Iris were dotted throughout the first part of our hike. 

Sky Lupines (native annual) put on a good showing.

I love these little Yellow Cat's Ears, a native perennial in the Lily family.
We only saw a few.

Next, we hiked to the meadow where most of the early wildflowers would be found.  Hell’s Half Acre is considered one of the richest wildflower blooms in the region. Native plant lovers are especially fond of this meadow where botanists have recorded more than 100 species of spring flowering plants.  I was looking forward to it.

So many blossoms, stay on the path!

Ramm's Madia, a native annual, mixes with Sky Lupine.

Yellow seems to be the first color of the spring.  Ramm's Madia and Butter and Eggs (aka Johnny Tuck), another native annual, dominate the meadow.

Clumps of White Meadow Foam (native annual) appeared.

Butter and Eggs and White Meadow Foam.

Thousands of yellow Butter and Eggs make walking into the meadow impossible for me.  I can't abide walking on flowers!  Lupines and Ramm's Madia are can be seen, especially toward the back of the photo.

My camera failed me, or I failed it, sorry to say.  Cute little Pansy Monkeyflowers (native annuals) are not in focus, but their bright color made them irresistible to me, so I include them, regardless!  They were teeny-tiny!

Most of these wildflowers are low growers, although the prominent Blue Dicks stands above the rest:  yellow Butter and Eggs and pink Cowbag Clover (udderly amazing name)! We saw more, took more photos, some of mine didn't turn out well ... so this is just a sampling. I could have included Tomcat Clover, Wild Carnation, a geranium I didn't catch the name of, and so many more.  It was a fun morning and I hope to join BYLT for more hikes.  When I got home close to 12:30, what did I do?  You'd never guess. Jimmy and I hopped in the car and went to the nursery to buy strawberry plants and flowers!

Back at the ol' homestead, our Western Dogwood flowers are in fine fettle.
This fly seems content on a petal.

And my Wild Bleeding Hearts!
I have clusters of them all over the yard.
And that makes me happy.

The Black-headed Grosbeak can empty a feeder fast!
Welcome back, fine feathery friend!

Happy Earth Day, be kind, do good, every day!


  1. Lovely way to celebrate Earth Day!

  2. What a wonderful way to spend Earth Day! Love the flower photos, reminds me of my early spring days in the Mother Lode. Best time of year in that part of the country in my humble opinion. I also honor those who marched yesterday. I had the best intentions, and yet somehow with only one day not working before I head back to Grants Pass, house cleaning and laundry won out. I don't suppose much will change because I wasn't there marching with my friends in Klamath Falls. I'm glad someone cared enough to do it. I cared, but house cleaning still won.


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