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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Road Home

Old fencing on the back roads of Mendicino

Just when you think the wildflowers have all passed you by, accidentally you happen upon a quiet little hillside between coastal Mendocino and Ukiah. There is a splash of colors on the grasses and  butterflies dart about. Eureka! There's a touch of  'Spring time' left in them thar hills.

Along the road from Fort Bragg through to Ukiah, we passed through the adorably tiny town of Comptche and the Montgomery Woods State Reserve. Sometime later we drove past some red flowers and I pulled to the side of the road to examine them. At first I thought the red flowers were  California Fuchia but on closer scrutiny they looked different. Now, I've looked them up they are actually delphiniums, or more commonly called Lark Spurs. 
Bright Red Larkspurs aka Canyon Delphiniums
There were lots of wildflowers shining on the shady hillside. Barbara and I excitedly scoured the hillside to see what grew. Some flowers were there but in small numbers.

Cute little Baby Blue-eyes were scattered sparingly
 One spot had strange looking flowers called Elegant Clarkia that look like someone shredded them with a cheese grater. Strange
Elegant Clarkia or 'Red Ribbons' looking more purplish in the shade of trees
There were Chinese Houses scattered around too. Never saw them before this year, now they seem to be everywhere.
Chinese Houses
We weren't the only ones interested in the local blooms of course. There were butterflies visiting flowers too.  I seldom see different types of butterflies, in one spot any more so it was a treat seeing so many kinds. There were Duskywings which are to date, the biggest Skipper butterflies I've ever seen.
A Duskywing Skipper feeding on the Blue Dicks.

A whitish, Western Swallowtail sipping vetch nectar
I don't recall I've ever seen one of these gigantic California Sisters butterflies before

 The Yellow Lupines were far deeper buttery yellow than the pale yellow lupines we found in Lake County. Barbara started calling them Butter Cookies because they look like rows of cookies... maybe we were just ready for a snack?
Yellow Lupines
Eventually we headed on for Ukiah in the east, with intent to get home. I figured if we made it sometime prior to midnight it would be a miracle. But we had to stop again to admire a bumper crop of native succulents, called Canyon Dudleya, Canyon Liveforever or Rock Lettuce. Love those names. Barbara had a Klepto-botanist thought, and what do you know? A couple of teeny rooted Rock Lettuce jumped off the cliff, crawled into the back of my car and followed us home. Honestly. The little buggers hitch hiked a ride!

The biggest bunch of Rock Lettuce on the slope

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