stickymonkeyflowerOur crazy El Niño weather. We had a long period of rain — much needed — but the temperatures were frigid by California standards. Then, all of a sudden at the start of February, it warmed up steadily until we were enjoying temps in the upper Seventies. The result: an early false Spring. At least I’m hoping it’s false as we desperately need more Winter — read RAIN — to help us claw our way out of our record drought. I hear the Mohave Desert and Death Valley are about to enjoy a Super Bloom, a flowering of wildflowers in numbers and sizes not seen in decades. I can’t say we are seeing the same thing in Sonoma, but the Rancho’s traditional early bloomers are out in force. And since we’ve spent the last several years planting and encouraging California native plants, we’ve got a lot to show all of a sudden.

Let me show you:

ceanothus

We start with my favorite California Native, Ceanothus or California Lilac. These evergreen shrubs can bloom twice or even three times a year.

Ribes is a Native member of the Gooseberry family.

Ribes is a Native member of the Gooseberry family.

This wonderful succulent is putting up asparagus like shoots.

This wonderful succulent is putting up asparagus like shoots.

I think this one is called Hound's Tongue. We didn't plant it, it just came up.

I think this one is called Hound’s Tongue. We didn’t plant it, it just comes up around the place.

Speaking of hounds: the terriers say it's been fine swimming weather.

Speaking of hounds: the terriers say it’s been fine swimming weather.

Buds are breaking out all over!

Buds are breaking out all over!

I can't even remember this one. But it's purple.

I can’t even remember this one. But it’s purple.

This little guy is wonderfully Seussian.

This little guy is wonderfully Seussian.

Lucy found a wonderful sitting rock where she can rest and contemplate one of our planting areas.

Lucy found a wonderful sitting rock where she can rest and contemplate one of our planting areas.

Meanwhile, Oscar's contribution was catching a mouse and burying it in the grass.

Meanwhile, Oscar’s contribution was catching a mouse and burying it in the grass.

Indian Warriors are very temperamental. You can't plant them. They spring up where they want to. Mostly underneath Manzanitas and Coast Live Oaks.

Indian Warriors are very temperamental. You can’t plant them. They spring up where they want to. Mostly underneath Manzanitas and Coast Live Oaks.

Our woodland friends seem to be enjoying the blooms as well.

Our woodland friends seem to be enjoying the blooms as well.

But amidst all this sylvan loveliness there are uglier things rearing up their heads: invasive weeds like Star Thistle and Broom. We wage a never ending war with these — and I think we’re winning. Every year we kill off more and the Natives move in to defend their turf. But it’s a tough battle.

One Ranch Manager Louis wages with propane and fire. Because INVASIVES MUST DIE! And it's just plain fun to burn shit.

One Ranch Manager Louis wages with propane and fire. Because INVASIVES MUST DIE! And it’s just plain fun to burn shit.

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