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Nursery Stowaway

Every winter I start a whole bunch of Lupinus albifrons with seed collected from our very own Ventura River Preserve.  It absolutely adores the rocky, sandy well aerated soils of the river bottom area.  One of the more spectacular blooms of the late winter

Silver Bush Lupine

Silver Bush Lupine

Back to the nursery.  They germinate beautifully, like 90% success rate or more.  Then the inevitable, which claws at every good nurseryman’s heart: death.  First one or two, then like dominos nearly every tender seedling topples headlong into the abyss.  So I was excited to see one of my lupines had a passenger along for the ride.  Volunteers are common, usually the Chaparral clematis which chokes the OVLC nursery like a fuzzy boa.

Clematis Ligusticifolia

Clematis Ligusticifolia

Even had a single wooly blue curls (I’ve never had a single success on purpose) and a Fuschia-flowered gooseberry.  I’d gathered seeds of these in the past so their inclusion in the nursery soil was not unfathomable.

But this looked more like California everlasting (which I have grown with some moderate success). The soft, light green, ovate, downy leaves growing off a single stalk.


As the lupine shuffled off the botanical coil my interloper continued to thrive.  Wending its way up through the chicken wire begging for a bit more sun.

And today I see these.

Scarlet Monkeyflower

Scarlet Monkeyflower

Mimulus cardinalis.  Somewhere between rare and very uncommon.  Off the top of my head it grows in one of those dry creekbeds off of Cozy Dell and right by the trough up Gridley.  While I’ve wanted to collect seeds I never seem to get there at the right time; either the flowers gayly beaming at me or the empty seed pods mocking my tardiness.  I can say with great certainty that I’ve never successfully collected a single seed.

Moral of the story is: Nature is weird.  As much as I like to indulge the burgeoning scientist inside of me,  not everything can or needs to be explained.  Sometimes you need to just smile and nod your head and say, “cool”.

Thanks for dropping by, we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

To read more posts from the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s Nursery Manager Ron Singer, check out his Ojai Rambler blog »


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