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Freeman’s Maple on Fire

Freeman’s maple, LA County Arboretum (11/8./19) Frank McDonough

Freeman’s maple, Acer fremanii, is on fire at the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, reports Frank McDonough.

Known as Jeffersred (cultivar) or Autumn Blaze (trade name), this fast-growing hybrid maple was crossed between red maple, Acer rubrum (midwest), and silver maple, Acer saccharinum (Eastern).

It’s a popular choice in urban forests across California due to its dense crown, attractive shape and red-orange autumn leaves.

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia (482′) – Patchy (10-50%)
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At Last, LA

Tupelo tree, Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (11/2/19) Frank McDonough

When Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens reports, we’re in the home stretch.

Fall Color in Arcadia is Just Starting, but early November combines late blooms and early change, as seen in Frank’s photographs.

It’s also a reminder that arboretums and botanical gardens throughout California are looking good.

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia (530′) – Just Starting (10-50%)

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Remember Wendy

Newbury Park Section, Santa Monica NRA (10/17/19) Kathy Jonokuchi

On Oct. 7, fire spread across the Newbury Park section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Southern California.

Fortunately, the Wendy Fire was limited to 91 acres with no structures lost or human injuries. Its quick containment is credited to the National Park Service which, anticipating Santa Ana Winds, had pre-staged fire crews and equipment from Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks to help the Santa Monica Mountains team.

Previously, the Newbury Park section of the Santa Monica Mountains NRA been singed by the 2013 Springs Fire and the 1993 Green Meadow Fire. Then, in November last year, the Woolsey Fire devastated 89% of the Santa Monica Mountains NRA, including areas that containing Western sycamore like these:

At the time, we expressed concern over the future of the sycamore which are native to the Santa Monica mountains.

Fortunately, fire is a natural thing and nature recovers. SoCal color spotter and birder Kathy Jonokuchi reported that wildflowers were spectacular and lasted well into August with Large-flowered Phacelia covering the canyon and Humboldt lilies showing beautifully.

Then today, she sent these images from the recent Wendy Fire, showing Western sycamore pushing out fall color and wild rose that are abundantly covered with bright rosehips. 

Western Meadowlark can sing about it now, though the Wendy Fire did not leave behind much meadow to land in. What is there remains blackened. So, they spent their time in the trees.

Western meadowlark, Santa Monica NRA (10/17/19) Kathy Jonokuchi

Happier days are ahead and we will keep watch over this great urban national park, as it continues its recovery.

  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (3,110′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
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Big Tujunga is the Big Kahuna

Cottonwood, Big Tujunga Creek, Sunland-Tujunga (12/15/18) Ken Lock

The Big Kahuna for fall color in Southern California’s mountains this past weekend was Big Tujunga Creek near Sunland-Tujunga where Ken Lock captured cottonwood still carrying gold.

Yes Gidget, it’s past peak. Though, spots of peak color can still be found here and there in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Mountains. 

Cottonwood, Big Tujunga Creek, Sunland-Tujunga (12/15/18) Ken Lock
  • Big Tujunga Creek, Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles – Past Peak, You Missed It.
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Spoiler Alert

A colorful ending, LA County Arboretum (12/18/18) Frank McDonough

LA is the last place to give away an ending. As residents of the world capital of movie making, Angelenos will tell you to go see it, but will never say how it turns out.

That’s why we were a little surprised when Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia sent these scenes from the closing moments of autumn at The Arboretum.

As colorful endings go, the finale at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is as memorable as any we’ve seen, but please don’t say we gave away the ending. 

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia – Peak to Past Peak, You Almost Missed It.
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Four Shopping Days Left

California Wild Grape, Vitis californica, LA County Arboretum (12/14/18) Frank McDonough

If you plan to shop for fall color, there are just four shopping days left, until the winter solstice.

One of the few places to find that last-minute gift of fall color is Los Angeles County, where a few trees are still carrying autumn leaves.

LA County Arboretum color spotter Frank McDonough sends these gifts of the season, complete with a bad pun. 

In fairness, Frank asked the question and we put a bow onto it by providing an answer. Happy holidays. 

Gingko biloba and bamboo, LA County Arboretum, Arcadia (12/14/18) Frank McDonough
  •   LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia – Peak to Past Peak, You Almost Missed it.
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SoCal’s Awesome Autumn

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/11/18) Frank McDonough

Southern California color spotter Alysia Gray Painter of NBC knows her fall color.

Each year, she’s been one of the first color spotters in Southern California to alert us to color appearing in her region, and today headlined a post on NBCLosAngeles.com about SoCal’s late-peaking fall color, “Wow, Now.” 

To read it, CLICK HERE.

She wrote, “How cool, and SoCal is it, that fall lingers a little at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, even as its famous roses pop in time for the Tournament of Roses?”

Hella cool, we reply from NorCal. There’s nothing more SoCal than that, dudes. So, Go Now! 

LA County Arboretum, Arcadia (12/11/18) Frank McDonough
  • Los Angeles – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Burbank – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Arcadia – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Woodland Hills – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Long Beach (Atlantic Blvd, Bixby Knolls) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Gingkos Come Alive

Gingko biloba, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (12/8/18) Frank McDonough

It’s almost as if Gingko trees know the lyrics to “Come Alive.” As, they’ve become The Greatest Showman, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia.

Come alive, come alive
Go and light your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

– Come Alive, Joseph Trapanese and John Debney

Frank McDonough sends this holiday postcard of late autumn color from “The Arboretum,” remarking that “The color is still at it.” Indeed it is. 

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (12/8/18) Frank McDonough
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Nature’s Resilience

White-Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa (12/4/18) Kathy Jonokuchi 

Images of the devastation wrought by the Camp and Woolsey fires haunt the closing days of an otherwise beautiful autumn.

However, Southern California color spotter Kathy Jonokuchi found hope on a visit to one of her favorite birding locations in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

The area was spared being consumed by the Woolsey Fire, though it is still recovering from the Springs Fire of ’13 and ashen scars blight surrounding hills.

Two threads of local history intertwine at the site. Ranch structures represent its pioneer ranching past, while native plants reflect the environs where Chumash Indians lived for thousands of years. before the ranching era. Big Sycamore Canyon Trail descends from Satwiwa to the Pacific Ocean along an historic Chumash trade route.

The Satwiwa Loop Trail is designated for hikers only, and meanders through an area considered sacred by the Chumash. There, within areas of coastal sage scrub that were not burned, live deer and coyote. Sweeping views of Boney Mountain and Sycamore Canyon can be seen along the trail, as well as many raptors.

The Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center is open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Native people lead workshops and presentations and participate in art shows there, throughout the year.

On Kathy’s visit to Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, a congregation of five White-Tailed Kites (Elanus leucurus) were hovering and hunting. She also saw Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius), this one female, swooping low in search of inattentive voles and slithering snakes.  

Kathy reports that at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, she’s seen American Kestrels, Cooper’s Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures.

It’s such an outstanding location for bird watching that Kathy has nicknamed it “Raptorland.”

See, there is a Jurassic Park in Southern California! And, it’s one that’s proven its resilience to nature’s fires. It’s the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. 

  • Santa Monica Mountains NRA – Peak Wildlife Viewing (75-100%) GO NOW!
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The Holly and The Ivy

Boston Ivy, Scripps College, Claremont (11/30/18) Kaiyuan Chen

Holly standeth in the hall fair to behold, 
Ivy stands without the door; she is full sore a cold

Holly and his merry men, they dancen and they sing;
Ivy and her maidens, they weepen and they wring.

Ivy hath a lybe, she caught it with the cold,
So may they all have, that with Ivy hold.

Holly and ivy have been linked together for many centuries, though they are quite different plants. The Holly is a tree, Ivy a vine.

Owlcation.com tells us, that used as a mythological symbol ivy was associated with the Ancient Greek god of wine, Dionysus who often wore a crown of ivy.

English ivy grew abundantly over the childhood home of Dionysus, the mythic mountain Nysa. To the middle ages, ivy was associated with alcoholic beverages, often hung from an alepole or alestake outside a tavern to indicate that the establishment served wine or ale.

The expression “Good wine needs no bush,” meaning that something of merit needs no advertisement, comes from a bunch of ivy being called a bush. In other words, good wine needs no alepole, as word of mouth will establish its quality.

In “The Holly and the Ivy,” a traditional Christmas carol, holly is mentioned throughout, but ivy is mentioned only in the first and last verse, almost as an afterthought.

Ivy certainly is no afterthought at American colleges, where ivy-covered walls have become synonymous with prestigious education. The practice of growing ivy over the brick walls of northeastern colleges, evolved to their sports teams being described as within The Ivy League.

Other universities and colleges adopted the horticultural practice growing climbing vines of Boston Ivy, Parthenocissus tricupidata, and English Ivy, Hedera helix, on their walls as verdant symbols of higher education.

Scripps College, Claremont (11/30/18) Kaiyuan Chen

At Scripps, a renowned women’s college in Claremont, Calif., Boston Ivy climbs the walls, providing late autumn color.

Kaiyuan Chen reports that the vine – which is from China not from Boston – and the school’s other deciduous trees and shrubs now vary from Peak to Past Peak.

That’s appropriate, as it’s almost time to sing … 

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir 
  • Claremont Colleges, Claremont – Peak to Past Peak, You Almost Missed It.