The Cactus Patch
Volume 13       May 2010      Number 05

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

When we went to Tehachapi on the 6th of March, the wildflowers went as high as Caliente. By the 29th they were up to Keene. There were a few in the desert by Mojave. At the Mojave Cactus Garden the ground was pale pink with “storks bills”. In addition to the cacti mentioned in the Brag Table report, I purchased Euphorbia ferox from the many cacti and other succulents for sale there. We then proceeded north and collected agates, jasper and other rocks. Jack Kelly kindly showed us both rough and polished examples of what to look for. This brought back memories of when I was president of the Rock Hounds at BHS. Another road not taken! I have always hated decisions.

After lunch, others went on looking for rocks, but Polly & I left as our Prius had all it could carry. Just east of Tehachapi we stopped to photograph blooming memories- Bladder pods (which I had studied for a project at UCSB) and Joshua Trees (which were part of a science fair project while at BHS).

We stopped at Keene and followed the signs to the Cesar Chavez Center which we had never visited. In addition to the well kept but small museum, there is a memorial garden. Just to the north of it are well-labeled plants including a number of succulents. We then stopped for a snack at the Keene Café. It’s good for such a small place.

On the 21st we had dinner at Anne’s and then carried furniture etc. down the street to Lora’s new house. The next day Anne’s son Daniel had a BBQ there for raising funds for his mission work in Sioux Falls, ND. Lora had the family over for Easter, so her house is truly warmed.

We were also part of the larger group on the 28th which visited the Carrizo Plains. After lunch Polly, Anne & I went north to the Soda Lake overlook. The eastern slope was covered with Baby Blue Eyes. Just above them were succulent Larkspurs (Delphinium recurvatum). Although they had flower stalks, they were not yet blooming. (I have seen them bloom on the past.) Steve had shown me a succulent Larkspur (Delphinium gypsophylum) at the south end of Carrizo. It had basal leaves only so presumably blooms later.

We then proceeded on highway 58 back to the Valley. Just over the pass I relocated a man root (Mara fabaceus). I keep watching for the rain to enlarge the road cut so I can photograph the gigantic tuber this wild cucumber is noted for. Just past the tar seeps we found a greyer Phacelia. We then stopped at the McKittrick Hotel and refreshed ourselves at the Penny Bar which has pennies covering the floor, walls and ceiling.

For those wanting pictures of wildflowers, there are a couple of booklets. At the beginning of the Carrizo Plains trip we were given copies of “Wildflowers of the Tejon Pass” published by the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area. I was surprised to learn that there are two wildflower preserves at Hungry Valley. Some day I’ll have to check them out. At the education center in Carrizo I bought a copy of “Wildflowers of the Carrizo Plain Area” by Malcolm McLeod. At $10 it is a bit expensive for just a booklet of flower pictures. There are, of course, other books with more detail, but these two will get you started.

On April fool’s Day we went to the Fresno succulent meet and heard Patty & Rene Caro of Littlerock CA on how to balance light, water and temperature for the “perfect” plant. On the way back we went through Porterville to see more flowers. (99 is boring mustards and radishes.) There were a few Phacelias on the road cuts, but it was much the same as last year.

On the 8th we went to Beardsley School to eat spaghetti and hear the band in which Lora’s daughter Angela plays oboe. (Lora played bassoon and I played clarinet and oboe at BHS, so it was our turn to listen.)

Of course we heard Steve’s talk on growing succulents back in Bakersfield. We did not go on the trip to Ojai as we will be there later. More next month. On the 18th we ate at Red Lobster in honor of another birthday. (Even though my brother Robert was in Vancouver BC for a poultry conference).

The April Smithsonian has an article on Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). In it there is a mention that Alice Liddell’s mother was Lorina. This adds to the curiosity as my mother Alice had a mother named Lorena! (Actually she was named Rena Moon at birth, but changed it to Lorena Pearl Moon later.)

I’ve also started reading a series of Guides to the US by the Smithsonian. In the volume on the Great Lakes States there is a section on Chicago which I found interesting as Polly was born there and we visited her grandparents there several times. I noted that the correct name of what I referred to as the Chicago World’s Fair last month is actually the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. I was surprised to learn I have actually been to the site where it was held. After the Exposition the building known as the Palace of Fine Arts became the Field Museum of Natural History until 1920. It is now the Museum of Science & Industry. The Field Museum is now further north near the center of Chicago. Polly’s father helped with an exhibit there on the Mummy Cave of Arizona (now in the Smithsonian).

Memorial Garden

Moving Day

Penny Bar

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