Archive for the ‘Fort Bragg’ Category

Battle of the Rose Roots

I should have learned from experience. Years ago, I wondered why plants near a hedge in my Palo Alto garden weren’t doing so well, in spite of soil amendments, regular watering, and other tender loving care. Investigating closer, I found that below the soil surface was a dense mass of tiny white roots. The nourishment stealer was a Banksia rose that had flourished in the hedge for fifty years.

You would think I’d learn and remember. But no … As we designed a deer-fenced vegetable garden for our new home on the edge of the forest in Mendocino, we decided that a covered gate, an English lych-gate, would be a charming touch. And wouldn’t it be romantic to have a rose climbing over it? I’ve always been fond of “Mrs. Cecille Brunner” with its exquisite miniature pink buds.

“Mrs Cecille Brunner” pruned and tidy for the winter.

I planted a climbing “Mrs. B” in a half wine barrel just inside the gate, out of the deer’s reach. Years passed. At a friend’s house I admired another pink climber. She told me its name, “Seven Sisters,” and offered a cutting. The local legend, she told me, was that this rose was originally brought to the Northern California coast by a Russian princess in the early 1800s. Possibly she was the well-born wife of Ivan Kuskoff, commander of the Russian American Company fur trading post at Fort Ross, whose house is still standing, and is now a National Historic Landmark. According to the story, Madame Kuskoff gave cuttings of “Seven Sisters” to friends, who gave cuttings to friends, and so it moved up the coast. I see it everywhere in the gardens of old coast homes, and have met the woman who gave my friend her cutting.

But I digress. Needless to say, my cutting of “Seven Sisters” also found a home in a wine barrel inside my fenced garden. It became a yearly task to prune these enthusiastic climbers before they totally blocked the sun from the vegetables.

Seven Sisters tangle

“Seven Sisters” reaches for the sky.

This year “Seven Sisters” decided to bloom again just as I was getting out my pruning shears, so she’s still a wild tangle.

But tidy on top doesn’t mean disciplined underneath. This season I noticed that the vegetables in raised beds near the roses were stunted and sad. One scoop with the shovel showed the cause. Nothing for it but to dig out the entire bed.

Rose roots and shovel

Rose roots poke through the hardware cloth floor of the raised bed.

There’s a layer of hardware cloth on the bottom to keep out the gophers (that’s another story). I’m hoping a couple of layers of weed cloth will deter the rose roots, at least for a few years. My friend, a Master Gardener, laughed when I told her. “You’re the eternal optimist, aren’t you?” she said.

A Fine Muddy Walk

Just in from celebrating the grand opening of the Caspar Uplands Trail. Very rainy and muddy but an excellent walk up from Caspar Beach through a lovely stretch of forest, including the southernmost grove of Sitka Spruce in North America. The brand-new trail, which is part of the California coast trails system,  is the work of the Mendocino Land Trust, in collaboration with State Parks, county and state government, and the Caspar community. An excellent addition to the community.

Blennosperma

In this unseasonably gorgeous January weather, I started thinking about wildflowers. This morning I took a walk at Glass Beach to look for Blennosperma. Sure enough, they’re up. Not yet the carpet of gold,  but a few bright yellow stars dot the green of our  coastal prairie, the uplifted strip of land at the edge of the cliffs. Like many of the California wildflowers we amateur flower seekers call “little yellow jobs,” the Blennosperma flower is daisy-like and shiny. Our variety, Blennosperma nanum var. robustum,  is on the Endangered Species list. It grows only on the Glass Beach Headlands and at Point Reyes.

Glass Beach, now part of MacKerricher State Park, is a popular place to walk. There is talk of putting a cycling trail through it. Seeing those early flowers, I realize again that we’re in danger of loving this place to death. I try to be careful where I walk.

Edge of the Creek

High tide was at dawn. By noon, the breaking waves are far distant, and the creek on its way to the sea has cut a miniature cliff through damp sand. A reflection of sun on water ripples along the vertical face, fluted already by tiny sand-falls. As I watch, more sand avalanches skitter down to where, about half-way to the water, an undulating line with a little thickness to it, like a welted trim, defines where the vertical cliff gives way to a more gradual slope. The damp sand grains bounce off the ridged line and spread out down-slope, coming to rest at about forty degrees, their angle of repose. The scene is a microcosm of the world’s geological processes, the lifting up of land masses, the crumbling away. But what strikes me most is the beauty of it: the rippling light, the fluted cliff, the flurries of sand. I am mesmerized by pattern.

Mendocino Coast Arts Community

I’ve just posted a piece on the Mendocino Writers Blog about the growing connections between our local arts, business, and social services organizations.

On the Haul Road

The Fort Bragg Haul Road this Saturday afternoon is  like a painting of a European beach promenade. Misty silhouettes in the silvery light, family groups with dogs and bicycles take the air in the short break between storms. The sea roars. A brisk wind lifts delicate plumes of spray from the waves.

The old Haul Road is a local treasure. Built in the early 1900s to haul logs to the Fort Bragg lumber mill, it is now part of the California coastal trail system. Further north, the sea has washed away much of the road, but for close to three miles, between the Pudding Creek Trestle Bridge at the edge of town and the campground at MacKerricher State Park,  it is still reasonably intact.

This afternoon, after a week of rain, people walk with smiles on their faces. The reservoirs and aquifers are filling up, ending fears of drought. More rain is forecast. Today the sky is blue and the sea magnificent.

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