Beach Blooms

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This morning I took my camera to Doran Beach, in order to capture some of the great profusion of blossoms there. It is a peaceful place to walk and think, especially on overcast mornings before the weekend crowds. I am not much of a photographer; my technical expertise lies somewhere between point-and-click and set-your-own-f-stop. Except I don’t really know what an f-stop is, in spite of having tried to learn several times. But I can crop a halfway decent photo, and after some editing I ended up with a good sample of local flora.

Unknown beach succulentAt Doran, I parked in one of the short-term spaces just before the park entrance and walked over to the median strip where this plant was growing very happily, packed in tight and wild with color. It looks like a succulent to me, but I don’t know its name. Sadly, I couldn’t find it in my Pacific States Wildflower guide either. I think I need to find a good book specifically on coastal plants.

Rattlesnake grass, ice plantDoran Park encompasses both estuary land, where the tidal marsh supports lots of wildlife, and a long sandy strip of beach that stretches from rocky cliffs and tidepools at one end to the mouth of the Bodega Bay harbor at the other. In between are countless niches for plants to dwell. I found some flowering ice plant, but my camera wanted to focus on the rattlesnake grass hanging over it, so here you get a little of both.

Yarrow, California poppyOn the trail over the dunes to the ocean, there was lots of wild mustard, radish, Queen Anne’s lace, lupine, and thistle. Here are yarrow andStar thistle California poppies growing side by side, along with sedge grass and some wild cucumber vine. My favorite snapshot of the day was of this incredible star thistle in full bloom. Yeah, sure it’s an invasive species carried over with my European ancestors, but have you ever seen anything so vibrant?

Yellow sand verbenaMoving on down to the beach, there were two particularly beautiful plants growing in the sand. One I was able to identify as yellow sand unidentified sand flowerverbena. This is the only plant of its kind I found on the stretch of beach I walked. The other plant was blooming all across the sandy dunes, but sadly I could not find a name for it in my book. It has a pale lavender flower Lupine, sand dunes, Doran Beachand sometimes grew in compact little clumps like this, and other times poked out of the sand as singular flower stalks. I did get a photo of the mixed dune plants, with this plant growing alongside brilliant yellow lupine, some wild radish in the background, and dune grasses.

When I got home, I took a picture of this tomato plant that I will be putting in the ground very soon, in one of the warmer, protected spots in my garden. It is a very special tomatoTomato plant plant, because it comes from the garden of a friend of mine who will not be around to see his plants bear fruit this year. He passed away last night, after a long struggle with cancer. A very private person, he requested that there be no service for him, nor even an obituary. So this is not an obituary. But it is a remembrance of a gentle soul, who was a favorite uncle of my kids and a loving companion to my sister. It is a blessing for him to be through with his ordeal, but he will be sorely missed, and remembered fondly by all of us for a very long time.

7 thoughts on “Beach Blooms

  1. Anne Post author

    You are correct. It is probably Drosanthemum floribundum. The one that I called ice plant above is I think the Cephalophyllum, or ‘red spike’. Both ice plants are South African natives, and grow really well here on the coast.

  2. Hecate

    May the Goddess guard your friend. May he find his way to the Summerlands. May his friends and family know peace.

  3. Reya Mellicker

    I’m sorry to hear the sad news. Many condolences to you and your family, and especially to your sister.

    It was such a difficult route that took you to where you’re now living, but it’s clear you’ve found the perfect landscape. I love your posts about the land. Your pics are beautiful, wish they were larger.

  4. Anne Post author

    Thanks Reya. It really does feel like the perfect landscape for me. Did the pictures not expand to a bigger size? Hmm, I’ll have to work on that.

  5. Macha

    Iceplant is a nasty invader to California, grows in what they call “disturbed areas” like roadsides. There’s lots of it along the freeways.

    Your friend’s tomato plant is an apt memorial for a private person. A nice common member of the nightshade family. (I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned the fact that my dad, an agriculturalist, specialized in tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, all in the Solanaceae family.) I look forward to tasting its fruits.

  6. Kathy

    The mystery plant with the pail purple flowers is Cakile maritima (European Sea Rocket). While I agree it’s quite lovely, it is an invasive exotic plant and should be removed. You can do a Google search to confirm both the I.D. and the invasive exotic status.

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