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Monkey Flowers of various species are putting on an excellent display this month around San Diego. Look for these low, shrub-like plants with tubular yellow, orange, or red flowers wherever native vegetation clothes the landscape -- from the coastal bluffs to the lower slopes of the mountains. As you drive Interstates 8 or 805 near Mission Valley, look for the rust tint these flowers give to the steep hillsides. On the terraces just above San Onofre State Beach, you can usually see springtime monkey flower blossoms of every intermediate shade from yellow to red.

Mustard, a nonnative plant more like a weed than a wildflower, is blooming profusely on grassy slopes all along the coastline of San Diego County. An old story, probably apocryphal, tells of the padres scattering mustard seed along the El Camino Real so that the bright, yellow mustard blossoms would help them find their way in future spring seasons. More likely, the plant was introduced to western North America in the form of seeds carried in the hay used to feed livestock brought in by the early settlers.

Rabbit and Rodent Population is peaking in the canyons and hillsides of coastal San Diego County. In many neighborhoods, car headlights illuminate the rear ends of scampering cottontail rabbits making raids on succulent garden vegetation. On the fringes of suburbia, sleek coyotes are sometimes spotted slinking about in pursuit of rodents and rabbits, or easier-to-catch fare -- house cats.

Desert Agaves, or century plants, are sending up their asparagus-like flower stalks on rocky hillsides throughout much of the Anza-Borrego Desert. On warm, sunny days the stalks may grow almost one foot per day (fast enough for you to notice the sharp leaf tips at the bud actually separating from one another). After the stalk reaches a height of 10-20 feet, clusters of waxy, yellow flowers appear, ready for pollination by bees and other insects. After blooming, the fleshy, dagger-like leaves at the base of the plant die (after a life of 10 or 20 years, not a century) and the stalk, bearing a crop of seeds, dries up as well.

Comments
1

Hey Jerry,

We have three very cute rabbits now living in our backyard (which is on top of a canyon). We never noticed rabbits practically spending all of their time in our yard before, and I've been noticing more rabbits in other areas when I exercise. Today I was watching a bunch of rabbits in the train park at Balboa Park sitting and waiting for the rotating sprinklers to come back and refresh them (!!), and ladies next to me remarked that the rabbit population had indeed seemed to grow this year. Why is that? We also hear more coyotes in our canyon than in previous years, but it could be that they just moved up from the lower part of the canyon. And maybe that's also why the three rabbits are now constantly in our backyard! They are beginning to get used to us coming into the yard to hang laundry, water plants, etc., and they don't run off so much anymore, Our "resident bunnies" are delightful!

May 23, 2009

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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