Welcome to my Garden Blog

Nature. Wild & untouched. Photographing it, preserving it, taking walks & drinking in the landscapes as they unfold.

Gardens. Touched by loving hands. Cultivated, nurtured. Drinking in those landscapes is wonderful, as well.

In my garden one enjoys some of both. Generally unpruned & wild, my plants reshape the garden as they grow. Beyond its borders, natives from the Santa Monica Mtns. await. Oaks with their shady canopies. Cactus & Sage in the sun.

And always there are animal creatures to join in the fun.

I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with you as they unfold.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

California Pepper Trees, the Weeping Willows of Topanga Canyon

I was thinking about my walk yesterday.. the crush of the peppercorns under my feet, the sound they make when you step on them, all dry and crunchy.  It is a welcome sound that I am accustomed to on my daily walks.  It is a sound that is missing after a rain.  I passed under a long branch, green leaves dangling low in my face.  I  moved them aside and noticed the tiniest white flowers. The buzz of bees soon followed as two bees attempted to climb into the flowers. These flowers will, of course, turn into peppercorns.

California pepper trees (Schinus molle) are not native to California, but still I so love them.  Their drooping branches add a soft grace to the side of a road, or to a meadow.  They remind me of the Weeping Willows in the Midwest, with branches hanging down low next to a pond.  The California Pepper trees are my Willows:  Common, unassuming, providing a wonderful place to sit in the Summer and get shade, as well as lots of red peppercorns in Fall. And yes, if you scratch them, they smell like pepper. The berries are sometimes sold as "pink peppercorns".

California pepper trees are perfectly acclimated to the drought conditions of the Santa Monica Mountains. They are so widely naturalized in the Canyons, it is easy to assume that they are natives. Despite their common name "California pepper," they are actually native to the Peruvian Andes.  In a garden, the trees are versatile: you can leave them wild & unpruned, or you can prune them up to suit your tastes. The California pepper is evergreen, and keeps its bright green color all year long.

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