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Late autumn and early winter in the Regional Parks Botanic Garden are often times of quiet introspection made more sober by the stark contrast of form and color of our deciduous trees and shrubs, like the much revered scene of American dogwood (Cornus sericea) set against ghostly white aspens (Populus tremuloides) in the Sierran section. Few plants flower: California fuchsia (Epilobium canum) and ashyleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum cinereum) are the prolific bloomers during this time.
However, a surprisingly warm autumn has resulted in many out-of-season or "second" blooms. Woolly bluecurls (Trichostema lanatum) flower merrily in the Southern California section as though winter is still months away. Vine maples (Acer circinatum) that have shed their leaves are sporting new ones; luckily there are many specimens with their fiery-red leaves intact to be viewed. Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.) and currants (Ribes spp.) are blooming early and are surrounded by busy pollinators. The air is filled with songs of migrating birds, and if it weren't for the angle of the sun and the short days, one might assume spring is around the corner. Of course eventually the sky will darken and the rain will come, and that lazy Wildcat Creek will become a beast again, gently reminding us what time of year it really is.
--by Ashika Narayan, November 9, 2013
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