Plant of the Moment: Calliandra haematocephala or Pink Powder Puff. Native to South America and Mexico, this tropical plant does well in our arid climate. It can even survive short periods of drought or frost. The Pink Powder Puff can grow 12-15’ tall and wide. The shrub looks stunning in late autumn to mid-spring as it dazzles the viewer with these 2-3” eye-catching flowers that are scattered along its branches. The flowers are made up of bright red stamens that attract hummingbirds for nectar. (The stamens can also be pink or white, but RLC’s are red.) Look for the Pink Powder Puff along the wall of the orchard and forecourt, or follow the path in the backyard to the back wall and walk beneath its branches.
Bird of the Month: The lovely Western Bluebird has been in trouble for a while, with 36% of its range lost due to development and climate change. They stopped breeding here at the Rancho in 2017. To encourage their return, we introduced a nest box a few years back. Thus far, the nest box has only attracted house wrens instead of bluebirds. Part of the Thrush family, they feed on insects and berries. So we have also tried to increase our native berries in the landscape to help support them. The bird pictured here is a male with his blue throat. Females tend to wear more subtle hues.