Plants and Birds of the Moment

By Rancho Staff Gardens 1 Comment on Plants and Birds of the Moment

The Heliotropum (Heliotrope) is looking beautiful this month. In Adobe Days, Sarah Bixby Smith lists the plants she remembers from Temple’s garden. She ends with, “… and heliotrope made a heaven of fragrance.” Honoring that list, Ralph Cornell – the 1930s landscape architect at RLC – installed six heliotropes, and our horticulturist, Marie Barnidge McIntyre, has continued to add more over the years. Currently, they are a deep purple in color. To find them, enter the historic backyard gardens, walk under the veranda, and take the center path. You will notice them near the green gate (which leads to Virginia Country Club) and in the shade garden in the northern section of the backyard. They are low to the ground right now, but if you can get down low enough to smell their perfume, you will see what Sarah Bixby Smith was talking about!

We’ve also spotted some warblers around the site recently. These small birds have started their fall migration and are looking for insects to fuel them onward. Warblers recently seen at RLC include the Common Yellow Throat, the Black-Throated Gray, the Yellow, the Townsends (pictured), the Wilson’s, the Orange Crowned, and the Yellow-Rumped. The majority of Warblers arrive at the Rancho individually, but sometimes you can hear several warblers of the same species calling to one another from the branches of shrubs and trees. Hiding amidst all that foliage, it is often a real challenge to see the details of their markings! But when you get a good look, the beauty of these small birds makes all the fuss worthwhile. Even the crick in your neck earned by looking straight up might be forgotten in the moment when you sight a rare one! Is it really any wonder that a “confusion” is what a group of warblers is called? Marie suspects that it was a frustrated birder who came up with that term!


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