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The last few days have been beautifully warm and sunny, but tonight the rain returns, so I decided to take a leisurely stroll down to one of the creeks on the property to see what’s blooming this spring before the weather changes, again.

Our creeks have plenty of water in the spring, but can almost run dry by late summer (click any image to enlarge)

As we had almost 14 inches of rainfall in March the creeks still have significant water flows.

The creek banks are mostly shaded, and receiving only dappled sunlight during the day, so the collection of native plants found in that area prefer to grow in at least some shade.

Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

As I approached the creek, the most notable plants were the Redwood Sorrel, now in full bloom, these plants blanket the entire forest floor in some areas.

Mixed in with the Redwood sorrel I could still find a few Trillium (Trillium ovatum) in bloom.

Western White Trillum (Trillium ovatum)

The Stream Violets (Viola glabella) seem to be blooming a few weeks earlier than last year.

Stream Violet (Viola glabella)

A few Toothworts (Cardamine californica) were scattered in some of the sunnier areas near the water’s edge.

California Toothwort (Cardamine californica)

I even managed to find a few native Forget-Me-Nots (Cynoglossum grande) in bloom in this area. I hadn’t noticed any this close to the creek last year.

Forget-Me-Not (Cynoglossum grande)

Near a fallen oak I found the first Western Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) in bloom,

Western Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

although I almost find the leaves more beautiful than the flowers.

Western Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

Soils that are still retaining lots of water from the recent rains were readily identifiable by the miniature forests of Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) intersecting through swaths of Sorrel.

Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)

At creek level, the saturated soils were host to some beautiful Liverworts clinging to the vertical banks that I’d never noticed before,

Liverwort (Conocephalum sp.?)

and at the creek margin, the horsetails (Equisetum telmateia var. braunii) were pushing their brushy plumes through the soil.

Giant Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia var. braunii)

I looked to see if I could find any salamander species, but came up empty handed, perhaps because the creek waters are still quite high, and fast moving where I’d seen the aquatic phase of our Coast Range Newts last year.

However, there were quite a few Water Striders skitting around in some of the deeper, slow moving pools along the water’s edge.

Water Striders (Gerris sp.)

Higher on the creek banks away from the water’s edge the native Hazel (Corylus cornuta) is beginning to leaf out

Hazel (Corylus cornuta)

and the Western Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum) are bedecked with their beautiful new vivid green fronds.

Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)

Although all of these native plants are growing on our property by the creek, this is Nature’s garden, and we don’t do anything to the plantings in this area except remove invasives as we find them.

One of the creeks on the property

It was a truly beautiful and relaxing way to spend a few moments in the midst of a hectic spring day.  I really should take the time to walk this area more often.