The first day of spring in Los Angeles felt very—well—spring-y. We had just enough rain and moderate temperatures in the prior weeks to encourage our native and California-friendly plants to greet the season with beautiful blooms. I visited a native garden located along Temescal Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades on the season’s first day. It’s one of my favorite walks, particularly when you head downhill toward the beach and ocean comes into view.
I walked along the native garden’s path, enjoying the blue-flowered Ceanothus, the sprinkling of reds on the Galvezias and Heucheras, the purple hues of sage shrubs, the multi-colored carpet of annual plants, and, of course, the orange California poppies—lots of them. I had a camera phone in hand and intended to take a couple of photographs as keepsakes. I stood still as I took in the picturesque scene, enjoying the moment alone.
That’s when I noticed the slight movements that revealed a garden alive with wildlife. Two winged aerial dancers – Gulf Fritillary Butterflies – chased each other, flying over and briefly touching one plant and then hopping to the next. One moment they were directly in front of me, and in a split second, the pair darted twenty feet in opposite directions, looping back to rest on a nearby shrub. I moved in closer—very slowly, with my camera in position. No luck! They bolted, but returned to another shrub near me. I tried again, but our dance repeated.
I changed my tactic and crouched down, waiting for the butterflies to come to me. Unbelievably, one butterfly landed on the ground within five feet of me. I took a shot, then crept closer. I clicked my camera a few more times, moving closer after each shot. My butterfly remained on the warm wood mulch covering the ground. Had it dozed off in the warmth of the sun? Or, perhaps it decided to give me a break—a spring break (pardon). No matter, I accomplished my task and was pleased with the results.
As I turned to leave, my eye caught more movement in the Ceanothus shrub next to me. Bees! This time, I moved in fast for a close-up. The bees were much more cooperative than Mme. Butterfly. I thanked them with a wave and walked back along the path. A lizard skittered passed me. I let it go. It was time to see the wildlife at the beach.