It’s not just the plants.

Posted: September 20, 2022 in Nature
Tags: , , , , , , ,

South Coast Botanic Garden is unusual in being one of the first botanical gardens developed over a sanitary landfill. Here’s a bit about the unique history from the website:

During the early 1900’s the Dicalite Company began mining diatomaceous earth, but at this time it was mostly surface mining. By 1929, open-pit mining was being pursued. In 1944 the mine was sold to the Great Lakes Carbon Company and mining began in earnest. By 1956, production of the mine declined and the site was sold to the County of Los Angeles. From the very beginning, the county planned to utilize the best possible technology and to reclaim the land for future use. In the meantime, the site was used as a sanitary landfill to help meet the County’s growing landfill needs.

In 1961, private citizens, headed by Frances Young, prevailed upon the County Board of Supervisors to convert this site into a botanic garden. It was an exciting experiment in sanitary landfill reclamation. In April 1961, the first major planting took place with over 40,000 donated trees, shrubs and other plants. Since then, our plant collection has significantly increased to more than 200,000 plants. From open pit mine to sanitary landfill to stupendous garden is the extraordinary history of South Coast Botanic Garden. This continuing experiment in land reclamation has drawn horticulturists from all over the world, including Prince Charles of England, to study the feasibility of similar project. The success of the reclamation effort is apparent in the peaceful, shady groves and areas of spectacular color.

I love that! Beauty from ashes.

However, there’s more to see than just plants. The Japanese garden first grabbed our attention. On one of the plants by the pool of koi was a bright red dragonfly! Although I took a few photos and got rather close, it didn’t move. The really bizarre thing was that when we came back two days later, it was there again in the same place! My husband was sure it was dead and leaned in close, only to have it fly away. We really laughed at that.

To compound our wonder, in a nearby area, we saw two more just like it. Evidently each tend to stay in the same section, although I’m not sure how you’d tell the difference. But who cares? They were brightly beautiful and unexpected.

Under a small bridge lurked this turtle. It’s always fun to spot turtles and they usually can’t get away before you get a photo unless they’re underwater already (water deeper than this) in which case they can be gone in no time at all. This one was content where it was. Maybe it thought we couldn’t see it.

Our last critter sighting was this squirrel perched on a trash can looking rather as if it were hoping we wouldn’t spot it. Maybe it didn’t want to be seen on a trash can. But it didn’t move even a little bit.

As God contains all good things, He must also contain a sense of playfulness — a gift he has shared with Creatures other than ourselves, as witness the tricks Crows play, and the sportiveness of Squirrels, and the frolicking of Kittens. ~Margaret Atwood

Although this has nothing to do with the photo, this quote is so true that I had to include it:

Let me tell you, if you have never seen an agitated squirrel you have seen very little, nor have you heard much, because the sound of an angry squirrel is not to be forgotten. ~Joe R. Lansdale

  1. Sue says:

    Those dragonflies!

  2. margaret21 says:

    I agree about a cross squirrel. Once seen (heard!) never forgotten. A lovely clutch of photos accompany this agitated chap.

  3. What an amazing back story for those of us who garden and compost. The dragonfly posing for you reminds me of some of the large bumblebees I encounter outside early in the morning. They are asleep so they really don’t care how many photos I take.

    • Isn’t it great when the object of your photo makes it easy for you, unlike the butterflies that were everywhere in the park but were never considerate enough to sit still for even a moment unless somewhere that they were behind a leaf or something!

  4. peggy says:

    I have seen many agiitated squirrels in my life – they certainly voice their opinions very loudly. Dragonflies are such mystical little creatures to me – so delicate and beautiful. Lovely photos Janet.

  5. A good post. Thank you 🌍😊

  6. bushboy says:

    So wonderful janet 🙂

  7. Excellent photos of the dragonfly!

  8. restlessjo says:

    I feel quite unfortunate to never have witnessed an angry squirrel, Janet. On the other hand, I’ve seen lots of dragonflies. Red and otherwise.

  9. AMAZING photos! My goodness, that dragonfly… I’ve never seen one so close or crisp!

  10. susurrus says:

    I must have heard an angry squirrel because I think of them as bad-tempered creatures.

  11. Great capture. Beautiful dragonfly!

  12. Jet Eliot says:

    Wonderful stories and photos of the wild critters, Janet. I especially enjoyed the story about the red dragonfly.

  13. Prior... says:

    This post was masterful – I enjoyed the opening with reading about the history of the mining area and gardens (and by the way – we use diatomaceous earth all the time
    And love the way you worded various things – like “Under a small bridge lurked this turtle.”
    And I expected the red dragonfly to be fake! So you let us feel that surprise too
    And the Margaret Atwood quite was new to me and led us right up to the squirrel (and what a funny look it has).

    • We thought about using diatomaceous earth when we lived in Ohio and had slugs in the garden but opted for beer instead. Put some beer in a shallow dish, put the dish at about ground level, and wait for the slugs to go in and drown. 🙂 We used cheap beer and called that brand “slug beer.” 🙂

      • Prior... says:

        I have heard about using beer and that sounds good
        – and we use diatomaceous earth (DE) for pet food- and a little bit can help make a mild body scrub –
        I am careful not to breathe it in!
        In some health groups I belong to – folks drink a little DE in water each week (and it can be a way to reduce parasites as they absorb the DE and some suggest it can get rid of intestinal gunk like strands from candidiasis (which I doubt you have ) and I do drink a little each week (when I remember / a tablespoon in warm water)
        And I first heard of DE when my friend had a Rottweiler rescue and she added a little DE to the pet food – good for pups gut health

        Oh and a little DE in the window sills in late summer can be natural way to kill a fly or mosquito that gets in the house
        Love the stuff

  14. de Wets Wild says:

    How did you manage to leave such an interesting place, Janet!?
    Your images are really beautiful, and the bright red dragonfly is spectacular!

  15. Wind Kisses says:

    This is a fantastic story on repurposing land. I can’t believe I have never heard of it. The squirrel is cute, and yes, on our trip I experienced the angry squirrel sound in addition to the the cry of one nabbed by a coyote and his buddies crying for him. Bizarre . But that’s nature…..

  16. ABSOLUTELY LOVELY SHOTS JANET! i did not mean to shout, I had my caplock on, but then I thought why not. these are lovely.

  17. Always when I see a Squirrel, I remember the Day it was caught in my neighborhood🐿️