the view from the top

It’s spring, and the wildflowers wait for no one. I’ve been forsaking gardening and home projects and blogging (gasp!) a bit to check out some of the local open spaces. Here’s a panorama of part of the view from the top of Fortuna Mountian, at 1,243 feet the second highest “peak” in the San Diego city limits. (Click the image to enlarge.)


This peak burned on October 26, 2003 during the county’s big Cedar Fire. Revisiting the area is a great lesson to see how things recover from a major fire, either by resprouting from the roots or reestablishing themselves by seed. There are still plenty of dead branches poking up towards the sky, but there’s also a huge amount of green. And these big, gorgeous rocks didn’t hold on to their scorch marks for long. (Don’t you just love rocks in a landscape, either in the wilds or in a garden?)


Many of the plants and flowers aren’t ones you’ll find even in native plant gardens, but several have passed the “garden-worthy” test. In the second frame from the left above, you’ll see a bloom spike of the stinging lupine, Lupinus hirsutissimus, sort of an awful name for a beautiful plant.

While I haven’t seen plants of this annual species offered for sale, several online sources do list seeds, including S&S Seeds, and Seedhunt.

Also on the summit were two other plants that are used fairly frequently in native gardens: laurel sumac (Malosma laurina) and mission manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor), both of them eventually forming large, interesting shrubs.

I’ll be sharing more bits and pieces of the trips as I get them more organized.

2 thoughts on “the view from the top”

  1. What a beautiful Lupine! It does have an unfortunate name though. I read recently that California Poppies put on amazing displays the year after a big wildfire.

  2. Hi Kate, I wasn’t in this area immediately after the fire, so I’m not sure what the poppy show was like. I know there’s a species that isn’t the state flower that is called the “fire poppy,” and it’s reputed to take over a burned area and set it ablaze with orange flowers. One of the burned hills is still covered with deer weed, one of our classic local fire followers. (I hope to post some of those pictures.) And lupines, too, I think are another fire follower–which might explain this isolated lupine on the mountaintop!

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