• Jon

Peace Garden in a prison

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Healing Garden at State Penitentiary

Fall greetings,

I hope this finds you well. Shorter and cooler days are upon us. Thankfully a gift of rain put an end to smokey days. I missed out on most of the rain as I did an 8 day seed collecting trip to southern California to visit family on the date ranch in Thermal. What a change to leave here with it warm and smokey and come home to wet ground and the wood stove going. I harvested seed on 7 of those days and my car was full of bags of more than 50 species of seed by the time I got home. In those bags; I had 10 different kinds of acorns including some Notholithocarpus densiflorus (tan oak) which is new to the JNS list, 3 different subspecies of Lilium pardalinum (leopard lily) with 2 of them new to my list and two collections of Sambucus nigra ssp caerulea from the San Joaquin Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains that are distinctively different from each other and from the strain we have here.

Some were just small amounts of seed but others were bulkier. For example I had 5 gallons each of Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush) seed heads, Ribes cereum (wax current) berries and Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree) pods, 8 gallons of Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite) pods, 9 gallons of Pinus contorta var. contorta (shore pine) cones, 10 gallons of Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed) pods and 21 gallons Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar) cones. Even the front passenger floor space and seat were full. Thankfully the beeping noise saying the passenger seat belt needed to be fastened didn't last for too long.

Thanks to Ellen who helps by collecting seed down in southern Oregon. She let me store all the seed I had gathered on the first two days of my trip in her garage so they didn't get cooked in a hot car down in Thermal. Attached is a photo of Ellen harvesting beautiful Eriogonum umbellatum (sulfur buckwheat). By the way there are bountiful crops of Lonicera conjugialis (purple-flowered honey suckle), Prunus emarginata var. emarginata (bitter cherry), Quercus kelloggi (black oak) and Ribes cereum (wax current) this year that she could collect if you let me know soon you are interested in them.

To be honest, it wasn't just seed that was filling the car. I came back with a good supply of delicious dates and mangoes grown by two of my farmer brothers. Sorry I can't help you with the mangoes but if you are interested in dates you can mail order them at this link:

Since I had lots of miles to put in and many hours of the travel days were spent harvesting seed, after it got dark I would drive late and I would start driving before dawn. It was interesting to me that even before it was fully light I would see solitary crows stretched out above me for miles patrolling rural highways looking for roadkill meals. I have noticed this behavior in the past but to see it day after day, hundreds of miles apart, in widely different topography and vegetation made it obvious this is a widespread pattern for these smart birds. In the evenings I would sometimes see the crows flying (in flocks, this time of day) to where ever it was they would roost for the night.

I was back driving again yesterday, to a good spot to get snowberry for a Nature Conservancy project I am supplying seed for. I had the radio going in the morning and heard an interesting story about some prisoners in a maximum security facility in Salem, Oregon working to create a Peace Garden in the prison. I was really touched by the story and intend to donate some money to the project. Since most of you on this list deal with plants for restoration I'm thinking this story about another type of restoration might be of interest to some of you. If you are interested here is a link where you can both listen to and read about it.

Well, I best get to work boxing up seed, cleaning it and harvesting more. It is a very busy time of year. You will notice more new species in bold on the attached list. I got quite a few more on this recent trip. For the ones that don't have prices and an amount yet, I will have those as soon as I get the seed cleaned. If you look close at the list you will see that I have a small amount of Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) listed for the first time in quite a few years. It helped that I had some non-color blind helpers with me when we came across the berries. I found 6 berries and they found all the rest! Let me know if you need anything.

Right after I sent out my last JNS email we got a video finished of the group of us reacting to the totality portion of the recent solar eclipse. It was pretty special. You may enjoy watching it.



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