Old men’s beards and naked ladies

As we’ve already established on this blog, Mike is a bit of a train spotter. The sound of an American train horn blaring or level crossing bell clanking cause his ears prick up!

It’s now time to out myself as a plant spotter, although this won’t be much of a surprise to those of you that know me. As we’ve travelled southwards I’ve loved watching the fauna change. In British Columbia fir trees and ferns predominated, through Washington State more huge pine and poplar forests. In Portland we saw the most beautiful roses, the city is called the ‘Rose City’ as the climate is near perfect for these blooms. In Oregon we saw the rain forests; so-called because of the damp climate that provides perfect conditions for the moss and lichen that grows all over the bark of the trees. Sometimes the moss hangs low, apparently it’s called ‘old man’s beard’ by the locals.

Following the coast through Oregon the plants were similar to those you’d find on the British coast: broom and gorse growing wild and Agapanthus and Hydrangeas popular in gardens. The giant redwoods were amazing, but they have already had a mention on the blog.

Not until we reached California did we start to see more arid plants. Succulents, palms, Red Hot Pokers, Douglas Fir, lots of wild fennel and of course Californian poppies. The bright orange flowers are so synonymous with the state they are in fact the state flower. The other plant that grows wild in all of the verges is Pampas grass – they’ve been everywhere since we arrived in California. It’s strange how a plant considered synonymous with the 1970s naff in the UK are so dramatic and impressive here. The other plant that has stuck out on our journey through California is what locals call Naked Ladies. These bright pink lillys have been growing everywhere. The stems are bare of leaves (hence the naked phrase), but the flowers are incredibly pink. Thankfully, they are the only naked ladies we’ve seen so far on our travels!

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