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I rode Bittner Road out of Occidental with my family last weekend on our way to Doran Beach and spotted Calypso orchids (Calypso bulbosa) blooming under the redwoods. I love spotting them at this time of year — and all the more so because I never knew any of these beautiful little orchids grew in Sonoma County until very recently even though I grew up traveling these roads (I developed my botanizing skills after college even though I liked plants and flowers from an early age, so perhaps I just didn’t know what to look for at the time).
I spotted my first Calypso orchids only last year, on Harrison Grade Road, west of Graton and enjoyed seeing them again as I cycled to catch up with the rest of my family. I’ve been surprised by a number of interesting plants that I likewise never noticed until returning to Sonoma County, such as pussy ears (Calochortus tolmiei), which also favors the redwoods, another Calachortus, golden globe lillies (C. amabilis — also known as golden fairy lanterns) around Lake Sonoma, and the showy canyon larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule) – which we also spotted on our ride as we returned on Coleman Valley Road.
The threatened landmark Bunya Bunya tree (Araucaria bidwillii) at the corner of Sebastopol Avenue and Morris Street won a temporary reprieve when the developer of the Barlow project, Barney Aldridge, asked the Design Review/Tree Board’s to continue his removal request until a later meeting. At issue are an ADA-compliant sidewalk and cross walk ramps at the corner because the width of space between the curb and roots of the 100-year-old tree, which rise toward the crown is too narrow without cutting into the roots — which would likely be a fatal injury. Concerned residents have bombarded City staff with emails and calls protesting the request and suggesting alternatives, including taking the sidewalk around the north side of the tree or a slightly raised walkway over the roots. Staff reported that in asking for a continuation, Aldridge will be looking into alternatives.