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Sonoma County Gazette
Flowers in Roseland's neighborwood

'Restorying' the Roseland Neighborwood

Apr 24, 2019


By David Self

one of the neighbors

says ‘there were only a few oaks here

in the early 1960’s’

much is now a dense thicket of oaks,

tangles of poison oak and blackberry,

patches of french broom

and a dozen other

invasive garden plants

and garden remnants

and the remaining grassy area,

which ‘was a prune orchard into the 1970’s’

it’s now almost all

non-native grasses and weeds

with a scattering of

black walnuts

and a few young oaks

another neighbor

says that ‘before the prunes

the whole area was

sheep pasture

with a few scattered oaks’

this neighbor also says

‘there used to be vernal pools here

before they were filled by plow and farming,

and the creek was deepened into a ditch’

yet another neighbor

says ‘there used to be

a pomo village

a few hundred yards to the south.’

searching for native wildflowers


we only find

a dozen dwarf lupine*?

what wild flowers

danced here

before sheep and plow and prunes,

when the pomo were tending the plains?

as we explore

we do find

clammy-weed* patches

an invasive plant

of the paintbrush family’

that look like


from a distance

and I think - there should be three or four

owl’s clovers,

also paintbrush family,



valley tassels*,

purple owls clover*

little brown ‘soft’ owls clover*

we spot

a few carrot-like

bishop-weed* flowers

and their carrot-like leaves are abundant.

I think yampa*,

a tasty native of the carrot family,

should be here,

and those

would support


of the native

anise swallowtail butterflies

(and I love the flavor of yampa roots, leaves and seeds).

a winter puddle spot

hosts a scattering

of prickle-seed buttercup*.

and i imagine

swaths of western* or california buttercups*

and swales of bloomer’s buttercups*

blueish gleams from an abundance

of spittlebug spittle

on the bishop-weed

make me think

baby blue-eyes*, blue-dicks*, Ithuriel’s spear*, camas*

all of which I found a few miles west

on a similar site

when I was a student

at the state university

40 years ago.

one neighbor asks

‘how many kinds of wildflowers

would have been here in the past?”

and i answer ‘maybe 150 to 200,

which is roughly how many i listed

from that other site

40 years ago.’

other wildflowers i remember

from that other site ...


royal larkspur*


shooting stars*


California poppy*


white wild hyacinth*

narrow-leaved milkweed*

(a monarch favorite)

a half-dozen native clovers*

and many, many others

the abundant and diverse




spring greens,

of that other site



myriad native bees


lizards, frogs, salamanders


badgers ...

and these wildflowers once sustained

the pomo

as food, medicines,

fibers and more

and the pomo, in turn,

helped sustain

the wildflowers

with burning,



What might we do as neighbors

with hope, determination,

scouting, weeding,

planting and seeding?

as we,

and our children

get to know

the wildflowers

and wild flavors

once again?


(Based on a walk with friends of the Roseland NeighborWood), after a workday collecting trash and removing invasive plants). Written in celebration of National Poetry Month and the Sonoma County Poetry festival, as part of “Sense of Place Poetry Challenge” at

Two more “Hikes with Poetry” next weekend, Saturday 4/27 in Cloverdale, Sunday in 4/28 Sebastopol





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