This week at Thematic Photographic, Carmi asks us to explore the theme ROUND. What is round? So much of nature is spherical. Here's something that's Round -
Growing in the ruins of the Lower Topanga Community, by the side of the road, this is a specimen of Romneya coulteri, also called the Matilija poppy, a California native plant in the poppy family.
This drought tolerant herbaceous perennial is a survivor. It loves full sun, but needs little else - not much water, no fertilizer - it doesn't need much of anything. It goes completely dormant in winter.
Huge white flowers rise atop beautiful cut blue-green foliage - four delicate white crinkled petals like crepe paper surround a yolk-yellow central boss of stamens, round like a pompom of bright yarn. The size, shape and color of the flowers also lends it the common name "fried egg flower."
Oddly, for such a tough plant, the matilija poppy can be difficult to grow in gardens. Although it can survive in poor soil, becoming invasive in light sandy soils, it is difficult to get started. Even well-grow potted specimens often fail if planted in heavy clay soil. It's also hard to start from seed. It's said that the seeds will only germinate after surving a fire, so many gardeners put the seeds in fireplaces or burn small bunches of dry leaves with the seeds before planting. It's a plant that frustrates gardeners, because for some it's impossible to establish, while for others it's a rampant weed.
This one attracted a bee, who happily gathered pollen, ignoring me while I snapped away. The stamens are so thick with pollen his little legs are heavy with it.
I've failed with matilija poppy several times, no matter how diligent I am. But despire my chagrin and envy, it's great to see a well-grown plant in full bloom, here in the remains of Lower Topanga, where a community that once thrived has been bulldozed into powder, shards of splintered glass and concrete chunks littering the soil.