The weather here in Southern California lately has been gorgeous. The bees are buzzing, the birds are chirping and summer is gearing up. My husband has been doing a ton of birding (aka bird watching) this year, more than ever actually, and logging in his finds on the ebird app. Yep, there’s an app for that. And what better way to get yourself outside than to go looking for different species of birds in your local area?
Whatever draws you out, now is a beautiful time to be checking out local nature trails, county parks, wilderness areas and national forests. Early morning is usually best, as it’s not yet too hot, the birds are still pretty active and the sun is nice and low, if shining at all.
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum)
What’s got me extra excited this season is all the native California Buckwheat in bloom! The bees are loving it and so am I. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen a couple of Buckwheat shots. The fully opened blossoms are light pink, off-white looking from a distance in bunches of six-petaled individual flowers. So adorable and pretty! And the bees know it too.
Not to be confused with buckwheat flour, ground from the buckwheat grain, used to make pancakes and soba noodles. Our native California Buckwheat has been used as a traditional medicinal plant by Native Americans for headaches, wounds and other ailments. A decoction of the root is used for hoarseness and inflammation of the throat. (source)
Last month and still now in June, these flowering shrubs are covering the hills of Orange County, making hikes that much more pleasant.
I’ve also been seeing the black sage in bloom, with light purple blossoms coming out of the fluffy bud clusters. Rub your fingers on the leaves or the buds and you’ll enjoy that intense sage scent during your hike. The bees are loving these flowers too.
Locally, sage comes in black, white, purple, desert and many more. The word sage comes from the latin term, salvere, which means "to feel well and healthy, health, heal". (source)
So what happens when a bee enjoys the nectar of a particular flower and brings it back to her hive? Honey!
As you’ve hopefully already enjoyed by now, my husband & I have been serving up our delicious jun using different honeys and green teas. And Buckwheat and Sage are definitely two of our favorites, and now you can start to understand why.
What’s better than honey from a plant that grows natively in your local area? Not much! So what other plants bloom around here and offer sweet nectar for our bee friends?
While not a native per se, Eucalyptus grows all over Southern California, and the red blossoms that bloomed in late winter/early spring are another favorite of bees. You will likely see Eucalyptus trees even on nature trails. They were planted here probably hundreds of years ago and thrive in this climate that is so similar to their native Australia.
The Eucalyptus look blends well with our chaparral and coastal sage scrub landscape, making these trees seem like they were “born” here. We welcome the Eucalyptus openly, enjoying the lovely aroma of their leaves and of course, the delicious, dark and not-too-sweet honey from their blossoms.
✨ Stay tuned as JenEric will soon be offering a new jun flavor using Eucalyptus honey with an organic green tea varietal. ✨
There are so many beautiful things to see, smell and hear on your next hike or picnic out in nature. We hope you’ll find your local area brimming with activity this time of year and will take a moment to appreciate all that goes on in the wild.
Nature reconnects us to ourselves and our magnificent inner-being, that is always guiding us to the best version of who we truly are.
Tell me: What have you been enjoying this season that connects you to nature? What birds, bees or other pollinators have you noticed out there? What's your favorite way to feel aligned and at peace? I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.