Monday, September 7, 2009

Earthside Story Continues -- California Wild Grapes


These are California wild grapes growing at the Earthside Nature Center across the wash from Eaton Blanche Park. I've been watching these for months now, waiting for them to ripen up. And here they are. They are surprisingly tasty little things. They have a small seed in the middle, not much pulp, and resemble (to this connoisseur -pronounced with a long "e") a very light sweet concord grape.

The vines plainly had been loaded. Many grapes, however, have already turned into raisins. Others have been eaten by birds. But, plenty ripe purple fruit remains. We had alot of fun sampling the wild grapes and even some wild grape raisins.


Earthside was a nationally known native plant garden, but has not been tended since about 1996. That means these grapes have not been irrigated for a long long time. No matter. These have flourished on their own.

I took this picture last May and it shows how the vines sprawl over the fence at the northern edge of Earthside. Reportedly California wild grapes aren't good wine grapes. We may test that out. However, the wild grape is strong and disease resistant and is used as rootstock for wine grapes.

Bonus picture of Mt. Wilson from the nature center kiosk. Two dead redwood trees have been removed opening up this vista. As you can see, the transmission towers high atop Mt. Wilson still stand.

Extra bonus shot. Here's a bench under a sycamore where you can eat your wild grapes. As you can see, a tractor has turned under much of the brush that took over the garden this summer.

14 comments:

altadenahiker said...

I've never even heard of this place, but the photos grabbed me. I'm paying a visit today.

Michael Coppess said...

Hi Altadena Hiker: Hope you enjoy your visit. I'd be curious to know if you've ever seen these grapes growing wild in the foothills. I saw one report of wild grapes along the Altadena Crest Trail. BTW, thanks for the great fire coverage and photos!!

altadenahiker said...

Are you sure they're wild? Tasted like concords to me, though there wasn't much meat left in them.

Wow, your photos show much beauty here, and mine look eerie. I almost felt as though I were trespassing. Thanks for pointing this out -- never in a million years would I have found the park on my own.

Where did everyone go? It's very mysterious.

Michael Coppess said...

On the grapes, I've puzzled over them for about a year now, done some Internet searches, consulted with plant folks and never reached any conclusions. Then last week end I saw a broken sign at the base of the grapes and put the broken pieces back together. It said "Wild Grapes." Hence, I deduced they are wild grapes. Thanks for taking the time to visit and for the great material over at AltadenaHiker.

Petrea said...

Very cool place. I can't wait to take a look for myself. It looks lovely. I saw your older post about it, too.

Michael Coppess said...

Petrea, I dare say Earthisde would be an easier subject than today's loading dock! Would be great to see what you would do with it. I'll stay tuned over at Daily Photo.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Michael, very kind of you. I hope to get over there within a few days.

HappyDane484 said...

Amazing posts about this site. However I have one question. How the heck do you get into this place? I apparently drive by it almost everyday on my way to work, an I can't for the life of me figure out how to view this hidden gem. I'm guessing it's not quite legal?

Michael Coppess said...

Hi Happy -- Thanks for the kind comment. I went by this morning and the east gate was padlocked. But, the western gate was open. All perfectly legal as far as I know.

David S said...

Thanks for sharing. Cool open area closer than Eaton Cyn, have to check it out! I remember visiting close E. Blanche Prk after shoping Fedco back in the days.

BTW do you know if its ok to take cuttings as now fall is time to cultivate/transplant? I could try in my community garden in Alhambra. What time is good to go there also?

Michael Coppess said...

David: Thanks for the comment. Easy for me to be generous with the city's grape vines, but I don't see why you couldn't walk in there to take a few cuttings. There is often a police or city car at the site so you could check with them first if you wanted. The gates are sometimes now locked and sometimes open, so I don't really know the best time to go these days. Good Luck!

David Sneiders said...

Finally got over to ENC to gather wild grape cuttings. Upon clamouring over fence by the Eaton Wash concrete lined channel, noticed more trash than usual. Advancing up the west side to the higher level portion seen a homeless encampment but no people round.

Could hear in distance some noise toward the old Girls club so went toward the wood kiosk hut & noticed clothes & backpack on outside & possibly a resident inside? My attention was drawn to the source of the noise, workers are currently dismantling the Girls Club & musta already taken apart the playground due to its absence.

I turned my attention to the red leafed grape vine I observed previously. Its all denuded of foilage but buds are poking up here & there, indicating life. I trimmed the 5 bud minimum & least a pencil wide thickness or larger to hopefully ensure stronger cutting/ transplant.

Upon leaving w/ my 12 cuttings, noticed shed by burnt trailer open & boots, hardware inside & a useable garden fork perched by open door. Another shelter for the homeless campers no doubt. Finally calling it anothr revisit I was fixing to clamour over low area of fence but noticed someone had forced open fence by the Ponderosa pine & the Do Not Enter sign, by the Eaton Wash side,lol. Exit stage left & transplanting coming wild grapes & Earthside lives on in the garden :).

HappyDane484 said...

I drove by the other day and there's tons of heavy equipment and the roof and walls of the old pre-school are gone, leaving just the frame of the building. Just thought I'd share.

Didaskalos said...

Searching for nice clones of V. girdiana for a community garden here in San Diego, saw the blog. Made the trip to LA this weekend 11/8/2013, stopped at Mission San Gabriel and got cuttings of the "1774 Ramona" vine, as well as V. girdiana at ENC. ENC is looking pretty well toasted in late November, and the grapes are over-grown and want pruning. But they'll survive...! Thanks so much for this inspiring blog, MC! ----Mark Miner