by Andrea Williams
Some of you may remember the gripping saga of the endangered Baker’s larkspur (Delphinium bakeri): Seeds from the last remaining wild population were grown by the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley and reintroduced into the wild in January at MMWD’s Soulajule Reservoir. The plants there have blossomed, and the project has been fruitful, in both literal and figurative senses of both phrases. At the time of my visit in late April, every one of the tiny sprouts had grown into a robust, flowering adult, and many had begun to produce the fat green crowns characteristic of larkspur fruits. Soon they will die back to their roots and wait out the heat of summer and fall, until the cold damp of winter wakes them next year, hopefully joined by the offspring of this year.
Soulajule itself is a bit of a gem, a surprisingly sizeable lake tucked away in the wooded hills of West Marin, offering quiet delight to those who visit and a new chance at survival to an endangered larkspur hidden away, an indigo jewel in a verdant crown.
Visiting Soulajule: The entrance to the reservoir is three miles west along Marshall-Petaluma Road. An unmarked gate (latched but unlocked) will be on your left. For your first visit, it might be easiest to find this hidden treasure if you go with someone who has been there before or join an organized hike. Marin County Open Space District and California Native Plant Society (Milo Baker and Marin chapters) sometimes lead outings.