Winter Walks in Buckeye Canyon

Judy Hiramoto, avid San Bruno Mountain supporter and explorer, came to San Francisco when college classmates in Ohio raved about the city as the best place to live. Having lived in numerous places around the world, she has to agree that it's a great place to be an artist. Judy's friends have generously engaged in a dialogue about the awesome natural beauty around us.

She is currently working on a book of photographs, titled San Bruno Mountain, that documents its flora, trails, boulders, landscape, and seasonal changes.


Toyon - Judy Hiramoto © 2017

Buckeye Canyon is my favorite place to visit during the winter holidays when toyons (Heteromeles arbutifolia) are laden with bright red berries like holly – but without its prickly leaves.  In late November the golden leaves of the willow provide a striking contrast.  A grassy path parallel to Quarry Road that skirts the base of the canyon weaves from one toyon to the next.  Each toyon has its unique characteristic – some lie low like shrubs while others become 20-foot tall trees.

Chaparral currant - Judy Hiramoto © 2017

Chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum) grows amongst the oak trees higher up in Buckeye Canyon.  On a cold January day the small white cluster of blossoms tinged with pink quiver in the breeze.  No other flower in Buckeye dares to bloom at this time.  The challenge for photographing these delicate flowers is to find them shortly after they bloom, but before they turn brown drenched by the winter rain. 

The fire of June 2008 burnt numerous oak and bay trees in Buckeye Canyon.  Nine years later, these trees have fallen and strew the mountainside with their gigantic trunks and branches.  One of them fell over a colony of Franciscan wall flowers that now lie beneath a web of branches. 

Photos and text by Judy Hiramoto © 2017