April showers bring May flowers. Pretty, indeed, yet there's one yellow bud that we don't want to see -- the bloom on a leggy French broom.

The pervasive plant was actually introduced in the mid-1800s as an ornamental landscape bush, but gardeners soon realized it could multiply faster than a field of jack rabbits. This is because as the blooms die, seed pods form and then burst, giving birth to thousands of tiny plants.

What's the problem? French broom grows into tall, dense brush fields that choke out other plants and provide an enormous blanket of fuel in the event of a wildfire.

The folks at the CIPC (California Invasive Plant Council) have a whole list of things you can do to get rid of the broom near your home. They involve tools like weed wrenches, brush hogs and saws so you might want to read up on their website at www.cal-ipc.org. Put French broom removal in the search engine at the bottom of the page.

The pilgrimage: Lots of comments coming in re: my April 25 column on "old survivor" -- the old growth redwood above the York trail in Leona Canyon. As I say, I haven't seen "grandpa" myself, but I hope to go on a tour with the Oakland Heritage Alliance (http://www.oaklandheritage.org). Without a guide, even self-proclaimed tree huggers have trouble finding the spot, as several readers have told me.


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In fact, Phil Miller says it took him eight years to find "old survivor" because of the dangerously steep slopes and the loose soil. Yet, setting eyes on this 485-year-old redwood can be life changing.

It continually inspires me. I wrote a story about it and also did a drawing," says Miller, who was kind enough to let me share his image with me.

Email bag: What do the owl and the pussycat have in common? Besides going to sea in a beautiful pea green boat, they like taking to the trees in the Oakland hills and beyond. We're talking big cats, here, like the possible puma spotted by a reader in the boughs of a tree near Skyline last month.

That sighting triggered a memory for fellow Oakland writer Linda Brown -- something that happened 30 years ago in the Trinity Alps.

"I made the nighttime trip away from the tent and, as I stood up, found those big yellow eyes fixed on me," she writes, adding she was 10 miles into the back country and a long way from the nearest town. "I shudder to think what would have happened had the cat pounced on me."

In flight: Just in time for International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, local artist Rita Sklar is hanging her award-winning watercolors in Sotheby's Montclair Gallery (1986 Mountain Blvd.). Her work has been in a number of national shows and will be on display from Tuesday through July 13 with an artist reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 22.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.