My Backyard – The Summer Tour

It has been a tough few months.  I finally hit my breaking point, and hermited myself away to calm down and regroup.  I absolutely hate writing when I’m in a bad state of mind, so I took to reading voraciously instead. The time has come, however, to unhermit myself.  So last weekend I grabbed my camera and documented the better aspects of my reclusive little world to share.

It is definitely summer here.  We have been in the 90s (30s C) for a good couple of weeks now. I staked a claim for myself in the shade of our big redwood tree in the backyard to get away from our oven of a house.

My new throne.

My new throne.

It is theeee best place to sit and read.  It’s also a nice place for a nap, which is unfortunate for the neighbors because I snore like a freight train.

The view from my chair, looking up.

The view from my throne, looking up.

The four trunks of our coast redwood tree.

The four trunks of our coast redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens).

Once the yard is completely in shade, which is at around 4pm, I might turn on a sprinkler and water something nearby to feel the spray carried on the wind.

four o'clocks

Like these four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), which grow wild in a little corner of the yard.

Or my sister's little garden.

Or my sister Shelly’s border garden.

If it’s particularly hot, I’ll sit directly under the water, which is kind of boring really because I can’t read or tippity-tap on my laptop, and no one ever wants to join me.  I need to suffer mightily to go that route, but go it I do.

The grass is dead in the majority of the yard.  Even the usual weeds such as clover, couch grass, and dandelions, have all but disappeared.  There is still some color to be found, though,

From Shelly's garden to the front of the house:  dead grass, green fruit trees.

From Shelly’s garden to the front of the house: dead grass, green trees and shrubs.

and interesting things abound.

busted pots 2

Tree stumps bursting from nursery pots

These are near the four o’clock colony.  I think they were silk floss trees.  My step-dad, Rob,  propagated them from seeds he liberated from a tree at a golf course,

busted pots 1

Ceiba speciosa, if I’m correct.

and then apparently forgot about. They took root where they stood, wimpy plastic pots be damned.  During a bad windstorm in 2011, Rob worried that they would fall onto the neighbor’s property and cause damage.

spiky logs

Spiky wood pile.

So now they’re firewood.

Have you ever seen one of these?

Homalocladium platycladum

Homalocladium platycladum

It’s known as ribbonbush, ribbon plant, tapeworm plant, or centipede plant.  It is native to the Solomon Islands.  This one is at the edge of Shelly’s garden.

Ribbon plant "leaves"

Ribbon plant “leaves”

It has  long, flat, segmented “leaves” that are actually flower stems.  Tiny flowers pop out along the edges.

Homalocladium flowers

Homalocladium flowers

Here’s the color I promised:

Bouganvilla

Bouganvilla

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

Purple lantana

Purple lantana

Lemons

Lemons

Passion flower and fern

Passion flower and fern

Passion flower face

Passion flower face

And this???

And this???

I have no idea what this little orange flower is,

The orange flower's vine

The orange flower’s vine

but its vine is gigantic.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  By my best estimate it’s 15-20 ft tall, 60 ft long, and 30 ft wide.  It is tended by at least three different property owners. It was here when my parents bought the house over 30 years ago.   Come to think of it, so was that passion vine, and the lemon tree.  Of course the redwood tree.  Oh!  And the black walnut tree!

Black walnut tree, as seen from my bedroom window.

Black walnut tree, as seen from my bedroom window.

When we moved here this tree had a huge hole decayed into the trunk, like a child’s drawing minus the owl inside.  Rob said the tree was rotten and told us not to eat the nuts, and said it would likely die within the year.  Obviously it didn’t, and a couple of summers ago we discovered that the hole has completely healed over.  We’re still scared to eat the walnuts, though, so the squirrels and wild parrots get their pick.

At the base of this tree is another border garden of exotic plants.

Garden under the walnut tree.

Garden under the walnut tree.

Taro, aka elephant ears.  (Colocasia esculenta)

Taro root plant (Colocasia esculenta). Since we grow them for decoration, we call the plants elephant ears.

Nestled into the tree itself are some amusing knickknacks:

Large glass fishing float

Large glass fishing float

Lion's head

Lion’s head

M 'n M man

M&M man

Other curious things are scattered around the yard, too.

Cony sentinel

A cony sentinel.

Cast iron cockerel

Cast iron cockerel left.

Cast iron cockerel right.

Cast iron cockerel right.

An ugly cactusy thing with pretty yellow flowers.

An ugly cactusy thing with pretty yellow flowers (and another bunny).

Logs from a downed oak branch, a casualty of the 2011 windstorm.

Logs from a downed oak branch, a casualty of the 2011 windstorm.

Lantana berries

Lantana berries

Old ferns tangled up in the rangy passion vine.

Old ferns tangled up in the rangy, spider webby passion vine.

Today is overcast and the heat isn’t quite so bad. Cross your fingers that it holds!

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7 thoughts on “My Backyard – The Summer Tour

  1. lovely post; I don’t know the names of flowers or trees, and once thought I couldn’t be a writer because of that until a friend sent me a Girl Scout book on birds, trees, and flowers; hugs e

  2. I really love your yard and the plants as well as all the interesting little garden decorations! What a wonderful place to sit and read while you hid out a bit, Janine. I’m hoping you’re feeling a greater sense of well-being, and that you are simply doing better! ox

  3. Oh I can see why you sit under a tree with the sprinkler on and good for you Not watering the grass, i hate it when people waste water on their grass, better that it is used for your lovely garden, you have piles of gorgeous plants in there. Almost time to write again I think! c

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