Today is a holiday in the United States. It is a time of gathering together with family and friends to reflect on our lives.
Today, I was in the company of my dogs and my chinchilla, Che, and my parrot companion, Rita
The sun was shining and it was warm in the garden.
Since I wrote the first three lines, the weeks have come and gone and it’s almost Christmas.
As I walked, I found interesting things … secrets hidden in plain sight. The light was alternately a soft hazy light flowing into a mysterious darkness as I found my way into the recesses of the garden.
As anyone who knows me understands, the fan palms fascinate me. They are magical. They play with light in a way that no other plant does. When I photographed this leaf some weeks ago, they were happy to display their chameleon-like fans in all of their mystery.
I was careful to avoid Miss Pidey as I crept past her home to reach the crepe myrtle tree who has lost her blossoms and most of her foliage revealing the critters who make their homes on her bark. This is an earlier photograph of her, but she was out repairing damage to her web from a recent storm on this day. As I write this, she is no longer with me. Romero apparently spied her web when he was applying plant food last week. I forgot to tell him that she had lifetime rights to her home.
I have no idea what kinds of critters live here. I suspect that they have grown up and moved away, however, since their homes look deserted now. I suppose they know that the bark will separate from the tree, and their homes will be destroyed with it so they arrange their occupancy accordingly.
I never saw this critter while he lived in his round house. I only noticed the ruins after he went away. If I remember, I will ask Romero what kind of creature builds such a house.
The unusual and really long-lasting blossoms of the bromeliad interest me. This blossom has been on the plant for several months. The blossoms die in stages eventually losing all of their pink and blue leaving a flat parchment. I leave the blossoms on the plant until they separate from it because I enjoy watching them change appearance and catch the dried trumpet “bases” that you see here. The tale of my love affair with the Trumpet Vine continues…
Of course, I can never resist taking a shot of the Queen Palm trunk. She fascinates me too. This area of the trunk is colorful. The bark is the most interesting part of the tree. The fronds at the top are rather ordinary compared to the varied textures and colors of the trunk.
This yellow hibiscus lives down the path between my house and Boy’s house. My favorites are the double pink ones. My daughter likes the single yellows. I admit that I said some disparaging stuff about the yellows when she planted them. Now, when I walk past them, their lovely single blossoms gaze at me in silent rebuke. Somehow, I have come to see a kind of simple symmetry in their faces that I do not see in the showy double-pinks. My apologies to the Yellows… This old girl is fading, but she’s pretty still.
Staghorn Ferns hang in the pergola. They are among my favorite plants. I like the way the base clings to anything it finds in its effort to anchor the leaves. The new base “anchor” is a tender-looking, slightly fuzzy, silver-gray that matures into a dried leaf that has the appearance of an ancient plant. The tones and shapes and texture of these bases are fascinating as they grow old. The simplicity of their role in the life of the plant is lovely.
Of course, I can never pass by Miss Lily without stopping to try, once again, to capture her. She is my garden nemesis, as you know. Today, I am blinded by the sun, struggling to squint through the viewfinder, cursing my glaucoma and cataracts, my tremor and her elusive skeleton. At the end, I squatted on the ground at her eye level and laughed. I imagined Miss Lily laughing too. She is such a coy lady!
My beloved Trumpet Vine is in hibernation already, but her feelers are always out and on the move in their never-ending quest to dominate the world of the Pergola. Your eyes are fine. The photograph is slightly fuzzy. Some of the runners are as big as small tree limbs. They worm their way between the open spaces of the pergola framework in a perennial climb to the top where they display their trumpets from spring to fall every year. Their invasion is destructive. They will … eventually … destroy the pergola on which they depend. I am reminded of the human parallels. I am conflicted about the destruction in progress before me, but I have made an uneasy peace with the Trumpet.
Buds hide everywhere. The magical thing about them is that you have to look for them. I laughed when I saw this one looking as if the Pygmy Date Palm had grown a very strange blossom. Of course, a branch of the Hibiscus had simply grown up through the palm frond. I am always delighted when something in the garden surprises me.
I enjoy the Pygmy Date palms that grow outside my screened porch. In my part of the world, there are very few deciduous trees to produce fall color. An occasional yellow leaf falls from the crepe myrtles onto the fronds of the Pygmy reminding me of the colorful fall leaves of my childhood.
The Pygmy Palm seed pods appear as large green spherical-shaped “fruits” which grow fat as they mature. They break open spilling out a luxurious plume of creamy blossom-like shapes tightly attached to the collection of long stems that make up the immature seeds.
Eventually, the outer shell of the pod dries and falls off leaving hanging stems filled with maturing berries. These berries turn from cream to dark grape-blue and finally to hard brown seeds and eventually drop off. I dried some of them this year since Romero pruned them away. I found them on the ground beside the trees. They were too pretty to discard so I kept them.
The fan palms collect the falling leaves and little acorns from the oak trees. A fat little squirrel has a nest in an oak among the palms. I see him collecting the acorns sometimes.
There is nothing extraordinary about this plant. There are a number of them planted around the garden … for color… according to my daughter’s design. I’ve forgotten the name. They bloom from spring to frost without fail. Somehow, I don’t pay much attention to them until I photograph one and realize that the budding blossom formations are interesting after all.
This is my daughter’s favorite landscape plant, I think. It grows in a medium-sized, bushy form or in a taller form depending on where it is planted and how much sunlight falls on it. The blossoms are a lemon-color or a deeper yellow depending on the same circumstances. I never notice the plants until the blossoms appear suddenly. I have come to appreciate them in the fall when fewer plants are blossoming.
This is a Pinta. Another of Kelli’s favorite landscape plants. It grows like a weed. They are supposed to grow in a very low, rounded shape, but the ones around the jar fountain grew uncharacteristically tall. Kelli laughs about the way our plants always grow into monstrous sizes since they receive so much food and water. I haven’t turned on the fountain for many months. I will do that again soon. I like to hear the sound of the water gurgling from the fountain and falling onto the slate below.
This is the fall garden. Soon, the cold nights will come with their frost and ice. The blossoming plants will not survive. Romero will wait until they are dead and the spring is near to cut them all back to the ground. Then the warm rains will come and they will reappear to start the cycle over again. The winter is a quiet time as if everything in the garden has retreated inside itself waiting for the spring. As much as I miss the Trumpet and Miss Lily and all of the blossoms, I think their absence makes their return more joyful.
I started this blog last January. That was years ago, I think. I didn’t have the slightest notion of what a blog is. What a wonderful time I have had with all of you. I have visited remote and exotic parts of your worlds. You have been kind to me. You have welcomed me, enlightened me, entertained me, made me laugh, and befriended me in a way that I never anticipated. Thank you. All of you.