Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

d 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estateI am so excited to tell you that I’ve been asked to serve on an advisory board for the Dunsmuir Estate!  I’m told that this is the first advisory board since the City of Oakland took over care of the property, so I feel truly honored.

I was just over there last Friday because I made an effort to remember to visit during their insanely restricted hours (it is an effort, even bank employees would drool over these hours!).  I work from home not very far from this place and even still, I can’t seem to get over there while they’re actually open…. never-mind the times they should be open (imho) but aren’t, like weekdays squeezed between major holidays and weekends (I tried to go last Black Friday for example).  BUT, that’s not the point I’m here to make.

a 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estateThis place is a gem in the rough.  Anyone who has read my blog before knows how much I enjoy visiting historic estates and gardens, but this one eluded me until a few months ago.  SO, without further delay – a few photos from last Friday to celebrate my budding relationship with the folks who are working so hard to keep the place up and promote it.  I’m plain ole thrilled about it.

b 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estatec 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estateSo above you see the Main House and the entry, ducks, fountain, and gazebo (drought?  what drought?)….

f 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estate e 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estate… and two benches with gobs of personality…

i 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estatej 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estate h 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estate… a couple of shots that I think exemplify the magic of the character of the place….

g 30 jan 2015 dunsmuir estate… but I’ll leave you with a shot of my favorite thing, the pool and pool house.  I could do a whole post just on this one item, and I probably will, but it is such a magical, beautifully proportioned thing, I wish I had drawings of it to study, find out what it is about the space that is so magical, apply those ratios to my own work (even though I don’t design by mathematical formula, I just want to “get” it and be able to replicate it).   I dearly hope that this can someday be restored, but in the meantime, I’ll stare at it and imagine what it must have been like.


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The front of my new place is awash with purple Lantana (Lantana montevidensis).  It is lovely stuff if you are both color blind (unless you’re into this sort of purple, nothing wrong with that!) and an admirer of wildlife.  There are butterflies, bees, spiders, and lizards all over it.  It is absolutely marvelous for year-round blooming and needs no supplemental water once established (at least not here, I turned the irrigation off last fall).

lantana HQ 043

The flowers are the pepto bismol of purples – not my favorite, though maybe someday I will find a companion plant with a color that mitigates the pepto purple hue.  Meh, maybe not.  A dear friend of mine said that the overwhelming amount of purple Lantana in my garden made my place look like a retirement home.

lantana HQ 044

As much as I’d like to be able to retire (I’d still spend my time designing gardens – I love it that much), I am not ready to live in a dadgum retirement home!  Talk about death by association; I can’t look at it anymore without thinking about retirement homes.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, my lovely boyfriend thinks the foliage smells like poo (the flowers smell nice at night).  Charming: a poo scented retirement home.

lantana HQ 039Here’s my vexation:  as much as I intend to remove the Lantana and put in other stuff, it is happy, healthy, requires no water, and supports oodles of critters.  So for now it stays…. providing food and shelter for all those bugs and lizards, but lookout, Lantana!  You’re living on borrowed time.  Wanna know what I think might fill the space above?  I’m considering a collection of spineless Opuntia that my friend Melinda sent me from Texas along with a few I’ve collected on my own here.  The ones from Texas are rooting in the shed right now – cross your fingers that they all take!

IMG_3647So there’s my dilemma – removing the Lantana removes habitat, but goodness gracious, there’s so danged much of it, I don’t really like it, and the new design/plants aren’t ready yet.  Patience….

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I started a blog post mumble-mumble months (years) ago about the humming birds that were nesting in my apartment patio (I think they’re Anna’s Hummingbirds)

Hummingbird eggs in podocarpusI was going to say all sorts of lovely things about the environment and gardening without chemicals, stuff like that.  But then I stopped blogging, and I focused on pretty much everything else…. and then I moved.  Now I have a place only 30 minutes from the old apartment, and hummingbirds abound.  I think I have Rufous, Anna’s, and Allens, but I’m not sure so don’t go betting any money on it.

hummingbird babies in redwood at 2028 2012What I am obsessed with now is the incredible diversity of tiny critters that inhabit my suburban garden.  I must apologize in advance for not having the sense to take photos of all of the species that have come forth so far (northern rubber boa, aroboreal salamander, slender salamander, the neighbor’s cats, and countless birds).  I have only photos of this very patient little dude… here’s our story:

I was cutting (digging/swearing/chopping) out one of the dreaded Lantana in the front yard.  While I was whacking and wheezing and pulling at the stubborn Lantana stump, a teensy tiny baby lizard jumped on my hand.  I screamed like a little girl right there in my front yard where everyone on the block would be able to tell who the big baby was.  I ASSUMED that the intrepid little lizard had bounced off and gone about its business, since it quickly vacated my hand.

I know you’re anticipating its return already, clearly it did NOT leave me and go about its business!  That dad gum lizard showed up FOUR HOURS later… on the front of my t-shirt, after I had come inside, grabbed a snack, changed some of my clothes (ha ha, little lizard, very clever!) and… get this…. climbed into bed to read a novel.  There I am, plate of cheese and crackers, no shoes, hands and face washed, beverage with ice, feet under the covers, and ta-da!  the same  teensy lizard bounces smack on the front of my t-shirt between my murder mystery and my face.

little lizzie 019little lizzie 024I am very proud to inform you that I managed not to scream like a bitch this time.  In a very grown-up and mature way, I put down the book, slid off the bed, opened the curtains and the sliding glass door, and bent over ever so gracefully so my little friend could relocate to the railing just outside.

little lizzie 022

It is still out there, hanging in the back yard and waiting for me to come out.  I see it from the kitchen window almost daily, and pretty much every time I go out to water, there it is.  I can’t be sure that I’m not looking at a ton of look-a-likes, but who cares when they’re this cute!?

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