Happy New Year Your Aeoniums Are Dead And Other Random Thoughts

Our version of winter damage. (You'll have to look closely.)

I noticed with a bit of horror on the last day of the year there was a small patch of frost by the edge of the driveway, only the second time I've seen it here. Uh-oh. A frantic check of all the Aloes and the Alluadia procera--they looked just fine. A check of the leaves--nice and firm with no discoloration. However, the Aeoniums were decidedly droopy, a state they've never displayed before. Well, okay. I had plenty more Aeoniums under the patio cover. Those looked normal, so that's fine--I have plenty of survivors to replace the frost-deaths.

New Year's morning produced another surprise: the droopy Aeoniums were back to their normal perky selves. My fear of frost damage was apparently wrong. It may have been that they so gorged themselves on rainwater that they drooped--or they came close to frost damage but survived it.

There's nearly an entire winter left, so danger may still lurk ahead.

The tips of the downslope neighbor's Bougainvilleas were frost-blackened. Everything else was fine.

The new year begins randomly on this blog. The year has not yet had time to show its nature and character: it is as yet undefined. On my mind is a hope that the grim economy of 2010 will improve. Cold is on my mind. Plastic grass is on my mind thanks to a recent Garden Rant post.

Oddly, as a plant fanatic, I'm not anti-plastic grass. To me there's a place for it--dog runs in full shade, for example. And professional football (American football, not what the rest of the world calls "football") seems to richly deserve plastic grass, for a number of reasons. But this example...

...I'm not 100% thrilled with, or convinced that this swath of #2 plastic was entirely necessary. It's not orginal to the shopping center--I think the original was volcanic rock edging mounds of Bougainvillea. But possibly the Bougainvillea grew so tall that visibility for drivers and pedestrians became a problem, so they switched to plastic. Or there was a rat infestation, due to the fast food outlets nearby. I've seen people lounging on the plastic eating their lunch or waiting for rides, so it has proven useful in some respect. This shopping center is one the border of two cities--this city has insisted (I assume) on plastic grass, while less than 100 yards away, on the other side of the road, the other city has insisted on a broad swath of real grass that is mowed weekly and watered and fertilized frequently. I preferred the volcanic rock edging mounds of Bougainvillea.

Besides plastic grass, my mind today was caught by three houses we saw on our walk this morning. They all have stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island, and on a clear day, even the LA skyline, some 40 miles away. These homes have small token front yards on the street--the real show is the view side, which is the back side. The street began life as a row of classic California ranch houses. A few were modified over the years, and the latest round of remodels is changing ranches into two-story McMansions double or triple the size of the originals, reasonable if charmless, when you consider the views they have.

The first place appears to be a 1970's era remodel, a Ranch turned into a pseudo-Roman villa. There's a couple of concrete nudes (including fig leaf underpants), in niches in the front of the house, which are kind of...cool in a Sinatra Rat Pack sort of way.

The river rock driveway and sidewalk (river rock sidewalk?!?) adds a somewhat stylistically jarring note, and must be delightful to walk on in heels. Yet, it has the integrity of a thought-out design, (except maybe the California-river-rock-with-Roman-Villa aspect) and it has been maintained over the years, always a virtue. It has more charm than the McMansions of the 00's.


Speaking of McMansions, I didn't get a picture of a totally remodeled house a few houses down, now triple the size of the original, with three newly transplanted specimen Phoenix canariensis all planted way too close to each other. When they untie the fronds, the fronds will all be pressing into each other, like your nose mashed up against a window. Your nose is not at its most attractive mashed up against a window, and these palms will suffer the same effect. Whoopsie! That's no cheap mistake--those puppies are pricey.

The third house just another few houses down, perhaps a late 90's remodel done before the bubble got so crazy, recently had a reasonably well done "designed" plantscape: there's a half-circle of box framing an olive tree flanked by two Italian Cypress, fairly appropriate to the style of the house. It's hard to see design in the photo due to the weeds. Someone decided the place needed some jazzing up and added a trio of crappy Queen palms planted two feet apart. They also abandoned the lawn, which is now completely dandelions and other weeds.

Maybe there's more potential than even I imagined for plastic grass.

And so the year begins--randomly.


  1. At least there is some sort of design integrity in the faux Roman Villa garden, but the place on the bottom with the Queen Palms ?? Bad form.I wonder if that wall prevents them from seeing how bad it looks.

  2. Random is good. Especially your version.


Post a Comment

Always interested in your thoughts.

Any comments containing a link to a commercial site with the intent to promote that site will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding on this matter.

Popular Posts