Saturday, March 23, 2013

Neighborhood Stroll

When we first moved into our current house a little more than 2 years ago, I made a habit of strolling my immediate neighborhood, eventually extending my walk-abouts into other local neighborhoods and along nearby public trails.  It was a great way to get exercise, acquaint myself with my new surroundings, and meet my neighbors.  Then my right knee started pitching a fit.  After consultations and tests, my orthopedist suggested that I find exercise that would put less strain on my knee.  Physical therapy, joint fluid injections, and arthritis medication have helped forestall surgery.  That's great but but I miss my walks - a stationary bike just isn't as interesting.  When I walked I was in tune with changes in my neighborhood but, now, almost 9 months after giving up those daily walks, I'm very out of touch.

I threw caution to the wind this morning and took a walk.  I wanted to see what was going on in early spring at other people's houses.  The first yards I looked at were those nearest to our house and, as I see these when I drive into and out of the neighborhood, there weren't many surprises there.

I can't put my finger on the name of this shrub, distinguished by its bright red spring growth
This house boat-like house has been empty for years and is currently for sale but I don't know what the Salvation Army is doing there

Nasturtium and pelargonium wrap a neighbor's mailbox

My fingers itched to pull the weeds in this recently installed succulent bed

Cistus in full bloom

Self-sown lupin

A lot of the houses in the large circle that constitutes our neighborhood are set behind tall hedges, gates or up steep driveways so there often isn't much to see from the street.  This hedge, with a mallow peaking through other shrub material represents a case in point.

8 foot hedge with mallow poking through

I could see bulbs in bloom behind the bars of this gate as I wound my way around the corner.  In addition to daffodils and a camellia in full bloom, this neighbor had tulips, which I've never been able to grow successfully here.  Maybe this spot is more protected from the strong Santa Ana winds that always knock out my tulip blooms before they get started.

Bulbs behind bars

I walked up to the entrance to our area, where I ran into a neighbor I hadn't spoken to in months.  While we got caught up, what little was left of the fog we started the morning with lifted, which made subsequent picture-taking more challenging.  However, even better photos probably wouldn't have helped the appearance of this bed at the entrance to our street.  To the credit of the neighborhood, residents have added drought-tolerant plants here and there but the mix hasn't coalesced yet.  It doesn't help that the area's ridden with weeds.  I may have to volunteer some time there soon.

Weedy bed near street entrance

As I came back into the "circle," I saw this pine covered with cones.

And then I saw that the house of an elderly neighbor has been put up for sale.  I haven't seen her in quite awhile.  One of her 8 cats showed up to say hello so I assume she hasn't moved out yet.

House for sale

Friendly cat

Here's another hedge long a wall 2 doors further down the street.

Hedge bordered by bedding begonias

A renovation that's been in process for 6 or more months is still in process.

A big house getting bigger or just a face-lift?

The next house on my left is one of the few in the area that maintains a large planting bed fronting the street.

Pelargoniums, agave, aloe and miscellaneous other succulents
Diverse mix including phromium, osteospermum, dietes, euryops and succulents

 The neighbor across the street has a vinca "lawn."  Vinca can be invasive here but these plants seem to be effectively contained between the agapanthus on one side and the street paving on the other.

Vinca in lieu of grass
Two neat front doors face a recently hatcheted hedge across the street.

This house always has succulents on the doorstep

The orange clivia looks perfect every spring

I''m not sure what this hedge is/was

As I proceeded in the direction of our house, I passed by an empty lot.  This property, consisting of 2 large parcels with a view of the harbor, has been empty for years.  I've been told that the house that once stood here burned down and the owner is unwilling to sell unless he gets the price he wants for it.   I'm sure the wildlife enjoys the space in the meantime.  There's an interesting plant growing there I wish I could identify.  It grows to the height of a small tree; has large, textured leaves; and produces lavender flowers that the bees seem to adore.

Weeds grow through what remains of the old driveway

This plant is everywhere but I can't identify it

In bud, the flowers resemble Borage on steroids

The blooms attract bees

This is the best close-up I could get

I passed the elaborately terraced front yard of another of my neighbors, an avid gardener.  In addition to alstroemeria, California poppies, salvia, and citrus trees, her front yard contains a spectacular leucospermum in full bloom.

View of terraced slope

Alstroemeria and California poppies

Another view of the terraced slope

Cleveland sage and polygala

More California poppies with daffodils

The Leucospermum

Her garden puts the rest of the neighborhood to shame.

A neighbor who finished construction on his house last year has finally put in a garden.  He's kept the front garden simple in keeping with the simplicity of the design of his house.

Poorly focused shot of neighbor's new garden bed

Iceland poppies in mass near driveway

I came across a pretty 6 foot tall Abutilon as I neared home.

Abutilon (variety unknown)

My own front yard is partially hidden behind a well-established shrub hedge as well.  I'll share a view of my front garden in a future post.

Hedge in front of our own house
I'm off to ice my knee.


  1. I have bum knees too and have already had one surgery. I've had knee problems since I was a kid and had arthritis by my late 30's. Now at 43, I expect to have knee replacement at some point. I stay as active as I can and walk constantly. The pleasure outweighs the pain. :o) You have an interesting neighborhood. Your neighbors garden is beautiful. I think the shrub in the top photo is photinia, also known as red tips.

    1. Thank you for the plant identification! I believe you're right. Take care of that knee. I'm headed for a knee replacement too but hoping to put it off for a few years at least...

  2. I hope you're not paying to dearly for your walkabout. Sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do, consequences be damned!

    1. My knee sent out warning signals but I was still able to get out and about in the garden so, as far as I'm concerned, I'm doing fine.

  3. Well that was an enjoyable tour to take while I sip my coffee and wait for the temperatures to get above freezing so I can venture into the garden. I wish more of my neighbors were gardeners but alas...

    Have you tried yoga? Amazing what happens when you loosen things up. I have a bad hip that gets worse when I indulge in activities like snow shoveling and gardening. Most of the discomfort comes when I'm trying to sleep. A few weeks ago the Friday night yoga class I attended focused on hips. I slept like a baby that night.

    1. I practiced yoga when I was in my teens and twenties but, at this point, I probably couldn't even get into a half-lotus sitting position to save my life. Still, I've considered trying it again, if only to head off further deterioration...I hope the weather out your way warms soon!