pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Narcissus

20 June 2017


Cooper's hawk
Orange County, California
20 September 2011

The sustained drought, which finally and unexpectedly broke this winter, has done so much damage. I've lost so many trees--today, the 15-ft. tall magnolia in the front of my house was pulled out. In a month, the ficus that form a lovely green wall to shield me from my neighbors also will be removed. The magnolia was drought-stressed and dying. The ficus are still doing well, in part because they are finding other sources of water, and now have become an invasive nuisance.

When we bought this house, the gardens were described as "park-like" but we learned the truth when spring rolled around and we discovered that the many of the trees were dead, others dying. One of my first acts was removing them all, including the loquat that both dying and planted too close to the house, the tree privet that stank to high heavens and was planted at the foundation of the house, and a podocarpus, a plant I dislike on general principles, and a raft of long-expired stone fruit trees. In the front, that left us with 3 river birch and the magnolia, and I planted a large buddleia which delighted Milton for years with its afternoon bounty of butterflies, along with a bougainvillea that cheerfully banged and scraped on the daughter's bedroom wall every dark and stormy night for years.

The river birch, which should never have been planted in So Cal in the first place, rapidly succumbed to oak root fungus (I took at least one of those out on my own...because I used to be able to chop down trees), but the magnolia was a haven for the parrots and mockingbirds who ate its fruit every fall. I already miss it.

Last week, before the current heat wave, I went out and measured the front garden, and am creating a plot plan. I have ideas, and I'm calling landscape contractors. I put horrible mirrored film on all the front windows now that I no longer have any shade from the afternoon sun.

Some good will come from all this down the road. Sooner rather than later, I hope.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.
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