Tag Archives: Canary Island Pine

One balmy day was all I needed.

We came out of church last Friday evening and the wind was blowing warm. It was the softest… Blow and blow it did through the night, knocking down leaves and branches and clumps of mistletoe, banging my garden gate.

Saturday morning I walked on the bike path and it was the happiest, friendliest neighborhood walk I’ve experienced in two years. Many many people and no masks, so you could take in their smiles and their open faces turning this way and that to say “Good morning!” to everyone… Whole families on bicycles and dozens of dogs on leashes. I’m sure that in all my decades of walking that route people have never before been that happy in an outward direction.


When I got home from my walk, and was not driven indoors by any sort of chill, I wandered the back yard and saw that the manzanita buds are out. My row of Stir-Fry Mix greens needed thinning, and because of the sun shining and all, I did it then and there. I took the thinnings in and washed them immediately in the sink. Springtime energy in January!

Recently I had the only tree on my property trimmed to please the neighbors, over whose back yard most of the tree’s mass hangs threateningly. It is a tall Canary Island Pine and my late husband and I have resisted several times outside pressure to just cut it down. I tried to take a flattering picture but there is no way to do that, because it is a gangly thing.

Our book group chose Silas Marner to read over the next four weeks. I could not find my old paperback that I last read probably 15-20 years ago, but tucked behind the trim of the bookcase I found this smallish volume:

It was my grandmother’s school book! She was probably reading it in about 1910 in Winona Lake, Indiana where she grew up. I did not remember seeing it before, though I am sure I was the one who put it on the shelf, who knows when. There are quite a few pages with her notes like this:

I had been reluctant to commit to reading with the group this month, but now that I have found this copy of Silas I can’t resist reading along with my grandmother.

I have eaten half of the greens, chopped into a pot of tomato soup this afternoon. The balmy weather lasted one day, and now we are back to January. But that blessed day snapped me out of the endurance mode into expectation.  I have a nice fire going in the stove and wonderful books to read as I sit by it.

I haven’t been accomplishing very much this month if one looks at my to-do lists. But maybe the important things are not listed there. I’ve been trying not to get caught up in things that I don’t really care about… so here is a good quote, to help me end my post:

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”

– Lao Tzu

Around the place.

The swimming pool is now history, and archaeology. If anyone digs down far enough in my back yard they will find the history buried there. The upper walls were broken up and left in the bottom of the pit.pool work long view first day

I wish I could post a long, long movie of all the short videos I took throughout the process, spliced together – watching the workers was so much fun. The grandboys would have loved being here to see the real thing, but their parents wouldn’t have liked exposing them to the decibels. I’m getting a headache just remembering last Thursday when I was being shaken to my bones.

The house was vibrating and the ground shuddering from the force of the Bobcat jackhammer that was chewing up 8″ thick walls of concrete. It was as though a Monster Dentist was working on the whole property, including the human occupants, relentlessly drilling and breaking every hard surface into bits.P1010291The effect on the mind and psyche was similar, too. I knew this makeover was what I wanted, so I was willing to suffer the pain and discomfort, but the reality of being invaded and pummeled and realigned hour after hour — little foam earplugs couldn’t soften the attack. Yet I was spellbound by the show, and could not keep myself from going out again and again to watch the experts do their thing, and to document the progress.

After the jackhammer came the shovel and the compactor, doing a dance together to make the new firm surface. Here is the end result of three days of commotion, the blank slate I will be designing and transforming into my new “nice place to be.”pool gone 8-15-15Pretty blank, isn’t it? You might notice that in the two top pictures, there were shrubs on the right. In the picture just above they are gone, too, scooped up in a few seconds by the power shovel. Soon paths will be laid, nice topsoil will be brought in, trees planted, and raised vegetable beds built. Many other features of this garden are on the drawing board, and I’ll be sure to tell about them as they come along. I wish it could all be donelight in window 8-17-15 right now, but that’s not how life is.

This morning tree trimmers came and made big changes to another part of the back yard. I had the plum tree removed completely, so the living room is much lighter. Our house only has windows on the front and back sides, and both the back and front windows on that south side were shaded until now. I took this picture too late in the afternoon for it to be obvious, but it’s a definite improvement.

GL P1010333
the former view



When the tree man came last month for his first look at the job, he told me right away that the pine tree is a Canary Island Pine.  The discomfort of ignorance was lifted from my mind that moment, and with it a kind of shame I had been feeling over not knowing all these 25 years the species of our big needle-shedding tree.



GL P1010338


I read about these trees online and found out that they are popular landscaping plants in this country that is not their native land, and they are the most drought-tolerant pine there is. Now it is the only tree on the property, so it is more special to me than ever, and I’m really glad that it has been “lightened” and “shaped.”

The trees that are being considered for inclusion in the future landscape are mostly dwarf varieties, and the next-tallest tree here is not a tree at all, but my beloved osmanthus in the front yard, which I realized a couple of weeks ago is suffering terribly from the drought, and has some dead branches and lots of brown leaves.

GL P1010383 pine trimmed crp
beautified Canary Island Pine

I feel so bad that I didn’t take care of it and give it some water; I guess it’s another matter about which I haven’t been doing my best thinking in the last year, and as we haven’t been watering the lawn, it hasn’t been watered either. I was ignoring it as I would a tree that has roots deep enough to find water even in drought. But it isn’t; it’s a shrub that has grown very big, and therefore needs even more water.

The Landscape Lady says it may not be too old to develop deep roots, and the Tree Man says it is not dying, only “compromised,” and I should run a soaker hose along the drip line once a week. So I have a plan there, too. Poor baby. It’s blooming sweetly now, this Sweet Olive, even in its thirsty state. It is the taller bush directly behind the sunflower in the picture below, not looking so bad from this side, and from a distance.

GL P1010178 sf ed
osmanthus behind sunflower

In the front I have vegetables and tomatoes growing in what used to be the lawn, and what will try to be a lawn again when rains come. I thought as recently as a month ago that next summer I might re-do the front yard and do away with the lawn once and for all. Right now I am too tired to think of such a project, and I will just focus on my upcoming meeting with the Landscape Ladies. We will walk around the liberated large space with our plant lists and drawings of paths and planting beds, and brainstorm together. Friday can’t come too soon!

Some of the tomato plants have died, and the sunflowers are all putting out these twisty and scrunched blooms, but the butternut squash looks healthy and normal, and cheers me up.

GL P1010181