Garden learning curves and letting go of perfection

The birds like our back yard. They should. We provide a very dependable open buffet.

 

On the other hand, I haven’t been successful in creating the same open invitation to the highly endangered Monarch Butterfly. For the last two years I’ve tried to learn about native milkweed versus some varieties potentially disruptive to the monarch’s migratory path.

I didn’t want to contribute to the problem, but native milkweed has been hard for me to source, so I kept waiting.

Once again I was unable to find Asclepias californica (California milkweed), and I’ve learned that some natives are uncommon with very restricted  distribution, but I was able to find “suitable” substitutes for now, with the warning that in the fall I must severely cut them back so the Monarch will continue on her migratory path. In our hospitable climate the plant will not naturally die back and my failure to do so could harm the butterfly. I’ll keep learning and searching for natives, but I won’t forget my pruning shears.

I have been thinking about Einstein’s quote, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.”  In a way I was paralyzed by too much research.

On the other hand, some people just jump right in and don’t do any research at all. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good idea, as this quote from a confused gardener would indicate.

Posted on Dave’s Garden, a favorite site, this gardener was very concerned about her milkweed plant.

“I’ve been trying to get a specimen established in my yard for several years now, but it never seems to get much of a chance except become an elongated green stick. Every time it gets to the point where it blooms, there is a species of butterfly (or moth?) that comes and lays eggs which hatch into larvae and devour each and every leaf on the plant, drastically reducing its stamina and basically halting all growth for a period of time.

I have tried my best to remain vigilant as to when it’s flowering, because I know that for the next several days afterward I will need to watch for eggs and/or larvae/caterpillars. If I see a batch of eggs laid near the flower, I spray them with a garden-safe insect spray. But often they hatch before I’m aware. Occasionally I manage to get rid of the larvae before they’ve done too much damage, but this is only a temporary reprieve, because as soon as the plant blooms again, the cycle repeats and it’s only a matter of time before the caterpillars get all the leaves before I get all the caterpillars! I occasionally see articles about this plant in the local paper or mentioned as a nice garden plant to attract butterflies, but I don’t understand how anyone would want butterflies to come and have their larvae eat every single last leaf off the plant! Perhaps other gardeners’ plants are more healthy/developed and are more able to withstand the caterpillars–perhaps being only partially devoured.”

EGADS!

I hope someone was able to impress on this milkweed lover that the point of milkweed IS the caterpillars, but if not, just to be sure the Monarch has a chance, won’t you spend some time researching how you might throw in your gardening support for this beautiful, but severely threatened butterfly?

As soon as I see caterpillars, you can be sure I’ll be back bragging blogging all about my success!

Fingers crossed!

 

I’m looking for one or two hundred committed investors. Are you in?

I wasn’t sure how I could best grab your attention, but I decided that if I stated my intention upfront and you still opened the link, I stood a chance.

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Remember this house?  We spent island time here earlier this year in conjunction with our son’s wedding. I considered telling you more about the house when we returned, but I wondered if I was going on just a bit.

And I’ve never been a name dropper! But now I will tell you that Julia Roberts owns this house…and good news, potential investors–It’s up for SALE!

This house is modest by estate standards, but this double-lot 2-acre property with its huge lawn stretching all the way to the Hanalei Bay shoreline fits me perfectly. You? I’m still pitching!

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There is a  little history connected to this property as well. It’s known as the Fayé Estate, dating back to 1916 and Kekaha Sugar Plantation manager Hans Peter Fayé.  It was built as a summer beach house.

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The house wasn’t always set back so far on the lawn, but a 1957 tidal wave pushed the whole house back to the middle of the property. The little guest cottage was made from some of the debris.

 

I’ll share just a few more photos and hope to reel you in!

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If you’d like to know  a little bit more about this great investment opportunity, click HERE. Depending on how many of you would like to team up, surely you can make my dream a reality. I have only one request. If you go out on your own and buy this property, do you think I can stay in the guest house?

Please let me know of your interest. I need to let them know at work I might not be coming back.

 

 

Exploring the open spaces in Los Angeles–always a surprise!

No surprise to anyone living in Los Angeles, I’m certain, but  a Traffic Index report released by GPS manufacturer TomTom,  has declared L.A. the most congested city in the United States. I didn’t bother to investigate the exact boundaries they researched, since as far as I’m concerned, they may as well be speaking about all of Southern California.

Last weekend we bravely faced a 3 1/2 hour 90-mile journey to visit with friends in North San Diego County, and perhaps odd to hear, we were ebullient when the return trip only took two hours–woo-hoo! But you do the math! 5 1/2 hours!

I won’t pretend it doesn’t frustrate me, but complaining about “life in the fast lane going slow” doesn’t help me breathe lighter.

But this does!

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A familiar theme in my life revolves around finding ways to ameliorate the stress that comes from living in a high population density region, so for my birthday in March I bought a pair of high quality hiking boots and latched on to patient friends with hiking experience.

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Destination? Parker Mesa Overlook on the west side of Topanga State Park, the world’s largest wildland within the boundaries of a major city.

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The cliffs and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

 

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The morning fog shrouded the view a bit, but kept the approximately 5 mile hike a little more comfortable.

In addition to views of the Pacific Ocean, Topanga State Park features 36 miles of trails through open grassland, with oak groves, native shrub and flowers and an opportunity to leave the stress of city chaos for a quiet bit of solitude.

 

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I huffed and puffed up the very steep incline towards the Parker Mesa Overlook thrilled to enjoy the natural beauty.

I encouraged my more experienced (and in better shape) hiking partners to go on ahead and let me  do my best.  At a certain point my only focus was on breathing, so I am sure I missed many of the numerous geologic formations, including earthquake faults, marine fossils, and volcanic intrusions. Maybe next time!

 

Parker Mesa Overlook

From an elevation of 1,525 feet, Parker Mesa Overlook offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean, but the coastal fog had not lifted much and was still quite dense. I didn’t care. I was just so happy that I made it to the top!

My small group of hiking friends waited for me and greeted me with a round of applause. Good thing it wasn’t a timed race!

I do believe the best antidote to the stress of traffic congestion is getting out in the open air–and well above it.

I wonder where my new hiking boots will take me next time! Any suggestions?

 

 

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