The neighborhood jungle

Troublemakers, wild ones, and cultured treasures

Oak catkin

The number one springtime trouble maker in our neighborhood jungle, oak catkins. There must be a jillion of these pesky critters that crank out pollen for a couple of weeks or so each spring. Throw in about half that many Pine catkins and you have the annual powdery yellow peril here in LA, part of the price you pay for wonderful shade trees.   The second half comes due in the fall when our yards become ankle deep or better in leaves. That also ushers in the annual controversy about raking leaves. I like to see ’em where they are. I like to feel the crunch under my feet. I always loose the battle and then suffer the ignominy of footing the bill — to have leaves raked and bagged — that I want to stay in place.

Link to corndancer dot com

Click on the catkins to see more Neighborhood Jungle pix and comments at Corndancer dot-com

I try to make an annual swing around the close-by neighborhood each spring to explore our neighborhood jungle — from the miniscule wild gardens best described as under-foot — to carefully planted and nourished plants and trees, mostly in neighboring yards

While I have deep admiration for the visual pleasantness of yard plants and shrubs I have a deep and abiding abhorrence to yard work. After all, mowers and other tools of mass plant destruction callously dismember the tiny plants I like. At this point I politely suggest that you check out the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started — and where you can see nine more pictures from this story-shoot. We will wait for your return right here.

Moving right along, the trip starts in our back yard, seeking the wild ones. There, dandelions await the mower’s blade. Most homeowners consider dandelions intolerable pests. I consider them works of fine art. Look below:

dandelion bloom

The much maligned dandelion bloom is a complex arrangement of layered petals and curly-ques radiating from a well organized hub. What’s not to like about that? (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, mine was too bashed up to illustrate the point.)

Dandelion seed head

When the dandelion goes to seed, the grand design would choke all but the most sophisticated graphics processors — and tax the patience of most designers. One could stare at it for a while and continue to see visual nooks and crannies.


Marigolds actually planted by a Dempsey, but not this one. Mrs. Dempsey set these out. They are also handy around tomato plants as they discourage bugs from the general area.

azalea blooms

More blooms from the grounds of the Chez Dempsey. This plant and several more like it were in place decades before the place became home to the Dempseys. I claim no credit.

Spring Beauty bloom and buds

Miss Erma Chastain, my second and third grade teacher was kind enough to reveal the name of this poesy to the classes. The info stuck. This one is in the yard of the Chez Rubenstein across the street. The cruel mower had ground my collection of Spring Beauties to smithereens. These blooms are pushing it to be a quarter inch across the beam.

Spring Beauties and a bug

The bug on the Spring Beauty petal is about the size across of a common pencil lead.

These dogwood blooms are courtesy of Ms. KItty, the resident neighborhood master gardener. She's doing something right because other dogwoods nearby became kindling wood a winter or so back,

These dogwood blooms are courtesy of Ms. Kitty of the Chez Rubenstein, our resident neighborhood master gardener. She’s doing something right because other dogwoods nearby became kindling wood a winter or so back. Back lighting adds a tad of drama to some already cool blooms.

detail of dogwood bloom

The dogwood’s “business,” a complex collection of reproductive accoutrements. More power to ’em.

unknown flower

I am not certain what this is, but it does enjoy my full approval. Another Ms. Kitty tree.

backlit jonquils

And now friends, as the sun sinks slowly in the west, Ms. Kitty’s jonquils become back lit, adding a bunch to their overall coolness. I had shot the same jonquils earlier and deduced that this set of conditions would occur later. So later I returned and happily discovered that my prognostications were correct.

May I encourage you to explore your surroundings and see if similar discoveries in your environment await well, discovering. It is cheap, non-fattening, low-impact and possibly elucidating entertainment. Good luck.

See all 26 pictures from this story shoot at:

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind












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