Here is a picture of what, with any luck, will soon be our house. The inspections are done, and the (excruciatingly stressful) mortgage papers are signed, but we still have to get the appraisal, repair estimates, and repairs done.
The weird metal things in the lawn are in the lawns of most of the corner lots in the neighborhood, apparently intended to prevent cars from driving over the lawn. This house is not on a corner lot and is the only non-corner house that has these. However, this house is directly at the end of a street, so I guess the idea was that cars going down that street might just keep driving straight into the house without these metal things to stop them? Anyway, we don't think that's likely to happen, so we plan to remove the weird metal things. They are probably set in concrete, though, so removing them will require digging up quite a bit of lawn, so we'll probably wait a few years until I'm ready to convert the dug-up lawn to a garden bed. In the meantime, I'm not sure how we'll come to terms with them. Turn them into stick-figure animals by adding heads and tails? I'm not sure how the new neighbors would like that, though.
The house is considerably more suburban, both in architectural style and in actual location, than most of the houses we looked at. Its exterior appearance doesn't thrill me as much as that of some other houses we looked at. However, both its interior and its location are far better than anything else we looked at, and its exterior is certainly not bad-looking. I think it has a very "solid" look to it, and the house inspector tells us that it is indeed extremely solidly built, with very high quality wood throughout.
Although the new house is only nine blocks from the horrible place we currently live in, it's unlikely to have any remotely comparable flood problems. In fact, even the houses a few doors away from ours don't seem to have remotely comparable flood problems. We're not sure what the issue is with our particular place. The landlady told us the flood problems are caused by the fact that several neighbors have paved over most of their yards with patios and pool decks, so the water from their yards runs off into ours. However, the landlady told the former tenants in the other half of our duplex that the flood problems are caused by the fact that this duplex was built on top of a cement pad that extends under the entire yard, about ten feet below the soil level. She did not explain why it would have been built on such a thing or why there would have been a cement pad here in the first place. We're not sure whether to believe that story or not, but certainly the drainage does not seem to be as bad in most of town as it is here. In fact, even our current front yard is drastically better drained than the back yard. I think the new house will probably have both a front and a back yard that are pretty much like the current front yard, in terms of drainage. I will probably never again have a yard as thoroughly wetland-like as this one.
The pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) are back this summer, as usual. I pulled all the seedlings except this one (bottom center of picture, not really a seedling anymore at all). It's gotten very big very fast. It's covering up the former ugliness of this ditch area very nicely. I plan to leave the pumpkin plant behind when we move, although that's not to say we won't have pumpkins again in the new yard. Pumpkin seeds are easy to come by.
I'd been letting a valley oak seedling (Quercus lobata) grow in front of my office window for a few years. A bird planted it in a completely inappropriate place, one foot from the house, and I didn't notice it until it was already too big to be transplanted. I decided to enjoy watching it grow a while, but I knew that eventually it would have to be cut down. At the beginning of this month, when it was significantly taller than I am, I finally cut it down. We didn't know yet at that time that we were going to find ourselves a house soon; I just decided that the tree's time had come. I thought that when we did find a house, it would probably be in the foothills where there's not enough water for valley oaks to grow well. I was very saddened by the thought that I was cutting down what was probably the only valley oak I'd ever be able to grow. Well, now it's not the only one after all. I will plant a new valley oak as soon as we move into our new house.
Here is the yard after I removed the valley oak from in front of the window.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a plant I intend to grow in the new yard, but not one I intend to bother transplanting. It's not difficult to obtain yarrow seeds and grow millions more.
Rosillas (Helenium puberulum) I may not grow at all there. They reseed rather freely, and I'm not sure I want to introduce aggressive plants there. I at least want to wait a bit and see whether I feel a real need for these. I do feel a real need for them in this yard, because the selection of plants that will grow here is quite limited. I'm not sure yet whether I'll feel the same need for them in the new yard.
Coyote mint (Monardella villosa) is coming with us when we move. This one needs some shade and decent drainage. I'm thinking of planting it in the shallow raised bed in front of the big living-room window in front of the house. That bed is currently filled with nothing but alyssum (Lobularia maritima), probably because there are hardly any other plants small enough to fit in it. Coyote mint should fit fine.
The new house has a patio roof with a sort of trellis around the edge for growing vines. There's not much to hold the plants up before they get to roof height, though; there's no ladder for them to climb. This grapevine (Vitis californica × vinifera 'Roger's Red'), purchased at the semiannual plant sale last month and already in bloom at the time I bought it, has already grown most of the way to the top of the buttonbush. It's about five feet tall now, which is much taller than any of the three grapevines I've previously attempted to grow ever got. I'm hoping that by the time we move, it will have reached eight feet and can be immediately attached to the patio trellis.
Western panicgrass (Panicum acuminatum) is another plant I bought at the semiannual plant sale last month. It's coming with us too. I fear I'll never be able to allow it to reproduce, though, because until it blooms, it looks virtually identical to the weedy foxtails that I always pull up. The actual flowers on this grass, which you can kind of see in this picture, are nothing like the foxtails, but the foliage is extremely similar.
Hairy gumplant (Grindelia hirsutula) is coming with us when we move. This one likes water too, but if the new house doesn't have enough water for it, I should be able to grow its close cousin, the Great Valley gumplant (Grindelia camporum), instead. There are some gumplants growing wild on the levees around the edge of town that I think are Great Valley gumplants, so one way or another, there should be a gumplant that I can grow at the new house.
The seep monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) is an annual that probably will not survive until the time we move. I will collect its seeds and bring those with us. It may not grow well, however, with less water than it currently gets.
We have only one tomato plant this year that looks like it will produce any fruit, but it's bigger than any of the tomato plants we had last year. It's an annual that we can leave behind when we move; it'll probably have produced most of its tomatoes by then anyway. Here it is among the yarrow, in front of the seep monkeyflower.
Springbank clover (Trifolium wormskioldii) is coming with us when we move. I'm not sure where I'll put it, because it needs quite a bit of water, and I'm not sure yet where in the new yard I might want to put quite a bit of water. I think I'll find some little niche for it, though, because I like it a whole lot.
Here is another view of the springbank clover, accompanied by yarrow and tidy-tips (Layia platyglossa). The tidy-tips are annuals, and I can easily buy more seeds of them, so I won't bother trying to transplant them.
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) is a new plant I just obtained seeds of last fall. I didn't have very many seeds, but it looks as if every seed I had sprouted and is now blooming! This plant has a reputation for being weedy, but I like it too much to leave it behind. I'll bring it with us.
This is a broader view of a selfheal plant with numerous flowers, growing in the middle of the turkey-tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora).
The turkey-tangle fogfruit is also a bit weedy, but it's also coming with us because I like it too much to leave it behind.
This is Ithuriel's spear (Triteleia laxa), the only one to bloom from dozens of bulbs I planted. It only bloomed for about a week, not much of a payoff after several years of my attempting to grow this plant. I probably won't be able to find the bulb to bring it with us, since the plant has now disappeared without a trace. Also shown in the picture is scarlet mallow (Sphaeralcea philippiana). I have three of these plants and plan to bring at least one of them with us. The other two get more sun in their current locations and are consequently bigger, which makes me less confident that I'll be able to transplant them successfully. I may try anyway, though, because this is a difficult plant to find available for sale.
My soap lily bulb (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) should be easy to find, because its flower stalk is still standing. Its bloom period seems to be winding down, which is also a good thing since it will make the bulb easier to transplant.
The soap lily is a very tolerant plant. I don't anticipate any trouble keeping it happy in the new yard.
I have not been able to identify these flowers. They're not coming with us because I suspect they're weeds.
The most interesting event in the garden this month, other than of course our planning to leave it behind, is the dragonfly that has claimed ownership of it. It's a male flame skimmer (Libellula saturata), and it's behaving in a distinctly territorial manner. It stations itself in the same spot all day, day after day, on the tip of a dead evening-primrose (Oenothera hookeri) left over from last spring. Every now and then it flies in a circle around our yard and one or two of the neighboring yards. Then it returns to the same post, over and over.
Here it is in flight.
More recently, a female flame skimmer dragonfly showed up. She stationed herself on a different branch of the same dead plant.
After a while, she approached him more closely.
They had a lovely romantic date, holding hands intermittently for at least an hour. (Susan says I should stop posting dragonfly pornography, and that it's bad enough that I regularly post closeups of the naked sexual organs of various plants. But I assure you that there is no dragonfly pornography here. I did not observe any sexual contact whatsoever - just hand-holding.)
And now we return to saying our sentimental goodbyes to the garden in this duplex that we have loathed so deeply for so many years. Here are some more pictures of it.
Here is the door to the front yard. We hope to exit through it very, very soon.
And here is what we look forward to moving away from: the marijuana garden of the drug dealer next door.