JOURNAL September 2018, Part One

solanum quitoense 1

Three of a hedge of four Solanum quitoense aka Naranjilla, overwintered on the back porch last year, looking sick when planted to rich ground in April. Two months of drought and hard sun soon followed, I thought them goners. Four feet tall now, in fruit and flower. What a difference some rain makes. Their broad leaves make shade enough–even in Kansas sun–to stunt Lamb’s Ears, Stachys byzantina ‘H von Stein’. The flowers look like a large, white tomato flower; the fruits are the size of a big cherry tomato, covered in brassy fuzz, but I grow them for their big, scalloped, gray-green, felted and pink-thorned leaves.

ipomoea quamoclit alba

Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’

lettuce transplant

Transplanting lettuce.

front 1

The chain-link fence was installed in 2014. The house is on the local Historic Register; there are rules about changes. But when Burroughs bought the house in 1982, there was a similar chain-link in the same place. In fact, chain-link is all over the property, a 20th century Midwest vernacular. A fourth-year Rosa “Darlow’s Enigma’ is covering the fence at left, three plants of Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’ at center. What is that mutilated tree, you ask? An old hackberry, Celtis, most of it came down in a hard Spring storm. There’s a world of Funghi growing on the shady graveyard side, it will come down soon, but not on the house.

empty bed helianthus 1

Birdseed Helianthus annus.

front north hydrangea

North side of house, looking east through sculpted Lonicera maackii. Azalea, Box, Hydrangea, Flowering Quince and Viburnum down there, so far. Another boxwood, Clematis montana, an upright Chamaecyparis seeking shade, and a Cranberry bush will be moved here while dormant in mid-February. If transplanting in mid-late winter, Zone 6b here, take the biggest rootball you can carry. No matter the weather, water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots, add thick mulch.

hibiscus ipomoea zinnia 3

Left to right: Hibiscus acetosella ‘Mahogany Splendor’; Miscanthus g.; Ipomoea batatas (a Triffid in this year’s heat); and a surfing flower of Zinnia ‘ Will Rogers’.

little path face south 2

Pear Path looking South. ‘Peppermint Stick’ Balsam the scarlet in the foreground.

barrows small 9:8

Barrows, small, 9/8. Tomato ‘ Cherry Falls’, ‘Genovese’ basil, Gomphrena ‘Strawberry Fields’.

barrows small 2 9:13

Barrows, small, 9/13.

barrow big pumpkin 2

Barrow, big, Pumpkin ‘Jarrahdale’, Garage.

garage bed face west 9:8

Garage Bed facing West.

verbascum front

Verbascum ‘Governor George Aiken’, seed from Hayefield, standing proud in the third month. The “lawn” is filling in.

view from the table 9:13

View from the table, 9/13.

DAD VISIT 9/17 – 9/27

door shelf blue throne 1

Downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, Donna and David.

downtown tents 2

Freeway overpasses and sidewalks bordering vacant lots seem to be safe ground for the homeless. The police are justifiably overwhelmed by the numbers–mostly, they let them be. Odds are you won’t freeze to death in a Southern California Winter. Check the slogan on the billboard.

On the drive from LAX to Little Tokyo, once we got on surface streets near downtown, three things struck me: the increase in destitute people, used to be confined to cardboard night cities around the Mission on Main Street; the increase in yuppies (still a viable descriptor); the increase in trees. A limo will pull up in front of a hot shitty restaurant and You Tube stars will pile out, influencers dressed and plucked, barely stepping over the skinny old woman collapsed on the sidewalk. Tall planter boxes of Equisetum are the standard street space definitions. I lived downtown 1982-1986, in the Jewelry District at 7th & Hill. The Garment District was seven blocks West. Most of the high-rises downtown were empty above the third floor or renting to garment manufacturers, sweat shops. In 1982, I paid $200 mo. for the entire second floor of an old department store. I had to build in my own place, 2000 square feet, luckily encompassing the old men’s room. I had fourteen-foot ceilings, four toilet stalls, four urinals and four sinks, all with good pressure. For an American male, a glimpse of Paradise. Now, 600 square feet of level drywall and flat eggshell paint, some kitchen granite, and a bidet-toilet starts at $3,000 a month, before coop fees. So much money is pouring downtown, so many more people are slumping on the streets. But plants are everywhere, there has been plenty of funding for greenery. Used to be only Spring Street had trees.

bunker hill echeveria

Echeveria planting, parking lot, Bunker Hill bodega.

9:17 nightwalk 1

Arrived LAX 5pm, Dave picked me up, dropped off bag at home, saw Donna again, out to Suehiro for dinner. Then a lovely LA nightwalk.

9:17 nightwalk 8 grand central

Grand Central Market. After 18 years away, still there. Still has brain tacos. Prices gone way up.

9:17 nightwalk 11 last bookstore arch

This building originally housed a bank. When I lived downtown, it was a paint/hardware store–I painted my home from this store–a Glidden franchise, if memory serves. Now, it’s the best bookstore I’ve ever seen: The Last Bookstore. I’m a bookhound, been around, but this is really something. They tell you books are more than words on pages.

9:17 nightwalk 12 last bookstore paper sculpture

Last Bookstore third floor paper sculpture.

la fish co 2 whole fish

Only one day in downtown, much to revisit. Early morning at LA Fish Market.

elysian park 13 plumbago

Elysian Park, where Plumbago is a rangy weed.

downtown gehry 3

Downtown Gehry.

lac 6

Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC).

lac 9

LAAC bar.

lac roof 4

LAAC roof.

little tokyo jacc suntory garden 12

Suntory Garden, Japan America Cultural Center, Little Tokyo.

little tokyo jacc suntory garden 14

Suntory Garden 2.

little tokyo jacc suntory garden 4 persimmon

Suntory Garden 3. The Persimmon that survived Hiroshima.

bottega louie 2

Bottega Louie.

downtown philippe 16 lamb

Philippe’s French Dip. Lamb and blue cheese.

olvera lucha libre

olvera street alabaster blue

olvera street sparrow tortilla

Donna walked me over to Olvera Street, where “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles” germinated, just across from Union Station. Had coffee and guacamole for breakfast, fed chips to the same bold sparrows. Caught the Pacific Surfliner south at noon.

union station palms 2

loteria reflection

Dad and Marta met me at the station and we set off on the daily errand run. First stop was the lottery store, Dad and Marta reflected in the window. Then to lunch, the post office, and the grocery store to get ingredients for a chocolate cake. Dad’s 86th birthday was the next day.

guest room

The guest room where I stayed. The Batman rug was in my bedroom when I was a kid.

Dad’s roses, mostly Tea, all unknown to me.

dad rose 1

dad rose 2

Growing Tea roses against a wall in any climate is said to encourage black spot. These poodle roses must have good wind.

dad rose 3

dad rose 4

dad rose 5

dad rose 8

front yard 5

“Get rid of those tall green sticks. Too tall” Some kind of succulent, a surprisingly small root mass, heavy to lift, but stems turgid.

front cleared


romneya coulteri

A crime against Nature. Matilija poppy, Romneya coulterii, hacked like a common Hibiscus. I got Dad’s gardener’s number.

Enough for now. Part 2 in a few days.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: