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>The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

May 5, 2010

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Sandy over at Reluctant Entertainer challenged us to write about flowers in the garden today. I’ve been doing that a lot lately! I’ve posted lovely photos of roses in bloom, and today I’m going to show you more! But I’m also going to give you a peek behind the curtain – it’s not all beautiful, it’s a journey. Lest you think otherwise, this is no Sunset magazine spread, it’s just a 1950’s ranch with a big yard, lots of sun, and hours upon hours of manual labor and love.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with our backyard over the last 8 years. While it was one of the reasons we bought this house, it’s also been one or our biggest renovation burdens.

It’s so flippin’ huge. At least by Silicon Valley standards. And the original homeowner, Milo, loved to putter about back there and over 35 years, left us lots of surprises. Not-so-nice surprises.

There were 14 fruit trees. Oh, don’t you oh and ah! THAT’S A LOT OF FRUIT! Fruit on my patio, fruit on the ground, fruit rotting in the sun. Fruit that is eaten before it’s edible, and ruined, by the little minions of hell masquerading as cute, fluffy squirrels.

A vegetable patch of about 1,000 square feet (before he got too infirm, he was selling produce to the local gourmet grocers. Yes, I live on a farm. In the Silicon Valley.)

Hand-made irrigation systems put together with duct-tape, and I’m pretty sure, spit.

Paw-paws. (A more pathetic tree you will never see. They do not like it here, Sam-I-Am, they do not like it one bit.)

An amalgam of patio space constructed of brick, sand, concrete, and I think, more spit.

A fort. Made of brick. With a concrete foundation that went 5′ down into the ground. FIVE FEET.

Rocks. Everywhere. Milo loved rocks. Stones. Boulders. Pebbles. E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.

While charming, sort of, it was a logistical nightmare to maintain, it didn’t offer good traffic flow, and it was not at all kid or party-friendly.

So we started tearing things out, bit by bit. By bit. By bit. On and on and on…we removed trees that were blocking much-needed sunlight, we pulled out irrigation tubes that stopped working decades ago, we tore up concrete and brick and hauled rocks and more rocks.

We said goodbye to a gorgeous wisteria that was just in the worst possible place…and it was falling apart.

It got so that I hated to be back there. It was too big, too empty, and the weeds were moving into formation.

Only just about a year ago, we started to put everything back. A new patio went in, covering 1200 square feet and the weeds were suddenly forced to the perimeter once again.


We battled through the winter. We were out in freezing temperatures, pruning and hacking, and fertilizing and weeding some more, and this year, we were finally rewarded.

It’s almost like they are grateful…


Framed by patio space, well-tended, my roses greet me each morning and nod sleepily to me in the waning evening light. I love being out there at any time of day…15 minutes with a bucket to snip off spent blooms is a pleasure, not a burden.

It’s not all blooms and beauty back there, yet. There is much work still to be done! A lawn would be nice…


And the fountain, with it’s extraordinary weight, has posed some technical difficulties. requiring a foundation all its own. A work in progress.


It’s not perfect, by any means.

I love it anyway.

Home is…flowers in the garden. Even if it’s a garden filled with rocks and weeds!

I know I posted this photo last week, but I just wanted to show it again – this is the view from my bedroom door. Weeds? What weeds? I see nothing but bliss…

For more, visit Reluctant Entertainer’s Home Is link up, every Wednesday!

Home is...

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 5, 2010 5:24 pm

    >Wish the pix were a little bit bigger. Or I have bad eyes. LOL Love the big patio … and what do you do with all of your fruit?Should we have a canning party? LOLThanks for linking up today!

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