Loving Eucalyptus

In the front corner of the new yard there is a huge and very old eucalyptus tree. No, not the kind with smiling koalas slowly munching leaves from drowsy perches, but the wonderful, small leaved variety that grows so exuberantly here in the Low Country.

The bark is shaggy, peeling, rough and gorgeous. It makes a statement all on its own.

The peeling bark of the Eucalyptus

Couple it with the narrow, fragrant green foliage and it presents a graceful tree for the lawn or border. Ya gotta know though, that gorgeous bark means it is basically self mulching….and there is a lot of bark. Another bonus? That spicy eucalyptus aroma… adored by most people, and repellent to most insect pests.  Thank you, eucalyptus oil.

The big one out front is home to myriad and varied birds, as well as providing strong branches for a handmade birdhouse and bird feeders, and a small platform that serves as a makeshift treehouse for the kids. It weathered the hurricanes this year without issue and has quickly become a family favorite.

Today a friend gifted me with a start from her own big eucalyptus. A few years and it will become a new bird sanctuary in this overly busy bit of urban landscaping, a welcome, gentle respite for our birds and tree frogs, a cool place of dappled shade welcoming all.

Glad you are here, little tree, grow strong. Welcome home.

Eucalyptus Pauciflora 'Bonza' Eucalyptus Tree

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Rain, rain….rat snake!

Raining her in the Lowcountry.  Like, really raining!  The first night there was thunder that shook the house, flashes of lightning to often, large, and close they lit up the house, and even a heavy, if short, hail storm.  We got up at 5am to the street flooded over a foot deep from one side to the other.

The storm kept me up all night…the boys woke up and peered outside and said, “it rained?”  Sigh.  Boys.

Because the water is always deepest right at the end of our driveway the boys came and went on their bikes from the second drive at the end of the yard (actually it is a glorified patch of gravel, sand, and leaves)  It was there they encountered the second of our much loved reptilian residents….our black rat snake.

Gorgeous! Right?  I love that we have so many kinds of reptiles here…and a fine assortment of amphibians as well, but that is a topic for another day.

We have anoles, both our native Carolina (green) anole

  but also the introduced Brown anole

We have Fence Lizards, the only spiny lizards native here  species photo

And of course an abundance of snakes, turtles, tortoises, alligators…the list goes on and on.  It is a great place to raise kids…so much to explore, so many amazing animals to appreciate and love and protect.

I was tickled and delighted the boys came up to the house thrilled about finding the big rat snake out in the rain, making his leisurely way up the magnolia tree, where the thick leaves will provide some protection from the storms.

Looking forward to seeing him again one lazy afternoon, basking in the morning sun.

Finding Beauty

I am, by my very nature, someone who seeks ‘connection’ in the world around me. I revel in time spent swinging in the hammock swing under the ancient live oak in my backyard.  Staring at the leaves, noting how much the spanish moss has grown since I first ‘introduced’ it to the oak tree five years ago, listening to the vast array of bird songs.

I thrive on walks on the beach, the feel of warm sand under my bare feet, the scent of the ocean, unexpected treasures to be gathered, or moments of wonderment in the sea and coastal critters we share these beaches and tidal marshes with.

https://passyingbyphoto.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/531a9778.jpg?w=474&h=379  Endangered Wood storks have returned to the coast after a long absence.

And the easily missed, once common and now making a slow comeback, Sea-beach amaranth can be found if you know what you are looking for…and are open to the tiny humble details to be found in nature.

Today I didn’t go anywhere unusual. I puttered about the house and yard. As I was clearing small downed branches from the week’s storms I spotted this lovely hiding near the bushes.  An Island glass lizard, I see them every once in awhile about the yard and love seeing the tiny babies when they hatch in the summer.

Always something beautiful to see here.  The white azaleas are in bloom in the yard, saved by their later bloom time from the late season frost which decimated most of our early bloomers.  The camellias are still heavy in flowers and the wisteria has joined in.  By the time the magnolia blooms, it will be swathed in soft purple wisteria blossoms.

Everyday miracles.  Every day…wonder.

 

 

 

my magnificent magnolia….and other tales from the backyard

I have a magnolia tree.  Not too old, but old enough it towers above everything but the live oaks, beautifully pyramidal in form, deep glossy green and loaded with rust colored buds and huge creamy white flowers it is my showpiece.  I love this tree.  Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) flower   I wish I had a picture of the whole tree!

But these blossoms perfume the whole yard.  Heaven. 

And to make things even more amazing in the yard… I have hot banana peppers, baby white eggplants, big yellow bell peppers, tomatoes that are almost ripe, cucumbers going crazy…. and my FIG TREE is loaded down with baby figs.  So exciting.

In backyard news of the animal variety…. glass snakes! LOTS of them.  Looks like last year’s bumper crop of babies did well and now I have large, fat beautiful glass snakes in every part of the landscape.  Since they are actually legless lizards no one needs to freak out over their presence and it is so nice to see nature’s creatures enjoying the habitat I provide for them.  

Here We Go Again

Another weekend slipped past but wonderfully marked the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.  It is, this year as always, a devisive subject.  For myself, and sun lovers like me, it should be permanent and never change back.  This is the proper time.  My children get to go to school in the light of the new day…not in darkness (which really isn’t safe as well as rather cruel, to make kids get up andf go off into the darkness every morning) and when they come home instead of it being dusk before they can change and get outside… they have another hour to play and run and …oh yes America! run off both energy and calories. People need daylight.  It is good for us.  Helps us sleep better, keep us healthy.  And Daylight Savings means more people see more light.  This is a very good thing.

Meanwhile here in the Lowcountry things got so much warmer.  Beautiful glorious sunny days in the 80s.  Green grass.  Flowers in bloom. BEES! Always so very happy to see the bees. My pear tree is in bloom and there they are…happily gathering pollen, bringing me a new crop of pears.

And so spring comes to the Lowcountry…bit by bit.  A little more sunshine.  A whisper of bees’ wings. Flowers and grass and the call of the ocean. It is so welcome here.

Shine on…

The first genuinely perfect spring day here in the Lowcountry!  It was 80 here on the island, bright sunshine and just the sweetest breeze blowing inland from the beach.  Everything smells of sun and sea.  Birds of every variety singing joyously, even the plants rejoiced!  My camellias, who have blessed me with daily blooms since December, went crazy with a wild, glorious profusion of flowers in this single moment of glorious spring weather. Reds, pinks, white, cream, and striped… all burst forth in a display unequaled with the long cold, dreary winter we’ve had this year.

In the yard, because the long-ago owners of this house were quite eclectic as to how and where they planted things, I have jonquils, narcissus, daffodils, and these lovely purple flowers I have yet to identify that pop up randomly in beds and lawn, and the huge red and white blooms of the amaryllis stuck against the wall of the house behind the azalea bushes.  A joyous display for those with the time to stroll this big ol’ yard and just enjoy the randomness of it all.

Today was a walking day.  To the bank, home, to the store, home, back up to the bank, back home…about 10 miles all told.  By that last walk home my feet were protesting, so once I got past the big road I took them off and walked the rest of the way home barefoot.  My tootsies were ever so grateful, the soft squish of turf and sand underfoot was a joy and a reminder that spring really is finally at hand…or foot, as the case may be. I rejoice in the return of flip flop weather.  What could be more perfect?

Not that winter is through with us just yet.  I hear there is another cold snap in a couple of days… but embracing these moments keeps it all in perspective. Winter will pass.  Spring is at hand.

Tonight I sat out in my bright turquoise lawn chair in front of my little house and listened to the night sounds, lifted my face to the warm wind blowing in from the sea, and stared into a clear star-flung sky with a soft full moon bathing all below in its gentle embrace. And life, my friends, is so very, very good.