Monday, November 21, 2011

Walking through the neighborhood

Lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to get out more while it’s still light so I use my lunch hour to take a vigorous walk through the neighborhood. Every day I spot new things of interest. It’s amazing how much variety there really is when you take a good look. I bet it’s no different where you live.

Let me show you a few sights that have caught my eye.

Residential street covered with leaves. I love the atmosphere in this photo.
Ornamental pear leaves on a neighbor’s lawn—arguably the finest lawn anywhere in town. The grass is as soft as moss.
Underpass in our neighborhood park. I love the soft misty lighting.
Underpass in the other direction. Notice the cotoneaster growing above it—or is it pyracantha? Hard to tell from a distance.
Cotoneaster lining somebody’s driveway
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) berries on the greenbelt across the street. Toyon, or Christmas berry or California holly, is native to the coastal scrublands of California, all the way down to the Baja California peninsula.
Pomegranates are bursting open everywhere due to the recent rains.
I wish people would pick them—or let me do it!
Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis), a California native, in bloom.
The flowers remind me of dandelions.
This is another California native, buckeye (Aesculus californica).
It’s the first shrub/tree to lose its leaves, usually as early as September.
Buckeye fruit and seeds. The seeds look like polished wooden balls and are very attractive—and poisonous. Check out the ingenious way native tribes used buckeye seeds.
Yet another native, Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis). I’ve harvested a few seeds to plant at my in-laws’ place in the mountains.
Not a native, but one of my favorite trees at the moment since it’s both blooming and fruiting: arbutus, or strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)
Red and orange strawberry tree fruit. In some Mediterranean countries (where the tree comes from), the fruit is used for jelly and liqueurs.
I also spotted a small grove of golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea). It looks well cared for and the owner seems to know how manage a running bamboo like this one.


  1. You're lucky you're able to use your lunch hour to have a walk outside. It's nice to get some fresh air in the middle of a working day :) The first is my favourite of the lot, as you say very atmospheric! a fleeting moment as those leaves will get cleared soon I can imagine.

  2. Wasted pomegranates, for shame! I've never seen Aesculus californica, very interesting and thanks for sharing.

  3. Pomegranates are $2/ea in the store. I can't believe people don't pick them off their own trees!

    California buckeye is a truly unique plant. I'll do a separate post on it. Its flowers are stunning, too.

    Alan, I'm sure birds eat the pomegranates. They're much tastier than many other things birds routinely eat :-).

  4. Pomegranates: Stop and Ask if you can pick!!!

  5. great post - so interesting! Hope some pomegranates get eaten or shared!