If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden


My life needed a little bit of greenery so I adopted these mini succulents last weekend from an eclectic nursery in San Jose. The nursery was an endless jungle of plants and nooks with hidden treasures like kaleidoscopic pheasants in cages, a functional (and massive) koi pond, and even a ship. Very neat place.

The succulents are living on my office patio until I can find some functional and aesthetically pleasing containers. Apparently tiny pot makers don’t believe in drainage holes, because I haven’t had much luck so far. I still have to do some research on how to properly care for a succulent — they’ll have to go live in the backyard if they’re not getting enough light on the patio.

I also de-herbed and de-soiled my whiskey barrels on Sunday, which entailed some encounters with some very nasty creepy crawlies. There were no less than three centipedes, plenty of slimy worms, and a nest of woodlouse spiders. I’m planning on replanting my barrels with all tea-type herbs — I don’t do a lot of cooking so all that sage and oregano went to waste.

In other plant news, my cherry tree is sprouting leaves and will definitely be blossoming in another month or so. My raspberry bush is flourishing, I’ve already got strawberries, and even my little blackberry is still struggling along. All in all, it’s looking very springy here.

quote by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

A Glitch in the Matrix

Several months ago, a mysterious cat began visiting our yard, much to Molly’s dismay. We were initially worried the cat might have escaped from a nearby house, but its collar and pudgy belly suggested otherwise.

Neighborhood Cat

We’ve seen the cat (who we affectionately call Voldemort) traipsing along our fence on a near-nightly basis since then and we’ve also seen it (I call it she, John calls it he) around other areas of the apartment building. Voldemort has become a regular part of the backyard wildlife, which also includes squirrels, a family of raccoons, and a skunk.

Neighborhood Cat

Last night was business as usual, or so we thought. We heard Voldemort outside but when we peeked out the window, we were in for a major surpriseā€¦

Suddenly, there were two identical silver bengal cats walking along the fence. WHAT.

Apparently, someone in the neighborhood has two lovely cats that roam the wilderness of Sunnyvale and despite seeing them separately dozens of times, we had never seen them together to know that there were multiples.

Mind blown.

Not Dandelions

Because we only moved into this apartment a year ago, the backyard is full of mystery plants. Most of the unidentified plants are weeds, which have regrettably turned one side of the area into a wasteland despite my continuous efforts to uproot most of the plant life.

It hasn’t been hard removing the majority of the weeds since the yard is covered with a layer of wood chips that prevent them from rooting deeply, but there are a couple of tenacious weeds that have dug their roots in deep.


Two of the “weeds” are nearly two feet tall and refused to come out of the ground no matter how hard I pulled. When these plants flowered and then sprouted giant puffballs, I assumed they were some kind of enormous dandelion, but a little research has revealed that they aren’t dandelions at all, but salsify plants.


Apparently the salsify has edible but bitter roots that taste like parsnips. While I have no intention of eating them, I did appreciate the dandelion-like head of the plant, which photographs nicely.



As a side note, we saw the most bizarre behavior with a few little birds and these plants – the birds would hop onto the branch near the puffball and bounce up and down like it was some kind of fantastic salsify trampoline.

Not sure what they were doing, but since those seeds disperse just like dandelion seeds, I’m hoping we don’t end up with a yard full of birdie jungle gyms later this year.

A few backyard macros

My little backyard garden withered away a bit during the winter months, but now it’s back in full force, weeds included. While I yanked out quite a few unwanted plants a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t get rid of some deep rooted dandelions, one of which flowered yesterday.

There was a perfect puff that I was excited to get a picture of (my macro lens might not be good for much, but it takes one hell of a dandelion shot), but of course as soon as I went outside with my camera the wind picked up and scattered the seeds into the sky. This was the only picture I got:


While I hope that the two dandelions in my yard aren’t going to sprout an army of impossible-to-uproot plants, they’ve been an unexpected source of fun. This weekend two little red-chested birds kept fluttering down and bouncing on the dandelion stems, sending puffs of seeds floating everywhere. I’m not sure what purpose this served, but it sure looked cute.

I took a few other macro shots while I was outside yesterday, of my fuchsia, strawberry flowers, and pineapple mint (easily the best mint there is!):

strawberry flowers


pineapple mint

strawberry flower