The most excellent Tidewater Gardener blog is hosting a Winter Walk Off Challenge. My own neighborhood Walk Off presented immediate and dismaying challenges. my neighborhood plantings make me grouchy. I glare at the same things on every walk with a most disapproving attitude. For example, Abuse By Pruner. Nature did not intend Bougainvilleas to spend their lives in the shape of a bun.
Nor did Nature intend Brazilian Rosewood to be kept at a height of 4 feet and covered with ivy:
And this next I won't even get started on. Native Rhus on the left, while on the right is a mostly dead Acacia covered with partially dead Lantana, all buzzed into a loaf:
But who wants to read a long gripe about Botanical abuse? We already know Cortaderia selloana needs to be Round-upped before it takes over California, and that native Oaks, allowed to thrive, are magnificent jewels in a neighborhood, and so should not be Roundup.
We know that shrubs have their own beautiful, natural shapes without need for wasting gasoline on a futile attempt to make them into unnatural geometric oddities:
We all know that planting a palm with a mature height of 100 feet directly under a power line 20 feet high is stupid. But, enough. Enough of horticultural horror. No more.
I am determined to focus my attention on better things. Our poor attentions! Run ragged. Technological change and the vast possibilities of the Internet are turning everyone into slaves of their smart phone. Our culture is such that everything is screaming for our attention, all things made extreme, lewd, violent, or offensive simply to grab those ragged, wandering, exhausted attentions. It is nearly impossible to focus on what is important: will knowing what rude thing Rush Limbaugh said make me wiser, happier, make my life better? Do horticultural horrors matter, on a sunny day in March, when Prunus illicifolia is again in bloom?
When the neighbor's Alyogyne is flaunting flamboyant purple, does a Justin Bieber tweet matter?
The neighbor's home looks so peaceful. Why not focus on this sweet welcoming scene?
Or remind one's self this is California in winter, and we are lucky to here:
My thoughts began to clear enough for me to open my eyes and look a little harder. A Western Bluebird in the still-bare Pistache:
The beauty of bark.
And while this Euc may be the loser in a paint-ball battle...
...my attention was enough tcalmed and settled to notice that the Euc's canopy shelters a hawk's nest. (Look carefully. It's a pile of sticks and litter.)
The hawk cries rang out steadily from a barely visible jumble of branches, and then I heard the peeps of baby hawks, such that cubed Photinias...
...and dying trees...
no longer obsessed me. Of course, the extreme on the opposite side of noticing every flaw--that of seeing only the beauty of things--is as great an error as seeing only the flaws. Wisdom is found in balance. The alien Eucs may be dying...
...but the native Toyon is thriving in their shade.
There is no good without bad, no right without the wrong to clarify what right is. We cannot know this without pointing our attention in the right direction, along with our feet, and stepping forward, focused on what matters. The Photinia may be buzzed into a loaf, but the new foliage...ahhhh!