Human Flower Project

Scruffy and Appetizing

Whose space is it anyway? A plant, animal, bird and spider lover co-exists with fascination through the seedy days of fall in Santa Maria, California.

imageCalifornia poppies in the author’s yard, spring

Photo: Caroline Joyes Woods

By Caroline Joyes Woods

In my mostly California native landscape, I have many plants that are beautiful…most of the time.

The other time, I regret, I can’t simply prune them down to small and homely. They remain proudly scruffy for the birds and bugs that feed on them or live in them. This is the problem with hosting little lives in the yard, and liking that they chose to come and stay. I have been bitten by a nasty, anonymous spider (long ago) and suffered with the bite and symptoms for at least six months, but would not spray my yard. Who was in whose space?

These days it is time to prune most of my spring blooming plants to insure stocky, strong growth and profuse bloom…but…the Western goldfinches love the salvia seed, and the California fuchsia (Zauschneria) seed as well. There might be a scragglier looking plant than a brown, dormant Cal. fuchsia with fuzzy seeds trying to escape the tiny pods, but other than roadside weeds, I haven’t found it! In summer, it has gorgeous vermillion trumpet-like blooms that attract hummingbirds. In fall/winter, it’s an eyesore that stays to feed my friends!

My pet kitties prefer my leaving the ragged browning buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) so they can safely guard the house while hidden from visitors and the sun. Does it get pruned? Yes, but always late. For the cats, or my procrastination? Who knows when you get right down to it?


California fuchsia and seedier types, favored by bugs, birds, cats and some humans

Photo: Caroline Joyes Woods

The benefit of leaving these sad plants to seed freely is zillions of seedlings, and in years when there is a failure of a major landscape element (I’m still not quite comfy withholding water, and rot is plaguing me) these volunteers make a nice attraction while I decide how to fix the loss. In some cases, the free seeders stay. I love their brave color, and the creatures always vote pro-food source!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/21 at 11:34 PM


Caroline, your essay made me reminisce about yards in my old Berkeley neighborhood.

Posted by Georgia on 11/23 at 08:38 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.