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Random Yard Pics 2003-2005

Our yard is a Work in Progress!
But then again, who's isn't - right?!

La Casa de Miller

These are just some random shots of La Casa de Miller in Sunny San Jose.

Our neighbor claims we live in a resort - and I find it difficult to argue with her!

During the summer of 2003, I tried my hand at my first semi-serious attempt at gardening and ya know what? EVERYTHING I planted not only lived - but THRIVED!

It all started with Roger insisting that we plant some palm trees... I did some fairly extensive research on palms suitable for the Bay Area (and found that most were prohibitively expensive!)

I lucked out and stumbled onto, up in Albany (about 60 miles from here). They were running an internet special on 8' Queen Palms for around fifty bucks! So I jumped in my car (a compact red convertible) and headed up there, asking "How many will fit in here?"

Turns out, we were able to squeeze 3 in the fully-reclined front seat of my car and, with the top down, I drove the 60 miles home in rush-hour traffic with 3 tall Queen Palms hanging out of the back of my car!!!

I'd like to think I brought a smile to at least one commuter's face!

Anyway, between the pool and the palm trees, a Tropical Theme was born! And this whole gardening thing has grown from a hobby to *almost* a passion, as the summer has progressed...

View from the back door
Unfortunately, the Purple Fountain Grass (center of planterbox in foreground) grew to mammoth proportions by summer's end!

Another view of pool
One of our Queen Palms in the foreground

Our Mondo Cool Tiki Bar!!!
Jimmy Buffett - Eat your heart out!!! ;-)

Our Cabo San Lucas Acquisition!

Garden Entry

and my Baby Bouganvillas which are starting to climb up the trellis as of the end of summer 2003

La Cervesa Mas Fina!!!
Okay, so it's not beer... But it *is* a fru-fru tropical drink - complete with umbrella! ;-)

Okay... Now onto Year #2 of the Garden...

Updated 09/10/04

Senor Floatie Flamingo in Action!
Bouganvilla Trellis - Second Year (2004)

Well, after a miserably cold winter, I thought for sure the boug's had "had it!"

Evidently not!!!



Tiki Doghouse!!!

I figured, since we were going for a full-on Tacky Tiki Theme, the dogs might as well get in on the action! (Note: The cannas went *completely* nuts over the summer and, by summer's end, the dogs could barely *find* their house!!!)

Jungle Hammock

Okay, what good is a Tropical Resort *without* a hammock, hmmm? Note Purple Majestly Ornamental Millet on the right - I grew that from seed

(I love eBay!!!)

I was going for an "overgrown jungle theme." Had NO idea I'd do so well! Honeydew took over the lattice (and a significant amount of "floor-space"). Got some mighty tasty melons, though...

The palm in the foreground was a "throw-away" from a neighbor. It was just a teeny "pup" last year when I stuck it in a pot (and neglected it shamefully!). Planted it properly this spring and it seems to be thriving (with NO water!!!). I plan to yank it out when it gets too big though.

Tiki Bar and Cannas

I went a little nuts when I discovered Horn Canna Farm ( They really add a nice tropical touch to the yard - and they grow like MAD around here!!!

Tiki Dude!!!

From (also sells on eBay ;-). Way Cool, eh?!!

Buffett Chairs!

The Creativity Demons struck this summer, and I decided to paint these Margaritaville-inspired Adirondack Chairs. This is when they were still "underway." They're finished now - and I need to post updated pics of them in their new "Jungle Home."

Random Thoughts, Observations and Plans...

I wasn't really planning on the "back garden" turning out so well. Didn't really devote that much time to it, actually - other than throwing a whooooole lotta compost and bagged steer manure on it, and running the rototiller (AFTER the soupy mud dried and BEFORE it turned to cement!!!). My "method" of garden planning was basically: Buy a ****load of bulbs/rhizomes, stick 'em in the ground and see what happens!!! I'm pretty pleased with the results!

I do think I need a bit more "diversity" back there. In the whole yard, actually. But I like the mix of colors - primarily on the foliage (Went for a lot of purple leaves this year). And the flowers are a nice bonus! I'd also stuck fruits/veggies amongst the "faux tropicals." Unfortunately, I was never able to determine if we got any watermelons 'cuz the cannas took over (there *is* a watermelon vine back there - someplace!!!).

Cannas: LOVE San Jose! And LOVE steer manure! Some of the cannas I'd purchased were supposed to grow to 3-4' tall. Quite a few of them are rivaling the roof, in height, as of summer's end. Those cannas were planted where last year's compost pile lived (Coincidence? I think not!).

I'd also planted a bunch of cannas along the fenceline - between the cypress trees. Wasn't too pleased with the results (they don't look *bad* - but cannas don't look good in a straight line - IMHO). I'll probably go ahead and leave them - as they're multiplying like crazy. But I'll supplement the fenceline with "spikey" stuff like Flax, Agapanthus, and maybe some bushy African Daisies (which, I've discovered, grow like weeds here). Whatever goes out there must be drought-tolerant 'cuz there's just an over-worked drip system out there. Don't have the capacity to add more drip lines, unfortunately. And I'm *certainly* not going to drag a hose around (I'm a very lazy gardener - believe it or not!!!).

I'll probably be out there planting, next spring, before the rainy season ends - so they'll have a chance to get established before Blazing-Hot-Summer sets in.

Queen Palms: Also LOVE San Jose and are in sheer bliss when the temps top 90*. You can practically watch them grow! I think they've added at least 4-5' in height this summer (coupla feet in the last coupla weeks, actually - when the temps hit the century mark). Same holds true for the bananas I planted (yet *another* eBay acquisition - also check out - great people there!).

Winter? Ugh - what's that?! Well, San Jose is *definitely* a mediterranean climate - NOT sub-tropical. I tried a couple of "true tropicals" (Heliconia, Colocasia) and they floundered miserably. Even the Birds of Paradise are having a tough time of it. Anyway, I'm curious to see how the "stuff" handles our pretty-damn-cold winters (dipping into the 20*'s). I plan to mulch *very* heavily and keep my fingers crossed...

And now... Year #3 (2005) - In no particular order! (Note how the palm trees have grown!!!)
Back, looking toward the house Cannas and Tiki Bar

Secret Garden Entry

Colocasia and Cannas - Secret Garden

Queen Palm and Bananas
Pergola got a new Tiki! (Check out!) Plumies in Bloom!!!
View from Back Door (Birds of Paradise and New Zealand Flax in foreground)
Gonna have to go to the "New Garden Pics 2006" page to see my updates!