Tag Archives: roses


I love starting work in a garden early in the morning. One nice thing about these cool early hours is that many insects are still slow-moving and partly asleep. One such was this lacewing, a voracious predator of aphids and other small critters. I spotted it just as the sun touched the roses.

This one is probably a brown lacewing in the family Hemerobiidae of the order Neuroptera. These are less common than the green ones, and like the green lacewings they are always a welcome sight in the garden.

If the wide, stuffed-looking abdomen is any guide, this one is a female ready to lay eggs. The eggs are fascinating, deposited on the ends of erect, silk hairs attached to the undersides of leaves. Why the hairs? Some theorize that they protect the tiny, active larvae from each other by making it impossible for them to eat the other eggs before they crawl away looking for prey. Amazing little insects!

Here’s more about brown lacewings.


The lacewing was not the only critter hiding among the roses.


Did you miss the first episode of this series?

Before we venture to the back yard, let’s have a look around the southwest side.

A large, dense and old jasmine bush (Jasminum species – there are many varieties) has wrapped itself around the south corner of the house. It is way out of control, but it can be vastly improved with some good pruning.

To the left, two giant, doddering rose bushes have been struggling for years. Even so, they bloom.

This narrow strip is a harsh part of the property. The wall behind reflects back a large amount of sun and heat, so that on a hot day this space is seriously blasted.

Long-term, the only kind of ecosystem that is appropriate for this space is a desert one. It will be cleared and relandscaped with excellent rocks and berms. There will be cacti and succulents of many strange and fascinating forms.

Now, let’s go to the northeast side of the house along the driveway, through the gate and to the left. There is a roughly square-shaped back yard. We enter at the east corner, and this is our view across the diagonal of the square:

A beautiful Japanese maple dominates the scene. As shapely as it is, it is sadly doomed. It is way too close to the foundation of the neighbor’s garage.

In the left foreground is a brick patio. It takes up about a third of the garden space. We will be removing it entirely, to be replaced by a free-form patio of beautiful, irregular flat stones.

On the right a large, dense viny bush has grown into a serious monster. I don’t even care what it’s called. This kind of vine is unbelievably invasive. It will go!

Above: Behind the patio looking northwest. At the right in the shadow a big tomato plant climbs a trellis, tangled with morning glory vines. Pretty!

Above: The north corner. At left is a much better view of the pretty tomato vine with morning glories, whose life will end with the first frost.

At right against the southwest wall of the garage an old rose struggles in a (currently shadowed) space that is subject to a powerful afternoon solar blast. Does this sound familiar?

Above: Turning further to the right and looking northeast, an aging and sickly pluot tree is covered with sooty mold. Even the new leaves are yellowing and frail. The branches are brittle and cracking at the base. Its time has come. Yes, it too must go.

But we’re still not done…

Above: We turn to face the back of the house. Looking southeast from the center of the yard, the most horrible monster of all! It is a gigantic, looming potato vine, one of the most dreaded of invasives!

For the above portrait, I cleared away a bunch of dense undergrowth to reveal its graceful, spindly legs. Isn’t it grand?

Yes, it too must go. Except for the camelia bush at the far right, every plant in this back square will be removed!

Next: Streetside lantana strip and south corner.

Did you miss little yellow house #1?