Hello Friends and Family,

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The Jones Neighborhood: Part 4

As I was completing my walkabout of the Jones neighborhood, I encountered this truly bizarre tree with huge thorns protruding from the trunk. It had no leaves or fruit to help with the identification. Since it was planted in someone's front yard, I could only assume that it had some aesthetic value.

A few minutes with Mr. Google, helped me determine that it is probably a Floss Silk Tree. One website claims that it is often rated among the most beautiful trees in the world. To me, it looked like some medieval torture device. Further, the website shared photos of the flowers which are produced in the early fall "with abandon". I'll have to report back after my planned October trip.

This one I know — an African Tulip tree — commonly found in Hawai`i (of course). The blossoms are orangish-red with a yellow border and are big — making a very showy display. They grow quite tall and are easy to spot in the rain-forest areas on Maui, such as the road to Hana.

Curiously, a nearby tree had similar leaves and flowers except that the flowers were all yellow. I collected blossoms from both and compared them — they had to be very closely related. Again, Mr. Google came to my aid — this is indeed another variety of African Tulip.

Finally home. In realtime, it takes about 45 minutes to make the full circuit that I follow and upon which I collected the photos for the last few LAHP issues. Janie and Danny have done a wonderful job of landscaping their home — and are hard at work every weekend maintaining it.

For those of you living in more temperate climes, you may not realize that in places that are warm (or at least mild) all year round that the grass and landscaping grow all year as well. That is one reason, I own a townhouse with minimal landscaping plus a service that trims everything once a month — leaving more time for golf and photography.

If you look closely, you will see a yellow ribbon tied around the tree standing in their front yard. My nephew, Matt, is a soldier. During the invasion of Iraq, he commanded a Bradley Fighting vehicle, as part of the Third Army Division that spearheaded the march to Baghdad. After the defeat of the Iraqi army, he left the military briefly before returning to make it his career. He is now a member of the US Army Special Forces — also known as the Green Berets. As I write this, he is training at the Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

For those who don't know, the yellow ribbon symbolizes the hope that a member of your household will return home safely from their military commitment.

What would a tropical setting be without bamboo? I love the way that Danny has lined the one side of their property with bamboo — it provides beauty and privacy at the same time. It is also next to impossible to kill — so it will provide those benefits for a long time.

Out front, there is a plant that I decided to call an elephant ear plant. It seems that someone beat me to it — that is actually the name of the plant. I loved this shot with the sun shining through the huge leaf. Artistic. My photography instructors in Santa Fe would be proud.

Wow, a nice stand of croton! Also common in Hawai`i, these plants have very colorful leaves — which make it perfect for the tropical landscape since they provide color all year round — not just when flowers are blooming.

Ti Plants! In both green and red varieties! Ti Plant is also known as the "good luck" plant and is common in — guess where — Hawai`i. There were not native to Hawai`i but were introduced by Polynesian settlers who first came there. The starchy rhizomes are very sweet when the plant matures — in ancient Hawai`i they were used for food and medicine. The leaves were used for clothing and even today as hula skirts.

Mr. Google also tells me, "In ancient Hawaiʻi the plant was thought to have great spiritual power; only high priests and chiefs were able to wear leaves around their necks during certain ritual activities. Ti leaves were also used to make lei, and to outline borders between properties (for which its alternative name: terminalis). To this day some Hawaiians plant Ti near their houses to bring good luck. The leaves are also used for lava sledding. A number of leaves are lashed together and people ride down hills on them."

Excuse me if I'm skeptical about that last claim. Have you ever seen how abrasive lava rock is? I think it would wear through the Ti leaves in an instant and inflict a nasty abrasion on any exposed flesh.

Out back is a curious palm tree with fruit on brightly colored stems. Beautiful.

Nearby is a massive Staghorn Fern hanging from a sturdy branch — at least I hope it's sturdy.

All this backyard landscaping is visible from "Burt's Place". This is the spot that my dad claims as his own. He loves to sit out here with his cup of coffee and watch the world go by. We often have meals here provided the weather is comfortable and the time is prior to the mosquitoes coming for their meal.

Burt's Place is a visual delight, due to both the landscaping and the beautiful pool. It (the pool) doesn't get as much use as when the kids (my niece and nephew) were young and still living here — but it is always there when the heat gets to be too much.

This concludes my walkabout. I hope you have enjoyed sharing a little slice of my life during my visits to Florida.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com