Plain and simple!
First, a little rambling ('cuz that's what I do!!!)
We are situated on a quarter-acre (!! Huge by California standards !!) pie-shaped corner lot where the front yard is fairly small and pretty-much nondescript: It's an "inside" corner (meaning parking is tight!), with a raised front lawn, a driveway, and a MASSIVE poopy pepper-tree out front (No. Sorry. No Bee-Saga Updates at the present time!). The house itself is also pretty "modest:" 2BR/1BA 1200SF. Your basic "California Ranch" style house, built in the early 70's (with a *few* updates, through the years, but we *still* have brown shag carpeting - YUK!!!)...
But the backyard? Oh my goodness, in the summer, it TRULY takes your breath away! Stunning "Tropical Resort!" Seriously (and yes - most of that is *my* doing!). We do have a sizable pool, and a modest-sized lawn (probably about equivalent to most "normal" backyards), a cabana/storage shed, and a Tiki Bar (complete with palm-thatch umbrella!) (and that's not including *my* side-yard with the veggie-beds and Art Studio!)
Wintertime? Not-so-much (we stow most of the "Resort-Stuff" during the winter months). And, right now, we are in that awkward "Between Stage" where you can definitely see the "potential!" But I've got some work ahead of me to drag all the summer furniture out and clean-up much of the landscaping. (And, from the looks of it, find cheap replacement palm-trees for my large patio pots).
Thankfully, most of the ornamental plantings we have done are "perennials" and almost-all of them seem suitable for our climate (Cannas, bananas, queen palms, birds of paradise, hibiscus flowers, dwarf phoenix/date palms, agapanthus, honeysuckles, morning glories, etc.). And most of them are "tropical" in appearance - which is super-nice! Some of them are actually "marginal" for our climate and get overwintered in the greenhouse (Plumerias). Or under bed-sheets when they get too big for the greenhouse doorway (Plumies again!)
Annnnnd... Just outside out back-door, we've got the hot tub and a 10x15 steel gazebo with canvas top:
Now, one winter we left it outside with the canvas roof attached. We got hit with a severe windstorm (not entirely unusual for our area) and the thing *tried* to take-flight and ended up in a twisted-heap, leaning against our neighbor's fenceline!
We twisted it (mostly) back into shape and added these cheap Home Depot plastic roll-up blinds. For one summer, it acted as my "Backyard Studio" (before I built the "real" Tiki Shack/Studio), and we have determined that - if we leave the blinds on it - it CAN survive winter, outdoors - even with the canvas roof on it (which - BTW - is a MAJOR pain to remove and re-install!). Added bonus: It doubles as "Mostly dry" storage for summer furniture!!!
Well, over time, the gazebo is *really* starting to show it's age. It's starting to rust-out (and stain the concrete). The cheesy plastic blinds are getting all torn-up (but they're cheap enough to replace).
This spring, the gazebo looks like this:
You can't fully grasp how "tired" it looks from this picture but - trust me! - it is TIRED! The rust is dripping down, over toward the left-hand-side, and the blinds are hopelessly tattered on the edges (and don't go up-and-down without a LOT of assistance), and the formerly-green canvas top is now a dull shade of greige...
And, I'm not sure, but I think the original manufacturer of this gazebo *may* have gone out of business (Google finds "zilch!"), so I may not even be able to replace the canvas top anymore (It used to run me appx $150/yr to keep us in canvas tops). I shudder to think what a "custom" cover would cost!!!
Sooo.. Fast forward to last year's San Francisco Garden Show: I saw a display for Tropical Garden Furniture, a local company. They had THE most AWESOME looking Tiki-Huts EVAR!!! That link takes you to their Tiki Huts, specifically. And the hut that I really-really-really want is this one:
I wish the picture was a little better, but - Trust Me - based on what I saw on display, this hut looks FREAKING AWESOME!!! I suspect *this* hut is the 8x8. I want the 12x12 - and it comes with support posts made of carved palm-tree-trunks with TIKI FACES.
Upside: The thing, fully assembled, weighs close to 1100#, so I don't think we need to worry about it blowing away! I'll probably still add cheesy plastic blinds to the sides (so we can use it as winter storage). The thatch roof is reputedly "waterproof" and is supposed to last 8-10 years (which is certainly longer than the steel gazebo has lasted - and the canvas roof for that is only good for 1-2 years).
Downside: It is several thousand dollars (but the $$ *includes* installation!). Haven't quite run the numbers yet, but it'll definitely be An Investment!
Nevertheless... I WANT ONE!!!
Currently, they don't have any in-stock - and their next "container" isn't scheduled to arrive until July. So I've got a few months to "play with the numbers" and start working on Hubs to convince him that WE NEED THIS GAZEBO!!
I just hope I am successful in getting someone, on Freecycle, to come to disassemble and take the old gazebo away!
Anyhooooo... I am hopeful that, by summer's end, we'll have a Brandy New TIKI HUT Gazebo in our yard!!!
P.S. One Gripe with Blogger's new GUI: Spacing between paragraphs seems kinda "whacked" and needs constant re-adjustment. And "Getting to" Old posts for editing is not entirely intuitive... Nevertheless, I *do* like the "stick a photo where you want it" option!