Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Nick the Builder and his crew came last Friday and took down the gutter pipe and prepped the existing fascia boards to accept the rafters for what will be the new roof on the screened porch. I expected them around 9 am, but they rolled in around noon and worked until 7 pm. They left with a promise to be back at 9 am on Monday. Well, they arrived closer to 11:30 am, but at least they got the bulk of the framing up.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Our front yards are mowed and generally tended by a lawn service, the cost of which is included in our monthly home owners assessment fee. They mow, edge, prune bushes, and spread pine straw where required. In general, they maintain what the builders provided when the homes were built. Any additions, like a different kind of mulch, ground cover, trees, etc., are the responsibility of the home owner. The trees were planted by the builder, but somehow they aren't covered by the maintenance program.
So, when I discovered an army of caterpillars* greedily devouring my oak tree yesterday, I hit the panic button. Soon discovered that the tree people I found on line were eager to remove the tree, but none of them would deal with the caterpillars. So, this morning I hied over to Walmart and bought a bottle of Sevin Ready-to-Spray pesticide and a pair of long-handled loppers and went on the attack.
I would have done it this morning, but I tackled another bit of landscaping instead.
|The roses had been reaching out over the sidewalk, putting visitors in jeopardy as they approached the front door. And voila! The faux bricks have reappeared!|
|Compare this photo with the before photo above. The clippings from this side and the other side of the flower bed filled a large plastic yard waste bag.|
I added a second hummingbird feeder in the back yard. It took the little hummers about 20 minutes to find it. Both feeders are busy from dawn to dusk. The numbers appear to have increased. Apparently, if you feed them, they will come. :)
Still dealing with the pigeon situation. Some friends suggested that a plastic snake would scare them off. One said a piece of electric cord on a window sill was enough to scare away the birds. Not having a fake snake in the cupboard, I used what I had on hand -- a black bungee cord.
|I put it down at dusk one evening. The next morning the pigeons were stomping around as usual. It didn't faze them a bit. I'm a bit leery of using a fake snake, as if it does work for the pigeons, it may scare off the smaller birds, too.|
|The rain clouds were the lovelies shade of pink at sunset the other night.|
*Did you know that a group of caterpillars is called an army? I learned that today!
Saturday, August 4, 2018
Between the heat and the rain, the garden is growing well. Do you recall the dead zone in the center of the yard? Look at it now!
I figured out what to put in place of the two Rose of Sharon bushes that died. A bottle tree! Unless the toxic ground contains something that will eat iron, it should survive very well. I bought the bottles as a set with the tree. It needs three more large bottles at the bottom and a small one on the very top.
|The bottle tree can stay outside in all but freezing weather to add a flash of color to the island.|
Another area of the garden that is suffering a bit is the planter under the bird feeder. The marauding pigeons really are destructive, flying rats.
|Had no idea there were flowers in this mulched area. The appearance of this lovely pink impatiens is a pleasant surprise. Side note: I have the spray paint for Buddha, just haven't gotten around to doing it. On the agenda for this coming week.|
Another impatiens appeared about 2/3 of the way to the back fence. No photo.
This paulownia is growing well, but not at all like the one that grew in our Missouri garden. The two that were planted behind the island got pulled up today. They were nothing but dead sticks. No sign of a root system. That mark the demise of all three plants from the Nursery Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken. *sigh*
Can you imagine the size of the tummy of a creature the size of your thumb? Just think how many sips it takes to consume that much liquid? Amazing!
The big news is that on Tuesday work will begin on the screened porch! Can't wait to be able to sit out there and enjoy the flowers and bird friends. Yes, even the pigeons. :)
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Since the past post, ten days ago, there has been a burst of color and growth and a trip to the dark side.
The color has popped on the crape myrtle. The flowers appear to be pink in the photos. In real life they waver between pink and coral, depending on the degree of sunlight and cloudiness. It's lovely in any hue.
The growth spurt was enjoyed by the healthy paulownia. It is now taller than its red flag, and its new leaves are getting larger and larger. Dinner plate sized leaves are a feature of the mature tree.
|Notice the Emerald Green soldiers. Jody told me not to water them. I haven't turned the hose on them once, despite deprivation being contrary to my instincts. They are growing nicely.|
About that trip to the dark side ... almost all of my life I've held artificial flowers, especially plastic ones, in contempt. However ... after throwing out the deader than dead marigolds that had surrounded the statue, I surrendered. The ceramic pots will only accommodate 4-inch flower pots, which dry out quickly. With the heat we have been experiencing, keeping up with them was next to impossible, hence the death of the marigolds, and thus a trip to Hobby Lobby and the purchase of a stem of silk flowers and a large block of florist foam.
On a separate topic: did I mention I'd like to screen in the little patio outside the back door? I ran my idea past one of the members of the Architectural Review Board, who wasn't thrilled with my idea to use a sheet of corrugated polycarbonate for a roof. I thought it would let in a lot of light. He thought it would look tacky and fly away in the first set of strong winds to come along. So I went back to the drawing board and emailed a new set of plans to the fellow who will be building it for me. I expect the estimate to rise dramatically, but the end result will be very nice.
Thursday, July 5, 2018
Between the rain and the heat, precious little has been done by me. However, Mother Nature has been at work. Here's a quick rundown on how things stand as of the 4th of July.
|Remember the Rose of Sharon that had the microscopic leaves? Well, look at it now! It is filling out nicely and looking very healthy. I'm so happy that it got the time it needed to recover.|
|Difficult to focus the phone camera, but here area some of the wilting leaves on the Rose of Sharon right beside the one that is recovering. Will be interesting to see what happens next.|
Next up, the paulownia trees. If you'll recall, I bought two of them bare root from the nursery that shall not be named. As of last week, I thought both of them were dead. Not so! One of them is looking like a dead stick.
|But look at the other one --- there are little leaves sprouting from the base of the trunk. There may be hope for it yet.|
|Compare with this paulownia, which came potted, not bare root. It is growing very well. This shot doesn't show it, but it is as tall as the red flag now.|
This morning I managed an hour or so of weed pulling, so at least part of the garden is looking passably good. I really need to get outside at the crack of dawn, before the temps climb into the humid high seventies to keep up. The balloon flowers are in dire need of deadheading. You can see some of them in front of the hydrangea photo above. The marigolds in pots around the statue on the island have curled up their toes. Not sure what to replace them with. The pots are small, and the heat dries them out so quickly that they need water a couple times a day. I haven't been keeping up. Buddha needs to be spray painted. And so it goes . . .
Thursday, June 7, 2018
As I age, I pay attention to what my body is telling me, and the day after the mowing it told me I needed some help. I put out an announcement on Nextdoor.com seeking garden help -- no experience necessary -- hoping to get a student in need of some summer cash. I got three responses.
- One was from a high school girl who disappeared as soon as she learned she was expected to be here by 8 am.
- The second was a guy who would have done a good job but couldn't get to it for at least 3 weeks. I had looked at his Facebook page and was impressed by the remodeling he does. While he was here, we talked about screening in my little back porch area. I'm waiting for an estimate.
- The third was a general handyman who said he could come on Wednesday and with his crew get the whole yard weeded and mulched. I thought he might be overestimating, but he was eager and able to come quickly so I hired him. This was after he quoted me $80 for the job and I talked him up to $120.
Bobby seemed eager to put down some kind of barrier cloth under the mulch, but I ixnayed that. I've used the cloth in other gardens. It does not prevent weeds, as the mulch provides a nice growing medium for seeds that fall into it, and when it comes time to take up the cloth or plastic, it will have rotted or decomposed -- in short, a hot mess. He told me about Preen, pre-emergent granules that are sprinkled under the mulch. I searched it out and read glowing reviews, so off I went to Home Depot and bought some. Also bought Roundup to spot kill any weed stupid enough to poke its head up.
So Bobby and Johnny (his partner) and a young man showed up at 8 Wednesday morning. Bobby told me he couldn't stay because he had a house to paint but that Johnny and Brennan would get the job done. I'd edged several areas the night before, so I showed them how I wanted the ditching done and they got to work. In an hour they had weeded and mulched the two forsythias. Then Johnny disappeared. That left Brennan the high schooler who, I learned as we chatted, was working with a finger on his left hand jammed and swollen and an injury to his right shoulder from a fall at his second job at a pizza place. Plus he hadn't gotten a good night's sleep and missed breakfast. I ended up making a sandwich for him as he hadn't brought any lunch. To shorten this long story, the day ended with Bobby and Johnny rushing through the last third of the flowerbed along the fence. Johnny allowed as how Bobby tended to promise more than they could deliver. No kidding. I'm happy to have a good bit of the work done but not really thrilled about the quality of the end-of-day efforts. Brennan was far more meticulous.
While the work was being done on the rest of the yard, I continued my efforts along the fence.
The bare fence on the right side of the yard looks bleak compared to that on the left. I've had an idea that will add color to the right side. I'm still pondering just how it will be done. Stay tuned. :)
|Here is the little mob of bushes behind the island BEFORE.|
|With the bushed mulched, the island is a more pleasant place to sit.|
|This is as far as I'd gotten before the rains came. Hard to see, but there is a forsythia bush hiding in that patch of weeds.|
|This is now the view from the porch. I can almost ignore the overlooking houses. The brown patches in the foreground are dead poa annua. It finally succumbed to the heat. The grass is quickly filling in, so it should be green pretty soon.|
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
After nearly three weeks, the rains have ended. We're promised a week of sunshine and climbing temperatures.Jody and his crew came by to mow on Tuesday, June 5. They did not have time to spread any mulch as they were still several mow jobs behind.
|Three weeks of rain and the grass grew! It looked so much better after its trimming.|
|This is the paulownia (Empress Tree) tree that came from Fast Growing Trees. It is doing well. I was concerned that it might be the wrong kind of paulownia because of the initial leaf shapes, but the new leaves are shaped more like the ones I expected, so all is well.|
|Sorry for the poor photo. I took it through the window. Didn't want to startle him. His colors were much more vibrant in person. His wife was a more muted version.|