Sunday, July 17, 2011
The stride was followed up by my brandishing a hacksaw with a brand new blade for this occasion. This occasion being, the rainbarreling!
Pinellas County extension sold me the rain barrel yesterday along with a class. These are big blue industrial-type barrels that used to hold foodstuffs, usually fruit juices. Mine smells like fruit punch. And now the car, my clothes and my hair all smell like juicyfruit gum. Here I thought hippies usually smell like patchouli.
I already have 3 barrels out back and I've seen the class before, but I wanted pointers. Because this rain barreling was going to be different. Challenging! It was going to involve cutting the downspout.
This is something I've managed to avoid so far. When we moved in, most of our downspouts were already in pieces held together with spit and rubber bands. I'm not sure why all those downspouts were mangled by the previous owners, but it makes me aware that I'm not the first handyman-impaired person to take up residence in this home.
So anyway, here I go, hacksaw in hand, striding gamely toward my next emergency room visit. Andy jogs after me, asking what's up and convincingly acting like he is interested in rain barrels and not just trying to save the ER co-pay. I beat him to the downspout, jump into the thick hibiscus and porter's weed and start lining up the saw.
"Have you taken measurements or anything?" he asks. I laugh at the thought and take a swipe with the saw. Paint flutters off the metal spout.
I was settled in, sizing up my saw angle when I hear it.
"Hold on" was all he had to say. Immediately I jumped out of the bushes. He pointed to something under the downspout, then knocked on the tin. Out jumps a Wolf spider the size of my fist. Big knobby knees, gray fur on a brown body, holy crap!
It's Nature Boy's job to scare the spider away. While he shoos it through the brush, I wonder at the moment. His words weren't loud, but they possessed a tone that made me jump out of the way. It was my first (only) act of self preservation today. It lasted two whole seconds.
Together we managed to remove the downspout and set up the rainbarrel without an ER visit, yippee! With any luck all the hibicus blooms will smell like juicyfruit this year!
Monday, July 4, 2011
It will surprise no one that my shade sail / frost cloth / staple-gun-adventure fell down almost immediately in our summer rains. After three hasty repairs in the rain, the idea was abandoned and the frost cloth took up it's usual position draped pathetically across the sunburned plants, stuck to their leaves like dejected wet t-shirt contest losers.
I researched, I hunted, I scoured the interwebs for an answer. And in the end, my research paid off:
I found a great price on a compost tea maker, I saw a bunch of LOLcats and I watched too many failblog crotch/skateboard accident videos. Have you ever tried to research anything on the web? There are too many other cool things to look up. Do you know the difference between a crack pipe and meth pipe? Huh? Well now I do. Very helpful when watching COPS.
So this weekend I got sick of looking at my Trellising Fail reminder and just transplanted the damn things. I could see from a mile away that it was a tangled mess of boston fernlettes and Monstera in mud.
What I could not see was the fact that it has been mistaken for a Possum Potty for some time now. Sick possums by the feel of it. Yes, tactile contact was made before visual contact had been established. Now I could have gotten gloves at this point, but why? It was already under my fingernails, what's the freaking point?
As you may have guessed, this is when the transplant turned ugly. I'm not known for being good at transplantation, and a slippery (oh God) hand trowel was not helping my mood. I was ready for this to be over ASAP.
And suddenly I realized that every DIY'er that I had seen do this on TV was full of it. FULL OF IT. Every time it's on TV, it's always some plant in the middle of a field moving to another place in the middle of a field. Never have I seen Paul Freakin' James squatting between a fence and a possum sewage pit in the middle of a sea of flies, mosquitoes and (new!) hornets.
Needless to say, my transplant involved a good deal more yanking and cursing than is usual. The monstera made it, though I ended up removing most of it's two big branches and doing a lot of apologizing. To make up for it, I plopped it in my best worm-y area in the center of some new mushroom compost. I was so tired after all that I didn't even run to the bathroom to cleanse myself of the experience. My husband found me slouched in the backyard, staring at the plant in disbelief. I looked pitiful enough that he bought me my favorite ice cream at the store.
So I guess it wasn't all that bad.
He also mentioned that - while he avoids the room when I watch my gardening shows - he would be more interested if Paul James involved more possum feces in his show. Just a suggestion for the Gardener Guy.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
When I started gardening, these were the only plants I could count on to make it through Florida's punishing summer. Sure, they always bit it in the winter, but they came back. Better. Stronger. Faster. The 100 million dollar hibiscus.
In fact, after the first or second season, they begin to get a little rowdy. They crowd others, they block sidewalks, their branches scrape the cars leaving the garage. The situation demands action. A trimming! Hedge clipping! Time to take them on, to do battle, to show them who wears the gardening gloves in this yard!
And that's when I blink.
It's not because I think they'll be damaged if I cut them back. Forever scarred, telling Dr. Phil about my misdeeds on a talk show in 10 years. I know they're tougher than that. I've seen them burned to the ground by frost only to come back, a little trim isn't something they'll get all bent out of shape about.
It's the blooms. The amazing six inch flowers, the colors, the vibrancy that makes them such a fixture in Florida gardens. These flowers only grow off new wood. The same wood I'm thinking of trimming off, thus reducing my flowers. Now you see my conundrum.
I think they know about my conundrum too. Last fall I knew the ones in the back were getting too leggy and needed a trim. BUT, there were these full flower buds at the end of the branches! So I'll trim next weekend. Well, they finally rewarded me with a show a good 2-3 months afterward. December. They know, I'm telling ya.
So I'm seeing Garage Hibiscus peeking around the corner of the house. He knows he is out of bounds. He's an old one, going on seven years, the "presidential" variety. Super tough and resilient with a trunk that's 3+ inches in diameter. He's seen it all. He's not afraid of the hedge trimmers.
Tomorrow, it's on. Yeah, yeah, tomorrow.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
And here we are. Seven days of rain! Not pounding and unending, just light and fortifying. It feeds and encourages my garden jungle like you wouldn't believe. Stuff has grown inches in a week.
It's gotten so that Bobby (see post before this) is actually psyching people up about the coming dry spell. What? Are you a moron? Does Bobby just want it to be different next week - in any given week of the year - just to make sure he's convinced us of his excellent weather skillz?
Shut up Bobby. Because I can still see 20% of my back fence which means the jungle hasn't completely swallowed the house. Just let me pretend it is Oregon for a few more days.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
But when May came and went without a drop of rain, I started watching. Hoping that 20% chance would mean a full rainbarrel tomorrow.
First there was the blond young skeleton on that morning show. Ug, too cheerful. Flip channel.
Then the older blond skeleton on the other channel. But she's trying to be young. Ug, too depressing. Flip.
The black sarcastic one is great, but she's only in when someone is sick.
So here I am. Watching Bobby. Hoping he gets sick. He is supposedly a grown man, but they still insist on splashing the name "Bobby" across the bottom of the screen.
Bobby calls this the start of rainy season. He says this with a hopeful glint in his eye. I don't think he's hopeful because he has a garden of Pentas getting dramatic in the 3pm sun. I think he's hopeful because everyone is probably looking at him at 3pm with an annoyed look, asking when the freaking rain is going to start. Like it's his fault. I know because I'm pretty sure I'd do it to him too if I saw him on the street.
So it is with almost giddiness that I announce that it has rained at my house - and more importantly at my garden - for three days in a row. Bobby is ready to call it rainy season. He's tired of all the glares 'round the newsroom, I suppose. I'll take it. Because I'm tired pf getting glares from the Pentas.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
These are not your average family members, setting up inflatable kiddie pools in the driveway, burning some stuff on a BBQ and calling it a weekend.
Professional Families are the kind that drive Professional Family Vehicles (SUV, probably too large, many ear phone jacks, DVD players and climate zones across the back two rows of seats). They take Saturday very seriously. There is little league to attend, hot dogs to sell at the fundraiser, turkeys to fry at the tailgate.
This is great, these are probably the high achiever kids that will go to Yale or whatever. Great, good for you. Someone has to keep the crappy economy going.
We come into uncomfortable contact at the ball field.
"Why is that girl in her filthy clothes and filthy CRV here? Is she going to get filth on my recently waxed Surburban? Or young Ashton's bleach-clean baseball uniform?"
I'm sure it made sense on paper. They needed a place to put the composted mulch. It's the yard waste mulch that's available for free. While looking for a place to give it out, they saw they had a community ball complex in the middle of suburbia. Why not dump the mulch there? In the ball field's parking lot?
And so we come into uncomfortable contact. Filthy garden girl in her filthy garden clothes who shovels mulch into her CRV (which soon also becomes filthy) invades the tailgaters and coaches and children with iPhones and generally the Republic of Suburban Professional Families.
I try to get there first. If I don't then the sporting event spectators generally wedge their large vehicles all around my free mulch pile, making loading difficult and generating derisive looks over designer sunglasses. I think half of them are unaware of the free mulch program and think I am stealing it.
The park opens it's electronically timed fences at 8am. Right around when the first pitch is scheduled. But if you know nothing of Professional Families, you should know that they are on time. A punctual lot.
So if it's Saturday at 8am, the race is on!
A garden journal note: mulched more of the backyard path. One more load should complete it!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Here we are, in what I have decided is a ridiculous drought. I don't watch enough local news to know if it an actual drought. Have you seen the weather reporters lately? They are a weird arrangement of skeletal skinny people who are just too hard to watch. And they are cheerful at 5am. Unforgivable.
But in any case I have announced out loud that we are in a drought. She is unimpressed. A sigh this time. A look around at a bird's call.
It is impossible. Not that it hasn't rained lately, I assume it does this every once in awhile. I have micro irrigation and soaker hoses. I will survive.
We have mosquitoes! How? How has this happened that a dry garden in the middle of two foreclosure properties who haven't seen sprinkler action in months, how am I being bitten by mosquitoes right now? Its not the rainbarrels, there are so many Mosquito Dunks out here I should own stock in the company.
She looks my way impassively. Licks her paw, scratches an ear. She's my neighbor's cat sitting on the fencepost and she seems irritated at me for being a mosquito wuss. "I have fleas bigger than that mosquito, missy," the swish of her tail says. I've been put in my place.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I don't mean to look like I know what I am doing all the time, I just assume everyone else is also in on the joke and knows I am an idiot. Sadly, they are not always on the same dumb-ass page as I am.
So when I announced loudly that I was going to build a trellis/arbor thing, everyone thought it was mildly interesting and nodded. When I announced my need for a drill and some lumber they all kept nodding. I started to buy into my own hype and kept concocting plans for what became known as "The Trellising!"
I was pretty sure my husband hadn't heard any of the planning, based on his overuse of "uh-huh" and his distinct lack of concern at my cleaning off the circular saw in the garage. But when I need an reality check, I call him. So it was with concern that he was standing with me in the backyard actually facing my plans.
"So the trellis will attach to the fence there, and then what?" he asks cautiously. I launch into plans for posts in the ground, cement holding them up, blah blah blah, whatever else I saw on DIY that morning. "Uh huh." It's not the supportive nod. He's starting to understand I am going to lose an eye or cut a finger off in the act of Trellising.
"Concrete?" The eyebrow is up. He knows he's got me there. I don't like that stuff. Every project using it has gone badly. He also knows I need him to get the bag into the car because it is heavy and I have spaghetti arms. He's going to cling to that.
"What's wrong with what you have there?" He's referring to the frost cover that I have over the delicate plants. It's laying on them like a bedsheet after a bad night's sleep, all twisted and wrinkled.
He starts to lay out a plan, a sane plan with a distinct lack of power tools involved. Cut the frost covering up a bit, hook it up to the fence, to the porch, to the ficus. You'll have a shady spot that will endure as much weather as the stupid trellis ever would have (which is to say, nothing more than a slight breeze).
It took the wind out of my sails, but it was clear and doable. It also meant I had a need to purchase a staple gun, an accessory I had been mulling for awhile after watching too many HGTV shows. He clearly didn't approve of a staple gun in my less than steady hands, but it was better than the circular saw.
(It was nice of him not to mention the time at work last week when I tried to use a regular stapler to open a pistachio nut and ended up stapling my index finger and my thumb together. During a conference call. In the cubefarm, no one can hear you scream.)
So now it's official! I am a trellising wuss who needs to stick to planting things. But also I have a neat little shade sail done on the cheap protecting my monstera and some boston ferns.
But I was at Lowes for the staple gun.
Which meant plants!
Installed an oleander next to the shade sail (but not under). The hope is that I will shape the Oleander into a tree as it gets older, taking care to avoid the toxic/acid sap that everyone whines about.
Another on the other side of the fence for the same purposes. The only reason I am hopeful that this will work is because they are only 3 feet tall right now and Project Oleander will be a long term thing. I can do anything if I have an entire year to take care of!
Filled out the rest of the sideyard bed with a Ruby Red Fringe Flower I found on the half price table and some varigated flax lily. Also added some ornamental peanut to an area that the grass isn't growing on (they were on the half price table too, $1.50!).
I also saw some calla lilies on the sale table, but they like water too much for my yard. I was pretty sure I'd just watch them die for half price, so I skipped.
Still no rain! Radar shows it hitting all around my area, but not actually making it down the street. Sigh.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
But it means I have more time to plan out my Next Big Garden Project (NBGP). Usually I approach my NBGP's with excitement, but this one has the potential (at least more than others) for me to put out an eye.
Let me set the stage for you. Big frost kills half the 30-year old ficus shade tree in side yard. We trim it back (OK, we pay a guy to trim it back). The very next winter, same thing happens again. We are now the proud owners of a glorified 9 foot stump with little branches/leaves sticking out on the sides. If you listen close, you can hear it yelling "I'm not dead yet!"
In the meantime, all the ferns and monstera who depended on the shade are getting a sunburn. I thought about planting another Oleander, since they grow fast, but I don't think the delicates will make it till then. And given the age of all the plants we're talking about, moving everyone would be such a pain.
So I'm building a trellis/arbor/thing! Forget what you've seen on HGTV when they put one of these suckers up, this is strictly being done on the cheap by a person who, quite frankly, has no idea what she is doing. What could go wrong?! Also, we don't own a drill, so it will all be hammered together, which is not what they do on HGTV. So here we go.
Next weekend is the time. I'll have four pieces of wood, probably 2x4s, and some trellis. Maybe I'll even spring for concrete for footings! but probably not. It will at first be a disaster, then later it will either be a failure or a success. That is how my DIYing goes. Prepare yourselves.
Monday, May 30, 2011
We aren't the type of neighbors who would just watch as the grass grows 5 feet tall. Cul de sac, remember? Even when people move out, we're still all up in their business.
Someone's been mowing the lawns, which is wonderful. And the one house has nice landscaping bones that are established. It's OK by the date palm that the sprinklers haven't run for awhile.
But house number two is closer to me. They are what I look at from my front window. They had already disassembled their landscaping for some reason when they moved. And now its just a bunch of weeds in the little beds. But the weeds are neat enough, no eyesores here.
The beds are calling to me none the less.
How involved should I get? Am I overreaching? Or am I just paying the yard back for the little purple plants I keep transplanting into my beds? How irritating will it be to the new hypothetical neighbors that the Flower Crazy Chick next door was digging in their garden?
And what if they pull the plants out? Will it make me sad? Will I hold it against them? Will I plant Vinca in the beds in the dead of night just to get them back? (Yes.)
Who am I fooling? I've already been strategizing about what grows best under oaks. It's going to be done. Hope the hypothetical neighbors like Coleus and spider plants.
Why isn't there a show on HGTV or DIY about this? "The Foreclosure Next Door." Guerrilla Gardening at it's finest.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
My God, it's filled with seeds! (que 2001 space odyssey music. Anyone get the reference? OK, never mind, moving on)
So the blooms sometimes become seed pods. I ended up spending the next half hour tucking the largest into different places I thought they might take root.
I am not good at growing stuff from seed, but it was a little "moment" for me. It made me feel what is possible as a gardener - no! - as an Earth Mother caring for the small yet vital (depending on who you are - I'm looking at you, Polychrotidae Anole...aka a lizard...) ecosystem known as FaithieP's garden.
Then I heard my husband belch from the living room (through the fancy doublepane windows) and figured that meant the Simpsons were on and rushed inside so I don't miss the couch scene. Hate to miss the couch scene at the beginning.
My moments can be fleeting at best. Fingers crossed for the seeds tho...
But at the same time, I am convinced that we are all in each other's business. We all know about the sex offender (a teacher who slept with a student!). We all know about someone's son being in town taking a vacation with his Dad. We know the one house has the two jack russels and the Very Grumpy Owners who don't do the wave when they drive by. (C'mon, I don't like you either, just wave, it's what separates us from the animals).
I used to put on mascara to just go get the Sunday paper. Now? I am not sure how my gardening fashion has devolved to this point. See yesterday's note about the now legendary rip in my pants. At least on that day I was wearing underwear.
Please note, I was not so embarrassed as to throw them out.
My watering attire is even worse. We don't have sprinklers, just soaker hoses. They're fantastic on water consumption and they aren't subject to our draconian water rules. But you can't make one hose snake around for more than 50 feet or they lose pressure. Which means I currently have 13 hoses in the front yard alone. I use a splitter so I can water 2 at a time. Which means I have to walk around outside and move hoses from one bed to another.
Not a big deal, except most days this is after work. After work, after some dinner, after perhaps a cocktail. I'm in my PJ's. My hair is ponytailed. My bra is off. I am comfy. And I am wearing crocks that are 1-2 sizes too large for me (internet ordering) and clomping around the yard. In the cul de sac.
I had convinced myself that no one noticed, especially as the homes on BOTH sides of me are bank owned and for sale (they'll never sell). But the kid up the street has just gotten to that age when all his friends come around with their BoomBoom cars and shout at each other trying to be rowdy and linger outside because his mom and grandma are inside. And they see me. And they stare openly.
Good to know the moment that you have gone from being the chick they go "wooo!" at from the passing car to being the crank they stare at and hope they don't become in a few decades.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
And purple bougainvillea, I'm such a sucker. They always die. Or sputter along in a sad way. But there you go, 3 more just outside the window. Laughing at me and giving me the middle petal.
Also added a surinam cherry for Andy. He has fond memories of them growing up. BUT There were some kind of bug babies nesting in it, found them when I got home. Since it was the only surinam I've ever seen at the place, I didn't want to have to return it, which is stupid, but I am sentimental about his memories. And, as we've already learned today, I am a sucker. I doused it with insecticidal soap which killed the uninvited guests, then I sprayed the heck out of it with the hose. A difficult welcome for the cherry.
Oh and I looked like a total freak doing it. I'm in a cul de sac, we're always checking each other out. What do you think I looked like dancing around, spraying a helpless plant over and over, then sticking my nose in it (to examine any damage, look for escapees) for a half hour?
"Oh look, flower girl is freaking out again on the front lawn. At least she's wearing a bra today. Is that a rip in the butt of her jeans?" Yes it is...sorry...hope I haven't damaged your children in some way.
Can you believe Lowes can kill a hibiscus? They tried their best, but I plucked 3 braided trunk hibicus off the 50% off table for $4 each. Looking forward to them looking hoity-toity in my very casual tropical garden.
Crotens in the sideyard to replace the macho fern, which turned out to be not that macho. Macho by the way is doing very well in the new home.
Oleander in the backyard, I'm hoping it grows fast and acts as a block against too bright am sun. That's what they do, right?
Also added a gorgeous yellow and red hibiscus to the back hedge. Lovely presidential variety.
Added a bunch more free mulch to the back.
Garden issue: The ficus has died back again and exposed a hard to move bunch of plants to strong sun. They were holding on but June sun may prove too much. Need to find a better solution than placing an umbrella over them. Which admittedly is kind of cute.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Happy to see them fluttering, I decide to find a plant that they can leave their babies with too. Some quick web research leads me to a page on Christmas Senna. "Pretty," I think. And the interesting leaves look just familiar.
In fact, they look just like the leaves on this amazing plant I purchased awhile back, with a tag that said Popcorn Plant. The lady at the register assured me that it would smell just like hot buttered popcorn. Sounded good. Nothing wrong with some buttered popcorn. Except that it never smelled like that. No matter, it was a big box store, what do they know? But the plant attracts caterpillars every year. Who I squish and scold for attacking something as lovely as hot buttered popcorn.
So you can imagine my surprise when I searched google images for Senna and found my popcorn plant. Which isn't a popcorn plant at all. It's a Senna Alata.
In fact, this Senna is remarkable in its ability to attract Cloudless Sulpher butterflies. The exact butterflies I've had dancing in my garden. Also known as Phoebis Sennae, they love to lay eggs on the Senna.
So all this time I've been luring the butterflies to the garden, loading them up with nectar, setting up a kind of singles bar for Cloudless Sulphers, encouraging them to leave their babies with me, allowing them to hatch and grow up a little, then taking great pleasure in squishing their little guts out.
I am pretty sure they are sending butterfly hitmen right now. Maybe they're in league with the assassin bug I saw the other day. Plotting my demise.
I should stop watching the Osama coverage, it's affecting my gardening...
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Blew $100 in no time.
All the back plant pots full. Side alley is mostly done up with free mulch.
Moved banana trees out front to see if they'll do better in full sun. Kept one in back yard shade as the control. Getting' scientific on their banana asses.
compost pile is officially a thing of the past with most compost distributed. Of course the compost tumbler is in full operation!
Sprayed for thrips out back with soap. The population looks under control.
Moved macho fern, the wussie.
Saw actual gecko!
Stomped many cockroaches living in compost bin.
Spend whole day outside. gorgeous.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Ginger has 2 blossom brackets, interesting seashell shaped flowers.
Forgot to mention last weekend was spent putting in a viburnum hedge in sideyard. Also put in some other plants, one macho fern to fill in the rest. I love how it turned out, but macho gets some intense direct sun for an hour or two each day and looks like he might be getting a sunburn. Will move him to a shadier spot it he doesn't man up.
Filled in the viburnum hedge in island bed with (guess!) a viburnum.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Apr 24: finished planting purple hedge in island bed. Butterfly visited while everything was still in pots, I think he approves.
Found 3 mystery plants at Lows sale table for $1.79 each. They're in great shape and say perennial. Bought'em. Added to the other side of the island bed.
Found a big plumbago at the sale for $5. Planted in island near the hedge hole.
Compost: 2 bags
No new driplines, the existing work fine.
Tried to fill in the other hedge gap by moving plants from back yard to the front. But those plants in the back are older and looked comfy there, so I skipped it. Another weekend, another trip to lowes.
Stolen neighbor plants are totally happy in new home.
First trip to the free mulch pile in the park. That's all it is too, a pile of free mulch in the parking lot of the baseball field. Shoveled it into the back of the CRV, went to garden center to buy a wheelbarrow. Found a wheelbarrow alternative that is smaller and I like very much. I will miss a real wheelbarrow, but I have no space so this will do.
Mulch went in the back path, looks great. And hardly any glass shards. No really, it doesn't look like store bought stuff, but c'mon, it's free.
Sprayed soap stuff on the backyard. Orchard spiders are out, bleah.
Watered everything new, the heat is making them dramatic.
Bluebirds and mockingbirds fight for the birdbath!! Fun to watch from inside where they cannot peck me.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Andy hates a corner of the yard where sidewalk meets driveway. It is now vanquished.
3 confed. jasmine
25' soaker hose
I was inspired by the skyflower to get more skyflower. Plus the little ones were only $5 at lowes. Like I need a grower to help me get those things bigger. They'll be 5' tall by July.
extended island bed to accommodate
25' soaker hose
2 mushroom comp
I have some extra vinca. Why not extend the walkway bed all the way down the walk??
neighbor's abandoned sad and lonely plants
Extended a soaker hose from the triangle bed.
Again with the lowes $5 plants. These will be the next level of the island bed's levels.
4 plants get it about 30% there.
Trim the verbena that is there (level 2)
Verbena need to fill out a bit more to really be level 2. Transplanted verbena from another bed to here. Still need one more plant. Another weekend perhaps.
There's a lot of soaker hose in this area. Planned another level you know!
Oh, and I ran out of Bonnie's leaves. I also used up the tiny pile I had in one place and the other tiny pile of leaves I had left in another place. Which means I will have to rake the backyard to eek out the last of the leaves. After that? Not sure. Compost crisis!! Or something. Nothin a little wine can't fix, yes?
AND...the philodendron bloomed for the first time in 10 years. Honestly I've never seen any philo's do that. Very cool, looks like there will be 3 of them. Andy said it looked like a banana. That wasn't what I was thinking at all, but hey.
Friday, April 15, 2011
all new plantings
Installed new dripline by the porter weed/elephant ears in the back.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Installed birdbath and extended front bed
3 trailing jasmine
Some annuals, vinca and 2 lantana for butterflies
Stole a couple more purple rhizome plants from foreclosure neighbor yard. (They tried to rip them all out awhile ago anyway...these are the survivors)
Used the dripline from the bed along the path for irrigation. That thing puts out a lot of water, gotta watch it.
Continued the asian jasmine bushes from last week around the palm tree. Added 2 ferns (1/2 price!) to the bald spot between our yard and foreclosed neighbors. Asian jasmine bushes irrigation line was too much for the tiny bed, extended it over to reach the whole new bed. mushroom compost. Smells so nice! (the jasmine, not the compost)
Continued the bed the other way to include some plumbago and red fountain grass. Some annuals added. New dripline added (it was the one that had been in the sideyard but was too short). Encompasses the new plumbago plus the other new-ish plumbago from last week. Not sure the old driplines were working properly in that area. Could explain why a lot of things die there. Hm. Compost.
Almost done with Bonnie's leaves (for mulch). Crud, not sure what happens after those suckers are gone!
Andy cuts the grass and has to use a weedwacker (vs lawnmower)! He mentions the corner of the yard that won't grow. It is his nemesis. We'll figure that out soon, maybe next week. Irrigation will be a challenge there.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
April 7, had to water the plumbagos, the wussies. Island is watered. Will have to add some shroom-y compost there.
I worry about my own compost. Tumbler has gone anaerobic and leaf pile was sprayed with RAID after I found the roach family living in it. But that was 3 months ago. Think it's good?
At least I can hear the osprey from my back porch. The have a baby!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Pulled out the ixoria hedge that got fried in the 2009 freezes. Very pretty but just never came back right. Added purple bushes and yellow iris. Added drip line. Soil very compacted. Mushroom compost.
The foreclosure house neighbors had some overgrowth of a little purple rhizome plant. Dug that up. Added a new bed next to the walkway (also very compacted, no wonder the grass died there), cow poop compost, added purple plants and vinca. Dripline. Glad the perennial purple plants are shallow rooted, the compact soil there is like a basin, takes no time to water it. That will be a challenge. Come on earthworms!
Planted red leafed whats-it-called in the back yard along with extra vinca. Used last year's bag of soil to build out the raised bed by the fountain. No drip lines in the area, use rainbarrel water. You'll be back there watering by hand anyway since you stole the dripline for the corner beds for the new walkway bed dripline.
Sprayed neem oil trying to get rid of whatever is eating everything. It stinks and we have to close all the windows.
Rained like crazy 3/30
to the front island, added 3 plumbagos, 1 jasmine
new island where grass died...2 shady jasmine, couple annuals, dripline and leaf mulch
watered all, didn't need much, the ground is still saturated.
Redid the side garden's dripline as the other wasn't didn't reach the new hedge
Neem oil didn't work, plants show new damage, especially the ginger and the monstera (they named it right, monstera delicioso) sprayed the plant soap stuff. Dunno if it will work, but I like spraying thrips. There were far too many of those suckers back there.
Watered new plantings a bit, enjoyed my book Plant-Driven Design.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The garden got me back by completely dying. Not my fault, it was looking gorgeous until the freeze. Biggest freeze in 60 years, they're saying. So all those times I've complained before about the freezes? Well, I set records this year for complaining.
We covered them. Every night we brought out every linen, tablecloth, comforter, even towels. But it didn't really matter. It was COLD and the Hibiscus gave me the finger and died to the ground.
So it all died. BUT this time I have a job and long-suffering hubby has a job. So we will rebuild it. Stronger. Faster. Better than before. The five million dollar garden.
So stay tuned.
What's the mantra this year? Last year I wanted to grow veggies till I realized that I'm on city water and potatoes' water needs will suck your wallet dry. This year I am going to try to grow only plants that are:
-OK in a frost
I think I need to check out plastic plants.
Oh, and I want to replace the lawn with a very large garden, so no more mowing in august. Gardening in August = fun. Mowing in August = Bleah.
Not too tall an order, right?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
I cannot believe the progress the garden has made in the past few weeks. It seemed like nothing was moving for so long; everything was chopped back from the frost or everything was really small (or still a seed) because I am too unemployed to purchase anything in a 3 gallon container.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
While veterans of the Gardens have since come to the conclusion that April may not be the most flowery month to visit, the Florida contingent of the delegation thought the gardens were breathtaking.
Atlanta's had a lot of rain lately so everything was very lush. Everywhere you looked, the last bastions of the cool season plantings were showing off; pansies, cabbages, tulips and a daffodil or two. Hydrangeas were also strutting their stuff, with the first snowballs of spring popping open.
The difference between how the GA gardeners fill their flower beds and how FL gardeners do the same was striking. GA feels safe filling them with huge amounts of delicate, flowering annuals. I'm not sure how many last through the summer. There aren't any watering restrictions there either, so perhaps that helps.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I was a little alarmed when I found the prevailing gardening advice was to plant 2 seeds in one area, thinning them out as the plants popped out of the ground and start crowding each other.
"We're in a tough market right now. Earnings are way down. Our government bailout - called unemployment insurance - is pretty skimpy compared to the banks.
"I'm planting all of you today, but not everyone can make it. There will be cutbacks. I'm counting on all of you to be strong and keep your eyes on the ball. That's not easy when the guy next to you gets pulled, but we all have to just keep moving forward."
They're so young. Not even green yet. But they're good, I think they'll pull through.
Friday, April 3, 2009
For a month I've been tidying up the space. Sprucing. Trimming. Sweeping. Raking. All the free things you have the time to do when you suddenly find yourself unemployed.
But yesterday was the day. I gathered up my gift cards and sketched out a plan in my head. Two plants, some drip irrigation hoses and some seeds. It sounded thrifty, grown up.
My usual visits to a garden center resemble kids let go in a toy store. All wide-eyes and feeling flush with Friday's paycheck in the bank. Racing other patrons to the newest palate of annuals. Jostling with Saturday traffic. Sweating in the parking lot trying to shove too many 3-gallon container plants into a Miata. Because I was only there for a bag of potting soil.
And so I present, Layoff Gardening Tips:
1) Buy Small: This can burn you (literally) in July, when the heat is frying everything in full sun, but in April, you have time for the little 1-gallon types to grow big before that happens.
If you're choosing a perennial for a heat-intense area of the yard, fortify it with plenty of water and mulch. A fast grower isn't a bad idea either.
Consider hibiscus, plumeria or jasmine shrubs. Trading in your 3-gallon habit for a 1-gallon container can save you half.
2) Drip irrigation: You can find these hoses at any garden center and they'll save you plenty of money on your water bill. The hoses have tons of tiny holes that slowly leak water out to your plants. Bury them under the mulch, plant along the water lines and you'll have a eco-friendly landscape that avoids the headaches of sprinkler systems.
One caveat: this will not work on your lawn. You know I don't care about watering my lawn. If you've got a thick carpet of St. Augustine out front, I don't understand your ways.
3) Leaf Mulch: Some vocal gardening types have loudly eschewed traditional mulch. I love it and think it's the garden's finishing touch. Until, of course, I have to spend government dole money on it, and suddenly it's not that important.
Luckily, March is when all those awful tiny oak leaves fall thick in my backyard. So this April I've shoved them into trash bags and dragged them out front.
Ta-da! Free mulch! And the inside of the Jeep stays clean!
4) Seeds: Who knew they were so cheap? You can get a little crop of corn for $1.50. A bed of flowers for $2.
Yes, you have to grow them. No, I don't currently know how to do that. But I have time!
5) Veggies: They might save me some money. And did I mention, their seeds are cheap? So here we go. Which leads me to...
6) Veggie Drawer Gardening: My potatoes have spouted all over. So I planted them. We'll see what happens next.
Also, Tom MacCubbin, a garden guru out of Orlando, says I can put a sweet potato in some water and encourage it to root. After a few days with no movement, I am questioning this, but my new gardening motto seems to be "we'll see" so I have no problem using that here.
Also also, I hear leek roots from the supermarket will grow, even after you've eaten all the good parts off it. Can you hear my refrain?
One other item: I noticed the seeds under the birdfeeder were about an inch thick and sprouting. So I grabbed some handfuls and threw them around the bare patches in the backyard, which are impressive since the leaves were removed. I am pretty sure that one day a squirrel will sit on the fence and find religion among all the yummy plants that could spring from this moment.
Wish me luck!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Now is where I have to admit that I like this space a lot. It has four trees and lots of shade so it is cool when the rest of Florida is hot. It also has great sandy soil that makes for easy digging and eventual drainage. And it's easy to stuff a bunch of plants in here and go for an all out Tarzan jungle look, which is my favorite kind of look.
But life in the jungle is not always easy. There are the obvious: mosquitos and slugs and the occasional deluge when the prison warden forgets about her sprinkler running for about 3 hours and causes the waters to rise way above flood stage.
Then there are the super-obvious, which is the most likely to be overlooked. Namely the earth spinning on its axis.
I spent yesterday replanting the already planted. I hate transplanting. I'm always impatient to get the digging over with and usually leave some portion of very necessary roots behind. Usually I like to dig, but an established plant is so different from a plant from the garden center.
The latter is all trimmed up and fit ad ready to go. The established plant has beautiful foliage that is draping right over the area where I need to stick the shovel. I don't want to trim it, but it's getting in the way, dammit... well, you can see how this goes.
Yesterday was no different, so it was really burning me that the reason for all work was the earth's axis. I kind of forgot last November that the sun's patterns occasionally change. A lot. Usually every year or so. It's not so obvious in the front yard, which is about 101 degrees and in full sun 9 months out of the year.
But the backyard is all walls and fences and trees. The light shifts. Suddenly a corner becomes full sun for 6 hours a day. And there I am, in the only shaft of light in the backyard, rescuing my ginger before it bursts into flames and cursing up a storm.
Stupid seasons. Stupid planet.
I was expecting to come home to the usual collection of empty beer cans in the yard, courtesy of the sex offender three doors down. He and his friends party under the dim street lights of his parent's (and mine) cul-de-sac and I haven't figured out why, but we are the continual recipients of his friends' discarded Natty Light cans.
But there was an extra surprise.
My pretty hibiscus, my popcorn plant, my sea grapes are all coming back with a vengeance. Fed on the nectar of cheap beer and partial negligence by their owners, my frost-bitten, chopped back plants are rearing to go. Even the dead one sprouted little bitty leaves in my absence.
I imagine them growing larger and larger till they take the neighborhood by force. They have plenty of backup, my front yard is predominantly drought-tested shrubs, including two hibiscus monsters on either side of the garage. I imagine they're the thugs, the muscle, while the recovering ones out front are the brains. Together they'll climb out of the ground and free their brethren from the clutches of the garden centers...
Who says gardening is boring?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
We don't have any.
I'm not sure where it went or who took it, but man, do we not have a lawn out there. I know lawns die back in the winter, even if you live in Florida. And I know that we had some frosty mornings last month. But I wasn't expecting this.
Everything else out there is so green. The oaks are leafing out, showing off their amazing spring color. All my frost bitten plants that previously died back are sending out bright young shoots. It's all about new beginnings and optimism out there, bouncing back from the winter blahs. Yes we can, it calls out, reveling in the sweet sunshine.
Everything, that is, except for my lawn.
Now I have to say, I don't usually root for the lawn. I don't like how people blow so much fertilizer and water on their manicured turf. It's not natural. I am as happy to see weeds filling in yard space as I am to see fescue. I don't water the lawn. I don't usually even top-dress it with compost.
But still. We are getting close to tumbleweeds out there.
I like the whole "no lawn" movement. I just don't know how to do it. How do you take that leap? In my head, it would mean turning the entire front yard into a flower bed. I think that sounds incredible and fun, but also expensive. How do you do it without breaking the bank? And without your lawn looking like it belongs to the crazy old lady with not much to do.
Not sure. I will have to get back to you on that.
But in the meantime, I guess it's time to pull out the (organic) fertilizers and the sprinkler. Well, at least I'll do that if it doesn't perk up in the next week or two...
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Seeing the setbacks, the years of growth that had been lost in a week or two of cold weather, it gets you philosophical. So does seeing the cable guy coming by at your request to turn off the cable as a cost savings measure post-layoff.
The plants had had quite the boom year in 2008. Lots of growth. Too much, really, they had started to look a little wild.
Then the frost came. Whole branches were no longer viable. Plants that were 4 feet high had burns 3 feet down. Now they were being cut back. Getting back to fundamentals.
They'd be stronger plants for it. Their roots are still hardy. Compared to a young plant with their new smaller stature, my burn victims are way hardier, established. They'll grow fast and complain about water shortages less than newbies.
In a year, you won't know they ever had this setback. They'll be all bushy growth and glossy leaves. But we'll both be less fearful during the next tough February, because we'll know what to do and how to handle the crisis. We can pull though all that no sweat. "Been there, done that," we'll say.
Cutting back is never easy.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
You can draw from that, my garden style is very plant-intensive, involving many trips to the garden center.
I think I have also made it clear that I couldn't wait to get in the garden and start digging.
So it is with a heavy heart that I announce that my funding has been cut off.
Can you believe I was laid off two days after my husband was laid off? No one else can either. Insert your favorite expletive here.
Now is where creative gardening comes in. It's been two weeks exactly since the event. In that time I have managed to clean up everything that could be cleaned up, trim all that needed trimming (and after some nasty freezes in my tropical garden, there was plenty). Now what??
I know I want to go to the garden center and fill out my front bed. But spending our savings on pentas instead of the car payment is crimping my style. So I've been looking for alternative sources of plantings.
We'll start in the kitchen. Potatoes! I have some beautiful Yukon Golds that are sprouting. Bad for eating, but great for the unemployed. Project potato begins!
I also found some seeds in the garden. They were hanging off my African Irises, and while I love those hardy little plants, on any other day I would have simply tossed them into the shrubs and wished them luck. Today is a new day though, and I'm saving them for planting in a nursery type bed. Should be fun to see them pop up.
I'm also looking into some seed purchases. Much cheaper to grow cucumbers from seed than from seedling. Same for petunias.
Let's see where this goes. I always thought people who grew stuff from seed were Serious Gardeners. I could have been right. Or maybe they're just cheap. Either way, I'm taking the plunge!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
What I am saying is that the only one who knows if the petunia is going to grow is the petunia. I can give it tough love and water it every three months. I can baby it and water it sparingly every morning between 6am and 8am. Thing is, it seems very much out of our hands and completely up to the plant. There are plants that are dramatic (all weeping leaves during a hot afternoon) and there are plants who are sturdy, steadfastly holding their own in a drought. It all seems to come down to the right attitude. Of the plant. Your attitude doesn't have much to do with it at all, it seems.
But in any case, I am looking forward to what the plants will teach me this year, my fifth year of gardening. My progress seems to be duplicated by many homeowners:
First year it was all about flowers and annuals. And mistakes.
Second year I finally learned about proper watering and the difference between shade and sun plants. And learning from year one mistakes. And making other mistakes.
Third year I learned that perennials rock and have a lot better attitude than the annuals. And learned from year two mistakes. And made other mistakes.
Fourth year I learned that shady, non flowering plants can be pretty cool too. Ditto for the year three mistakes/making more mistakes.
Fifth year will be a re-embracing of the annual, I think. After so many frosts and freezes gone awry, it will be nice to bring in some non-committal plants, I think. And the beds - which are looking very brown as a result of the recent chilly activities - could certainly use some short term color till the hibiscus can regrow. Plus, I'd like to get started on some veggies interspersed in the garden and those are all annuals. Funny, after year three I thought they were mostly banned from the garden. I guess we all evolve and grow and learn and make mistakes.
Mostly I want to get digging. And start making (and learning from) this year's mistakes. Can't wait!