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March Outdoor Chores

I should probably just title this post “Outdoor Procrastinating”, because whenever I think about getting some work done outside, I think about how I’m STILL not done with the chicken coop, and then I decide to go read a book or bake cookies or something instead of face up to my own slowness.

Okay, that’s a little unfair, here’s the coop as it looks today, and I really am almost done, at least with the functionality:

Coop progress

And I finally got around to trimming back the magenta bougainvillea (and the giant privet that was growing behind it):

Bougainvillea and rosemary

See the poor rosemary bush on the far right side? It looks all lopsided because it was almost completely covered. And despite all the neglect, it still was providing us with delicious fresh flavor for dinner a few nights each week.

Speaking of herbs, here are my mostly ignored herb boxes:

Herb boxes

I think maybe I need to trim back the parsley somehow? That’s the big leafy one in the middle. And the garlic is probably close to ready to be harvested, I’ll have to double check with mister Google on how one determines such things. But why is the garlic to the right of the parsley so much bigger than the garlic to the left of the parsley? Slightly more sun? Slightly better drainage? who knows!

Here’s the main garden box, I finally got around to planting little strawberry plants, hopefully they won’t die horribly, I’m at least watering them a few times a week:


The onion seeds I planted are just starting to break through the soil on both sides of the strawberries, so that’s cool I guess.

Here’s the last big thing I need to prune back, the middle jasmine:

Jasmine bloom

It’s the giant white mound. Since it’s furiously blooming at the moment I figure I’ll let it have its fun. I cut back the jasmine on the far right of the picture before it started blooming, so no flowers from that one this year. 😦 Oh and that fence is SO GETTING REPLACED this year. I know I say that every year, but it’s happening for real this time.

Let’s see, to finish things off, here’s the front yard. The lavender just loves being completely ignored and is looking fabulous:


The hydrangea is also doing well despite being completely ignored. I didn’t even cut off the dead flowers from last year. I’m a horrible plant mom. 😉


I got yet another fuchsia in a hanging pot last week. It’s looking a little droopy, despite the fact that I HAVE been water it! Booooo. Maybe I’m over-watering? Sigh. All previous fuchsias died off after a few months, but they at least looked good while they lasted…


And thus ends my report on the outdoor happenings this month. Wish me luck on finishing the coop!



Yard Work To-Dos

I didn’t really have anything I wanted to blog about, so I decided to walk around the back yard and take pictures of all the stuff I have NOT been doing… See, I’ve managed to keep up with mowing the lawn, but not too much else has been happening with the back yard. The white rose bush is back to behemoth size:

overgrown rose and jasmine

That’s it on the right, probably around eight feet tall? I’m pretty sure I’m going to cut it down to about a foot tall, for real this time. This thing grows like crazy even with horrible neglect, and I can’t keep up with it when it’s taller than me. The jasmine has pretty much completely engulfed the red rose bush, (on the left in the above picture) so I’ll take a swat at that too. I’m thinking at least one of those jasmines just needs to go. Or maybe I should nix the red rose bush? It’s always been the least healthy of the roses I’ve inherited. It makes me cringe even contemplating killing a rose bush though…

The apple tree is looking just pathetic:

apple tree

I keep thinking I should at least spend a few hours picking apples off it so hopefully those collapsed branches can recover, but there always seems to be something higher priority that I’d rather do instead.

The rest of that fence line is doing a bit better, here it is with the apple tree just visible in the distance:

fence line

I managed to unearth the two pink roses from the mounds of weeds they were drowning in. They’re to the right just in front of the magenta bougainvillea in the above picture, they’re hard to see because there aren’t any blooms at the moment. These two roses don’t get any water from the automatic sprinkler system (I should totally remedy that) and yet they STILL keep on trucking.

I hacked back the purple bougainvillea and got a good start in on its jasmine buddy, (in the foreground of the above picture) but I still need to attack the magenta bougainvillea. (back near the apple tree) I’m going to give myself one more year to try to keep up with them, but if they get overgrown again I’m going to call it quits and uproot them.

Moving along…

The stump that the power company left us when they cut the huge yucca tree down has gone and sprouted:

yucca stump

It no longer looks like a decaying stump, at least.

The privet flowered and fruited:


Sorry this picture isn’t super helpful, the privet is the “tree” with the cluster of “trunks” right up against the fence, and there are a bunch of dark berries and leaves in the upper part of the pixture. I’m like, 90% sure it hadn’t produced fruit since we moved in, so maybe it has some sort of multi-year cycle? Anyway, I don’t like it. Really I don’t like any of the trees along the back fence and I want them to go away. But I do like shade and privacy, so I guess I’ll have to figure out my priorities at some point. Blah.

The far side of the house has managed to stay mostly weed-free thanks to my cardboard and mulch laying efforts:


Aaaannnddd the mulberry tree is currently shading the solar panels for part of the day. We got the thing pollarded less than two years ago, and I don’t think I can stomach the expense and hassle of yearly pollarding, so we are having serious discussions about cutting it down. 😦 On the one hand the shade is lovely. On the other hand it grows too fast, and the roots have put cracks in the patio and are probably close to attacking the foundation of the house. Sigh.

Outdoor Chores

We’ve been getting some strong winds, which unfortunately have ravaged the really old and dilapidated sections of our fence:

(I sure hope those pieces weren't important...)

Due to our interesting location in the neighborhood, we actually share a fence line with 5(!) different neighbors. Two of the 5 sections of fence seem to have been replaced fairly recently, and the longer of the two was even replaced with a taller fence, which nicely hides our neighbor’s storage sheds from view. This section of fence in the picture was already pretty bad when we moved in, so it was really just been a matter of how long we could get away with not replacing it. Our neighbor pretty much just uses that part of his yard to store old boats and boat parts, so he hasn’t been in much of a rush.We’re not really in a rush either, even with it looking this bad.

But then another section of fence lost 4 slats all in a row. And this is the neighbors with a ridiculous vegetable garden and rabbit pens in their yard. The slats were just being held in place with grooves and tension, so we stuffed them back into place and screwed in some extra support:

(Surely this will hold for a long time...)

With that done, I turned to finally hacking back the bougainvilleas. I had trimmed both of them down pretty far over the summer, but the bigger one was back to looking like this:

(Dave told me to try to look "fierce".)

I’m pretty sure that one branch was 10 feet tall!!! But I perservered, and after much battle, I had the whole plant down to this:

(Ha! Take that!)

And here’s the carnage:

(Did I mention the branches were covered in super-long thorns?)

Possibly now the fence will lose more pieces if we get some more high winds, but I’m happy to finally have that thing under control. For now…


Jasmines aren’t the only vines on our fence. We saw this other plant/vine thing push out a few blossoms early in the summer, and had no idea what it was. By random chance, I happened to walk right by the exact same plant (the flowers are very distinctive) in the hardware store while searching for mulch. Thus I was able to identify ours as a bougainvillea, and then discover that everyone else already knew all about this plant. Go figure.

Anyway, at that point I figured we’d just leave it alone for the summer and see what happened. Fast forward a few months, and it turns out we actually have two of these plants, and they apparently flower and grow like crazy. Sigh. It was getting to the point where I was concerned that it might start growing into our neighbor’s yard (where they have a pretty hardcore edible garden going) so I finally pulled out the hedge trimmers and attacked. Oh the carnage…

The hulking purple, before and after:

The not-quite-so-hulking magenta, before and after:

And this was just round one. The purple one was especially exciting because it was all tangled up with the jasmine on the left. I also took the opportunity to cut back what I’m convinced is a giant weed masquerading as a tree growing almost right on top of the pink roses. It’s the tall plant growing just to the left of the magenta bougainvillea in the “before” picture above. I think I gave it a fair chance to do something interesting, but all it did was get taller and greener, while the roses got yellower and sicklier.

Anyway, I figure we’ll cut the jasmines and the bougainvillea waaaay back in the fall and try to direct their growth in a more planned way in the spring.