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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!



Jasmine “progress”

After my “success” with the bougainvillea, I figured I’d better get to work on the jasmine. We’d already heard a comment from at least one neighbor that the vines were creeping under the fence into his yard, so I did some researching on pruning. From what I found, it looks like jasmine can handle being pruned back pretty harshly, it just may take a few years before it starts flowering again.

I started with the biggest one, which I had previously tried to cut away from the purple bougainvillea, with limited success (jasmine on the left, bougainvillea on the right):

That’s a 6-foot tall fence behind it, in case you needed some perspective. It also mounded out a good 3 feet. For lack of a better plan, I just started hacking away with no idea how far I’d get. I quickly discovered that only about the first half foot was leafy green vine, the next 2 feet in were dried and disintegrating plant matter from who knows how many years of growth. And after some more hacking, I found a trellis, which explained how this thing was so tall and deep:

I gave up at that point since my forearms were on fire. When Dave came home and saw the carnage, he could only say, “You killed it!” I think he was joking, since there was clearly still a big chunk of green stuff on the left-hand side…

I didn’t get a chance to work on it again for another two weeks, but I may have really killed it this time. I’m pretty happy though, I can actually see the ground on all sides and the rather decrepit fence is no longer being attacked:

I left a few short vines with leaves, maybe it’ll grow back? If it does I’m going to put up a new trellis for sure, and make sure it doesn’t get completely out of hand again.

Unfortunately I managed to snip through the irrigation line during the battle:

We were already planning a trip to the hardware store though, and they have an entire aisle devoted to accessories for irrigation systems, so this should be fixed pretty quickly.

One down, two to go. Who knows if my arms will hold up, though…

Update on the Rose/Jasmine War

Last week, after checking around and determining that jasmine is fine with pretty aggressive pruning, I waged a full-out battle to get the jasmine off of the roses. The red rose was nearly half engulfed but still struggling on. Not only did I pull off all of the vines, I also generated quite a pile of deadheads and had to saw through a completely dry/dead rose stem that was over two inches thick… but I eventually was successful in freeing and pruning the poor thing. Here’s the before:

And after:

And here’s how it looks today, a week later:

A few more blossoms are making an appearance, at least…

Next up was the prickly rose. This thing takes up some serious space and is absolutely covered in thorns, so I think I’m going to need falconry gloves or something before I can do any serious pruning. The bush was looking pretty healthy though, and starting to push out some lovely yellow blooms. I did the best I could to get the jasmine off of it, but in the end I had to just clip some vines and leave them. Hopefully I can go back through today now that they’ve dried up and pull them off more easily. Before:

And after:

And here’s how it looks today:

Yes! flowers galore! Anyway, maybe I can procure some rose food today and help the other roses along. The behemoth rose that I tackled a few weeks back still hasn’t produced any flowers, but it has a lot of new growth and a fair number of buds, So hopefully I’ll discover what color it is before too much longer. The other two rose bushes (the ones not being attacked by jasmine) also got pruned finally, but they are pretty small and sickly looking right now. At least they’re blooming…

The Vines

We have these cool vines growing along our north fence. At the moment they are blooming little white flowers like crazy, and the effect is stunning. Here’s the view from the front-most part of the fence:


And here are some more farther back:


Did I mention they smell lovely? Here’s a closeup of the flowers:


After a little web surfing, (made easier when I finally noticed that the flowers have five petals) I determined that they are jasmines. I think we have four separate plants, though it’s a bit hard to tell at the moment. It’d be cool to coax them along the fence a bit more, though the entire front section of the fence is a bit saggy and probably needs to be replaced sometime soon.

We do need to get them under control though, so they stop strangling our roses. And our neighbor mentioned that they had gone over the fence and were starting to take over his yard… whoops…