The weather has been just gorgeous for the past few weeks! Sorry everyone in the rest of the US. If it makes you feel better, sales tax here is 9%… Anyway, We’ve been spending as much time as we can outside, and as a result I’m soooo close to being caught back up on chores that got shoved aside when Dakota was born. For instance, the side yard (where the garden box and apple tree reside):
This was back at the end of November, when the apple tree (back left of the picture) had leaves and a few fruit left. Three apples that I managed to salvage, in fact. Well a few times a week I’ve managed to plunk Dakota down in the back yard like so:
And get a little weeding/mulching/pruning done. I finally got it down to this:
It’s much easier to see the garden box and the apple tree, right? That hulking mass of green in the back is one of several privet invasions. This one was still small enough for us to handle ourselves, so Dave got to break out his cute new chainsaw:
And it’s way better now, though there’s still a bit of overgrown greenery back there. It’s technically on our neighbor’s yard, but the fence there is pretty much toast so we need to discuss things with him about that whole area anyway.
Unfortunately I still have this part of the side yard to tackle:
This is off to the right of the newly weeded and mulched area. Plant-wise, we have from left to right: Prickly yellow rose, overgrown jasmine, diseased red rose, more overgrown jasmine, behemoth white rose. I’d already pruned the white rose half-way back when I snapped this pic… it’s still 8 feet tall, but at least now it’s not 10 feet wide. And note the lovely sheet of plywood covering the hole in the fence that Loki was using to visit the neighbor and the rest of the block.
Back to Dave though, since he was on a roll with the chainsaw, he decided to finally take care of this yucca growing in the front yard:
This thing was stabbing me with its fronds ever time I went into the garage. Ugh. Anyway, I didn’t even have a chance to get a front view picture because it came down so fast, So here’s a photo from the middle of last year:
here’s the post-demolition side view:
And here’s our new front view:
The window to the front bedroom is now a little short on privacy, I’m on the lookout for a big hanging plant to place over the railing to help with that.
Now I have many much more fun outdoor projects I can get rolling on, like restarting/expanding the vegetable garden boxes, starting a compost pile, fixing up the swing set, getting the mulberry tree cut down, setting up a storage shed, and CHICKENS! Chickens are finally happening. Oh yes.
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:
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:
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:
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.
The stump that the power company left us when they cut the huge yucca tree down has gone and sprouted:
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.
I finally worked up my courage and decided to attempt a vegetable garden. I decided that a raised bed in the “square foot garden” style was probably my safest bet, so we bought some boards and built a 3′ x 5′ bed:
It helps to have knowledgeable people standing around and going, “Hm, interesting.”
Actually, she did way more than that. We blew through the gardening section of the hardware store and tricked out the flower boxes in the front yard with columbines:
Okay, that picture is boring. How about the glam shot?
Pretttyyyyy. And I hear they’re perennials or something, so maybe they’ll last awhile. Though only if I actually start watering way more than I’m currently doing, or so says Mom.
In the other box the alyssum and pansies were still going strong, so we just added two more columbines in there:
The chrysanthemums were actually still pretty green-looking (no flowers though), so I replanted them near the lavender while receiving admonishments to actually WATER THEM!
Anyway, back to the vegetables, I’m going to try starting most of them from seeds, but I got started too late in the season for broccoli, so I bought some broccoli plants:
I’m not entirely convinced that I’ll actually succeed in keeping anything alive, so I’ll finish up with a picture of one of our roses, since the roses somehow all stay alive despite my ineptitude:
Unfortunately the previously neglected rose bushes are taking a hit. I first noticed the rust on the red rose bush about a month or so ago- bright orange powdery spots on the underside of the leaves. I had to prune it down so much that there were barely any leaves left. I thought it was going to just die and was too depressed to blog about it. However, I just came back from a 5-day trip to discover it was covered in new growth!
(The reddish leaves are new growth.) Some of the older leaves, and all of the blooms, showed more rust spores though. I pruned away, but at least I have some confidence that the bush will live and I can take a more drastic strategy once it’s dormant.
Here’s what the rust looks like… kinda looks like I caught the plant right after it had been sticking its leaves in a bag of cheetos:
Unfortunately the pink roses are looking much more sickly (very little new growth) and now show definite signs of rust. I pruned all the visibly diseased stuff off, but they’re less mature so maybe they just don’t have as good of a chance. I wasn’t going to even post a picture because it makes me sad, but here they are:
I need to figure out why there’s some sort of tree/shrub growing inches behind the one on the right, that seems odd to me.
In more inspiring news, the behemoth rose finally pushed out some flowers! They’re white. And there are NO signs of rust on this guy, so I pruned him first with a separate set of shears and gloves.
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 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 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…
Finally a sunny weekend, and that means I got to take a stab at taming our runaway plants. The roses were my first priority. We have, I believe, four rosebushes. We also have one, maybe two prickly roses, but I’m not sure on those, I’m just guessing based on the BILLION thorns covering those things. One looks like it may be deceased though. Boo. But for now, the slight-less-prickly roses…
They’re all located along the north fence. The one farthest to the back is pink, and has actually managed to push out a flower already:
The next one from the back cream, based on one withered-looking bud:
Then further up there’s a red one:
And in the front corner, the giant mystery rose:
This one was a doozy. Seven feet tall, super dense, covered in dried dead flowers. I started tentatively clipping at the front, and almost gave up because I couldn’t even get past the first layer. I finally realized that I was just going to have to tackle it from the bottom and take out huge stalks if I was going to have any hope of taming this thing. After maybe an hour of clipping and cursing and trying to not get stabbed to death by the thorns, I had this:
Once I realized that the vines sporting the white flowers to the left in the picture were covering a large portion of the rose bush, I felt no compunction about pulling them off and trimming them way back. That gave me a lot more room to maneuver and really thin this baby out. It looks a little bedraggled, but now it has a lot of space to grow in and sprout lots of rosebuds!
Here’s the pile I discarded, and the giant green city compost bin in the background for perspective:
And in the end I didn’t even get to the other bushes. None of them are nearly as big though, so hopefully they will be much nicer and not stab me quite as much.