Friday, September 10

The work is too hard... but not this time.

I'm still getting up early to do some pruning and weeding. Then, last weekend, I took the extra step into the world of planting. (Don't ask me what the problem is with the font sizes. I can't get them to cooperate. I'm not trying to emphasize anything.)

Last Friday night, while closing up the house for the night, I looked out and saw that Daddy's yellow squash had died. More accurately, it had never really thrived without his nurturing these past 2 months. The few squash that managed to grow were promptly eaten by some small critter or other. The site of the dying, dried out vines just about knocked me over. I sat and cried for about 5 minutes then decided to do something about it. I planned to put the squash out of it's misery and plant something new in it's place. The next morning I got up around 6:30, gathered my weed bucket, shears and shovel and went at those pathetic squash vines. It only took a few minutes to clear them out and make room for something new. Mom soon followed me out into the yard and ripped a few things up for herself. Sunday morning we made our way to a nursery and got a bunch new petunias, stock and snapdragons to plant. I began ripping out older, struggling plants to make room for the new flowers. I worked in the yard for about 5 hours... long past dark. Some of those roots were really tough to dig up but the end result was worth it. I don't want to rip out everything Dad planted but I'd like to tidy it up a bit. Dad loved working in the yard but ours is a big one. Between the birding and grandkid baseball games the yard often took a back seat. Dad had started to plant things that were native and drought friendly but also things that required little fuss and would volunteer year after year.

Now that I'm wandering around the yard I'm finding all kinds of gifts (and gags) from Daddy.

Here are a few:

First are the gags. There is no greater gag than the famed "God Damned Hummingbirds". Dad had managed to build a hummingbird station so major that it's a migration stop for thousands of hummingbirds each year. I'm serious! The damn thing has been studied and marveled at for years. Dad's friends were all very concerned that Mom and I might abandon the GD hummingbirds but we promised we wouldn't do that. As much as we resent them we can't stop feeding them because to do so would be downright irresponsible. Last week we kept track and discovered that we go through 25 pounds of sugar every 6 days around this time of year. That's means filling 8 feeders 3-4 times per day. We can't even go shopping without coming home to complete panic at the newly emptied feeders. It's sort of a nightmare but it can also be a fun party trick for those who have never seen the dusk and dawn feeding frenzy. Even I find myself staring at them every day. They are dreadfully aggressive little buggers but I do like to watch them. I wish you could hear the buzz they make. It's like a landing field around here all day.

On to gag #2. Check out this lovely scene on the side of the house. The theme from Sanford & Son blasts through my mind every time I lay eyes on this spectacle. It's ugly as sin but it's also a bit of a gift. I found all kinds of useful gardening things in this heap. I used a bunch that soil softener on the flowers I planted. That chicken wire will probably be used in some sort of contraption I'll need to fashion to keep the critters aways from our kitchen garden.

Look what those beasts did to my fresh lettuce. (Little bastards!) There were full leaves of lettuce on those last night. I'm planning a trip to OSH or Lowes tomorrow to figure out how to keep them away from our salad fixins. Don't even get me started on what they've been doing to the tomatoes. (Assholes!)

Here are some of the flowers I planted along side some of Dad's. I love them. My only question is what's with that weird pink scalloped concrete edging? Everything around the yard is edged wth bricks or stones. I'm certain he had always meant to replace it with bricks or stones but never got around to it. I think I'll do it for him cause that stuff just doesn't go with the rest of the yard. (Please note the brick facers under the clay pots on the step. I've found these ALL OVER the yard. At first I thought he was using them to keep everything in the yard level. I then realized he was lifting all of the pots slightly for the purpose of proper draining. Well done, Pops!)

This is another favorite. Wandering around the yard I'm realizing that Dad had hippie tendencies in terms of pruning his garden. With the exception of roses, Dad liked to let everything grow any which way it pleased. He was especially tolerant of the meanderings of his beloved oak trees. They are like spoiled children in our yard. This branch clearly needs to be pruned but Dad chose to just prop it up instead. He was such an oak tree enabler! It now makes me laugh. Also, please note the pesky squirrel drinking from that bird bath that needs to be cleaned out. I believe that bird bath came with the house. It's sort of funky but I like it.

This I consider a true gift. Daddy taught me to always marvel at nature. I never learned to be afraid of bugs, spiders, reptiles and other wee things in the yard. Because of Dad I've been watching this spider dine daily on bees. I find him fascinating. I would think that eating a bee backside first would hurt but I suppose he just melts that stinger before going for it. I know it's hard to see so you might just have to trust me on this one. Then again, maybe a double click will help.

This one was a bit of mystery at first. It's clearly a work in progress for Dad. Mom later informed me that he intended to plant the peach tree here. He was looking into having someone do a brick or stone planter around it but it was going to cost a fortune. Since he'd done so much masonry before, I'm willing to bet he was just going to do it himself.
Here is the potted peach tree. I'm going to see if I can get my brother to help me plant it in that spot sans planned planter. God knows I'M not going to do that kind of stone work myself.

This is possibly my favorite variety of rose in the yard. It's lovely. Looking at the picture now I can see that I need to clip off that dead rose bud.

When Dad wandered around the yard we used to call it "puttering" as in "Dad's out puttering in the garden". Now that I find myself puttering in the garden I'm learning all kinds of things. For instance, I'm now slightly obsessed with clipping dead buds off rose bushes. What I didn't know, until about 2 days ago, was that if you clip a rose bud and come back a few days later you are likely to find this in the shorn stems place: It's a miracle! I had no idea roses could recover so quickly. Of course, this discovery only feeds my pruning obsession. I love it! I get a sense of almost-instant gratification. I also love this variety of rose. Isn't it pretty? I found four pots filled with growing camellias. Camellias are Mom's favorite flowering plant so I know Dad brought them home for her. We now need to decide where to plant them. The trouble is that we have so may oak trees around the yard and, although beautiful, oaks tend to be very greedy. Oak tree roots are aggressive and make it difficult to plant anything near them. I'm thinking the side yard might be a nice spot for these happy guys. Here is the hibiscus that I've been trying the rescue since before Daddy died. It has suffered from a persistent white fly infestation for years. Since Dad preferred an organic garden he tried to use worm casting to keep the white flies away. It worked, at first, but not for long. I've googled all kinds of remedies. So far, weekly spraying with a hose seems to help discourage them. After the water dries I spritz the leaves down with a mixture of Joy liquid soap and garlic. The white flies hate it. It seems to be working. I have been ever vigilant since Dad died. I think I'm making progress and that Dad would be proud of the results. Oh, I like these too. I think they are crocus but I'm not positive. Not matter, I like them.

Check out all of the oranges that are coming in for the new year. I can't wait!!!

Then there is the gift of Daddy's amazing stone work. We have a big yard that is tiered. I don't even clearly recall what was here before Dad's walls but I believe the yard just had slopes of ivy all the way down to the lower yard. Dad built these all by himself. Well, he did have almost every one of his, and my brother's, friends lug rocks into the yard for him (usually on some lost bet as in "I'll play a round of basketball against you two. If you lose you have to bring up 10 big rocks each". He always won.). He used some sort of acid solution to clean the cement off the rocks. I remember finding frog skeletons in the acid bucket from when one would jump in during the night. That's got to be a rough way to go. Please note the wild native plants growing here. I'm going to leave some but plant some others that have some decent color. Oy! This is one of the last stone walls Daddy created. He was getting really good at this point. I love the "puzzle" wall best. (Dang, that would make a nice wallpaper on my laptop!)

This weekend I plan to do more obsessive pruning and weeding. I'm also cutting down the lima beans Dad planted (barf!). They too suffered without his care. I'm going to plant sugar snaps in their place (yum!). I've got some seedlings coming in. I will really need some kind of chicken wire walls and netting to protect them. That's the project for this weekend and that's Daddy's yard. It's a work in progress but overall I think he'd be pleased with what we've done around here to keep things happily growing.