Only the strong survive in my yard.
No, really, the entire past year has not been neglect at all, but an experiment in Darwinian garden theory. Well, okay, maybe not, but, it is true that only the strong plants make it through in my yard. The past week or so I’ve spent a lot of time in the yard doing all sorts of things.
In the front yard, I’ve been growing grass. The neighbors seem to think that I was devaluing their property by letting my front yard take nature’s course. They didn’t seem to appreciate the entire back to native plants motif that was developing there, mainly because the trees were killing the grass. They did not buy the story that I was “growing” dirt. Nope, not one bit. Seriously, I was chatting with one of the neighbors about they way my divorce turned out a couple of months ago and she asked if that meant I’d be growing grass again. And the other neighbor, who sold his house and moved a couple of streets over, just gave me a serious look and shook his head in agreement. So, I paid my lawn guys to trim the front trees and I’ve been growing grass. It’s really been coming up this week, too. I’m quite encouraged. And the neighbors wave at me again, so it’s all good.
In the back yard, I took out three mostly dead azalea bushes yesterday. Did you know that azaleas have giant, but shallow, root systems? Neither did I. Until yesterday. I did leave the one azalea that was actually flowering, though, when it’s done, I’ll be trimming it back, too. I also hacked out some reedy-looking palms that I previously tore out of my pond’s old waterfall. As well as chopping out some volunteer live oaks. Man, those running tap roots were HUGE! I must have lopped off a good eight feet worth of three-inch diameter roots just to make way for my new plantings! So, in case you’ve been keeping track, I basically removed anything that wasn’t actively flowering in one bed. Only the strong, flowering, plants survive!
I planted a peach tree where the crappy plants came out. It’s small, but it was only $13, so if it dies, I’ll go back and get something else. Maybe an orange tree or something. It doesn’t quite fit with my plan of a semi-tropical wonderland for my backyard, but it is a fruiting tree and I hope will be different enough to be interesting. Also, my ex-wife is allergic to peaches, so I had great fun choosing that particular tree to plant in a bed that we both hated but that she’d never let me change. I suggested to one of my friends that I might smear peach juice over my door way, much like the blood of a lamb, to make the Shadow of the Harpy pass over my house. I think he wet himself a little because he was laughing so hard at that image.
I have some crappy hedges to remove from the pond area next weekend or the weekend after that. I’ll replace them with bamboo, in pots and metal drums to keep them from spreading. Bamboo makes a wonderful screen, does wonderfully well in our climate and has a lot of decorative and crafty uses around the house. I’ve wanted to grow bamboo in my yard, one way or another, ever since I’ve been in this house. This is my year. Also, I think I’m going to trash one of the two cheap palms by the back of the house next to the patio. It’s a junky, little Chinese palm that never really took or got to look better. And, I may take the other volunteer palm of indeterminate variety out, as well. That one, though, I may just pot and keep small and portable. I thought I’d plant another fruit tree in their place. Maybe a mango tree. I love mangoes and have missed them since Paddi Thai closed down. Mangoes and sweet rice and vanilla ice cream are about the most wonderful thing in the world to me. I’d love to be able to have that fresh for entertaining friends and family. So, if I can find a mango tree, I think that’s what I’ll do.
Oh, and I’ve been dealing with pond issues, too. Once again, my fountain structure popped a seal and almost drained the pond over night. Luckily, it stopped before any fish died. Then, I spent most of a day filling it again and rerouting pumps and water flow to keep it going while I get the problem corrected. Luckily, the fountain with its plants and multiple layers acts as a bio filter, so, in creating this structure, even while bypassing the section that has the popped seal, I created a redundant system. Pretty cool, hunh? So, anyway, I got some heavy-duty, flexible, marine sealant to fix the external leak and now have to wait seven days for it to seal totally before testing it. So, next week Saturday, I should know for sure. In the mean time, everything is working just fine and I didn’t even lose any fish! Yea!
The best part about this weekend and all the work in the yard is that, just like my house, every change I make takes back more of that space for me. With every decision, I make this property more my own. Every passing week, I bring my house and my yard closer to my vision of how I want everything to be. Slowly, but steadily, I’m creating the haven that I need and that I want to welcome other people into. I really love my life, though I don’t always love everything going on in it at any given moment. All in all, things are looking up.