Friday, February 8, 2008

I tried to come up with a catchy title, but nothing clever rhymes with 'cedar.'

Ah, February in Texas. It's warm, it's sunny, and boy, do I miss being able to breathe through my nose!

In other cedar-related shenanigans, I began my gardening week by managing to get myself and my car locked into The Natural Gardener on Super Bowl Sunday. Note to self: in the future, when you plan to shovel 14 bags of cedar mulch, start shoveling at least an hour before the place closes!

Luckily, I'd dressed for the occasion. When climbing over security fences, you can't do much better than camo cargo pants and a MASH 4077 t-shirt. I was even wearing a fedora to keep the sun out of my eyes. If I'd have had a bullwhip anywhere on my person, it would have been a totally awesome Clash of the Archetypes. I had to scale the dirt yard gate, flag down some poor woman on her way to church to borrow her cell phone, and then reclimb the gate to move my car to the front parking lot, and then made like a ninja over the front gate when my friends pulled up 45 minutes later.

In those 45 minutes, the donkeys got bored of watching me and I got bored of watching the donkeys, and I found myself lost in contemplation. For instance, what would one sell at a landscape nursery called The UnNatural Gardener? Pink flamingo lawn ornaments, definitely. For the holidays, poinsettias sprayed with neon glitter, check! Disturbing-looking houseplants straight out of the R-rated Japanese anime, we wants it, precious!

But I'm thinking that what would make The UnNatural Gardener so stunningly successful would be a confidential service called Yard Ninjas. Your neighbors have huge swaths of pampas grass in their front yard that they never cut down to the ground in spring? Who're you gonna call? Yard Ninjas! They'll sneak up in the dead of night with their stealth and scythe! Annoyed by those people down at the corner who let the low branches of their trees grow low over the road so your car's windshield gets thwapped every time you make a right-hand turn? Yard Ninjas!

What I'm trying to figure out now is what special sets of skills it'll take for the extra-elite-Delta-force-equivalent squad of Yard Ninjas to stop people from topping their crape myrtles every winter.

Well, a girl can dream.

So, that was Sunday. Monday was a beautiful day, and I spent my free time rescuing my car, which still smells like cedar mulch five days later. And I know it must really reek with the power of a thousand of those little pine tree air fresheners, because I can't breathe through my nose! I find I kinda like it.

Tuesday I continued my east side yard de-uglification project. My side yards are both about five feet wide, and my large kitchen window looks out onto a breathtaking vista of...meh. Last summer I stapled some wire fencing to the board fence and planted a combination of tangerine crossvine, white potato vine, jasmine, morning glories, and just for kicks, Kentucky Wonder pole beans. The view out the window was greatly improved with the bright blue of the morning glories, but once they were done for the year, I knew I needed something to look at besides boards and dormant lawn while the vines filled in.

And here I insert a few pictures from October through December. I'm a big fan of this shade of blue.





Here's the side yard now, with the addition of 14 bags of cedar mulch, "White Ruffles" dwarf ruella, white lirope, tall ruella "Chi-Chi Pink" in front of some pipes coming out of the house, and some bamboo muhly on each side of the gate.


I still need to add some more finely shredded cedar to even out the edges of the path, but I'm pretty much satisfied for now. When it warms up more, I'm going to add some purple heart for more contrast and possibly oxalis if I can convince myself that it'll take both the clay and the shade. (Can you tell that the theme of the side yard is "hard to kill?") I also stuck a Madame Alfred Carriere climbing rose where it'll get the most sun, and plan to train it on the wire that goes above the top of the fence.

I tried M. Alfred last summer on the west side fence, and it was a monster. It grew about 15 feet in 7 months, and it was incredibly thorny. I'd bought it for its thornlessness and it hadn't bloomed, so I pulled it out and added it to the growing list of roses I have killed, but more on that another day. In the epic struggle of Man vs Nature, this gardener definitely has a special category set aside for Man vs Rosebush.

10 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

Well, you don't need a catchy title because your post is hilarious. The idea of being locked inside the Natural Gardener with the bags of mulch and the donkeys is highly amusing.

I like your beautification of your side strips. Those narrow, shady, neglected spaces are tough, but it looks like you'll have a nice view this summer and on through.

Ellis Hollow said...

Leader? Weeder? Breeder? Speeder? Bird feeder? In a pinch, go here: http://www.rhymezone.com/

Nancy said...

UUhmm be careful with the morning glories... we have to fight a recurring battle with them to keep them from consuming the house. They spread and can be invasive, and hard to kill.

but they sure are pretty.

Annie in Austin said...

Oh Lori - what a strange adventure, but there are a lot worse places to be confined than the Natural Gardener. Were there lights on? I'm always in too much of a rush to walk the labyrinth - guess being locked in might work for that.

Good luck with your side yard - mine has tough plants like Katy ruellia, White turkscap and liriope.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Diana said...

Too funny! You had much too much time there to ruminate about Garden Ninjas. I guess you could have been locked in at a worse place. Keep me posted about the roses you hate - I'm about to plant some and I'm considering Mutabilis and Lady Banksia... any thoughts on those? I love your morning glories - I think I planted to same color on my fence by the driveway - just beautiful to look at.

Lori said...

Diana-

I have to say that there have been very few roses that I've tried that I've hated. Mostly the ones I've killed have ended up in the bin after they've needed too much coddling (Alec's Red) or the growth habit wasn't what I expected (I never could find a good spot for Graham Thomas in my yard-- I think it needs something to climb on).

I haven't tried Mutabilis or Lady Banksia, but I've admired the huge Mutabilis at The Natural Gardener in the spring. It's pretty bare of foliage right now, but it looked amazing last year. I'll have to remember to bring my camera the next time it's blooming. :)

If there's any one rose that I wholeheartedly recommend, it's Duchesse de Brabant. I like the graceful growth habit, the old-fashioned cupped flowers that hold up really well to rain and heat, and the strong tea scent is fabulous. They also last a long time in a vase.

Annie in Austin said...

Lori, when I grew GT rose in IL it froze back to a few inches tall each winter, growing to about 3-feet each summer. The idea of one needing something to climb on is mind-boggling.

There's another fabulous, enormous mutabilis at Zilker Botanical Gardens - it's in a raised round bed.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Lori said...

Annie- Wow, only 3 feet? That sucker grew straight up to nearly as tall as I was, even though I lopped it back to 2 feet at least twice. And it would only flower at the ends of those long, straight stems. It was a really healthy bush, but that weird flowering habit, not to mention that it didn't flower often, didn't make it worth keeping for me. Though I think that it might be persuaded to branch out and flower more if it were wrapped around something.

I think if I try another yellow rose, it'll probably be Julia Child instead. The ones at the Zilker gardens always look great.

Annie in Austin said...

Lori, I bought a 'Julia Child' last spring and it did just fine for me, blooming off and on from April until the first half of December. Its habit of growth so far is fairly short and bushy. One site said Julia herself chose it because the color was like good butter.

Annie

Layanee said...

Ok, that was pretty funny! I love the outfit and know that I wouldn't have been dressed nearly so appropriately. The sideyard looks so nice. Here we are shoveling rain. That is how much there is! 1.69 inches and still raining.