1) PeeGee Polar Bear - natural - morning sun
2) PeeGee Limelight - natural - half morning sun
3) PeeGee Old Fashioned - half standing - light and open but shady area from the neighbor's beautiful maple. WAS a lower canopy and much deeper shade but the tree has been pruned, lost a good sized branch in a storm and has grown quite a bit since the drought which opened that area up, considerably. I think an old fashioned PeeGee will do very well there but not, perhaps, all the way down so I'm going to prune it up to standing, though not to tree form.
Limelights are pretty tough but I may prune him up a small amount to give him some short little legs to increase air circulation. The spot where I want the old fashioned is probably the wettest spot on the property. We'll see. It's quite wet at this stage, storming right now and forecasted to be wet for 5 of the next 8 days but I think an old fashioned PeeGee can handle both the wet and the shade, since it has opened up so much. May not be a full-on riot of blooms, but they're super lush, so I'm OK with that. For the old fashioned, anyway. Can't WAIT to get the Polar Bear!! He'll have the prime spot of the whole place. Never had one before - I don't think I've ever even seen one in person - looking forward to it!
OK - I can't see the picture while I'm writing this so I'll probably have to take a few stabs at describing the situation.
The yellow outlines are shade from trees on the property north of me and behind me.
The big purple shade circle in front would be morning shade from the huge old trees in the BACKyard of the house across the street. Them's some big trees!
The slanty lined boxes are slopes. The one right behind the house is steep and drops about 5 feet. The one at the back only drops about 2 feet into a sort of pit at the back of the lot behind mine.
The green circle at the southeast corner of the porch is a boxwood. I have nothing else but grass and weeds in the front.
The green circle at the back corner of the property is an evergreen. That my former neighbor planted. I don't know why. Yes, it's on my property. Same guy tore out a beautiful honeysuckle. Yes, on my property. I don't know why. I think he thought he was "helping" and being "nice" but he moved, thank God. He was the reason I hadn't done anything with this property. Aside from the boxwood. Had he messed with my boxwood...I don't know what I would have done but it wouldn't have been pretty.
The "landing pad" - oh my. I call it that because there is nothing on it but weeds and a little grass. If you put a big X on it, it would look like a helicopter landing pad. It's like a huge, flat raised bed or planter. Projecting straight out from the end of the driveway. It drops off approximately 6 or 7 feet on the south side, about 5 feet on the west side and has stairs that sort of follow the slope on the north side. It gets full sun, all day long. Hot as a pistol. Same clay/rock. Drains like a sieve. And the retaining wall bits are railroad ties and the back (west) wall has some problems. It had a tree growing out from between the railroad ties that simply would not die and I didn't deal with that properly. I thought it was gone. Twice. Then I was sick for quite a while and didn't, during that extended period of time, ever go down into the back yard nor notice what it was doing. The wall is solid but bulging at the point where the "trunk" of that tree was and will have to be replace at some point over the next few years. Fortunately, the drainage has done a fantastic job of maintaining those walls. They're old.
The driveway is all concrete and also hot as a pistol, all summer long. Being right against the house and flat makes for a lot of reflected heat and that portion of it gets sun all day, too. Fortunately, that's the side my outside faucet is on so I want to figure out how to add container plants that won't be blown away by the wind tunnel.
The wind tunnel is exactly that and that portion of the driveway and that side of the house, which sits on a high foundation and full basement, get the full blast. The landing pad gets wind but the tunnel comes up, through a sort of hollow, so the landing pad is actually not as windy down at its ground level. The wind is already on an upward trajectory coming up from the hollow, hits that tall retaining wall and sort of jumps over it, for the most part. So THAT'S a good thing. The boxwood probably gets the most violent wind that comes up the tunnel because it's extremely turbulent right there and where it hits that end of the porch. I suppose, from coming up and then slamming into that side of the house it just gets all mixed up and goes nuts.
The property has a lot of interesting features and three distinct microclimates, between the landing pad, the front yard which is practically ideal and the backyard which is...well...in many ways, it's ideal as well because the wind hits the slope on the south side and sort of glides over it. It doesn't jump over it but the slope into the neighbor's yard and another downward slope into the yard of the house on the other side keeps the wind moving in a pretty steady upward direction.
The wind tunnel is unique because it catches wind from the south, the east and the west, due to the topography of a rolling portion of a golf course, woods and then on the other side of all of that is the lake so - flat as a pancake.
The north side of the back yard is also a retaining wall down from that neighbor's property. With a difference of about 3 or 4 feet.
All of the bits that aren't the slopes are flat. There's a slight downward grade, front to back, on each level, but if you didn't know that, you wouldn't notice.
SOOO - it's tiny. The perfect size for me, since I'm not a young'un anymore, but what to do, what to do, what to do with this little plot of land that I love. I love it all. The wacky little lot, the house that was originally something else - not sure what but it has no interior load-bearing walls and is of a sort of craftsman style with oak floors and big chunky trim on the inside and a full porch with craftsman style columns. It's suffered some abuse and sloppy hacking but I like it anyway.
It actually looks nice mowed and edged, just as it is, but I want to do something with the landing pad and will be planting a string of 3 hydrangeas across the front and some portugal laurel across the north end of the porch - assuming my plan to harden them works. The one thing I sort of resent is having nowhere to plant anything on the south side of the house but I gotta plan to keep the laurels alive, get them established and harden them up so, wish me luck. And if anybody has any ideas about what the heck to do with that landing pad, please speak up. I love the idea of it but with nothing on it, it's just an eyesore, seen from all directions save one. From the front, it just looks like lawn but even from that point of view, it seems "wrong". This is such a green, wooded and lush area that it just seems off. The evergreen in the background helps but MAN - I do not like that tree. It's some kind of fir or spruce or something. Something that's going to be 100 feet tall and my responsibility. POSSIBLY with bag worms! It shot roots deep during a 5 year drought and has been growing like a weed since the rain resumed.
Can somebody teach me to love this tree - please? Tell me something awesome about evergreens. I love evergreen shrubbery - I don't know what it is about evergreen trees that I don't like. Prove me wrong. Please. There were two things I hated, as a kid. One was bag worms and the other was cottonwood borers. Have you ever seen one? They just look like the devil himself shipped them OUT of he** because they're so freaky. Look them up. If they're not ugly enough for you, consider the fact that they're also HUGE. Or, at least, they were in Kansas. Their Latin name even sounds like an evil alien species on Dr. Who or Star Trek - Plectrodera scalator.
Rather than end up posting a bunch of stuff that just makes people say things like, "I wish she's shut up about clay!!", I'm going to put it all here. In one blog post.
Clay is imperative - with regard to life. It is - well - it's medicine. For plants, for people, for animals, for insects, for microbes - for the whole planet. It attracts both noble forms of life and "ignoble" forms of life, if you think of the bacteria and fungi and such as being "bad", which they're not, and I'll explain that in a minute.
Clay attracts and TRAPS "ignoble" forms of microbial life as well as inorganic toxins. It attracts but does NOT trap "noble" life.
Now, philosophically speaking, if man didn't have "higher intelligence" and hadn't conceived of this wacky idea that he knows better than nature how to create, cultivate and sustain life, we would have never had this opportunity to be awed. Awe would not exist. The only reason we can be awed, to such a great extent, is because we get hold of and hang onto - with a DEATH grip - the wrong end of the stick. A LOT. Which is GOOD, because that means we have a LOT of opportunities to be awed. And who doesn't want and love to be awed?!?!
So - "clay". I'm not going to get technical. Instead, I'm going to analogize it so that everyone can picture it and, hopefully, apply and use it.
No analogy is perfect so please overlook what may appear to be contradictions and try to get an overall picture of the cycles I'm going to try to describe. By the time I'm done, you are going to LOVE mud. The slicker, the messier, the BETTER. Mud rocks! And her's why:
The structure of clay particles is such that it boasts an enormous amount of surface area. TINY surface area, granted, but it's the tiny elements of things that make them either "noble" or "ignoble" so that tininess is a GOOD thing.
I'm going to use mosquitoes and dragonflies as examples of "ignoble" and "noble". Mosquitoes get out of hand, NOT because of water but, because of not ENOUGH water. Not enough of the right KIND of water. Dragonflies are VORACIOUS skeeter eaters BUT, to populate, they need water. Fresh, permanent sources of water. They lay their eggs in it, their larvae mature in it - sometimes as measured in years - and they basically live as water creatures. Now, mosquitoes aren't the ONLY thing they eat, but where there's water, there are puddles of stagnant water which is where skeeters lay their eggs and their larvae mature. This is NOT a coincidence because skeeters are dragonfly food. BUT, if there aren't enough mosquitoes, dragonflies will eat other "noble" insects - bees, butterflies, moths etc.. In fact, they'll eat about anything that's their size or smaller but they just happen to prefer skeeters and other "nuisance" (from man's perspective) insects so, if there isn't enough food for them - as through man's intervention - things get out of balance because the "noble" work of the "noble" insects eaten by the dragonfly because there isn't enough "ignoble' food available, goes undone - i.e. dead pollinators don't pollinate.
Using this as an example, Clay is NOT the dragonfly nor is it the skeeter - it's the WATER. It's the source, the cultivator and the sustainer of life. Of the entire life cycle. It attracts, traps and "composts" the EXCESS bad guys within an environment. Once composted and broken down on an elemental level, it flows micronutrients out, with moisture. It does NOT trap the good stuff. It FLOWS it. It takes in bad stuff, takes it apart, flows the good elements out and hangs onto the bad elements which are EXTRA tiny, comparatively, which makes room for more work. Clay has been cleaning and curing this planet since the beginning of biological life.
You need clay in or around or otherwise "available" to the life forms in your landscape, both flora AND fauna. It's not a...an "accessory" or a...a..."supplement". It's a REQUIREMENT for healthy soil, plants, insects and just life in general. It is necessary to protect your garden AND to protect YOU. If you get into some poison ivy, slather clay on yourself. If you get stung by an insect or bitten by an animal, pack clay on it and go about your business. If you get into some animal feces or some kind of toxic spillage or anything unknown and icky, wash it off and then cover the area with clay. It will pull that crap right out through your skin which is a WHOLE lot better than forcing the kidneys to deal with it via your blood after it's dragged it through all the rest of your organs. Don't worry about what the bad stuff was or what bit you. It doesn't matter, pack clay on it. If it's toxic, the clay will take it from you. Even if it leaves a stinger along with its venom, the clay will pull that stinger out. Keep some pure bentonite clay to have on hand to put in a glass of water so you can drink it if you aren't aware of the exposure and it gets into your system and makes you sick.
More awesomeness -
If bees are going to be saved, it's going to be clay that does the saving. Life forms know what to do with it but they need for it to BE there. Stop trying to eliminate it. Stop paving over it. Stop planting in its absence. Stop letting toxins build in your plants because there's no clay available to pull them out. Put some in a shaker bottle and sprinkle it all over your plants, yourself, your pets - put a layer around the stems and trunks of your landscape plants and DEFINITELY keep your clay stock in and around your edible plants. Dig some 1 gallon holes and fill them with pure clay pond sealer. They will attract BOTH the over population of "ignoble" elements and the "noble" elements that were missing and allowed the overpopulation to happen in the first place. They will attract over great distances. They'll suck toxins right out of the ground - the acid out of acid rain - ignoble microbes out of the plants, insects and animals who know EXACTLY what to do with clay. They know when they need it and they KNOW what it's for. The "noble" life forms KNOW that clay will cure what ails them and they KNOW that their food source is going to be attracted to it TOO which will provide them with a huge smorgasbord of sustenance. It is no less vital than a "watering hole" in the desert. One gallon-size hole full of pure clay pond sealer can suck the toxic elements and microbes out of a whole small garden. If you don't believe it, then put two in there! It doesn't matter!
Bring clay back to your garden and landscape. If you already have clay soil, be patient with your plantings. Plant whatever you want and just be patient - it will find its own way and it will be several times more robust than vegetation grown in compost. No need to fertilize or supplement. Just be patient. If you want to fertilize, use pure CLAY. Dust with it or shake it up in water and spray or tip it on.
Other things to consider: Provide clay for your pets. Keep both wet and dry, food grade clay on hand for everyday use. Your dog will lick pure wet clay right off your fingers which will travel through his digestive tract, picking up toxins and dropping them - along with the clay necessary to keep them under lock and key - right in your yard. AND those droppings will be safe for your compost pile if you insist on keeping one. With the toxins locked up and the GOOD stuff free to flow through and out of it. It would actually be BENEFICIAL for your compost pile as that clay will continue to snatch and trap toxins, everywhere it goes, even AFTER it's traveled through your dog's digestive tract!
Let's be honest, it's mud. It's messy, I know. It's slick and sticky and squishy but it is NOT the filth you've been taught it is. It's medicine. It's anti-venom. It's disinfectant. It's food. It's awesome.
LOVE YOUR MUD!!