LysmachiaMoon's blog

Looking Disaster as Opportunity
Posted on Jul 9, 2014 7:00 AM

Once I got over the initial anger and shock at having the trees cut down by the power company....I'm starting to actually get excited. I think this is an excellent opportunity to really get a fresh start on that fence line border. I had planted it "hit or miss" as I acquired trees/shrubs. Also (this was in my naive days when I thought the Monster Grass could be controlled *HA)....when I planted anything, I merely cleared away the grass for about a square yard in all directions, then planted in the middle and mulched. Ha. Needless to say, it's been a constant battle keeping the grass, poison ivy, and honeysuckle down out of those (now missing) trees. Especially since my neighbor on the other side of the fence was not doing anything to keep the growth down....He had big billows and drifts of poison ivy and honeysuckle running up and over my fence. the neighbor has hacked down and mowed all that mess. And the trees are gone.

sooo...I'm thinking that why not get a totally fresh start? Spray whats left of the weeds/grass and then lay down carpeting to totally smother whatever rears it's ugly head, cover with thick mulch. Let it sit til spring then plant new trees/shrubs and really get a handle on that area. I'm even thinking of removing the old wire fence and maybe even introducing an archway or gateway so that my neighbor can come into my garden up there and enjoy it with her dog. What's a garden for if not to have people wander around in it?

Because the fence line runs up hill from the Cave garden where I am planning a major re-do (to tie it into the Lower Storybook garden), maybe this could all be part of a HUGE project that tackles that big corner area and really transforms it.
Just really excited and a million ideas/plans running through my head.
The first thing I MUST do is get up there and measure. Then the second thing is to cut down all the tall grass and weeds. Spray, then stand back and see what needs done.

Was reading some comments about the hybrid (diff color) coneflowers. nobody had much good to say; what a relief. I thought it was just me!

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The Power Company vs. my trees
Posted on Jul 9, 2014 5:20 AM

OK, I did not want to say anything online until I had some resolution to this issue, but now that things are progressing here goes.

This year, our area was scheduled for a massive "clean up" campaign by the power company, removing dead trees, clearing the right of way under power lines, etc. The crews have been working all summer and the results are ....dreadful. They've cut down an enormous number of trees and hacked limbs off many many more. What is worse, in most cases, they've simply let the debris lie...they haven't ground up brush or removed logs. So, along my 2 mile stretch of road from my house to the highway, there is a section with a hideous big pile of dead limbs and blackened branches just tossed along the side of the road and further up, they've "notched" 4 majestic maples so badly that I expect all 4 to either split in the next heavy snow or up and die from the abuse. At another house (I felt so bad for these people), they cut down two mature mimosas (top height 18-20 feet, no where near the power lines) in the FRONT YARD of an elderly couple and...just let it lie. Those poor people are still trying to get rid of the mess, although neighbors are helping. For myself, the good news is that they took down 7 dead poplars. the bad news is: They left the 3 living monster poplars standing (??!!?), they cut down 4 trees on my neighbors property (to be fair, they were right under the lines, in the right of way), and they were going to completely denude our mutual border of trees! In desperation, I tied bright pink ribbons on all the trees we did not want cut and by the grace of the gods, they left them. taking down the first dead poplar in the line (on the hill), they let it fall ONTO my fence corner and it completely destroyed the fence posts and braces. That, I can let pass...accidents happen. But then, they CAME OVER MY FENCE and cut down 2 dogwoods and a flowering crabapple! Three small ornamental trees, not in the right of way, and with a mature height of nowhere near the lines. The crab was about 6 years old (8 feet tall); the dogwoods were about 5 year old (5-6 feet tall). I was so hurt and angry. I immediately contacted the power company (via website email). I was surprised that yesterday (within 4 days of my complaint), they sent a man out to look at the damage and instead of giving me a hard time, he said "they should not have done that." and promised that he would get me 3 replacement trees. I reserve the whoops of joy until I actuall SEE the trees (I am betting I get 1 foot tall seedlings to replace these beautiful FLOWERING age trees.)

Ijust cannot imagine the thought processes of someone with a chainsaw who sees three small trees, equally spaced, INSIDE someone's fence and just decides to cut them down. I wonder if it was spite, for marking those other trees with pink ribbon? I did not mark these trees because I figured they were surely safe being inside my fence line.

So, we'll see.

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Posted on Jul 8, 2014 7:36 AM

Well, first try with my scythe. It didn't go so well. I think maybe the blade is not sharp enough, plus I really don't have the hang of it. I got maybe two good cuts. took me a while to learn to use the sickle properly and now that is so easy it's like second nature. Also...this scythe I bought at a yard sale has an aluminum handle (the snath) and it's got this weird shape...I guess someone's idea of ergonomic and I wonder if maybe that's why I'm having trouble keeping the blade flat to the ground. I'm going to have to research scythes and ask around and see if I can get a traditional wooden snath for the blade, plus find someone who knows how to properly sharpen and mount the blade. I hate to be the "poor workman who blames the tool" but I am just learning all this and I dont want to become so discouraged that I give up (or worse, hurt myself).

anyways. Since I was in grass-cutting mode, I decided to get out the sickle and cut down a big swath of tall grass in the Storybook Garden. Ye gods. That lower bed just totally got away from me. I never did really "finish" it...just stuck in a couple of shrubs and tossed on a little mulch and now it's completely swamped in blackberry and thistle. So....I think that will be my project for the week. As I gradually expand and refine my gardens, I am linking the separate beds to form larger "garden islands". The small shady garden that I call the "Cave garden" (because there's a heap of very large rocks in it) sits on the West side of the forsythia hedge. This lower bed of the Storybook garden sits on the East side of the hedge. What I want to do now is blend the two together, which will form an enormous more or less round shaped garden area (roughly 50 feet in diameter), with the hedge running through it, a large mimosa in the center and everything radiating out from that. The "bones" are there...mostly it just needs a lot of weed removal and mulching, plus some additional plants. The area is sloped to the south, with interesting little dips and hollows, and the Cave is a real focal point too, so it's got a lot of potential. I'm actually excited about getting in there and reworking the area.

Otherwise, just a dreary overcast hot and humid day on tap, so I'm stuck indoors for most of it.

First beans on the towers....not quite big enough to pick but if we get the rain we're promised today, I bet I'll have some to pick tomorrow.

The two baby feral kittens are doing well. I was very worried about them last week because they seemed so thin and listless, but I believe it was a "triple whammy"...they were teething out their back teeth (making the most godawful grinding noises I ever heard! ), they were just starting to eat solid (canned) food so there was some diarrhea, plus they are at that age when they need wormed (I'll let the vet handle that). I kept feeding them small frequent meals and gave them liquid vitamins and today they are looking so much better and no more tooth grinding. I actually saw them tumbling and playing a bit this morning!

I also realized something. One of the reasons I was so worried was that they seemed so "listless." You see vids of kittens that age on YouTube just going to town: tumbling and chasing things, etc. These little guys just seem to sit there and watch the world. Then it occurred to me: kittens born in a box in a laundry room need to find all sorts of ways to learn and stimulate their brains. Kittens born out in the wild, from the moment they open their eyes, are innundated with stimulation. They dont run after everything that moves because they are surrounded by stuff that moves! I just sort of put 2 and 2 together after i thought back over the other ferals that have come to us (none this small)....we had to teach each one of them how to "play." And you need to remember that the "play" of kittens and cats is mock stalking and killing...since ferals are actually DOING that (or learning how), they don't see the point in chasing a piece of string.

Anyways, they're doing pretty good and I will be making an appt. with the vet to get them wormed and set up for their shots, etc.

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Monday Morning workout
Posted on Jul 7, 2014 6:23 AM

There are days when I fantasize about kidnapping an entire gym full of muscled up young men and women, taking them to my gardens, providing them with color coordinated tools (to match their snazzy exercise outfits) and putting them to work. If you're going to sweat, you might as well accomplish something, right?

We had a wonderful weekend weatherwise, cooler, dry and clear. Today the heat and humidity are piling back in. Decided to get straight to work on two "icky" jobs that have been needing done: Scrub out the garbage cans and mow the grass in the Storybook garden. Finished both before 8 am so I feel so virtuous. I need to get up to the Storybook garden with my sickle or my new scythe and cut down the really tall grass...the area I mowed had been sickled about a month a go, so the mower could get through it no problem, but the really tall stuff is too much for it. You know, it's weird: I think it actually was MORE work to push/pull that mower around than it was to cut the grass with a sickle. Not to mention no nerve wracking roar and the constant fear of losing a toe if I slipped!

I also took some more cuttings. I have absolutely no faith in cuttings. I try and try and my successes I can count on one hand. *HA*. Still, I keep trying. Today's selection are a black leafed viburnum, boxwood, and some catmint. I'm going to take cuttings of the ornamental sweet potato and stick them in a glass of water....that worked pretty well for the ordinary sweets over the winter and I'd like to have a lot more of that black leaved variety. It's still not the really really cool one I had last summer...I think that one was called "Witchcraft" and it had these amazing "bat" wing shaped leaves.

I've got deadlines and 3 big projects so I'm going to be working in the office most of the day. Right now, I'm actually out on my deck, what a treat!

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Fall veg garden
Posted on Jul 6, 2014 9:14 AM

Took the first steps toward getting the veg garden ready for fall. I am not sure how much I will try to plant for a fall garden, but I do need to begin clearing out some beds, etc. One bed was completely neglected and unplanted this summer; I cleaned out the weeds and I will let it sit for a week or so....there's bindweed in there and I'd like to see it sprout and start to grow, then spray it with Roundup. That's the only way I have found to eradicate this weed and it's a bad weed.

I dug out the potatoes from a small patch of "leftovers" that I'd planted a nice bucket of small new potatoes. Then, I also weeded some of the paths and built up a couple of compost heaps on the cleared off areas. I like to compost in place; clean off a section of the garden, then heap the weeds up there as you go. In a few weeks, compost, right there on the garden bed, just needs to be spread a bit.

This time of year always amazes me when I see how the plant life is growing...the weeds just suddenly take over the garden...what was a couple inches tall last week is towering several feet. The bean towers are completely covered with vines and blossom, so I'm hoping to have a nice crop of beans. My sweet corn is topping 5 feet so that should start to set ears soon. The 2 zuchinni plants are putting out a lot of fruit and I see tiny cucumbers starting to show on the cuke vines. Onions are starting to lay will be time to pull and cure them soon.

If I do decide to plant a fall garden, I think I'll concentrate on beets, turnips, maybe some late zuchinni, maybe a few radishes. There's not much point in planting lettuce...R won't eat it and it's just not worth the trouble. I would like to put in some late cabbage and maybe even cauliflower, but I'll need to buy those plants and I'm not sure I want to. We'll see.

Big success: the geranium "Johnson's Blue"; I bought 3 plants this spring and put them in the veg garden (border along the fence) to evaluate how they'd do...spectacular. I love them. Big open rangy plants with intense purple flowers. Definitely will be using this plant everywhere I can get it to grow.

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