HURRICANE IRENE, YOU MAKE ME SO MAD


Not to complain, but it’s really been over-the-top around here lately with the natural disasters and calamities. Earthquake, hail, snakes, hurricane—give me a ding dang break. And while none of these in itself is so awful, when you start stacking them up like that, it’s very disruptive. Plus two of those things are bad news for anyone battling an erosion problem, as I am.

I was very unhappy about Hurricane Irene as I knew all the water was going to run through the Two Tree Bed and wash out all the nice compost. But then Bob, that genius of a man, came up with the idea of sandbagging on the hill above the bed using bags of compost and dirt. So we did, and I’m happy to report it worked beautifully. There was very little damage to the bed.

Compost Sand-Bags

Still, there is undeniably a problem with rain runoff from the road above the bed. I think the problem is that the grass, weeds really, has grown thin by the area where we park. I’m going to have to install sod by the parking area.

One really great thing about Hurricane Irene was that she made the soil so soft that I was able to pull up my gladioli bulbs over by the stairs to the driveway by their tops. I didn’t have to dig at all. Then I cut off their tops and laid them out on the table on the deck to dry before I put them away for the winter. So easy.

Aside from the bulb pulling up, I spent today untying things that were tied down, picking up downed branches, and humming There’s Got to Be a Morning After from the 1972 blockbuster The Poseidon Adventure, starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, and Shelly Winters. The day after a hurricane truly is beautiful.


DESPAIR AND THE FUTURE OF DESPAIR


I had an excellent start on the Two Tree Bed. All the Lilyturf was planted and I had nice rich compost covering them. Then we got this crazy thunderstorm that came with sheets of rain and produced marble sized hail. The next day looked like this:

Post Thunder, Lightening, Hail & Rain

Ever the optimist I decided to look upon the event as an opportunity to determine where my stone work was wanting. I have gone around now and tried to shore up the leaks.

Today it’s raining but so far it’s the nice kind of rain—the gentle kind that makes it so you don’t have to water and the plants are gratified. But the storm has only begun so I don’t know how much rain we’re going to get.

Sad World of Erosion
The bad part is that on Sunday we’re having Hurricane Irene. I’m concerned. This could turn out to be more than just another opportunity for testing the soundness of stones around the Two Tree Bed.

Aw Jeez, the rain’s getting harder.


BOB JUST KILLED A COPPERHEAD!


Holy Toledo. Bob was going out to his pub and texted me saying he’d just stepped over a Copperhead on the FRONT STEP. I thought he was joking and didn’t react right away until I heard him trying to kill it. He killed it all right. He decapitated it and cut it in half. Holy moly. It’s so gory I hesitate to post a picture.

Okay you talked me into it:

The Copperhead

The Coppery Head of the Copperhead


LIFE AND DEATH IN THE YARD


When I work in the yard, I usually listen to my beloved iPhone (business books, podcasts, or music). I enjoy listening to whatever it is I am listening to, but I cannot hear anything else around me. The neighbor Maribel routinely comes over to see what I’m working on and causes me to jump out of my skin because I didn’t hear her.

Ever hear a cicada?

I was listening to whatever I was listening to when I suddenly heard wild buzzing so loud that I could hear it over the iPhone. I looked around and there was a cicada and a wasp fighting. It was an alarming sight. This was literally a fight to the death. I grabbed the iPhone to take a picture and I must have gotten too close.  The wasp thought I was after the cicada too. He flew up and gave me the evil eye.

Normally, I’m not overly afraid of bees and wasps. I try to leave them alone and they usually leave me alone. But I was afraid of this one. I picked up a rake with a huge black fan of plastic tines and waved it at him in a menacing way like a giant fly swatter.
He flew around a little sizing me up. Finally I said, “Okay, you son-of-a-bitch, you want to do battle with me? I’ll take you out right now.” He took off. Needless to say I didn’t get the photo.

I looked down and the cicada was laying on a rock buzzing half-heartedly, and his little legs were waving pathetically. I rolled him over on his side and took the shot. Poor bastard.

Cicada Post-Mortem


WHAT HAVE I BEGUN?


The Outline

The Two Tree Bed will be great if I ever finish planting it. I’ve outlined the area with a quarter pallet of rock and then I’m planting Lilyturf as a border plant inside the rock outline. I bought an auger for our drill thinking I would have my 50 plants in the ground in an afternoon. I planned to make holes three inches wide and eight inches deep. But when I drill down the augur hits rock at three inches, and I have to finish the hole with a delve and trowel. At least I was. Now I mainly just use the delve and pull the rocks and dirt out by hand. The trowel is all bent up. I’m about 3/4 done planting.

The Planting Begins

It’s going to look great but will I ever finish? I think the neighbors are laughing at me. I’ve been working on it every day for a week and achieve head to toe filth within the first half hour after going out. I also am weeding as I go. My fingers are swollen from pulling up the weeds.

It's going to be beautiful

I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.

The Trowel


FALL OF THE FINAL ORCHID BLOSSOM


Last August 27th, my office gave me a beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid plant with long spike of flowers. And that damn thing just kept going. New buds kept appearing at the end of the spike. It looked like it was going to last a whole year, and it nearly did, but then it didn’t. So sad.

Final Two Orchid Blossoms

Sure, I know it will bloom again, but this had been a magic spike of blossoms. Seeing those final two on the floor was a poignant sight.

I looked up the proper way to trim the spike: disinfect garden snips with a flame and trim the stalk 1/2 inch above the second node from the base, and then dab a bit of something or other on end of the cut to protect from bacteria. If you have no flame handy to disinfect your scissors, I find wiping the blades on your pants works well.

I think the plant deserves to be repotted so I’m going to get a lovely orchid pot tomorrow—and some of that blossom booster I read about when I was learning to cut the spike.


BIRTH OF THE TWO TREE BED


We have an area between two tall oaks. It’s a bit of a problematic area as there are roots showing so you can’t mow there, and there’s a small erosion problem. I decided to create a large bed in and around the area.

Two Tree Bed "Before"

Before

Last night I ordered 50 Liriope Muscari “Royal Purple” aka Lilyturf.

I plan to use the lilyturf to border the area. In the middle I have already got a smattering of Vinca and a young Rose of Sharon. The soil there is not good: hard, slightly alkaline, rocky. I also ordered a 2-3/4″ auger that I can use with a drill to make the holes but my husband says it won’t work due to the rocks and roots. I got some mulch (my compost pile currently has a nest of yellow jackets living in it so my beautiful compost is not available until Winter begins), and some 10-10-10 fertilizer to augment the fabulousness of the soil.

I spent some time today trying to clean up the area—weeding, removing pebbles. Then it got too hot to work. It has occurred to me that this project may be a lot bigger than I thought.