Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More Neighbors

These neighbors have been very quiet.  They are only at home part of the year.  They were so quiet I didn't even know they were there until last week.  I went to pick some limes for a party and saw this home.

You may have to look closely.   It's a tiny little hummingbird nest.  I had no clue it was there!  I understand hummingbirds sometimes come back and use the same nests.  I need to avoid trimming this part of the tree.  Perhaps next spring we'll get to see these neighbors move back in.

I got to thinking that if there's one nest, maybe there are more.  I didn't see another hummingbird nest.  I know they can be territorial, so I wasn't surprised.  But I did find this nest in the orange tree that's next to the lime.  This nest is much larger and I have no clue what kind of bird build it.

I can't wait until next spring!

New Fence

I have now confirmed that I'm a lazy gardener.  Months have passed since my last update.  Let me catch you up.  When last I posted, we'd just had the tree trimmed.  It is finally filling out again.  I have definitely resolved to tend to the trees on our side of the fence and let our neighbors tend to the trees on their sides.

I mentioned needing to watch our pennies until we started getting Allen's retirement, as at least one of his former co-workers had suffered the worst-case scenario the government warned of.  They received around 1/2 the money for nearly a year.  We were extremely happy that the full checks started right away.

So that allowed us to tackle the next big project of the fence.  Our neighbors (with the tree trimming) wanted a block wall or perhaps a vinyl fence.  I convinced them that the ficus tree roots would rip apart a wall.  Then I started getting estimates for vinyl, wood, and even composite fencing.  Several of the salesmen said we should remove the vines from the fence, so I spent about a month clipping the ivy and climbing ficus.  Wow.  This side of the fence was worse than I thought!  Yes, you can see right through the fence.  In fact, the fence started falling down as we removed the ivy which really was all that was holding it up! 

We decided on this fence.  Even some of the vinyl fence installers suggested that a wood fence would be better for our yard.  So I convince the one neighbor to go with this fence.  The neighbor on the other side was willing to pay for half of the cost of the standard redwood fence.  The landlord of the house behind us declined to help with the costs at all.  Oh well.

Anyway, I do love this fence.  It's nice and sturdy with steel posts guaranteed for 25 years and treated wood on the bottom where it touches the ground.  It looks the same on both sides.  Now to get it (or side) painted with a clear protective coat.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fences, Trees, and Neighbors

 Our huge ficus tree needed pruning.  We had it done a couple of years ago, but it was time again.  But frankly I was surprised when our neighbor told us she wanted it cut back so it didn't hang over her side at all.  She brought a tree trimmer with her and suggested we might want more of the tree trimmed.  It took me a while to realize she wanted us to pay for the tree to be cut back from her side.

That's not my understanding of the city rules regarding trees.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think we are responsible for trimming any trees over our yards no matter where the trunk is. If I'm right, she has a right to cut the tree as much as she wants on her side.  But I believe that is both her choice and her responsibility.

The timing was all wrong for us to pay anyone to do any major work since we were quite unsure about when Allen's annuity would begin and how much it would be.  But in order to keep peace in the neighborhood, we paid for the tree to be trimmed...  this time.

It looks so empty!  I hope it fills in before summer.  This tree will be as good about blocking the sun's glare on our bedroom window.

But it will grow back.

Good news for us.  Not so good for our neighbor.
Here's the way it looks from the front of the house.  It looks like half a tree.  I guess that's what it really is. 

Next, the fence.

Same neighbor wants to replace the fence.   The whole fence is in dire need of replacing.  We were not at all impressed with the way it was replaced before and we were not at all able to help pay for it at the time.  The termite infested fence was left in place and a new fence was attached on top of it.  We were able to remove  some of the old fence boards, but it's all supported by the old posts.   We need to be part of the planning and paying this time!

She wanted to put in a wall.  A wall might be nice, but that tree's roots would tear down a wall.  I think I've convinced her that a wall would not be a good idea.

I hope the fence negotiations go better all around. Can you tell I'm not a good negotiator?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It's February!!!

We have been having such crazy weather this year!  I brought my Plumeria into the garage in October to protect them from the night-time frost.  Then it got hot, dry, and windy at Christmas time.  We finally got a few drops of real rain the other day.  It is now February.  The tomatoes have not stopped producing fruit.  I figured the tomatoes would never ripen, but here they are!  Can you believe it?

When we lived in Alaska, my mother-in-law would send me letters this time of year telling me she was planning her garden and then shortly after that telling me about her tomato plants.  At the time, we had been dealing with feet of snow since October and driving on ice since that.  This time of year is Fur Rendezvous with ice sculptures, snowshoe softball, and downhill canoe races on the snowy hillsides.  The Iditarod will begin on March 1st this year (later than I remember) for the 1,000+ mile dog sled races from Anchorage (really Palmer) to Nome.  Spring doesn't arrive there until May and planting time is Memorial Day weekend.  We never did get a tomato to ripen there, even in the summer.  We had plenty of light, but not enough heat.  I think I would have cried to think of picking fresh tomatoes from last summers garden at this time of year. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Wreaths

I just returned from making wreaths with the Pleasant Valley Garden Club.  Every wreath is decorated with natural items collected from gardens and parks... seed pods, leaves, cones, etc.  Some items are sprayed gold or silver, but many were left natural.  It was inspiring to walk around the room and see each wreath, all different, but all gorgeous.  Here's the one I decorated.

The picture may not be the best, but I liked the gold magnolia leaves and the blush of white on the cypress.

When I got home I noticed the wreath we always have hanging on the side of the garage.  I made this huge wreath years ago.  It's about 4 feet across and it's just made from the very long branches from the Banks Rose.  I just wrapped the soft green branches around and around.  If I've pruned all the branches and it's not full enough, I just wait a month or so until more branches need pruning.  Eventually it becomes a sturdy wreath. 

In the past I've wrapped fake evergreen garland around it and stick in some fake holly.  I looked at my shrubs that needed pruning and was inspired to stick the shrub cuttings into my bare wreath.  I was already in my grubby clothes and had my garden clippers in my hand.  I got to work pruning.

 I think it turned out quite lovely.  It's mostly Indian Hawthorn with their dark blue berries.  I tucked in the few dry Hydrangea blossoms I missed when I was cutting them back last week.  I added white and yellow tipped Pittosporum, a few with seed pods.  And then to finish it off, I added some red tipped leaves from Nandina with the clumps of bright red berries.  

We'll see if it holds up over the holidays.  If not, at least I got some pruning done.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's Cheaper to Move the Plants

The title of today's blog post is a quote from Jose Calderone, a guy who came to fix our sprinkler system.  We had one water spout and one flooded area.  I also thought we needed to adjust the timing, but I didn't know how to go about it.  So I remembered a little flyer dropped in our yard a few months back.  This flyer was more than the usual business card or ad with a name and contact information.  This one had Sprinkler System Tips such as the best lawn watering time (3am-6am) and the  months to adjust watering time (Early March, Early June, and Late September).

So I called the number and Jose came out.  He was prompt, friendly, and really seemed to know what he was talking about.  As it turned out, both the water spout and the flooded area were easy fixes.  He adjusted several sprinkler heads.  (I didn't even know they could be turned down!)

I would recommend Jose if you need a help in your garden.  He does landscape maintenance as well as care for sprinklers.  He said I could share his number, but I didn't tell him I had a garden blog.  I hope Jose doesn't mind me sharing his phone  number here.
Jose Calderone
Evergreen Landscape
805 276-8630

And as we looked at the front area where I've planted the Coral Bells and replanted some ornamental strawberries, I pointed out the edge that doesn't get watered.  You can see the line where I've put in the arrows.
Two of the Coral Bells were on the wrong side of that line.  I said I should move the two plants, and Jose agreed, saying "It's cheaper to move the plants than to more the sprinklers."  Yep.

And when I was at B and B Hardware I saw the 4" Coral Bells displayed in the front of the store.  Two different varieties!  And since they were smaller, they were also about 1/2 the price.  Though I really had enough plants, I couldn't pass these up.

So the big picture shows the new configuration.  I moved the Lemon Chiffon to the back.  Since its yellow color shows up better, it can bring the eye to the back.  I moved the Ruby Veil up to the front, and planted the new plants, Amber Waves and Cinnabar Silver, on either side of it.

By the way, thanks to my friend, Marie,  I think we have the name of that mystery flower in the front.  She thinks it's Blue Salvia.  I've planted other salvias that do not stay neat and tidy like mine and hers look much larger.
What do you think?  Same plant?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The New Member of our (Gardening Tools) Family

Meet the Green Machine.  He arrived this morning and I am so grateful to Allen for assembling it!  And then, to make things even better, he put it to work today too!

You see, normally my work load in the garden is limited by the yard waste barrel.  I can clip until it's full and then I'm done for the week until the city comes to empty it.  I can make more room in the barrel by clipping each branch into much smaller pieces so they can snuggle down, filling the nooks and crannies.  But that means a lot more clipping.  My poor hand gets so tired!  By the time the barrel is full, I need the rest of the week for my clipping arm to recover. 

Did I mention the garden club is coming in a couple of weeks?  I had lots of clipping to do!  Allen said, "If only you had a chipper."  Good idea!  I went off to Home Depot to get one.  They don't sell them at the store, only online.

As I compared them online, I found that Amazon had a bigger selection and sold them much cheaper.  And since we have Amazon Prime, the shipping is free.  For only $8.99 they delivered overnight!  Within 24 hours, the Green Machine moved in. 

After I ordered the chipper, I got to work on the creeping fig on the back fence.  And the Pittosporum was in the way so I clipped that too.  While I was at it, I cut it a little shorter.  Then I cut another Pittosporum back too.  I ran out of room in my folding barrel, then filled up the middle sized tub.  I tossed the bigger branches into a huge pile and just left it there. 

The Green Machine arrived this morning.  Allen put it together and started chipping those branches.  I felt lazy watching him work, so I went to the front yard and started cutting the branches sticking out from the Indian Hawthorne hedge.  When Allen finished the branches in the back, I took the Green Machine to the front and started in on that pile.  All those chips went into our compost bins.  Instead of tossing those branches, and buying mulch, I will turn the branches into mulch.  Score!

I started in on the leaves with the Leaf Hog.  The Leaf Hog doesn't pick up sticks.  The Green Machine doesn't do piles of leaves.  So Allen started in again on the little branches left behind by the Leaf Hog.  The Leaf Hog cleaned up the remaining debris from the Green Machine.

Dump the last bits.  Roll up the cords.  Park the garden power tools in the garage.  It's time to sit with a glass of wine and enjoy our accomplishments!