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Gardening

last night’s Quiddler Poem: Your Covid Quota

It was as DEATH TO LET HER WED / that USER, that TOE ROT / that GAZE into the LOO and never AIR IT / THINE ACE lost to class FEES for CLAY / as one might sip LAWN DRINK by the PINT / using a HAIRY GRATER to strain out the FLIES / your MOOD-CUBE could not MOP up the RUN / the over-run on your COVID QUOTA.

Water Hyacinths have filled in the upper pond nicely, better than ever- I think it is because of water-blueing. This year I started using a water-bluing agent to cut sunlight penetration, and the water has stayed cooler and the fish are happier, and algae has cleared out.
In past years I have used a pricey UV light in the pond filtration unit, and this year (our hottest / driest year ever) has been fine without it.
The hyacinths are a living whole pond filter; I haven’t had to clear the pump or the filter in weeks!
A spot for morning coffee. From here we watched a male Broadtail hummingbird court a female; lots of ringing and diving as they both flew, then she settled into the big flowering Trumpet Vine and he began a series of side-to-side waggles / perch-breathers / waggles. She was impressed and they flew off together.
Sultry and hot, shaded in the ever-embiggening Purple Sage. She did some math in her head re: Delta transmission at R9, vs the original at R2 (R9-R2)/R2 x %100 = 350) The Delta variant is 350 times more transmissible than the original variant. (now a week later, updated to the same transmission rate as Chickenpox= R12. So 500% more transmissible than the original variant) It also has a replication factor of 1000 over the original, hitting full speed 3 days after infection while still fully asymptomatic (now, showing the same factor whether vaccinated or not). This is the kind of thing she ponders, because she’s aluminum and doesn’t have to worry.
A hummingbird favorite.
Drip irrigation keeps the landscape from powdering out.
The goldfish all rush to make the shot; Influencers, each and every one. Even Koi follow their feed.
WeeOne has left the Ms.Kims unmolested since the fixes, and it looks like they will survive.
I cut all the roses back before our last trip out to MT, and this one has come back nicely.
Out front this summer bloomer fills with bees every day. It dies back to the ground each winter, and this summer has seen its rowdiest growth and blooming. All the plants to the L of it were nuked last summer, even the ground cover reduced to powder this summer.
The little patch of front lawn is heat-stressed and yellowing out- it has been more than a month since it needed mowing and will likely stay dormant till late fall.
The secret sitting space.
Garden path.
Panther in the Iris jungle.
3 dozen floating water hyacinths introduced to clean the water, among the yellow pond-iris.
Lucky’s stable is a Hummingbird haven with Coral Bells and a feeder under the eve at top R.
Same bunch-grass divots as in MT, same girl lounging between them.
So much more brushing in her future…lots of ranch burrs came out yesterday.
The yarding ladies like to check in with each other.
This rose spills over the fence from the front yard.
The view we give the neighbors. They do not return the favor.
The roses from the front yard.
Xeriscape mini-garden continues the front lawn footprint reduction.
The Queen of Hearts white roses.
The front bed of Ohio Black Iris, same variety as in the first few images, but backlit for nutzo-level irradiance.
Bubblicious Black Grape is their bubblegum flavor note; it permeates the front and back yard. Delicious.

Megadrought West. SLC in May has a new normal (30yr avg) of one 90 degree day: May 1st was 91 degrees.
Springtime at Coatsville already saw the window shades go up for summer, the day before we headed out to MT.
A week ago it had been driving snow, we arrive to 70 degrees that ramps up to the mid 80’s (July temperatures). The little creek that runs through the yard is dry, but there is still snow up on the mountains and through the forests, so maybe it will still come on. The grass is just greening up, the Willows are budding out and full of bumble bees (I’ve never seen/heard so many bumble bees), and Lilacs are just greening up.
The yard is thick with fallen branches, sticks, and twigs. E helps with the big branches, then I rake up the rest.
A close mow-down is an illusion of a nice lawn. Now I rake it again to get the hidden sticks out.
Just this back bit of yard turns out this mass of mess. I toss it over the slat fence into the corral for the cattle to crush to bits- the cattle are still a week out from their drive to our summer pasture.
With all the big detritus removed, it is time to thatch-mow. My old mower is fitted with a thatcher, which is a flat bar holding twin rake tine / springs. The rake tines will eventually break away, and I have two full sets and one remaining on the bar from a thatching years ago- so five tines altogether, and I’ll go through them all.
A mower blade creates lift and blows grass into the bagger, a thatching bar creates no lift and all the mulched dusty obliteration of leaves and dead grass makes a heavy mat. It is too heavy for the mower to lift and bag, so I rake it all, then drop the mower to its bottom pins and “vaccum” up another big lift of mulch.
Finally we arrive at a starting place.
Each section of yard gets its own dumping site; to keep the levels manageable, as well as keeping me from lugging time eating wagon loads all about.
Now water, air, and sunlight can reach the soil. I wanted to rent a plug aerator, but it is too big to fit in the truck without removing the shell, and also too heavy for me to get it out/back in.
The front yard is clear of sticks, and sun hammered- so just three mower steps of 1: short mow, 2: thatch mow, 3: vacuum mow with no raking before and between each mow. The green sward is the roll-off from the driveway, I left that alone on both sides of the drive to conserve my thatching tines.
The big south yard with a full buzz-cut, and a stripe of the “driveway”.
The prep work is now finished. Prep for what? Micro clover. I’m overseeding the front and south yard with a special white clover, bred for tiny leaves and short growth. Under the willows and on part of the north yard I spread a different (exponentially cheaper big-box store) white clover, the regular large form for filling in bare ground and blocking out weeds. A grass/clover mix withstands drought better than grass alone, and the clover traps nitrogen into the soil feeding the grass- while the grass gives the clover cover. I’m hoping this helps the yard survive the onslaught of giant thistles overwhelming the landscape, and the merciless new levels of heat and megadrought and spikes of flash drought. Before the days of sprinkler systems, grass/clover mix was common in yards. One of the older houses in our SLC sugarhood has an ancient mix still providing green all summer long- I overseeded my SLC yard with micro-clover this spring as well, though using a thatch rake instead of a mower.
Overburden of the front and south yard buries the wild carrot crop and stinging nettle along the dry creek and under a willow. The entire thatching project was a two-day push, with another half-day to string-trim and lay in the clover seed. Snow is coming.
Three tines down. Soon will be down to one.
The last tine gives out. Knowing it was about to fail, I only raked a path for two passes. I made it half way.
Just to show the big pile of detritus from back in the day when my dad had me put all the cleanup in one spot; it is in the center and nearly 10 feet tall. He planned to remove it with the tractor, but the creek stayed flowing for years and the little marsh opposite the pile would have sunk the tractor. It gets crushed down by the elements every year, and every year it gets more big branches: some British gardeners consider a big brush pile essential to a heathy wild yard, and ours houses wild rabbits.
This is the West section looking across the cleared out creek bed on the R, and showing another area for detritus spreading to the L made of sectioned logs of willow helping berm the creek at center, then mulched grass, sticks, and big branches.
I’ve been building this mulching area for a few years, and it serves double duty in choking down the wild carrot and other huge charismatic weeds that had laid in when the creek had split around the willows.
The creek was choked with leaves and branches, perfect time to clear it all out.
Cleared through the little cascades, with a shoreline of old roofing to block out the overburden of stinging nettle and bramble-rose.
Elizabeth recognizes the song of the Oriel. He is way up in the willows…we both found old Oriel nests while clearing the grounds- partly made with blue bailing twine from the days of my father’s herd.
The rain started after dark, and at 8am the snow began.
I hope this bit of weather is just perfect to set the overseeding. On to the inside projects…
Xander dreams of Goldfinches; none have visited the feeder since last fall.
The yellow Iris at the studio’s south facing wall have bloomed, the rest of the yard are budding in.
Sunrise on Iris.
Yellow on Yellow.
Out in the yard we have one bloom, and more on the way.
The tree is wrapped in heavy aluminum foil to foil WeeOne’s scratching-post behavior. So far it has worked for the Service Berry tree.
So what is going on here with the group of Miss Kim lilacs?
WeeOne just got p-od by the aluminum foil, and nearly girdled the tree just above the foil, the foil ended just below the foliage/braches, which is just where I can’t see without standing on my head, so I hadn’t noticed till the tree was nearly destroyed. The trunk was shredded down to the hardwood and on up to the branches, she put most of her fury to the front of the trunk. Hopefully the tree can survive with the little bit of connective tissue wrapping around the back side. I treated all the Miss Kim’s with our protective tree solution to keep bugs from infesting the wounds. With a “this is why we can’t have nice things” I went about finding a solution for the little Bitchington’s tree murdering. I rounded up all the bits of pvc pipe from other projects, cut them in half lengthwise, and made hard shields around the trees. This one also was given a wire mesh of protection for the branches.
I offered up this Bitchington Scratching Post as a compromise. I had just rewound all the scratching posts in the house the day before, as they were all torn to bits.
Miss Kim #2 is shielded, and wasn’t nearly as damaged as the first.
This Miss Kim has struggled to leaf out, and WeeOne hadn’t laid a claw on it. No fun in killing the weak.
We planted this tree in the fall of 2013- we had been looking for this variety all summer when a spindly little one appeared to E in a late season sale at Home Depot. We weren’t home to see it flower last spring, and it really put on a show for us this year.
The central branch is about the size of the entire tree when we brought it home back in the day.
The blooms don’t have a scent, but they still seem tasty.
Kitty station is a flower-power seat. Not one goldfinch at the feeder yet this season. They are usually around through the winter, but have been scarce since the starvation mass-die-off during their migration last summer.
The lilacs hit a growth spurt a few years back, and have kept coming back strong. The whole back yard is perfumed.
The crabapple tree is blooming as well.
Crabapple blooms. They don’t last long!
Nora takes the shady spot on the trail.
These were the last tulips up, emerging after nearly all the others were gone. A 91 degree May Day burned them off.
Nora and WeeOne are beasty-besties.
This is the look WeeOne gives me when I call her WheeOhKnee. She doesn’t seem to mind when I call her WeWon.
The tulips waited through a week of snow squalls and 70mph wind, and are now at peak Tulip.
WheeOhKnee is being a spaz out of frame, and Nora is smiling at her.
Still doing the doodles. Graphite. 6ct x 5min, 2ct x 10min, 1ct x 30min, repeated 3 times.
Montana, land of many greens. Even the fresh white snow at Bridger Pass ended in steeps of bright green tundra.
E muscles up for mowing.
This section alone will take 2 hours, with E and I each running a mower.
Grass on a gentle hill is taller in full sun, when popping mower-wheelies (for the first pass).
We finished up as an evening rain storm blew through and cooled things down.
Could have used a swather…
I still need to mow underneath the truck…
Every afternoon a storm blows in.
The Iris are still in bloom.
Iris bed put in this spring with Bright Road purples and a few surprise Boulder hybrids.
Deer beds have all been removed, as humans reclaim the yard.
A marshy bit of creek begins to flow faster.
Footbridge falls.
Crystal clear cascades adds a bright voice.
Lots of spring iris transplants are blooming on the hillside bed. It’s a bit wild and crazy, but not too weedy compared to the usual mess.