July 16, 2017:
Hola! Where does the time go, Geez Louise! Half summer is already gone, and I am first now updating this from last December, tsk tsk. Bad Jan! So, been busy puttering around the yard, as always, and paying more attention than I probably should be to politics. The kitchen "remodel" is on hold due to budgetary constraints, but I hope to have that remedied before the end of the year. And I have yet to paint the guest room - it's only been 3 years now since I moved in to this version of Maison Newton, I'm not lazy or anything, nope... LOL! Take care and have a great rest of the summer. Jan

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yard Work, Poetic Justice, and Trees

Wouldn't you know it -- I go into the garage looking for Weed/Feed and I had only half a sack left - barely enough to do the front yard.  The back yard will now have to wait, alas.  I will have to arrange a trip to Stein's or Menard's to lay in a supply with a friend who drives (I do not - don't know how and even if I did I don't own a car). 
Anyway, the front is looking a bit more spiffed up after I finally unplugged the power supply thing from the charger thing and inserted it into my electric grass shears earlier today and went around all the edges of the front yard:  curb (streetside -- all 75 feet of it), driveway (2 x 30 feet to do both sides), sidewalk to the back yard (another 30 feet).  Then swept everything up and into a yard waste bin.  Then I did the Weed/Feed thing with my half-broken down old whatchycallit - the wheeled thingy that fertilizer and stuff goes into, that you open up and dump on the grass as you walk round and round and round (see photo, left -- that thingy).

I've already cut the grass out front THREE times, and finally, today, the weather cooperated enough for me to actually cut the grass for the first time in the back yard. Hmmm, note to self - add a trip to the gas station to fill your red plastic gas jugs up. 

Today I noticed for the first time that I've got a totally dead tree in my "island" in the back yard.  Damn!  That means I've got to get someone out here to remove it, the sooner the better.  Haven't even gotten my tax refund yet and it's already spent like 10 times already.  Geez Louise!  Yeah, all those cute little sapplings that were growing down there 21 years ago when I first moved in are now towering trees; through the years I've had some removed but there are still too many trees down there in too little space.  Sigh. 

I am very happy that the city finally came around and planted the tree I purchased last year.  When I first bought this lot in 1987, there was a small Chinese elm growing out front, near the curb area and very near the lot line with my neighbor's lot to the south.  As the years went by, the tree grew and grew.  There was a small wild pink honeysuckle shrub growing next to that tree, and I tended them both faithfully.  I had visions of someday turning that entire portion of my front yard into a garden so I wouldn't have so much grass to cut...

Well, the garden didn't happen.  And one rainy early Sunday morning I opened up my front door at 5:30 a.m. to go fetch my Sunday newspaper for my Sunday morning ritual of coffee/sweets/read newspaper from cover to cover when my shocked eyes beheld - a tree split in half!

I have photos of that traumatic sight - somewhere - and wouldn't you know it, now I can't find them!  They're probably stored on my ancient laptop upstairs, that is no longer connected to the internet.  I really do need to do something about that...  So, I spent that early Sunday morning calling around trying to find someone to come out and chop up the half of the fallen tree that was like totally blocking the entrance to my driveway; found someone to come out - for $500. CHA CHING!  It was still raining out when they arrived and after consultation it was decided that the remainder of the tree still standing had to come out, too. A couple of hours later, no tree, only a stump.  But, there was still this gorgeous Norway maple just a few feet away in my neighbor to the south's front yard, and I took comfort in that, even as I mourned the loss of my Chinese elm.  I think that was in the summer of 2009 - and it wasn't even stormy out that day, and no strong winds either.  Just sometime in the night or early morning, the tree decided to split itself in two.
Hello!  I'm here - your new Tree!
Anyway, when I walked up the street toward home Thursday evening after a long, hard day at the office, I noticed this brand new 2 inch diameter tree planted like right on the lot line between my lot and my neighbor's to the south.  I use the term "neighbor" advisedly when it comes to THEM.  They are obnoxious people and I've had some run-ins with them over the years, like their kids urinating on my fence, screaming fights with cops called at 3 in the morning, stuff like that.  Anyway, I would never have thought about calling up the city and asking if a new tree could be installed (only $200 that will be added to my real estate taxes at the end of the year, a real bargain because it would probably cost at least $1,000 to have a tree farm or garden center do it) if those obnoxious neighbors had not chopped down a perfectly healthy and beautiful Norway maple in 2010 that used to provide shade to part of my front yard in the afternoon and kept the grass from being burnt out by the south Sun.  After suffering a burned out lawn in 2011 because there was no shade whatsoever now on the south side of the front yard, and cursing those obnoxious neighbors everytime I bypassed the large burned out area in what used to be a luciously green front yard, I called the city and asked about having a new tree planted.

I did not intend for the city to put the new tree where it did.  They were supposed to notify me before the planting crew came out and I was supposed to have time to plant a rod where I wanted the tree to be planted.  I would not have put the new tree right on the lot line!  No notification received, no rod planted.  So, where do the dudes plant the tree - but now I'm GLAD GLAD GLAD.  Talk about poetic justice!  Although I had ordered a RED maple (like the ones you can see across the street in the photo), the city installed a NORWAY maple.  LOL!  That means my "neighbors" to the south will soon get a front yard full of big fat maple leaves every fall.  I have been watering the tree with my 2 gallon sprinkling can every day since Thursday night, and it's already recovering from its transplant shock. (It's been too cold to put out the hose for the season, so I've been lugging water from the outside tap to the tree, 2 gallons at a time.)  I do hope the city comes back and stakes the tree.  Hmmm, note to self - email city forester tomorrow morning...

And you know, I'm going to be watching that tree like a frigging HAWK.  And if anything happens to it, well you know, I've got some really evil, wicked revenges plotted out already, just in case...

While the back yard has been seriously neglected, it does look somewhat better today after having been cut.  I have raked out there two times previously but the very next day, both times, we got strong winds and with my weedy Chinese elm trees tons of branches and twigs always come down when there are sustained winds of 20 mph or higher.  We've had lots of days where there have been sustained winds of 20 mph or higher.  Fortunately, the season has now started for yard waste pick-up!  Hooray!  I have three LARGE plastic wheeled garbage containers that I use just for yard waste, and they are constantly filled to the brim!  Pick-up was last Tuesday so I have to wait 2 weeks, but I still have one container and part of a second one left to fill up -- which will happen in no time, except after working outside for four hours I'm tired and just not able to do any more today.  Now I'm blogging and working on reducing a pile of laundry...

When I settled in at the computer, I visited my friend Debbie-Dabble's lovely blog.  She always makes me smile.  She and her hubby live in a complex of town-homes and in front of theirs is this big slope leading down to a railroad tie retaining wall overlooking a parking area.  It looks steep!  She and her hubby have it filled with wonderful things, including this carpet of purple somethings-or-others (I forget the name) that are just drop-dead gorgeous blooming right now. What work it must have been to plant that slope! Debbie and hubby have just a speck of land out front that is a garden area for them next to their front porch -- and then a sidewalk -- and then that slope.  Not exactly what I'd call a friendly front yard, LOL!  They also have a lovely back porch area and a small back yard filled to the bring with all kinds of wonderful things.  Their gardens are an inspiration!  It doesn't matter how much or how little space one has -- it's what you do with it that counts!  Check out DD and Hubby's front and back porches and yards -- lots of lovely photographs! 

DD's blog inspired me to pull out my tired old Nikon once again and take a few photos around my back yard in the greyness of the mid-day.  Hmmmm, it's rough, it needs a lot of work, but it's all mine, and damn, I think it's pretty!


Day lilies sprouted early and already nearly knee-high.  Pink bleeding heart is going to town; the white one behind it, more delicate and much tinier, is also doing well, except a bunny squatted on it and broke half of it down.  The grass is cut but as you can see, there is still a ton of raking to do!  And cutting down/digging out of burdock, too.  Bird bath isn't put out yet -- it got too cold and I don't want the glass bowl to crack.


Neighbors' back yard to the north, taken from my front yard.  They are good people, we have never had any issues and they have helped me out of a jam or two (like one time I forgot my keys when it was 20 below outside and pitch black at 6 p.m. when I got home from work...).  Two summers ago they had the black chain link fence installed that practically disappears into the landscape and along the back end of our lot line where my houe starts, a 6 foot tall wooden fence that gives them a private area in their back yard.  They installed a hot tub, too.  Now they can let their doggies out into their back yard without having to chain them up.  Last season they had a crew come in and remove a "weed" tree that had been growing along the fence in their yard, and their viburnum shrubs cut to just above fence level.  The tree in this photograph gets white blooms on it every year or two that are very fragrant - sometimes almost overpoweringly so!  They look sort of like lilacs but they are not lilacs, this is not a lilac "tree."  The tree also gets whirly-gig seeds on it every few years or so that sprout all over my yard, but hey, that's just the nature of trees and I don't mind.  It's a beautiful tree.  It's filled with birdsong all season long and helps provide something of a wind block when the winds are blowing from the northeast off Lake Michigan, brrrrrr!


I've no idea what any of these "volunteers" that planted themselves around my big double-elm are.  In the background, you can see the wild grapevine that was here long before I built the house and has survived construction all around it, including my house, and the installation of fences (mine and neighbors' fences!) can be seen in the background.  I can't tell you how many times that grapevine has been seriously whacked back.  But it just keeps coming back, year after year.  Now it doesn't get enough sun, mostly, to produce grapes, but in the odd year when it does, the birds just go nuts over those grapes!  I've got grape vines that have sprouted all over the yard, and for the most part I tolerate them, except in the middle of the lawn.  Well, birds will eat and birds will poop, and where birds poop, they leave behind seeds that always seem to find fertile territory in my back yard...  I like those little white flowers on top of whatever those volunteers are.  The other volunteers, that look sort of like fox glove, get tall spiny purple spikes on them that stick to your clothing if you get too close.  I haven't got into this bed yet to clear out last year's spikes.  Will do that probably next weekend, if the weather holds and gets warmer as promised! 


The old wild honeysuckle (pink) is blooming!


The old honeysuckle (white) is also going to town blooming!


Bunnies have really attacked this hosta.  Hardly anything left to grow now - hope it recovers.


Another hosta the bunnies have eaten down to the nibs!  Drat!


Oh my, and yet another hosta - one of my precious "blue" hostas - also eaten down to the nibs.

One year I planted two pee gee hydrangeas in my back yard.  One by the side of my deck, the other down in the "sun" garden.  Now comes the Tale of the Two Hydrangeas:

Sun Garden Pee Gee:


Poor poor Pee Gee!  It's recovering now - again - after having been eaten and eaten and eaten by those damn bunnies.

Meanwhile....

Deck Pee Gee:


Holy Garden Goddess!  Are these two Pee Gees even related?  Thank goodness at least I swept off the deck before this photo was taken!

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