Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ides of August - part two

G started to create a new fall bed in one spot, then realized as she spent time in that patch of the yard, that as the arc of the sun sags, the house will blot out the afternoon rays. After pacing and considering, she began again. Hard labor—by hand, a total of two feet down—one shovel full at a time. She is preparing the fall plot according to the instructions in a new book she bought a week or so ago. She was engrossed by it from the day she brought it home, but by day two or three she was in a real snit. He’s challenging all my beliefs and assumptions, she fumed. I was pretty startled. She’s one of the most sweet-tempered people I know. She was curt and snappy. “So where is he from?” I asked.

I’m guessing this is a big undertaking, that we won’t end up with much because the bed won’t be ready to plant in a timely way (i.e. now, and no later than the next two weeks). “Double-digging”

Lizard – oops.
She was very sad; said she accidentally killed one of our many chubby lizards as she rolled up the fencing from around the new patch of grass on the west side. It somehow got tangled and mangled. I didn’t ask for details. I tried to soften the blow by saying that we’ve been keeping the cat in—so that has to have made the yard a bit less perilous. With all our new plantings and watering, there must be more hunting ground and more insect prey. But then I wonder what I really know about them.

Up Front by the trash bin & the mail box
Crape Myrtle day two. That frustrating ash that keeps dying back to the ground: maybe the third time is the charm? Several weeks ago (a month? 6 weeks?! egads) we started a new bed up front… in hideous soil, with mystery plants Linda dug out of her yard to make way for a driveway. (We think one bit of twigs could be a Chamisa? a more robust small thing with tiny purple flowers might be something commonly referred to as Bluebeard, and a young, good-spirited clump of spurge.) With a few random stones to line out the area, a couple of handfuls of gravel scrounged from somewhere. Ratty. Half-hearted. But G has watered the sad little spot from time to time & I’ll be darned if they aren’t hanging on. Saturday I stuck in some of our 9 thousand Walking Onion babies. May not be well-drained enough for them. G frowned at my efforts. I did not exude the confidence of someone who had used enough compost. We added 3 decorative rocks, more edging stones and several quarts of gravel. It actually looks like of sweet. Tamed. Hopeful.

The new crape myrtle. (Need to research them...)

What’s Hot and What’s Not:
This past week, I was sorry to see that the landscaping crew had hacked down several lovely huge old Junipers (the size of 3 VW beetles). How old were they? How old do they live? I have been musing, based on some older neighborhoods around the university, that junipers were in fashion in the early 60s. I hated to see them go. Seems wasteful and mean. But I didn’t intend to go on a pro-old Juniper rant. (Pollen Factories? The males but not the females? Seems like I heard that somewhere). My observation was about Fashion in landscaping: what they put into the bald spot, startling me this afternoon on my walk back to the parking lot, were Crape Myrtles! Now I’m thinking that my recent awareness of them has more to do with marketing and product placement than with any intrinsic merit on their drought-tolerant profusely blooming qualities. As I pay more attention, they seem to suddenly be everywhere!

The carnation report:
A single maroon one this evening. Such a spicy peppery fabulous smell. Who knew? Sad to say that they seem to be short-lived. Nearby, the summer savory has exploded. I swear it has doubled since I last considered it—a heroic sprint to the seasonal finish line like the lemon verbena. The red thingies… oh come on, big cut flower dudes—white pink and red. The blossoms keep growing after they open. Unbelievable!

At the Feeder:
Surprise. Last evening, fuming after a bad day at work, sipping a very palatable Cabernet, I suddenly realized I was looking at a red-headed woodpecker! The feeder G bought a few weeks back and hung under the middle apple tree was designed for woodpeckers; poof. We suddenly manifested one! What a surprise!

Realized tonight, apropos of nothing, that I haven’t heard our phone pole Grackle in a long time. ?! Was it a male who got lazy after the young were fledged? When he could let down his feathers about defending territory? Or did they head north to escape the heat? Surely a neighborhood doesn’t suddenly lose a Grackle family?!

Note to self:
?! A couple of weeks ago now, the chicks and hens began sending out strange thick phallic shoots... it turns out they are covered with tiny blossoms. I meant to photograph them last weekend and then got distracted.

Finally photographed them 8/22. First week of classes delayed posting photos. [And that is an understatement! grin] Here they are... wild huh?

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