Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Xeriscaping, round two

Over the past couple of weeks, I've had a chance to remove dead sod, dig up soil, and add several hundred pounds of composted cow manure and peat moss to what will become a new bed for drought-tolerant plants.

In the photo above, check out that crazy line of lawn demarcation between last autumn's new green grass and last summer's parched brown lawn! Interestingly, when I started spading and forking, I realized that a big part of the problem in this area is heavy clay. Brown clay, grey clay, beige clay . . . we've got it all.  So there will be more soil amendments heading towards this bed.  Good thing that it's located next to the compost bin!

Coneflowers and salvia are on their way.  Hurray for planting weather!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Now that buds are budding, leaves are leafing out, and blossoms are blooming, all the varmints that chew, pluck, and otherwise destroy nature's glory have emerged.

Rabbits have been eating a swath through the tulips. It's amazing the damage that those adorable furry creatures can do.

Destruction by New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) or the Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

 Hopefully, a good shake of pelletized organic rabbit repellant will curb their appetites.

More destruction by New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) or the Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

But not only four-footed varmints are a problem.  We also have trouble with the two-footed variety.  Last year, a roadside line of daffodils helped us pay it forward.  This year, instead of sparking a smile from passers-by, the flowers seem to have fired an urge to help oneself. Caught in the act, the picker of this daffodil shouted, "Lady, what, you're going to give me a hard time for taking one flower?" 

Destruction by Massachusetts License Plate 6905BL

Another varmint blithely mused, "Oh, they'll grow back," as he stuck a daffodil into his lapel. Too cheap to buy a bouquet?  Too stupid to understand that by taking flowers for your very own extremely special self, you reduce enjoyment of everyone else?  No impulse control when passing something pretty?  Or just an illustration of the tragedy of the commons?

Monday, April 11, 2011


Iris reticula "Katherine Hodgkin" 

Until a few years ago, I used to plant the beds lining the front walk with different varieties of miniature or rock-garden irises.  They bloomed early and adorable but some spark of over-the-top springtime enthusiasm seemed to be lacking.  And people always thought they were crocuses. So, for the past couple of years, I've loaded small daffodils into this area.  However, come April, a few reminders of my previous dalliance still show up.

Iris danfordiae

Iris reticulata '"J.S. Dijt'"

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Xeriscaping, round one

Because our long cold winter is finally retreating--yes, temperatures cracked 60 degrees today--and because the snow has almost entirely melted, spring feels in the air. No sightings of bouncing bunnies or blooming forsythia, but the bluebells are starting to chime.

And planning for a new xeriscape-ish bed is underway.  You can see how this area of the yard suffers in the summer heat.  That grey-brown stripe down the middle of the photograph below?  That's lawn.  Dead, dried lawn.  Thanks to drainage renovations and good grading, there's also a flood-resistant basement located to the left of the photograph.  And a ginormous weeping beech to the upper right.  Between the hydrologic effects of humans and nature, this area is receiving none of the water that rises to the surface elsewhere in this little yard.

The preliminary plan includes a mix of drought-tolerant plants.  Some have been languishing elsewhere in the garden: squeezed behind the compost bin, wedged in a corner, or trapped under the hose. Hey, whose garden doesn't host a few such neglected specimens? Others I had better get around to ordering before all the choice selections have sold out.  Anyway, double-click on the photograph to see the plan up close.  I'm calling this round one, because I know there will be many changes before everything has been bedded, mulched, and watered.  I just remembered some coreopsis "Moonbeam" that could happily migrate away from its current location by a dryer vent.

Can't wait to start tearing up that old turf with a pitchfork and spade.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Joking is . . .


. . .  what happens on April Fool's Day.