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July 24, 2008
a tour of our backyard garden
Norma, don't look.
It's clearly a work in progress. That space in the middle that's all tall weeds and meadow flowers is where the patio will be. The asphalt roofing tiles held down by a cinderblock mark the graves of my two kitties, and one day the patio will curve in a kidney shape to cover and protect this spot. Right now it's all a horrendous disaster, but the butterflies and kitties like it just fine.
June 14, 2007
show and tell time. And then maybe a little rant about my neighbour.
This morning I finally got the last section of the front yard filled with plants. I've been picking away at it slowly all week, not wanting to work too hard in the heat of the day and finding myself easily fatigued thanks to a cold/virus/allergy/something that's been making my nose run and sapping my energy without just getting on with it and turning into any sort of full-blown illness. I've mostly just been puttering in the dirt for an hour or less each morning and quitting when it gets hot, but after managing to turn in the manure and peat moss last evening while Peter weeded the other bed, this morning I pushed through and finished. It feels good to have all of the tarps off the ground after two years. No, those aren't tarps in the middle! Those are roofing tiles and pieces of tarpaper (so much classier than tarps), and they're marking where our new sidewalk and the cement pad for our new porch steps will go. We might even get that sidewalk laid this year, yet.
Here is more information than you want or need, placed here for my own future use (because I can't remember what we've planted from year to year and also am becoming a bit obsessive about knowing who gave us each plant):
1. sedum, originally moved from Pete's mom Mikell's place. There's about ten times more of this in the back yard. It has pink flowers. She hated the stuff and asked us to take it all out of her flower bed and I happily brought as much as I could here, because I love any plant that is aggressive and no work to grow.
2. pinks, left here by the previous owner, first moved by us to the back yard and now back to the front.
3. daisies, different from the ones in the other part of the yard. These are more the roadside weedy kind, with delicate ferny foliage. They may have come from Owen and Pat's garden.
4. a different kind of sedum, the wormy one. Yellow flowers. I think also from Owen and Pat, although I had a lot of this in my old place in London.
5. hens and chicks, moved from the back yard. I'm not sure where they came from, perhaps left by the previous owner.
6. ajuga that I brought from Mikell's. It was originally bought by me when I lived in London, and moved to Mikell's for safe keeping when we came to Windsor. I'm not sure this is going to live, it pretty much hated the week I made it spend in a pot before planting it here, and is pouting like crazy.
7. a wee bit of a mystery spurge that tagged along with the pinks from the back yard. We're already in danger of having the entire other side of the front garden taken over by this stuff, so a little more won't hurt, right?
8. rue, brought from Peter's herb garden back at Mikell's place. We already have a large one of these on the other side as well, but this little one was lonely and wanted to come here.
9. balloon flower that we bought a few weeks ago, moved to a new spot.
10. cardinal flower, store-bought last year, moved to a new spot today.
11. a chartreuse hosta, moved from the back yard, originally came from my old place in London, via Mikell's (our holding place for all our plants between moving to Windsor and buying the house). These may have originally come from Raven and Laura's garden. I think it has white flowers.
12. more hostas, these ones taken from Mikell's, where they encircle the front yard trees. These originally came from Peter's grandparent's house in Leamington. They'll flower purple.
13. coral bells, bought a few weeks ago, moved to a new spot.
14. false blue indigo, bought and planted a few weeks ago.
15. purple fennel. This won't be its permanent home (it'll get way too tall to stay here), but a spot needs to be prepared for it in the back. It'll eventually be moved to along the backyard fence, next to the valerian, faux-boo and the crazy wonderful roses I can't kill.
16. columbine, the orangey native-to-our-area one. Bought and planted a few weeks ago.
17. blue bells, more from our last shopping trip.
18: mazus, also from that shopping trip. This stuff isn't doing so well, it just wants to act faint and listlessly wave for the smelling salts pretty much all the time. I hope it shapes up, as I can't really abide wimpy plants that need babying.
19. siberian irises, brought from my old place via Mikell's. Originally a gift from Mariella de Peregrino's garden. There are also some smaller irises in front of those that came from Pete's grandparents in Leamington, via Mikell's. Along in front of the irises there is going to be a flagstone path, which we may or may not get around to putting in this year.
Okay. Time for a story, boys and girls. Since coming home, I've been spending as much time as I can out on the front porch, knitting, working and watching the neighbour kids play. A few days ago I noticed a bad smell, like the smell of a dead animal rotting, occasionally drifting across on the breeze. A few cats have gone missing on our street this past week and I began worrying that one of them had got under our porch and died (Peter said he thought it smelled more like regular garbage than like something dead, but I'm not sure if he really meant it or if he was just trying to curb my overactive and paranoid imagination). So yesterday morning I went down the basement and stuck my upper body through the window that is the only access to under the porch, looking around with a flashlight for any gruesome piles of former kitty. None were there, so I tried to forget about it and get on with my day. Still, the smell remained.
Sometime later in the morning, as I sat in my porch chair indulging in the first book I've read for pleasure in who-knows-how-long (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Memories of my Melancholy Whores), my neighbour (this is the neighbour whose house you can just see to the left in the top photo, and not the neighbour with the two adorable children who keep me company) came out on her porch with another woman, talking about getting ready for her yard sale and pointing to various items among the junk filling her porch. I saw a white flash and heard something go thwap!, then the two of them went back inside. Before long, flies had descended on the three feet of space between my porch and hers, and the smell was worse than ever. I looked over my railing and there on the sidewalk was a bag. And the bag was wearing the crown of flies.
Well. I may be a bitch with a big mouth but I'm not all that good at confrontation, so I decided to wait until the neighbour came out on her porch again and then say something about the offending bag rather than just knock on the door and get it over with. Hours went by, during which I went inside for a while to escape the smell, then came back out to watch the school buses drop off the kids (because, yes, I am going to be that old lady watching everyone from the window some day. In fact, Peter says I'm already that old lady). At long last, bag lady came out onto her porch, and the neighbour girls immediately ran screeching to her; she said, oh hello girls, yes girls, and quick like a bunny hopped into her waiting friend's van and away before I could get a word in edgewise.
I could see by this time that I was just going to have to get passive aggressive if I wanted to be free of the smell, so I went over and picked up the bag (no, I didn't look inside) and placed it back on my neighbour's porch (and immediately ran inside to scrub a layer of skin off my hands). And that was that. It's still there, it still stinks, and she hasn't said a word to me about it.
Peter said that it was probably an oversight and that they likely meant to move the bag to the garbage can later and forgot, what with all the cleaning up and yard sale preparation. And I know that I could be more charitable and more tolerant of people in general. But here's the thing. This morning when I finished planting I went inside to wash my hands, and as I went in I saw her coming out her door. And when I came back out to collect the library book I'd left on the table (The Hokusai Sketchbooks: Selections from the Manga) so that it wouldn't get wet while I watered the garden, I saw my neighbour at the side of her porch, hands outstretched holding two grocery bags full of garbage, about to drop them over the side onto the sidewalk. "Good morning!" I sang, and she started, stuttered a greeting and quickly drew her hands back (she doesn't see very well, and likely didn't know I was that close until I spoke). And now she's sitting on her porch, I'm sitting on mine, and bags of garbage are piled next to her in a plastic chair. I don't know how she can stand the unholy stench of death over there, and I don't really care just as long as she keeps it away from my property. But her garbage can is just not that far away, for fucksake.
June 01, 2006
Proof that we can get a lot done once we get started. It's just motivation to get started that's the problem.
I have some skeins of reclaimed lambswool here that I was going to dye blue today to kick off June, but damned if I can find even a box of cheapass Tintex in this craptastic downtown I call home. Maybe over the weekend I can find some, then next week I'll show you my blue knitting project for June. Not that I'm anywhere close to finishing up my green knitting project for May, of course.
After a fierce thunderstorm last evening we headed over to Tina and Simon's to pick up some plants for the garden, and we've now got about two thirds of the front yard planting finished. Here's a view from the porch of the new section (the portion you saw the other day is directly to the right of this):
The white line indicates the approximate location of a flagstone path that we might get around to putting in next week.
counter-clockwise from bottom left:
1. a gigantic hosta from Tina and Simon's neighbour
2. more bachelor's button that came with the house
3. coral bells from Tina and Simon. I forget what she said this variety is called; marmelade, perhaps?
4. sweetgrass from Tina and Simon
5. another heuchera (coral bells) from Tina and Simon
6. another clump of yesterday's mystery plant from Owen and Pat, since identified as some kind of spurge (thanks, Liz!)
7. wood geranium from Tina and Simon
8. a sedum that came with a place I used to rent in London; when we moved to Windsor this went to Mikell's for safe keeping, then to our back yard last year, and finally to here.
9. lamb's ears, I have no idea where we got these. That's okay, nobody but me gives a rat's ass anyway
10. three columbines all clumped together, from Tina and Simon: a purple one, a white one and a burgundy/pink one
11. sweet woodruff from Tina and Simon
Immediately to the left of this area, where the dirt is lighter, is where our new sidewalk to our new steps will be!
Here's a view from the sidewalk of the whole thing so far:
So. Anybody know what this is?
I know, I KNOW! I'm such a lazy slackass. But having my own personal librarian all through my undergrad helped to make me that way.
May 30, 2006
Some last-minute green projects
Saturday's yard sale netted us enough to buy ourselves supper and coffee, lunch the next day and more coffee, and about twenty bucks worth of plants for the garden. So on Sunday, we finally pulled up the tarp that's been making us look like the Sanford and Son of the neighbourhood for almost a year now, and after rejoicing for a moment in the sight of all that dead grass (or "F-U", as a fellow grass-hating friend likes to call it), we dug up about a third of the yard, turned in some peat and manure and got down to the planting. The long-term plan is to move the steps from the side of the porch to the front and replace the porch, but for now we'll plant the garden around the nonexistent new steps, pull the godawful siding off the front of the porch and slap a coat of paint on the original railings that lurk beneath.
We've decided to scrap (for now) our plan of having this front garden all native plants in favour of just getting it filled up with things we know will spread fast. Here's the map of what we've put in so far, which I'm pretty sure I'll need to refer to next spring since I can't ever remember what I've planted from one year to the next:
1. sedum (the little kind that looks like worms), from Owen and Pat
2. blue-eyed grass, from Owen and Pat
3. primrose, bought with yard sale profits
4. ajuga, bought with yard sale profits
5. some kind of lily, came with the house
6. bachelor's button, came with the house
7. spider wort (purple flower), from Owen and Pat
8. mystery plant (that spreads like crazy) from Owen and Pat
9. another mystery plant from Owen and Pat
10. columbine, two kinds: a dark red one and the lighter red one that's native to here; bought with yard sale profits
11. daisies, from Owen and Pat
12. honeysuckle, came with the house
13. forsythia bush rooted from a branch stolen from the bush on Caroline's parents' old property in Kingsville, after someone else had bought it
14. we think this is some of the echinacea, from Mikell's place
15. spider wort (white flowers) from Owen and Pat
16. cardinal flower, bought with yard sale profits
17. hosta from my old place in London; this is its fourth and final home
And the bonus plant, so tiny I missed it when assigning numbers: siberian aster, bought with yard sale profits (I keep wanting to type "winnings" there)
The mystery plant (#8) is pretty, whatever it is.
Because Monday was the hottest and most humid day of the year so far, clearly it was time to do some canning (hey, I'm a rocket surgeon now, remember?). I put up a small batch of kiwi chutney, just in the nick of time since we've just run out. Here's a little photo essay of my afternoon, minus the boiling water and sweat (I also decided to boil up a pile of potatoes for home fries, since I'm some kind of glutton for punishment. Today I'm making salads, and we're eating a gloriously cold supper).
Being rather fond of superlatives I'll quite happily state that this chutney is the best ever; we eat it two ways, either on top of a tomato and chick pea curry, or spooned onto a chunk of 4 year old cheddar on a wheat thin (a staple at our parties). The recipe is from the Bernardin Guide to Home Canning.