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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Omen - My Twist on a Halloween Post

I looked out back during the week and happened to see this guy lurking in one of the sick-lloking pine trees along the road... (seen through the relatively healthy green needles of the tree in our garden)

Hmmmm -- an omen, perhaps?

This is the same tree that I talked about my post, You Tarzan, Me Jayne. 

We had reported two sick-looking trees located on the easement behind our back wall to the developer of our subdivision and they had sent a crew out to look at them.  The crew pruned up some dead looking branches but they apparently didn't treat the underlying cause of the problem (an infestation of clearwing moth borers, according to the arborist we consulted).

As we saw the trees continue to deteriorate, with large patches of bark falling off, we were fearful for the health of our own tree, even though we had it treated, so we placed another call to the developer and asked them to come out and assess the situation again.

I was home from work today and was indoors around 10 this morning when I heard chain saws outside.  Without even looking, I knew what was happening and, sure enough, suddenly there was a loud crack and one of the trees crashed to the ground.

The work crew made quick work of the poor tree and then turned their attentions to its neighbor...

You can see in the photo how bad it was looking.

It was down in less than 10 minutes and then the crew spent the next hour chopping it up and loading it up into a large van to haul away.

When I drove out to the store at lunch time, there was no mess and only a couple of stumps to show there had been trees there.

It's rather sad to lose part of what we consider to be our personal forest. But we both feel happier now and more optimistic for the health of our own tree, knowing that the two infested ones are down.

There are still a couple of pine trees out there and we are going to keep after the developer to get them treated and take care of them.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Experimental Gardening & Problem Solving

Things have finally slowed down a bit, work-wise, so I took advantage this weekend and decided to tackle an area that has been bugging the heck out of me.

While I appreciate the privacy that the concrete block wall between our garden and the road behind our house gives us, let's face it -- it's ugly to look at!  It's an eyesore!

I've tried various tactics to hide it, with varying success.  Towards the east end of the wall, things are growing well.  The Rose of Sharon and Vitex trees took off like gangbusters and are now higher than the wall.  The Southern Wax Myrtle in the middle of the bed is doing well too and is about four feet tall and wide at this point. 

On the west end of the wall though, nothing can grow.  As I showed you back in August, I solved the problem in one spot by creating a little vignette with two containers and some iron trellis.

However, the area next to that, behind the big pine tree as we look at the border from the house, was still just a waste land of concrete block and mulch.

My enthusiam to get working on the area was tempered somewhat as I got my trowel out and started to examine the bed to see if there were any plantable areas. The answer to that question turned out to be a firm "no."  The problem?  Pine roots - lots of them, and under that, clay - ugh!

After scratching my head to stimulate my thinking cells, I remembered that last time I blogged about the area, someone suggested making a raised bed.  Since part of it is already planted, making a full raised bed didn't seem to be an option, so I went for a compromise which may or may not work.

I decided to plant on top of the existing soil and roots, building little "berms" of good garden soil around each plant and then filling in around them with mulch. The idea being that hopefully the new plants have a chance to establish a root system before the pine trees get the idea to extend their roots up in to the new soil.

I opted for simple plantings (read: "cheap"), probably not the most desirable plants, but since the experiement may not work I didn't want to spend $30 on something that I really wanted, only to have it fail.

These little Creeping Fig plants have a rather large blank canvas to fill.  I hope they are up to the task.  It will be lovely to see green growing up the wall for a change. I only got five of them -- if they look like they might take hold I'll splash out for some more!

I'd never heard of Cleyera, but it should make a decent sized shrub, if it wins the battle with the tree roots. In the front of the bed, I put three Liriope, just for a different color and shape.

Here's the finished bed.  It doesn't look too bad, now if those creeping figs would just start creeping and cover that wall!!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Garden Tour

 I've been working such long hours recently, my brain is too fried to write very much, so I'll just show you some photos taken in the garden this week.

My potted Hamelia patens is still blooming, even though the hummingbirds seem to have moved on.  I was quite pleased with how this did in its container, so I'm not sure if I will plant in the ground in the spring, or keep it in the container.

In the front garden, by the garage door, the two sweet potato vines I put in have completely overtaken the little iron topiary -- in fact they have taken over the whole bed!  Since I took this photo, I've trimmed the milkweed back, they were falling over, blocking the door and covered in aphids - I mean just really icky looking.  I hope I left enough so that if we *do* get some more Monarchs coming through, there will be something here for them.

I've got two colors of sweet potato vine -- the chartreuse and this dark one, seen here with some flowers blooming.

Here's another milkweed, this one in the back garden.  I love this one, it's much better behaved than the ones in the front garden and it's not covered in aphids.

I managed to get a bit of gardening done last weekend, in the form of pruning and dead-heading mostly. The Buddleia has really grown tall, but the majority of the flowerheads are finished now, so I did some serious trimming.  Among the dried out blackness, there were still a couple of lovely fresh blooming stalks, much to the delight of the bees.

And of course, with all the pruning and dead-heading, I was able to add some bulk to the contents of our new compost bin. It felt good to do that, rather than bagging it up and cramming it all in to the trash.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Composting Adventure Begins

I finally got around to purchasing and setting up a compost bin in the garden.

I hmmm'd and haaaa's about which design I wanted and actually purchased another design in the spring. But that didn't work out and I ended up tossing the thing out.

But now I think I have found something that will work for us.

It's the Classic Composter, by SoilSaver Inc. 

It was easy to put together and I just set it where the previous pile had been.  All I had to do was put in a few carriage bolts, and voila!

The little booklet that came with it -- "A Sense of Humus, Your Guide to Composting with the Classic Composter," gives useful hints about composting. Information such as what can, and what cannot or should not be composted, how to eliminate smells and discourage flies.  There's even a detailed "Principles of Composting" which I found interesting, because I was pretty ignorant of the mechanics behind it.

It's already off to a good start because even though I didn't like the composter I bought in the spring and although it was falling apart and falling over, there was some pretty decent compost in there.  Since I cleared that site to put the new composter, I was able to fill it about half way with good compost -- now I can start adding to it as I do my fall clean up around the garden.

And next spring, I should have some nice compost to add to the beds when I get ready to start planting!  That's the plan anyway :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reigning Monarch

First, I have to apologize for my absence from the blogosphere this week.  I think I had mentioned before I that I work on an equestrian website and we're super busy with the World Equestrian Games right now. 

Of course, that doesn't mean to say that I have been swilling bourbon down in Kentucky for the past week.  Rather I have been working my regular day job and then coming home and spending the evening posting stories and photos of the day's events that have been mailed to me by our on-site reporter, Nancy Jaffer.

So I'm following the events vicariously, I guess you could say.  What it means is that I have precious little "spare time" in which to blog or visit blogs and comment at the moment.

So this week, I'll just share with you a couple of photos that I snapped last weekend of a beautiful Monarch butterfly visiting my garden.

One more week of the World Equestrian Games and then I'll be back to my regular blogging and visiting again.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.