Sunday, January 26, 2014

What the Heck Has Been Going On, part 3

This time of year I find myself insanely optimistic and excited about the yard. Insane because it's January, well below freezing, and the yard is of course well below a lot of snow. And I know, deep down, that it's possible snow won't be melting and ground won't be thawing for as much as three or four more months. Oh the agony!  All I can do is make plans. I like making plans well enough, but I like doing a lot more. All this planning, planning, planning is agonizing without any doing, doing, doing!

One thing to be excited about is that my sister sent me a gift of daffodils and tulips last fall. There were several bags which I think added up to dozens and dozens of bulbs. I planted the front yard full and found a place for a bunch in the back yard, on top of the terrace, as well. I can't wait for them to come up! They're all different colors and styles so that will be excellent – compared to the old yellow standbys I've had for years. I've also got a little patch of crocus that didn't do so well last year, but hopefully will do better this year. And I tried an experiment of planting the garlic in with the strawberries. I only had one garlic plant come up last year – a total fail – so I hope they do better this year.

I tried an experiment of “insulating” our rosemary plant with lots of hay to see if it might survive the winter and come back. I'm a little dubious now that our winter has been so thoroughly cold, but maybe something will have made it? Only time will tell.  Maybe this will be the year I finally finish the terrace as well. There is still a pile of “urbanite” (broken up bits of sidewalk) that has been laying around for years. I'd really like to get it done.  And then there is the last bit of retaining wall in the front yard to finish.

Here's the terrace in mid-November. You can't really see the rosemary, it's behind the tree trunk, absolutely buried in hay. Fingers crossed!

Something else I've been thinking about for awhile is a water feature. I used to love going to gardening centers and nurseries with my mom and I would spend as much time as possible ogling the fountains and ponds. Every now and then I see a set-up in an old bathtub and I want it so bad!  I saw one in a book the other day and got to thinking and talking about it again.  I'm always wondering where we could put something like this and the one place I'd thought of is the top of the terrace. It would mean digging out a ton of dirt to sink a tub...but it would be pretty cool. Of course I just planted a ton of daffodils and tulips of there, and there is a ton of thyme, and some asparagus.  Maybe not a good spot. So now we're thinking about sinking it in the raingarden. There's not too much going on in there at the moment, mostly just irises and turtlehead – and a few other random tidbits, maybe a hollyhock. It would be pretty easy to move things around and plop a tub in. And then what? Is it for grey water? Do we have water plants and fish? How do we keep it from becoming a mosquito breeding ground? There is still a lot of research to do. The problem is, a lot of books or articles or websites seem intent on a particular kind of water feature in a particular kind of yard. A very pretty yard that doesn't look overgrown and unkempt – like our yard. =) I don't want a pretty water feature with a fountain and pumps running, complete with miniature benches and doilies and ridiculous stuff like that. I want it to look natural and be functional. More research is needed - plus I'll have to find a small tub to use in the first place. =)

And I think it's time to bring out a master plant person who can help me identify some of the last plants I don't know about and then help me make some plans about what else I can grow in certain areas. There are big swathes of yard that don't have much going on, maybe because they're just too shady. I want to get some plants going there. And I want more bird/butterfly/bee attracting plants. We're doing pretty well on that now I think, but... more! More! More!  I'm planning to add lavender to the yard this year. I need all the hardy bee-attracting perennials I can get.

Also, we've got a whole grove of Quaking Aspens coming up in the side yard now. We had the three junky elm trees cut down last April, and then a crazy windstorm last June took out one of our Aspens and put a permanent bend in another.

We had to top one of the Aspens when we first moved in, so that leaves just one that hasn't been maimed in some way. There was a young one growing up between the three elms, but I'm not sure it's going to make it. I think the Aspens, who are all linked together by roots running just at or below the surface, saw what was going on and set to work making babies. The side yard was so full of young trees it was ridiculous.  I cut back all but the biggest ones in the fall and hope  that the 6-8 I left will spring up healthy and get tall fast.

There, I've gone and got crazy about garden planning – and that's not even talking about what annual vegetables to plant! Come on spring! Don't let Old Man Winter keep you down for too much longer!

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Bonus pictures. Hmm, the word "bonus" has a positive connotation and there's nothing positive about these pictures.  I realized I never posted pics about the big wind we had on June 21st.  Not really a big wind storm, just one big 60 or 70 mile an hour gust of wind. It took down thousands of trees across the Twin Cities. My neighborhood was in the worst hit area. I don't think there was a single block that didn't lose a tree. Many cars were wrecked and several houses were damaged, some perhaps beyond repair. 
It was an incredible event. Right after it hit, and the day after, everyone in the neighborhood was out inspecting the damage and offering help to neighbors. Woe to the folks who had electric chainsaws - some areas were out of power for days! Xcel had crews coming in from a dozen different states to help with the cleanup, which I have to say is still in process. The light pole across the street from us is still a shattered stump.  
In any case, the damage and loss of trees was stunning, almost beyond comprehension. Some thought the whole area had been wrecked and would never be the same. There are certainly some empty spots in the sky line...but I guess they'll fill in over time. 

Tree across the street - almost every street for blocks and blocks was blocked by a tree like this.

Here's the other side of same tree...

For the trees that tipped over, they pulled up the sidewalks, so there were a lot of sidewalks that had to be replaced.

Same tree across the street. It fell on the light pole and the pole stripped the bark right off.

Another tree in our neighbors yard; they had to take this one down sadly - too much damage.

This car was under that tree...neighbors cut the branches away and the owner drove it away without a scratch on it!

A beautiful Kitalpa around the corner from us.

It was a big beautiful tree.

And it totaled this car!

Branches (as big as trees themselves!) in the parking lot near our house.

These same images were to be found as far as you could walk throughout the neighborhood. Luckily, no one was hurt! 


Omar said...

Wow, Amy, those are some incredible pictures! I would call them "bonus material" for sure. Thanks for sharing and glad that no one was seriously hurt.

Aimee said...

Yeah, it was pretty stunning how much damage there was, and how widespread, that no one was killed - or even hurt that I know. There was a guy driving near the park, just a few blocks from our house, and a huge tree fell on his car. The entire thing was crushed into the ground, except the driver's area. He was able to open the door and get out. I saw the car the next day. Words can't describe.