A few years back I got the great idea of putting in some bamboo in the north bed of our backyard. You will understand why by the following picture. As lovely as our backyard is, we can never escape the feeling that we live in a fishbowl. Not that we imagine that our neighbors spend their days spying on us from their bedroom window, but just the same, we would prefer to have some more privacy. Previous owners put in a maple with the hopes that it would eventually provide some cover, but the tree got diseased and had to be cut back. (And who plants a maple tree in a raised bed anyway?)
Given my usual glacial pace for home projects, I finally got around to transplanting some forest bamboo a year and a half ago. Some friends of ours were having their backyard overtaken by the stuff, so my nephew and I arrived, pickaxes and shovels in hand. Since these were going in a raised bed above our lawn, held in my old railroad ties, I didn’t see the need for putting in a metal barrier to contain the rhizomes from spreading. Hopefully I wasn’t an idiot.
What I did do that was rather idiotic, was I didn’t make sure to keep some foliage on most of my transplants. These plants grow to 30+ feet, so I chopped them down to about four feet so that I could move them. On four of the plants I left no green on them (or maybe I could blame this on my nephew). It didn’t occur to me that the plant will need to perform some photosynthesis to stay alive. Here is a photo of a plant that didn’t survive.
Despite such brutality, one of the fully stripped transplants sent up a small chute the next year, and the other plants that still had foliage sent up a number of small chutes around the base of the main “stalk” (or whatever it’s called). I blogged about this first about a year ago https://thiskellycarpenter.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/big-bamboo/
But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that some brand new chutes came up. I had all but given up hope that this would happen. But look at them! This first one has grown two feet in about three days. The second one is a little scrawnier and slower growing. And don’t you just love those clematis!
Here are a few photos of our yard after spending some time working it. One of our projects this year was getting rid of a flower bed to the left of our driveway. It was a wonderful English garden when we moved in seven years ago, and we kept up with it for a few years. But due to lack of time, it eventually regressed into a weed pile. Over the past year, we cut everything down, covered it with black plastic, leveled it to match the driveway, layed weed cloth and had some 5/8 minus gravel brought in. We now had a big pile of stony subsoil like much of what is all over our property.
My grand scheme was to take this soil and use it to fill our new garden beds. However, the soil is mostly clay, so amendment was in order. I used an organic blend recommended for this area. I now have my first bed ready for planting.
I have been slow getting the veggie garden going because of a week-plus of rain resulting in weeds getting out of control in our flower beds. So, the veggie project had to be put on hold so I could weed the beds and apply some long overdue bark mulch. I need a lot in backyard too, so I had 5 cubic yards delivered. Here are some pics of our front yard, along with my gardening buddy.
I think we might be able to get to the back yard next week after I get the veggie garden planted. LOTS ‘o’ weeds. (Not that you can tell from this picture.)
After another long cold winter here in the Pacific Northwest, and an especially rainy March, April has been spectacular in comparison. Here are some pictures from our front yard taken the last few days. Simply inspirational. I am very thankful for seasons. Spring is my favorite as it invokes a sense of renewal and regrowth. Enjoy the pictures!!
Almost daily, we take our dog, Jake, for a walk around the neighborhood. It’s an effective way to wipe him out for awhile. Otherwise, he subjects us to the usual guilt-inducing canine tricks of manipulation. During the walk, I notice people’s yards, and I suffer from yard envy. I suppose it is the old “grass is always greener” thing, but sometimes it’s true.
Anyway, it has inspired me to start a lyric-writing thread about yard envy. This is the way it works: I have composed the first stanza. It is up to you, my blog readers, to contribute additional stanzas. Don’t feel constrained by my meter, although if you’d like to keep it the same, that would be especially fun so someone could write a melody once we have enough. Only one restriction: keep it clean. So let’s play!!
Boy, it makes me jealous
All that’s growing on your trellis
I’ve heard you play your plants Vangelis
It’s quite the secret or you’d tell us
Okay, it’s your turn!
I was walking our dog the other day and we walked past a property with a very large lawn–probably close to an acre. The smell of the grass immediately triggered a very faint memory from my childhood. Smell is like that. We all encounter certain odors that takes us down memory lane, don’t we? But I wondered why it would take such a large lawn to trigger memories of grass that was probably not very large in area when I was a kid. So, I did a little research using that googley interwebbie thingamajigger. Sure enough. Our sense of smell diminishes as we age. Scientific American says so. Read it here.
What was probably very potent in small doses when I was knee-high now requires a much bigger hit. Makes me think of that song from the sixties, “Take Another Hit Of Fresh Air”. Groovy baby!
Last fall our friends Dave and Jeanne Powell graciously let us dig up some of their forest bamboo for transplant into our backyard. Digging up bamboo is no small job, and after I couldn’t even manage to dig up one plant without putting my hand at risk, I hired my nephew, Justin for the heavy digging and lifting.
Once spring hit, I have been inspecting the transplants almost daily, and YEA!!, the plants have finally started to put out shoots. Once firmly established, this bamboo will grow to heights of 25 feet. You may wonder why we would want to put such big bamboo in our yard. Well.. we want to mitigate the feeling that we are under constant surveillance from our neighbors.
Yep, we would like to cover up those windows.
See all those shoots to the right?
Check out the tall shoot behind the transplant.
Most of my life as a homeowner has been plagued by what I refer to as “The Lawn Curse”. It has been very difficult for me to keep a healthy lawn. It seems like whenever I get a lawn in somewhat healthy shape, something comes along to mess it up.
Case in point with my current lawn. Here in western Washington, our yards are invaded by a nasty weed called buttercup. I was happy when we moved into our home six years ago when there was not a trace of buttercup to be found anywhere in our yard. Little did I know that my neighbor’s yard was already infested with it, and in very little time, it invaded our back yard. For the past three years, it has been taking over the lawn.
And now, having dispatched a significant portion of buttercup with Weed-B-Gone, the ultimate injury has occurred. The moles are back.
In just the past 48 hours, we have about eight mole hills, four of which are pictured here. I learned last time around to call in the professionals. There is a local guy who runs a business called Whack-a-Mole (I kid you not) who effectively got rid of the last batch of critters last autumn.
What about you? Do you have any lawn woes that you would be willing to share? It helps to know I’m not alone.