Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Wednesday Vignettes: Bird battles & other struggles

We've had a lot of birds of all kinds soaring around, through and over the garden during the last few weeks.  I saw an oriole in the strawberry tree (Arbutus 'Marina') outside my office window Monday when I was on the phone with a friend and an owl in the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) later that night.  I didn't manage to catch a photo of either.  Much of the frenetic hustle and bustle may be due to nesting activity.  A few days ago I captured a skirmish between a hawk and what I think were two mockingbirds.

The smaller birds presumably took offense at the hawk's proximity to their nest.  They hounded him mercilessly.  You can see two of them above and below him on the left here.

And here you can see them on either side of him.  He took off soon after this.


I engaged in a battle of my own over the weekend when I decided to stop procrastinating and move the stunted Yucca 'Bright Star' squeezed in between its two larger siblings.  If you've never handled one of these plants let me warn you: they have vicious terminal spines.  Despite taking my time and exercising caution, both my hands and my calves were stabbed many times, but I got the job done (assuming the relocated Yucca doesn't up and die on me).

Although planted at the same time and size as the larger plants, the one in the middle remained substantially smaller and was being overtaken by the nearby Leucadendrons and Coleonema 'Sunset Gold'

I moved 3 underperforming bearded Iris tubers to provide the smaller Yucca a bigger spot to spread its roots

The new configuration adds a greater sense of depth to the bed, at least from this angle


Meanwhile, projects driven by my husband continue.  He started work on building new compost bins for me but completing that project required clearing out the concrete pavers that currently occupy the space designated for the bins.  He started by redistributing the stone recovered when we dismantled our indoor barbecue during our remodel, which has been piled up behind our garage since last July.

The rock occupied a lot of space behind the garage and his initial intent was to move the rock into the garden and stack the concrete pavers here instead

I moved a few stones into the front slope (top left) but he used the bulk of them to edge the mounded back border.  It's a long border and only a couple of sections are shown here.  He stacked the rocks but it was my job to backfill them in place..

He knew I wasn't happy about having the moss path covered in stone (as shown on the left) so he moved most of that out

Then for some reason he decided to go ahead and work on replacing the gravel path framed with railroad ties with the concrete pavers, which will eliminate the need to stack the pavers behind the garage.  This photo shows the path with the gravel removed.  Placement of the pavers is on hold until it's stopped raining.

Assuming the new paved path works out, all the gravel we shoveled into these plastic pots will be used to fill in the barer pathway areas in my cutting garden

The area behind the garage is suddenly looking better than it ever has


I picked up supplies ordered by phone from my local garden center yesterday morning so I can start some of the other projects on my docket.  With rain in spits and spurts all day and the temperature dipping to winter-like levels, I didn't accomplish much outside yesterday and, with rain expected to continue through Thursday, I may have to turn my energy to cleaning the house but I look forward to getting back outside by Friday, if not earlier.  Keeping busy is one way to maintain one's sanity in the era of Covid-19.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


16 comments:

  1. Wow - that's a huge accomplishment! Rocks and concrete are such backbreaking materials. The new path is going to look amazing! And, I'm so happy you are getting some rain!!

    I too have several of those plant moving projects that I'm dragging my feet on. The most notable one is a dasylirion planted in a 6'tall metal tube. In its first year, the soil compacted and the crown is now below the edge. Yet, to date - now two years later, I still have to steel myself, brave the spines, and get up on that ladder to try to pry it out. This spring, I noticed that Mother Nature added insult to injury by planting a native Ribes in there. It's blooming beautifully as I write this - LOL! How is THAT for a kick in the pants? I REALLY need to deal with it now.

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    1. I finally got bulbs I received more than a month ago in the ground today. Such an easy task (at least by comparison to transplanting Yucca or Dasylirion!) but somehow it took forever (and a stay-at-home order) to get around to it. The dahlia tubers are next up.

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  2. I can believe that you got poked plenty of times when moving that Yucca. That is one reason why I can hardly believe my eyes every winter when I see that the rabbits have eaten min down to about 3 inches. That is what I would call roughage. You are making me feel like a slug with all your projects. It will be so nice to get them completed and you have had some rain. Yipee...

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    1. Those must be some tough hard-nosed rabbits, Lisa!

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  3. Looks like progress is being made, and that has to be a good feeling. It is always nice when everything gets back to normal and in place.
    We must be getting the cold weather you had or have. It's in the 70's today, but will be cold again for the next two weeks, probably with a frost that will kill all the lilac and wisteria buds that are out too early. :(

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    1. Well, our version of "cold" and yours are probably very different things, Cindy. You'd undoubtedly think us wimps when it comes to temperatures on the lower end of the spectrum. I hope your version of cold doesn't cause a lot of damage.

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  4. Impressive lot of work happening there. And you've had rain, in April, no less! Amazing!

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    1. Yes rain, and it hasn't stopped yet. We had a little overnight and this morning but there's more in the forecast into Friday. My season-to-date total is just 9.57 inches at the moment but a lot of the surrounding areas have done much better so that's good.

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  5. Shout out to all us hard working husbands in the garden! :) I would not have enjoyed moving that Yucca but the placement does look a lot better so worth the effort. Your garden looks very nice and tidy compared to mine at the moment... here's hoping u find ways to stay busy.

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    1. My husband is nothing if not industrious, Hans. I expect I can stay busy in the garden for quite awhile, although I'm already frustrated with relying on mail order to get plants - my local garden center isn't open for in-store shopping.

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  6. So many projects! I feel your frustration with not being able to work in the garden because of the rain. In an odd flip of the normal we're in the midst of a sunny dry stretch. To the garden I go...

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    1. I took advantage of a break in the rain yesterday and planted a few bulbs that had been sitting on my workbench longer than they should have and tidied up my beds some. I'm hoping forward to a sunny weekend.

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  7. The rain is lovely, isn't it? Your husband manages to keep busy--he is a great help. Moving rocks is tough, and best done in cool weather like this.

    I've been dumping rain water on the chronically driest areas since the various tubs, buckets, and barrels keep filling up.

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    1. My rain tanks are full too but I did a circuit around the house this morning emptying all the tubs that filled with water overnight on my handful of roses and other plants that don't usually get all the water they'd like.

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  8. I'm starting to wish for sun, though in a month I'll be begging for June Gloom. Because I'm working from home I'm feeling extra connected to the garden.

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    1. Our roof-top weather station still says we've tallied under 10 inches of rain for the season to date, which seems low. When it stops raining, my husband will go up there to see whether we have birds nesting on top of it or something. My no-tech test tube rain meter suggests we got more rain than the fancy system does.

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