I apologize for the lack of posts the last couple of days. In honor of my long Labor Day weekend, I have been laboring (in the yard, not at work). I figured I had better make hay while the sun shines, so to speak. Since Fay left, we’ve had a good bit of rain on and off from the outer bands of Gustav, which is probably making landfall in Louisiana right about now. Hanna has been hanging out just southeast of the Bahamas, waiting for Gustav to get out of the way, and now she is predicted to gather herself up as a cat 1 hurricane and head north for Savannah or thereabouts. We are within the dreaded “cone of probability,” but at the very edge. So we probably won’t get a direct hit – but we will definitely get more rain. Today is rain-free; hence, the haymaking.
I went for a walk first this morning, because I need to get my walking muscles in shape for my vacation, and I wanted to see what the neighborhood looked like. Honestly, it doesn’t look that great. Some houses and lawns continue to be well-maintained, but they are like islands in the larger sea of shabbiness. I know some places look abandoned because the owners are snowbirds, and won’t be back until January. Those folks usually have someone keep their yards up, though. There are two yards on my street that are so overgrown, the grass and weeds are nearly knee high. And both of those houses have people living there. One of them is a rental and was in lousy shape before it got rented, so maybe the folks just haven’t had time to get around to the yard. The other one, a corner lot, was for sale, and seems to have sold. The sign is gone, and someone has put four small flags along the sidewalk to the front door – two are Italy’s flag, and two are the United Nations’. Interesting. However, they haven’t done anything with the yard.
Anyway, the run-down condition of the ‘hood in general inspired me to get to work. I had already mowed the whole yard, on Saturday, before the Gustav-related rains came, and it looks pretty good when it’s mowed. It’s all green, with all the rain we’ve had, and when it’s cut the weeds are the same length as the grass and it all looks like grass. The weeds grow faster than the grass, so after about a week it looks shaggy again. I’ve been having to mow every week since it’s been rainy.
I have two large shrubs at the end of my driveway that also grow like weeds. I try to keep them rounded, but when they grow they get more like a dog toy, round with spiky things sticking out of them. I trimmed one of them last weekend, and I did the other one this morning. They’re big shrubs, so that’s a big job. A lot of it is overhead, too, since they’re about 7 feet tall. Then I trimmed a few low-hanging branches off of my tree, then the shrubs around the front of the house. Something has been chewing on them; I think I cut off most of the chewed part. I’m not worried about them; they’re indestructible.
So far in my grand landscaping plan, I’ve only used wild plants in the front yard area. There are two plants that have foliage like daylilies, but the flowers aren’t – they’re small, and light purple, and close up in the head of the day. They’re very pretty. They were growing as weeds in two opposite corners of my yard, so I dug them up and transplanted them by the front door, and they’ve done very well. I have one lantana plant in the same area that’s done well, and I have a plant with dark purple leaves and light purple flowers, that spreads very well – I’m sure it has another name, but the only name I know for it is wandering Jew. I can’t imagine how it got that name.
I have three or four palmetto plants coming up at the side of the house and under the tree. I used to mow them down but I’m going to let them grow now. As long as there aren’t too many of them, they’re nice in landscaping. When all the people leave Florida, the palmettos will take back over very quickly. You see them trying to grow everywhere; we have them coming up in the cracks in our parking lot at school.
The other wild flower I’ve used has a small daisy-like flower, and then produces seeds that are about 1/3 inch long and stick to anything they brush up against, or get carried by the wind. I have no idea what they are; I’ve seen them growing along roadsides too. The flowers are nice, but they get kind of ugly when they go to seed. I started three small plants in the front, and they have taken over that side. They had grown nearly over the front walk to the door, and I had to trim those back. I actually dug a few of them up that were covering the lantana. They spread really quickly and grow deep roots. They’d probably be tough to eliminate, but I don’t want to eliminate them – just get them under control.
I left all the trimmings just lying out there, because I desperately needed a rest, and to come inside for a while. When I got up at 6:00 this morning, the temperature was 82 degrees and the heat index was 89. And that’s 45 minutes or so before sunrise. I’m sure the heat index is close to 100 by now. I’ll pick up those trimmings later. Much later.