Well, the all-star break is over and there is much to be done in the garden. The weeds, once again led by Creeping Charlie, are infiltrating the lawn. I'm going to the hardware store to find some agent orange to get rid of it for good this time. Charlie don't surf and never will. I'm having some major problems on the field this summer. I have mentioned a lack of discipline out there and it seems to be getting worse. The Mums are starting to bloom almost a month early and the Shasta Daisies are pissed. There are some hard feelings about playing time. I don't blame them, this has always been their time of the year and they don't need to be upstaged by a bunch of Mums who can't wait their turn. I've threatened the Mums with the weedwacker but they know it's all bluff. I'm in a quandary, how do you discipline a plant? Major work is being done in the Rita Reserve (my neighbor's yard). New bushes are being installed and the weeds from Wayne's world (back neighbor's yard) are being forced into retreat. I've done some big time deforestation in Wayne's yard under the cover of daylight. I'm slowly taking over the neighborhood.
I recently moved back from Singapore to Texas, and picked up some plants my mother was caring for in my absence. Well after a year long stint with their mean old foster mom, they are back with me. However, they are not so thrilled. Like any good mom, I stuffed them in the back of the car with the windows shut in the ridiculously hot Texas sun for four days with no sun. The have told me that what really upset them was that they could just see us enjoying our water and light, but they were condemned to what is essentially plant hell, the back seat of a packed Saturn. there have been more than a few requests that if there is to be a repeat performance, I should buy an SUV with lots of space for them- makes more CO2 for their outside-dwelling family. In fact, that should be the car makers big campaign. Having a Canyonero or whatever is good for the environment, cause it puts more CO2 into the air for the plants to eat.... Anyway, they are settling into their new home with an understandable degree of hesitation. I think the big tall one may have ADD (doesn't everyone these days?). He keeps changing which way he is growing. Can't pay attention to any one light stream. The little ones are stepping out, stretching their legs and seem more forgiving. Still giving me lip though.
Before I embarked on my journey I left very clear instructions with my little fuzzy friend Lightning how I wanted things to operate in my absence, but did he care? Nobody listens, nobody cares! I returned from my adventures in Texas to find the garden in turmoil. Nothing had been watered, nothing had been weeded. The flowers are all blooming out of turn. Yellow ones blooming right next to blue ones. Discipline has gone right down the tubes. Lightning's excuse is that he was too busy keeping the squirrels at bay to do even the lightest of weeding. He's always got a story! Luckily, I have a few days off to catch up on things. The Lilies of all varieties are in full bloom with the daylilies putting on the best show ever. All the Clematis are in full bloom and a couple of 'em are a real spectacle. The impatients are finally recovering from the hail storm and are lookin' good. The new second shift, Night Litchness, seem to have run it's course and has been signed up for next season. I'm going to start looking for other likely candidates for the second shift. Well, I gotta go and mow the lawn. I wanted to get up real early so I could wake up the neighbors with my lawn mower, but I got up to late.
Well, I returned home to find a full fledged lack of morale here in the house. Last week one of the twin tropical bushes I had had decided to commit a very noble Japanese-style suicide by impaling itself through the middle (or so it appeared) and simply slouching over. Plant Hari-kiri. Who knew?
Its brother in arms has take this as a sign he should rise to prominence, but, much like Icarus, in his desire to grow closer to the sun he has gone too high, and is now quickly outgrowing his pot and turning brown. The favorite plant, the one that looks like a Chinese impressionist painting, appears bitter at my many recent absences, and appears to be despondent at its anticipated move to 'the apartment of the guy downstairs who smells funny but helped my owner move me upstairs in exchange for a promise I would go to him when she left' I've been trying to keep it a secret, but I think it heard me on the phone to the movers.
The one star of the house is my little Filipino table plant, given to me by the maid when my other one died (right around the time she took over the plant-care duties, calling me inept and better suited to writing than nurturing- bodes well for kids later in life, eh?). It knows it will go back to her care when I am gone, and it actually seems excited at the prospect.
Nothing but problems in the garden this week. The weeds have made gains everywhere and there appears to be no stopping them. The mums are not going to wait their turn and are blooming now, almost a month ahead of schedule. Because of the mums blooming early the Daisies are pitching a fit and not blooming at all, they are about a week late now and don't look like they'll be producing much action any time soon. The second shift, Evening Litchness, is refusing to work nights and have taken to blooming during the days. Pretty damn cocky for a walk on! The Mexican border (neighbor's yard) is in jeopardy with the death of another forsythia. That's 5 this year, I smell a conspiracy. The last of the re-enforcements have been brought up from the Rita reserve (other neighbor's yard). I hope its in time. Luckily the Clematis are all having a banner season. Also the Coneflowers have just started to bloom this is their rookie year and I am very impressed with what I see so far. That's about it from the garden for this week. Monday I'll start contract talks with some of the disgruntled players and see if I can get things straightened out.
The season seems to be flying by. Several players have come and gone already. The snow crocuses did very well and were mowed over three weeks ago as a reward for their efforts. The Jonquils and daffodils had a short and sad season. Whether they are given another chance next year is still being debated. I'm going to be scouring garage sales this weekend to look for a golf club. Tulip golf season is about to open. It looks like it will be as much fun as apple baseball (used to have a crab apple tree back there). Grape Hyacinths are just about played out, they put on a pretty good show this year. If they continue to spread at the rate they have been they will soon become a major early spring player out there. There have been some true miracles out there the last few days. Six of the seven Tallhedge Buckthorn that I had given up for dead are suddenly sprouting leaves all over the place. Very strange, they are starting a good three to four weeks after their compatriots right next to them. The River Birch recruited late last fall has pulled a Lazerus act and popped back from the dead. One of the two Japanese ferns has shown up, the other one is still AWOL The Christmas fern has been found, not quite as green as you would think an evergreen fern would be, but it appears to be recovering. Amongst all the good news though the bald Cypress remains bald. Coming soon will be the Peonies, and the Asian Lilies. The Iris hordes are showing their colors and advancing across the field. Hostas are coming up everywhere, the daring raids I pulled on my sister's and mother-in-law's gardens last year have really paid off. This year very possibly will be the year of the Hosta. My ferns are doing well, they are growing totally out of control and expanding into my neighbors yards. The tide has turned in the garden wars. My plants are finally getting the upper hand and killing off the neighbors junk! As always the Bleeding Heart is in full Hemorrhage. On the front lawn front the war against creeping Charlie is all but over. It has taken years and has gotten ugly at times but Charlie is on the run and has nowhere to hide. That with all the rain has made me look like a semi-competent suburbanite. Charlie gone, Dandelions eradicated, life is good!
The garden is going full blast now. Things are sprouting up everywhere. All the Clematis survived and are climbing away. The Iris horde is lining up row upon row and will be on the march shortly. The new Day Lily planter does seem to keep Lightning, my dog, out, but he is doing his usual thorough job of trampling the Day Lilies along the back fence. Lightning has had a sleep over buddy this week, we're watching a neighbor's dog, the miserable little fuzzball, whilst they are vacationing. The two of them are having a blast out there. Lightning is teaching him the finer points of flower trampling. He seems to a quick study, Apparently he is destined to specialize in Tulips. The city came by and planted a new Green Ash tree out front that we requested last fall. Not bad it's about a $200 tree and we didn't have to pay anything. Today however, in the Tribune they had a full page article about the latest invader from Asia, The Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. Just in the nick of time. Lightning says he could pick 'em off if he had a BB gun, but I think he's still got Squirrel on his mind.
The devastation caused by winter this year is becoming more and more apparent. The body count is going up daily. Seven out of the twelve tall hedge Buckthorn are out of action, the whole border with the Mexicans next door is now wide open. Three more Forsythias woke up dead this spring, luckily the Rita reserve (my neighbor's yard) is fully stocked with replacements. Two of the Holly bushes are terribly wounded and not expected to pull thru. The new River Birch and Bald Cypress picked up late last season look like they will not be joining the team this spring after all. Even last seasons rookie of the year, the Japanese Ferns are MIA. Oh! The humanity!! Lightning, my dog, is in a total rage about the whole situation. Of course he blames the squirrels. He claims they are now using weapons of mass destruction and must be stopped at all costs. He wants to make preemptive strikes into neighboring yards where the squirrels have their base camps. He wants to start out by burning Rita's house to the ground because she is doing nothing to stop the squirrels from using the power lines as a way to infiltrate into our yard. He claims it's the only language the fuzzy tailed terrorists understand. I think it's not only the squirrels though, I think he always has had problems with Rita's little bitchy dog and wants to take care of two nuisances at once. Even though I don't think he can or would act on this latest threat I am being cautious about leaving matches laying around. There is also good news in the garden. The Bleeding Heart appeared 3 days ago and is already 12 inches tall, that plant is fantastic, once it gets going you can almost watch it grow. It's liking one of those goofy nature films they used to show you in grade school with the film sped up. The tulips, Daffodil, Grape Hyacinth and Icicle Pansies are all doing well and are on schedule. The Clematis' are all shooting up like there's no tomorrow and I expect great thing from all of them this summer. I took out the lawn mower and gave the lawn it's first cut of the year. I love my new mower. I'm becoming a true suburbanite.
The garden has reappeared as suddenly as it disappeared a couple of weeks ago. Lightning, my dog, of course takes credit. He claims it was him cracking down on the fury tailed terrorists that made them cough it up. I remain skeptical. Nonetheless, the garden is back and the excitement is mounting. The snow crocuses are putting in there best showing ever. They have spread to about 1/4 of the front lawn, they aren't thick yet but they're getting there. The new Icicle Pansies recruited last fall are living up to their advertising. The Tulips, Jonquils and Daffodils are sprouting and should be reporting in any day now. It's too early to assess the damage done over the winter. It looks pretty grim. The heather doesn't appear to have made it and the Holly is showing lots of damage but should survive. The Hardy Hibiscus apparently wasn't as hardy as advertised. It looks like all the Mums are going to pull thru. The new tree in front is budding in a big way and the new River Birch in back is looking good. The new Bald Cypress remains bald and is causing me some worry, I've never had one before so I don't know when it should be showing signs of life. Luckily we had a good rain last night, a real gullywasher, just in time to because the gully was really getting pretty dirty. The birds are slowly filtering back to town. There were a few sparrows checking out the bird houses but apparently the accommodations were not up to their standards because the uppity little assholes just moved on. Some giant crows stopped by for a while, these things were huge, like vultures, they could have flown off with Lightning if they had a mind to. I discovered a good way to clean up the Myrtle I use as ground cover, I used a shop vac. Does a great job sucking out the old leaves and junk, It doesn't break off many of the vines themselves and it kinda fluffs 'em up too. Sad to say it's too cold to work outside this morning, we had some snow last night, I guess all there is to do is take a nap.
Things were starting to look up in the garden last week. True everything was still dormant but the days were getting longer and warmer. The newspaper ads inspired me to take my little fuzzy friend over to home depot look at bulbs and tools and such. Lightning loves peeing all over the new lawn mowers. He also wanted to look at new squirrel traps. He says he recently saw some squirrels come out of hibernation and he thinks they're up to something big. He is really paranoid about those damn squirrels. Then disaster struck the garden. The garden is missing. It has been totally disappeared. It's like god took a whiteout brush and wiped it off the face of the earth. I sent my best scout, Lightning, out to investigate. He returned worried about what happened to his Frisbees. It's hard to get him to focus sometimes. He insists the squirrels are behind it and the whole thing wouldn't have happened if only I would have stopped being so cheap and bought him his damned squirrel traps. He's always got an excuse! I think we're going to have to get a new chief of security. He has slacked off before, but this takes the cake! I don't quite know what to do right now so I'll use my favorite strategy. I'll sit down pop a few beers and give it some deep thought.
Well the season in the little league started off good. The plants began their life training with the Swedes in Ikea, and were raised strong and sensible. Two fern-ish looking things for $4 and some more expensive ($11) mini tree thing that looks like it is from an impressionist Chinese painting. Well the cheap plants have been prospering in whatever light I move them too. I think they are simply re-potted Singaporean weeds. Although something seems to be chewing on them, despite me not having bugs anywhere visible.; I suspect 4th dimensional invisible bugs- maybe I should call Molder and Scully. Still, much like the economies of their native homelands, whatever gets chewed off grows back twice as fast, although a bit cockeyed. As for the Chinese tree, it had a rough coupla days, mini branches surrendering like the French army, but then I gave it a little sun, in front of the big picture window and it switched to the winning team right quick.
Well, sadly, that's the end of the garden report. As plants go, well have to see if there are any more cheap potted weeds at Ikea next trip. The trees out in front of my building are looking better and better... if I get caught though, I think they might use the branch to cane me.......