Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tree Identification Needed

The tree on the left is my biggest tree, and the only one that offers any substantial shade on the house. (The one on the left is a junk locust, and it has tripled in height in the past five years. It'll grow fast, but need to be taken out sooner.)

But my big tree is old and majestic. And I love it. I just don't know what it is.

It offers a lovely canopy under its willow-y branches. It makes cool, sun-dappled shade on the hottest part of the house.Here is a close up of the leaves:
As I've mentioned before, it has seen some storm damage, and I'm worried it may be near the end of its life cycle. I wouldn't be too surprised if this tree is as old as the house.
Can anyone tell me what kind of tree this is?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Front Crescent

We made substantial progress on the front crescent-shaped planting bed last night. And when I say we, I mean I did all the work and Oli supervised. He's good at that.
This is what the bed has looked like for the last couple of months. The plastic and other weighty objects were my attempt to kill the weeds. I pulled it all off a few weeks ago and found a lot of hearty crab grass. So I scraped the top layer of soil out of the bed, and onto the concrete, and covered it all back up. Not pretty, but effective.
When I pulled the plastic, pots, mats, bricks, and stepping stones off the area tonight, I found that it had worked pretty well, and I only had to pull a couple of weeds, which came out easily because they were not thriving. Please forgive the photos, I snapped these well after the sun went down, but it was still light enough to work.
Oli is still not allowed on the front porch because of the baby robins, and he's not happy that he has to be so far from the activity. We all know how much he likes to sink his paws into fresh soil.
I broke up the soil a bit with the hoe, and scraped it around with the metal rake, then I added two fresh bags of topsoil, and did my best to level it all with the rake. It was kind of hard to tell because it was getting pretty dark by then, and I was working by the light from the porch and the citronella candles.
I put my potted plants in position, planted two more cucumbers in the ground, and placed the recycled rubber stepping stones. Now I just need to fill in the gaps with plants, or I'll have the same weed problem I started with.

I have some seeds that will probably work, but I'm going to see what Mom and I find when we visit Noggle's Sweet Meadow Greenhouse. They are having a buy one, get one sale. I'm thinking that this late in the game, I'd rather not mess around with seeds, grown up plants will be better. Plants: at the far back, against the porch pillar, one cucumber, with twine to climb, next to it, Lewis' frog belly plant. In the yellow pot, chives. The two plastic terracotta colored pots (16" and heavy), one each of Better Boy and Sweet Millions tomatoes. Lavender in the white pot at the front, flanked by two more cucumbers. The marigolds came up on their own, and I'll probably plant more. Marigolds keep the bunnies away.

Now I just need to find something for the two cucumbers in the front to climb...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Every Mother Thinks Her Babies Are Beautiful

My once thriving hanging plant is looking awfully sad these days. Mother Robin is guarding it carefully. And who can blame her when she's protecting such cuties.
A far cry from just one week ago.
They are surprisingly quiet, but Mother isn't. She makes quite a ruckus when she thinks I'm near. Like when I'm snapping pictures of her babies. Or when I'm minding my own business, working on the yard.
I keep checking the nest, hopefully I'll catch it when they are all out learning to fly, so I can quickly water this poor thing. It has come back from this level of neglect before, so if it can just hold on a couple more days, I think it will be okay.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Slight Hail Storm Damage

We just had a brief hail storm here. Thankfully it did minimal damage. One small porch plant got knocked over. Strange, because it was in the middle of a cluster of potted plants. And my largest tree, the one I always worry about during storms, only suffered a few small broken branches and one sizable branch.
20 June 2008

This is nothing like the violent hail storm we had last summer. One year ago yesterday, in fact. I was almost home when it started, and I could hardly see the road. Most people were pulling over, but I only had about six blocks to go, and wanted to get home to make sure Oliver was safe. It was absolutely the worst storm I can ever remember, and it downed trees all over the neighborhood. My neighbor across the street, Mike, came out out on his front porch too, and we kept a close eye on the sky. I would not have been surprised to see a funnel cloud that day. We lost power for a couple of hours, although I don't know if it was the whole town, or just our street because of the giant tree branch hanging on the lines. No one was hurt, thank goodness.

Anyway, I lost about the top third of my biggest tree that day. It is the only one that provides major shade to the house, so I was really upset. And we were afraid it might need to come down altogether, but we've just let it go, and it seems to be doing okay.
19 June 2007
Another huge branch of it fell over the fence, onto the factory's yard. It did no damage to their building or the fence, and they were really good about it. They had many trees down elsewhere and had some of their guys to clean it up, and offered to take care of that branch for me. That was really great, because I would have had to hire someone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

World's Ugliest Babies

Well, Mother Robin is being very protective now that her babies have hatched. I believe they were born sometime on Sunday, and I snapped these pictures that afternoon:Oliver is not allowed to be on the front porch until these little guys have learned to fly. Any guess how long that will be?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sky Is Falling! No, It's Just Plaster.

So, Oli insisted on going outside at 1:42 this morning. I was barely awake. Until I saw this:
Yeah... that loose plaster finally came down. On its own. Glad no one was standing under that. I have been meaning to take a picture of it sagging, and how the P.O.s used clear silicone caulk to hold it in place. But now I have lost my chance to document that fab use of caulk. Although, that bit hanging down? That's caulk plus plaster dirt.
I swept it all up while Oliver was doing his business outside, and in hindsight, I think I probably should have worn a dust mask. Don't really need to be breathing the dust of who-knows-what. But it was quarter to two, and the doggie could bark at any moment, so I just wanted to get it all cleaned up before he came back in. 'Cause you just know he would have walked through it. Or stolen a chunk of plaster. That would have been a good game.

I'm so not ready to tackle this project right now, so I see some heavy mil plastic and duct tape in my near future.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Always Look Before You Water

Looks like a perfectly ordinary hanging plant, right?

Well, to Mother Robin, it must have looked like the perfect sheltered spot for her soon-to-be babies.

I guess there is no way to water this poor plant now, so I'm just going to hope it hangs on until the baby robins are out of the nest. It is used to a bit of neglect.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Room to Roam

I've expanded Oliver's daytime area. He normally has access the long, narrow room at the back of the house that used to be a porch, and the adjoining bathroom.

Last night, I moved his gate so that he now can roam around the kitchen, dining room, Oliver's room, and the bathroom. He was a bit confused this morning, even though I showed him what we were doing last night, and he watched with curiosity as I cleaned and moved things around. (Actually, he mostly barked and chased the vacuum through the cleaning part.)
Mostly, I've done this because the only air conditioner that is installed is in the dining room, and we are having a bit of a heat wave right now. I don't want my little boy to be too hot while I'm not home.

So, cross your fingers, and let's hope he didn't find anything naughty to get into today.