Saturday, March 27, 2004

Pardon the Interruption.

our internet provider has finally resolved the connectivity issues that had been plaguing our corner of the neighborhood for 10+ days. regular blogging will resume this afternoon.

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Friday, March 05, 2004

March Mosquitoes

bah humbug. the mosquitoes have arrived. time to break out the benadryl.

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Saturday, February 28, 2004

Don't Mess with Nature.

King of the Ant Hill.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Oxalis of Evil.

(thanks to pete for suggesting the cheesy title.)

last week i declared that "oxalis = evil" and promised further explanation. here it is.

those cute little pink flowers that i thought were so cheery back in february have, over the last several months, come to show their true intent, and it is not to lend color to an otherwise dreary and gray season.

what started as a few plants scattered through the grass has become enormous colonies of oxalis. yes, it is nice and green, but it chokes out everything in its path and grows like, well, a weed. it doesn't get tall and scraggly, but it stops at nothing in its quest to overtake the yard.

"dainty pink flowers" my patootie.

the plants national database lists more than a few varieties of oxalis, native as well as introduced. it exists in every state except alaska. how's that for distribution. i haven't positively identified our oxalis, but i think it is oxalis violacea (violet woodsorrel).

once you've let it go too long, eradicating oxalis becomes a near full time job. the kind we have grows from small bulblets, which then multiply into dozens of tiny bulblets, which in turn grow larger and multiply themselves. and on and on, ad infinitum. i shudder to think of the number of these things hiding in our yard.

darin has become quite adept at rooting out oxalis clumps; i don't have quite his skill, but i have greater perseverance. in part, i think, because i feel guilty about letting the sneaky things have free rein for so long.

there is a place oxalis -- the native sort, that is -- but that place is not in the middle of my yard. if i had a "woodland" sort of setting, i might well consider oxalis. but i don't, and darin does still have a certain attachment to small patches of st. augustine lawn. thus it must be gone.

oxalis has officially been designated one of my least favorite plants. the other being liriope.

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Thursday, December 25, 2003

Oxalis = Evil.

more on this later...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Emergency Tree Surgery.

yesterday was beautiful but windy. very windy.

late in the afternoon, darin called for me to come outside. i went out and saw that the pyracantha / yaupon holly [1] along the driveway fence had blown partly over and was blocking the garage.

after the judicious removal of a few branches and some clever propping up with bags of dirt, we solved the immediate problem.

the tree is covered so heavily with berries right now that it is very top-heavy and had no chance against the wind. unfortunately, this problem will certainly recur as long as the tree is allowed to continue growing in its current manner.

i'm torn about what to do. the tree has become so unbalanced [2] that i don't think we can reshape it successfully at this point. but we need / want something there to screen the fence. i could try vines of some sort, but the neighbors already have a monstrous lady banks rose on their side and i think introducing vines would create a massive mess.

[1] i'm waffling on the identification of this tree. i need to do more research to pin it down.

[2] i think the tree was originally meant to be espaliered against the fence. there is no other explanation for its placement in this location because, with the fence on one side and the garage / driveway on the other, the tree can't project more than about two and a half feet from the fence.

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Blue Skies.

images/island_20031118after monday's flooding, tuesday was a fabulously beautiful day.

as the picture shows, everything was looking green a day later. as a matter of fact, once the rain stopped the backyard drained very quickly. yay for french drains.

these last two days there has been a spate of discussion on the neighborhood mailing list re: drainage improvements (a topic hotly discussed throughout houston / harris county). one question that came up on the list was whether curbs and gutters would improve our drainage.

presently, we have no sidewalks and open ditches (someone referred to them as "swales" which is a better description). it was pointed out that the larger lots we have (relative to many close-in neighborhoods), together with deed restrictions requiring generous building setbacks from the street and all other lot sides, and even the open ditches / swales provide more green space which equals more water soaking into the ground. and any water that soaks into the ground is that much water that doesn't end up in someone's house*.

it certainly sounds reasonable to me.

unfortunately, as long as other areas upstream pave everything over and divert their excess water downstream, the floodwaters go up. so the downstream folks look for a way to move more water farther downstream, and it goes on and on...

* no one in houston has a basement / cellar; since we're so close to sea level and do have large amounts of rain on a regular basis, a basement would be nothing more than an underground swimming pool.

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Crocus Question.

after being so excited about finding the crocus sativus sprouting, i pulled out my Garden Bulbs for the South to read up on them again. to quote some relevant bits:

The blooms appear sporadically from the end of October through November, depending on weather.

After flowering, these crocuses send up long, grassy foliage.

after flowering?!? i have foliage, and it's very definitely crocus foliage, but no sign of flowers.

could these be another variety of fall blooming crocus? (in which case i'd be very disappointed and try to get a refund.) according to ogden there are a handful of other fall blooming crocus suitable for southern climes. but the whole purpose of having the crocus sativus is to have saffron.

or perhaps i do have crocus sativus after all and they are just confused about the order of foliage and blooms?

or maybe they just aren't going to bloom for whatever reason? (although they do seem otherwise well-suited to the location.)

i just posted a query to the gardenweb bulbs forum, so perhaps someone there can answer my questions.

at any rate, please feel free to leave advice, suggestions or educated guesses in the comments.

by the way, i located the other two "originals," so i'm six for six. and the total count of sprouts is up to 17.

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Sunday, October 19, 2003

I Hate Liriope.

i don't care if it has moderately attractive flowers or that it makes a decent border for walkways.

it is a "crutch" plant. it is used when you can't think of anything else to plant. it is boring. it multiplies and smothers anything in its path.

but worst of all it is a pain in the ass to get rid of.

and it looks incredibly stupid when used to make little rings around trees.

no, i'm not sure what i'll replace it with; i'm just happy there is now less of it in my yard.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Pea Gravel.

while i was browsing the nursery on monday i asked an employee about my ailing sweet lavender. she agreed with my idea that the problem was wet roots. she then suggested using pea gravel in the bed and even mulching around the lavender with the gravel.

i bought a bag of pea gravel today -- small bag, but it was heavy. i had a multitude of other things to do, so i only had time to plant one of my new lavenders -- the goodwin creek grey. i did, however, mix gravel in the soil below and around the plant.

i haven't done anything else with the sweet lavender, but it's condition seems to be stable.

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