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A Tribute to Aunt Lynn’s Garden

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The promise of a bloom.

No hail on Friday.  Yaaa!

Last spring, a friend of a friend passed away from breast cancer. I never knew the woman, but I was told she fought valiantly.  My friend called her “Aunt Lynn” although they weren’t physically related.

Aunt Lynn was an organic gardener.  She liked decorating her garden beds with pretty rocks (petrified wood, etc), and hung antique garden objects and implements around her potting shed and of course she liked plants.  If I’d met her, I think I would have liked her.

Pieces of Aunt Lynn’s petrified wood at my home.

Her adult son, however, made no bones about the fact that he was not a gardener.  In his eyes, it was too much work and far too hot to garden in Texas.

A few months after Aunt Lynn’s passing, her son decided to sell her garden stuff, and I was invited to purchase what I wanted.  This felt awkward.  I felt it was too soon.  I didn’t want to be disrespectful.  I didn’t want to appear as if all that mattered of Aunt Lynn’s life were her things.

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What are you?  What will you look like?

Aunt Lynn’s son and my friend assured me it was okay to buy her stuff. Perhaps the son needed money to pay bills on the house. Of course, I don’t know this for certain.

So, I drove out 12 miles into the country to visit Aunt Lynn’s house and garden. Aunt Lynn lived on 5 acres in a sweet white wood-clad cottage with sandy soil.  I don’t have photos of that garden and even if I’d thought about it, it wouldn’t have felt right taking photos.

The son was anxious to rid himself of just about everything, and his prices were low.

In terms of plants, I came away with several lovely cannas, some ornamental purple-headed alliums, impatiens in a plastic pot, and five mystery bulbs that I *think* are amaryllis.  (You who are amaryllis lovers and experts let me know when you see the photos.) I never grew amaryllis until this year.

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Aunt Lynn’s cannas at my house.  They seem pretty happy.

Currently, the alliums are still dormant.  The impatiens died in the one big freeze we experienced in December, but the amaryllis—if that’s what they are–have decided to bloom.  I’m excited.  When I purchased and dug out these bulbs, I had no idea what color the blooms were.

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Wow.  Two blooms, not just one.

To make matters worse, when I first planted the mystery bulbs, I happened to water one with recycled water that contained just a hint of chicken broth.

Of course, Elly, the dog, with her strong sense of smell thought there was a full chicken beneath the soil so she dug up one bulb and scuffed it up enough to make me worry she’d eaten part of it.  Since amaryllis are toxic–and I suspected the bulb might be an amaryllis–this resulted in a frantic call to the vet who advised giving Elly a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide as an emetic.

Fortunately, Ms. Elly was fine and so was the bulb.

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Aunt Lynn’s amaryllis…or at least I think it’s an amaryllis.

So what do you think?  Is it an amaryllis and if not, what’s your guess?  (I never grew amaryllis in my former garden.)

By the way, this is not the first time I’ve inherited another gardener’s things.  I use the term “inherited” loosely.  I also never forget from whom the plants or pots came.

In 2009, another friend of friend died in a car accident and she, too, was a gardener.  The woman’s daughter held a huge estate sale to clear out her mother’s house. By default, I found all of the plants and pots that didn’t sell delivered to my doorstep one rainy evening.  Quite a surprise, that.  But in my view, it was also appropriate because if I suddenly passed on I would definitely want another gardener to “inherit” my plants and pots.  Wouldn’t you?

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Georgeen’s pot.  Georgeen was an accountant for the City of Austin.  She was killed in a car accident in 2009.

 

Oh Hail!

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My veggie garden scarecrow, Mz. Buckethead of 2017.  (Her head/face, beneath the bucket, came from an artist and is made of clay.)

Here is our weather forecast from Accuweather for tomorrow:

Day

77°Hi RealFeel® 78° Precipitation 75%

A severe afternoon t-storm; storms may bring downpours, large hail, damaging winds, and a tornado

Night

55°Lo RealFeel® 54° Precipitation 55%

A strong t-storm early; partly cloudy; storms may bring downpours, large hail and damaging winds

I’ve lived in Texas on and off since the 4th grade and have seen my share of bad weather.  In fact, Texas is well- known for its fast-changing weather, and I’m sure this won’t be the first or last post by a Texas garden blogger regarding hail.

Obviously, tornadoes surpass hail in terms of the damage they do, but for a gardener it’s much harder to fight a tornado than hail if it lands in your garden.  Hail can sort of be handled if the gardener, in this case me, has a little warning.

Reading the weather forecast last night, gave me pause, but I am up to the challenge, as much as one can be.

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Citronella cutting.

For one thing, I will postpone transplanting more verbena seedlings into pots from their plastic garden-sowing bottles where they’re protected. The already potted seedlings will come into the house.  I also won’t attempt to plant my citronella cutting outdoors until the bad weather’s past.

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Upside down plastic plant saucer ready to be moved over the small cucumber plant behind it.

If my yard is hit by hail, I don’t want the new cucumber plants (gift from a friend), my baby asparagus, or my lovely new peach tree obliterated, so all of these will be covered if possible.  I’m not as worried about established plants although I realize they are subject to damage.  Equally as important, I don’t want chipped or cracked pots, broken clay birdbaths, glass shards in the lanterns, or dents in my watering cans.

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Metal wash tubs removed from hanging on the fence ready to take their place over the waterlily pots to prevent hail from hitting the top of each pot’s lip.

Those of you who live in the Midwestern US understand about these kinds of storms because you get them too.  Anyone else out there who gets hail?  And if you do, what do you do?

Fortunately, I have the time and materials to be proactive and reduce potential damage unless of course the hail comes with a tornado.

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Watering cans and other stuff about to be moved beneath the overturned wheelbarrow.

The materials I use are lots of heavy moving blankets, those ugly old plastic nursery pots many of us keep but don’t know why, and my garbage cans that store plant blankets.  I also move items (birdbaths, pots, glass items) to areas where they are covered or inside the house.

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Chimney pot covered by heavy moving blanket. I may lay the chimney pot on its side so the blanket doesn’t act like a sail.

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Black plastic  nursery pot slit to cover clay bird house.  (Bicycle baskets still need planting.)

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Miscellaneous items stuffed in garbage can, which has a lid.

Plant blankets come out of the garbage cans to cover potted plants, and small pieces of pottery, etc. go inside the cans in their place.

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Birdbath hiding beneath metal bench.  Hoping hail won’t fit through the metal’s slits.

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Pots and birdbath under concrete table and benches.

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Pots along fence covered with plant blankets.

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Miscellaneous glass & ceramic items brought inside.

Moving all of these items took a good two hours. I will cover the plants tomorrow morning.  I feel it’s less expensive and heart-wrench to protect everything rather than to throw things away or replace items & plants.

I also realize I may still end up with damage.  There are no guarantees.

Just wish there was something I could do to protect my roof !!!!

Part 2: Turning over a New Leaf (Pacifist Gardening)

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Above:  Sundial in veggie patch with hollyhocks.  Time & sleep change things.

Below is the end of the story to yesterday’s post.

When an electric company arborist (tree surgeon), one from Dallas, Texas a 2-hour drive no less, comes to meet with you and the first words out of his mouth are, “Please don’t yell at me,” well, that does make you feel guilty.

I didn’t do any yelling.  I was never rude.  I simply stated my case regarding my front yard tree.

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Above:  Live oak in front yard.

While, the AS_ Company has a local arborist on staff, the electric company called out their Big Cheese arborist to talk with me.  I hate to say this, but he was a Very Nice Guy.   (He’s probably known as their customer service Dragon Lady Tamer behind closed doors.)

“Oh, I can tell you know about trees,” he said.  “Oh, and you are right to be angry that you weren’t notified your tree would be trimmed.  Everyone should have been notified. We’re looking into it.” He agreed the pruning guys might not always spray their instruments with disinfectant, but then again, he made the point there was no oak wilt that they knew of in our area. He also didn’t dispute that the AS_ Company had a D+ rating with the BBB or that a lawsuit had been filed against them for their part in the horrible 2011 fires in Bastrop, Texas.

Then of course we started chatting about trees, specifically live oaks, red oaks, post oaks, water oaks, pecans, ashes, toothache trees, Mexican Buckeye, Carolina Buckthorn, Rusty Blackhaw Viburnums, Doublefile Viburnums, Possum Haws & Yaupon Hollies, Mountain Laurels, Texas Ebony trees, Bradford pears, Mexican plums, Parsley Hawthorns, kidneywoods, and peach trees. Yes, we really did discuss each of these 20 trees.

And honestly, how can you hate anyone who knows about so many trees, who speaks “plant language”, and who seems to be such a nice person?  It’s hard.  I tried.

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Above:  Peach tree blooming signalling peace and love between arborists and their customers.  Feel free to laugh.

The AS_ Company only pruned a very little bit of my live oak today as two arborists and I watched closely. They made sure I saw them spray their cutting implements, although I’m equally as sure they did not spray them yesterday.

I won’t lie.  I was slayed by the charm of the electric company’s Dallas arborist.

Peace, love and compost!  Photos below of what’s blooming or budding in my garden today.

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Part 1: Not a Member of the Green Flyer’s Club

Have you ever made a BIG fool of yourself?  I did.  Today.  Wanna’ hear about it?  If so, read on.

The first three hours of this day were calmly spent transplanting my verbena bonariensis and salvia farinacea seedlings into their own pots.

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Above: verbena bonariensis and salvia farinacea seedlings with red pepper sprinkled on the soil in case Elly (d0g) decides she might want to eat them.  Aren’t they cute?

Recently, the company that owns our town’s power lines decided to trim the street trees.  I get this.  Really, I do.

If we have a storm, high winds, or even if we don’t, tree limbs and power lines don’t mix.  Yes, trees need pruning if they are growing into the power lines, but this is the only thing the electric company and I agree upon.

Two weeks ago, bright green flyers began to appear on doors and were even hung on trees in vacant lots.  I saw these flyers as I walked my dogs, but I didn’t get one at my house.  And no, my flyer didn’t blow off.  I looked in the bushes and on the ground around my house for one.  Nothing.

This lack of a green flyer piqued my curiosity.  Why didn’t I get one?  Not fair!

Was this a notification of the local Green Flyer’s Club meeting, and I wasn’t invited?  Worse, was this “The Lottery” in reverse?  In other words, since I didn’t get a green flyer, would I be the one in town selected to be stoned?  (Okay, ya, that’s overly dramatic I admit.)

I finally went to a neighbor down the block to ask if I could see his flyer. Turns out the flyer was an announcement of the electric company’s tree pruning.

I wondered out loud to a different neighbor why I didn’t get a flyer, and he responded, “You probably didn’t get one because your tree isn’t growing into the power lines.” My oak tree in the front yard is across the street from the power lines.  What this neighbor said made sense, so I didn’t think about my tree anymore, until today.

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Above: Tree pruned on Fowler Street by the AS_ Tree Company.  This is the telephone pole tree pruning technique.  There are a few leaves left at the very top.  Been told they make take it down completely. Sad.

Last week, my next-door neighbor became upset when the tree pruning company pruned her trees.  Her trees are mature historic oaks and not easily replaced should they die or be damaged.  Were they pruning with aesthetics in mind?  Nope.

From everything I’ve ever read or heard, it’s best not to prune live oaks and red oaks in Texas in the spring (after February).  These oaks are best pruned in the cold of winter or in the raging heat of summer.  Why?  Because pruning at the wrong time of year increases their chances of getting a disease called oak wilt.  Oak wilt usually kills trees and once a tree has it, there isn’t much to be done although people have spent thousands of dollars trying.

The beetle that transmits oak wilt is most active in the spring and in the cooler, but not cold, months.  The beetle is attracted to open tree wounds and that’s how it transmits oak wilt by flying from a tree with oak wilt to the open wound of another tree that doesn’t have it.  With that said, if an oak must be trimmed in the spring, most good arborists (tree surgeons) use tree pruning paint to seal the wounds.  They also clean their tools in between cutting different trees so as not to spread the disease.

The good news here is that oak wilt appears not to be prevalent in our part of Texas, but my neighbor and I didn’t know that.  Does this mean east Texas will never see oak wilt?  No one knows for sure.  Certainly, good pruning techniques can be used as a preventative measure. But was that happening?  Not in my opinion.

My neighbor was hot under the collar about her trees, and I decided to help her as best I could by providing as much information as possible. In this vein, I sent an email to the forestry folks at Texas A&M University to ask them about oak wilt here.

In the meantime, the company stopped pruning my neighbor’s trees until their arborist spoke to her.  He apparently said whatever she needed to hear to proceed with the pruning, and they finished trimming her trees.  It seemed to me if she no longer opposed the pruning, then there was no need for me to say or do anything, so I blew it off.

And then today happened.

Suddenly, the company was pruning MY oak.  MY OAK.  MINE.  I didn’t receive a flyer.  My tree wasn’t close to the power lines.  Why?

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Above:  My tree on the right.

Believe me when I say that my outrage surpassed any that my neighbor could come up with. I was like an earthworm freshly dug from the ground who is flipping and flopping all over the place having a fit.

“Get out of MY tree, right now!” I yelled up more than once to the man doing the cutting.  I told the company man on the ground that I did not received a flyer, and my tree was not near the power lines and that I didn’t want it pruned.  He pretended not to understand any English.

When the man in the bucket on a pole didn’t stop, I went a step further and when he saw I was VERY serious about him coming down or me going up, he came back to earth and called his supervisor.

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Above:  Another photo of my tree and the power lines across the street.

While I’m not one who normally swears, several exceptionally ugly swear words bubbled up.  (If the man on the ground didn’t understand English then certainly I didn’t offend him, right?)

In the meantime, I asked to see the chemical used to clean their pruning tools and gee, they didn’t seem to know where it was initially, but finally found it in the back of their truck.  Were they using it?  I have strong doubts.  How did they apply it from such a big bottle?  I didn’t see a spray bottle or a dipping bucket anywhere. Why wasn’t the chemical out? Where was the pruning paint?

The company’s supervisor finally showed up.  I explained I didn’t get a flyer and didn’t see why they were cutting my tree.  He implied I was lying about not receiving a flyer so I ran to my neighbor’s yard and had him tell the supervisor personally, “No, she didn’t get a flyer so she asked to look at mine.”

I will meet with the tree company’s arborist tomorrow, but I doubt anything he says will change what I think.  He works for the company.  He needs his job.  He has a bias.

This company has a D+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They also have numerous complaints online including a negative Youtube video someone created about them.  My guess is the electric company picked the tree pruning company based on a low bid.

In looking this evening at the cuts they’ve made to other trees in the neighborhood, I see lots of cuts that were done incorrectly.  The angle at which one cuts off a tree limb and how far it’s cut from the trunk makes a big difference as to how or if a tree can heal itself.

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So…how did I make a fool of myself?

Well, I gave the tree company all of my contact information so their arborist could reach me.

And when I got back inside the house and on my computer 30 minutes later, I saw a tree-related email, and I responded to the company letting them have it will both gun barrels blasting.

The company’s name starts with “AS” and I added an extra “S” after the first “S” in addressing them and said this additional letter was not a misspelling. I mentioned their D+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and all of their online complaints from customers.  I told them I didn’t believe they were using any chemicals (disinfectants) to clean their tools.  I told them that if my tree declined or died within the next 5 years I would be like the oak wilt beetle and crawl somewhere where they didn’t want me to crawl.  I said I was pissed and not likely to become un-pissed anytime soon.  I then hit “SEND”.

You realize once you press “SEND” (at least for the average person), you can’t press “UNSEND”?

A few minutes later, I had an OMG moment because….the email I’d received was not from the “AS_”tree pruning company.  Nope.  It was from the very kind and helpful Texas A&M University forestry person.  Oh, why was I so stupid?  Why didn’t I pay attention?  I saw the word “tree” and saw red as the old saying goes.

I immediately sent a heartfelt apology and an “I am SO SORRY and embarrassed” email to the Texas A&M person.  He responded kindly and said he understood why I was upset.  Thank goodness.  And now I can sort of laugh at my mistake.

Calm, positive, emotionally mature, & creative blog posts are forthcoming.  This just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed, but in a Good Way (Garden to-do list)

Let me start by letting you know most of my photos in this post aren’t as good as they could be. I’ve no idea why, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.

If you garden, you know how spring is. It brings on a lot all at once…green buds and blooms, weeds and more weeds, new plants to buy, seeds to plant, dead plants to dig up, plants to trim, and so forth.  I’m living on the “planet of spring” right now, and my to-do list is a mile long.  (For you who still have cold weather, spring is coming to your doorstep so that you can be overwhelmed too. It’s just a bit delayed for you.)

I type this with blue paint-covered hands having just painted the little cart you see below.  This cart is the one I will use to hold free plants in my front yard when the time comes. (Scratched off of my to-do list.)

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I also planted a peach tree  (photo below) yesterday. I am extremely excited about this particular tree.  It’s a Bonanza II, a genetic dwarf.  I drove an hour and twenty minutes to pick it up as I couldn’t buy it locally.  A lot of research went into deciding this was the peach tree for me.  Deciding factors were 1) I have limited space & sun for a tree, 2) It grows well in north Texas, 3) It’s small enough for me to easily prune, plus I can cover it with netting to keep the birds and squirrels off of it.  (Also scratched off of my list of things to do.)

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Below is my dead Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hamelin’ – Dwarf Fountain Grass.  I have another dead one just like it that needs to be pulled up. (Item #1 on my new to-do list.)  What a drag! I can’t seem to get ornamental grasses to grow well for me.

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In contrast to the dead fountain grass, this little native sedge (Carex texenis) below is growing gang-busters.   I didn’t plant it, but it grows all over the yard. It reminds me of a little of a rabbit’s tail.  Pam Penick blogs about Carex texenis in this post: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=15271   She likes it too.

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Need some weeds?  I have plenty to share with you.  Every time I bend over in the backyard, I’ve made it a habit to pull a weed.  Of course, that’s not enough.  I need to get out there and spend a day at it.  (#2 on my to-do list.)  I’ll let you use your imagination as to what my weeds look like.

What you are looking at below is a circular planting of what I think are daffodils (along with weeds) that have never bloomed since I moved here.  The biggest mystery about these daffs isn’t what color they might be if they bloomed, but rather why anyone would plant them in the middle of the yard directly in the path to the shed.  Makes no sense.  I need to dig them up and move them.  (Added to my to-do list as #3.)

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Below is my dead-on-arrival RazzMatazz grape purchased from Gurney’s, a mail order nursery. Gurney’s had a sale so I paid half price.  I am so very disappointed.  I knew it was dead when I opened the box.  The roots were dry, and the branches were not supple.  Never-the-less, I soaked it and planted it as instructed.  I’m just waiting until March 22nd, (30 days) when I can call Gurney’s (To-do item #4) and ask for a refund.  I’m pretty certain they will ask me to take a credit, but I don’t want one.  I want my money back.

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Finished painting the shelf made into a tuteur (below) and have it ready for a vine, but I have second thoughts regarding growing the star/confederate jasmine I already have on it. Confederate jasmine gets pretty big and truly needs an arbor or fence.  I’ll have to find or grow another vine for it.

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And finally, one last project I need to work on. (Photo below.) I went to a preview of our town’s local auction last Sunday and saw this iron table set.  I’ve been wanting an outdoor table set to create a seating area on my ugly concrete slab in the backyard.

Despite the rust, the set appeared in fairly good shape with the exception of one chair missing an arm.  I placed an absentee bid because I had things to do, and felt sure I wouldn’t win.  My bid was extremely low.  Well, what do you know?  They called me and told me to come pick it up.  (The auction staff hinted the auction didn’t go well because no one bid high on anything.)  Now I need to scrape the old paint off, put a phosphoric acid rust inhibitor like this one on it, and then paint it.   (To-do list item #5)

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I will end this post with a question…Do you think gardening is an addiction?

I was talking to one of my daughters about how many people I know my age who have substance addictions.  (No judgment here.)  I told her I felt like the odd one out.

Her response was that we all have flaws and that my addictions happen to be gardening and houses.  (She has a degree in sociology.)  So, what do you think?  Fifty years ago, gardening wouldn’t be considered an addiction. I never thought of it as a real addiction, but maybe it is?  Your opinion is welcomed.

Keeping a Garden Journal

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Even though I’ve been a gardener since about 1995, I didn’t keep a garden journal until I moved to this house two years ago.

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Journaling has helped me as I’m likely to forget things such as:

  • where I’ve purchased certain plants,
  • what was planted when and where,
  • the plants I’ve tried – with and without success,
  • what’s been watered or fertilized and what product was USED to fertilize,
  • what I’ve tried soil-wise, mulch-wise, etc and what worked and what didn’t,
  • when it last rained and how much,
  • the temps (highs & lows) for the season,
  • other interesting things that aren’t necessarily blog-worthy that go on in a garden.

I’ve even written a nature-focused poem or two in my journal, just because I felt like it.

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The garden journal, at least for me, is a way to track the more mundane or even personal stuff in the garden.

As an added benefit, I find journaling relaxes me.  I can be candid in my journals about the plant stuff I like (my roses, Wayside Nursery, Pandora’s Box, the Anderson County Master Gardeners, garden blogs) and dislike (not so fond of Gurney’s right now and cutworms are on my BIG hit list).

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As you can see, I also enjoy doodling/sketching.  I don’t pretend to have any talent with drawing (most doodles are two-dimensional), but it feels good to do it.  Some drawings come out better than others.

To date, I’ve gone through three garden journals, which consist of a spiral notebook and two bound journal books.  Although I want the journals to look good, I also don’t want to pay much for them because after all, they are only garden journals and the only one who sees them is me. The journals I’ve used were either free or under $7.

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While I do number the pages, I won’t lie, there is no concrete organization to these journals.  Because of this, I sometimes have to dig through quite a few pages to locate certain information.

Journal entries range from daily to weekly to every two weeks depending on what I’m doing and my mood.

I realize not everyone has the time or inclination to keep a garden journal, but it is working for me so far.

We shall Overcome (Lawn Mowing)

It was supposed to rain today starting at noon.  Yesterday, I looked at my backyard and realized it was time for a mow, but I didn’t have the time.  I thought I‘d have to wait awhile as the forecast called for rain not only today but over the next 2 days. When noon appeared and my neighbor’s mow & blow crew were whizzing and mowing away in her yard, I decided I’d mow after all.

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Above:  Neighbor’s pristine lawn after the mow & blow folks were gone.

My mower, housed in the shed, hasn’t seen grass or weeds since last September.  That’s an entire 6 months of inactivity. I’ve learned that when a mower sits, it can get cranky and may not feel like doing much work. The gas in my gas can had also been sitting just as long.  Never-the-less, I decided to give it a go.

I assume you probably mow. How did you learn?  Did your daddy or your brother welcome you into the lawn mowing fold?  Or were you one of the lucky ones who was just born mowing?—If so, kudos!  Or maybe you don’t mow?  That’s okay too.

My father left when I was two, and my mother always hired her mowing out.  Thus, I learned to mow by necessity, the hard way.

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Above:  Side yard of the Kolstad Inn Bed & Breakfast (across the street from me) where they do their own mowing, raking, mulching, & edging.  Looks good to me!

My very first mow happened using my uncle’s reel mower.  I was 14, and had just begun to live with my aunt and uncle in Holland when my uncle asked me to mow.  I was willing, and the yard was not large.

I did what I thought was a good job, but apparently, my uncle watched me from an upstairs window, and when the task was complete told me I was slow and did not mow with much enthusiasm.  My feelings were hurt, but I didn’t say anything.  Maybe he didn’t know this was my first mow, unlike his children who had been mowing since they were toddlers.

If someone said what my uncle said to me now as an adult, I’d ask them, “Just exactly who do you know that mows with a lot of enthusiasm?”

My big-time experience mowing occurred as a single parent when I rented a small house and needed to mow the lawn.

For this, I located a secondhand lawnmower business and purchased a mower.  The patient shop owner showed me the various parts of my push mower, how to start the mower, where to put in the gas and the oil and so forth. I was on my way.  I was proud.  Too bad my uncle couldn’t see me mow now!  Later, even big-bellied with my second child, I still mowed.  Woo-hoo!

When my husband was living, most of the time he mowed.  He had less experience mowing than I did, but lawn-mowing for whatever reason, is usually delegated to the male of the house.  (I know one of my female neighbors in Austin wouldn’t know one end of a lawnmower from the other as her husband is the Big Cheese Grand Pooba Mower in their family.)

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Above: Bags of grass given to me by the owners of the Kolstad Inn for my compost pile.  Life is sweet!

After my husband became terminal, he still tried to mow, but couldn’t.  He was left panting for air from the excursion.  He told me then I should hire someone to mow and that there was ample money available for this.  He never knew the true cost of hiring someone to mow since we’d always done it ourselves.

I didn’t try to hire a lawn mowing service until after my husband passed.  We lived on 2/3rds acres and mowing the yard with a push mower sometimes took me all of a weekend in spring and summer.  Eventually, I wore out and called a mowing company for a bid.  Their proposal came in at $200 for the front yard and $200 for the back. They wanted me to sign a contract to pay $400 a visit to mow every two weeks for the spring and summer.

I was shocked.

Someone suggested I find a local kid to mow and I did, but even his price of $150. (front & back) seemed high, plus it was obvious he didn’t have the maturity necessary to do the job.   Thus, I continued to mow myself.

Back to the here & now.

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Above:  Meet Marilyn Push Mower.  She has a Briggs and Stratton engine and is willing to eat tall weeds.

Today, I pulled out my mower, shook the gas can, added gas, checked the oil, pressed the push button starter three times, and pulled the handle attached to the cord.  Silence. My lawnmower, indeed, was cranky.  I’d neglected her for six months, and she wasn’t talking to me.  Relationships require good communication, you know.

I pulled three more times.  Silence.  I pressed the push button starter again and decided to seduce “her” with a little love and a few incentives.

I waited a bit, then said, “Come on darling!” (Pulled the cord.)  “Come on baby!”  (Pulled the cord.) “Come on sweetheart, just this one time!” (Pulled the cord.)  “Come on cutie pie!” (Pulled the cord and vroooommmmmm, we were off!”

If your mower is female, try a little sweet talk, and she might respond.  (Of course, I also had to make all of these promises to her such as buying her a new spark plug, changing her oil, sharpening her blade, and washing her filter.  I thought buying her new wheels last year would be enough, but obviously not.  You know how women are.  Well, I do anyway since I am one.)

I could tell you more about my long and rocky relationship with mechanical garden and lawn tools, but you might not like it.

I once wrote three different weed-eater stories including one called “Weed-Eater Wet Dreams” and another about a weed-eater murder for submission to Stihl to win $200 worth of equipment.

While I thought my stories were funny, and yes, one was bit sexual (but then again I was newly widowed), Stihl was NOT amused.  Murder and weed-eater fantasies aren’t appropriate fare for Stihl’s public image.

I *think* the guy who won found a 40 year old Stihl product in the woods buried under the snow on top of a mountain and after some clean up, it still worked.  Show off!