Showing posts with label bamboo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bamboo. Show all posts

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Just a girl with a nail gun

This spring I actually experienced spring fever for the first time in many years. I felt itchy to get in the garden and I purchased prolific amounts of plants via mail order and local nurseries. Our dog and her friends ran roughshod over the garden and I didn’t even care because the seal was broken and I! was! buying! everything!

I grew sweet peas (‘April in Paris’) for the first time and, holy shit, people, those smell as good as everyone says they do. I got my new plant babies in the ground in a timely fashion! I kept thinking, "This is my year. I'm going to stay on top of weeds and for once I won't be embarrassed to have people over."

Then I had to travel to California a bunch of times and then the weather turned hot and my brain and body lost all of their go-go. Oxalis covered everything and Greg would helpfully ask, "Do you think you should do something about that?" and I would glare at him and return to melting in front of the garden mister.

This was not my year. I didn't stay up on weeding. That said, I did achieve a couple of things. I replaced the rotting fence between us and our newest neighbors. They are delightful but they smoke constantly and they have a clear view of our yard from the raised deck off the back of their house. So we asked if we could replace the fence and foot the bill. I disassembled the old fence and built the new one in three hours one Sunday morning while Greg was gone because NAIL GUNS ARE AWESOME. 



Weirdos from Craigslist took the old boards for reuse and I drank two cocktails at a tiki bar and took an epic four hour nap. The fence is now seven feet tall, which should also help block the view of our backyard from the three-story condos that were recently built at the end of our block. 

I also reorganized our garage, which looked like the touchdown site of a tornado. Our garage is long and skinny and full of junk. It looks like the inside of my purse but dirtier and with more things that draw blood. The previous owner, a paranoid mess who wrapped every heat register in the house in tin foil (so the government can't listen in on you), installed a useless shelf with a gigantic mirror tilted back. 

See, I don't need safety measures like mirrors to know if someone is sneaking up on me because I left 900 nursery pots at the entrance of the garage. There's a pile of styrofoam you can fall on, too.

We finally took the mirror down, demoed the shelf, and removed a weird cabinet in the corner that we used to store spiders.

We moved our metal shelves to the back and I built a potting table, modified from this video I found on YouTube. Men have largely convinced women that we'll kill ourselves if we use power tools but it turns out building stuff isn’t that hard and its super fun.

Then I added hanging storage to the walls and now sometimes I just stand in my garage and coo in this general direction. As my mother always says, "Simple minds = simple pleasures."

Next up we’re having the yellow bamboo that came with the house removed. It has been terribly behaved, sending rhizomes through the root balls of neighboring plants, at a shocking speed. It leaves culm litter everywhere and it sucks. WHY IS THIS THE BAMBOO HOME DEPOT SELLS EVERYONE? In its place I'm planting Chusqea culeou, which is a true clumper that shouldn't be quite so messy.

Next year is going to be my year, I can just feel it. I'm going to stay on top of weeds and for once I won't be embarrassed to have people over. And I will buy a lot of plants, that I know is true.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Agita in the garden

My elderly next-door neighbor recently went into assisted living and her grand-niece sold her home to some friends who want to start a business flipping homes. I'm very relieved that the home isn't going to fall into developer hands, which would result in the house being torn down and replaced with two or three skinny houses. This is happening all over Portland right now and I hope the developers responsible get shunted to the really humid part of hell. No dry heat for you!

This weekend the flippers, in their infinite wisdom, removed all but two of the mature (mostly native) shrubs in the back yard and limbed up the Doug fir. And because they decided to have some beers on the back deck afterward I realized that we no longer have any privacy between our two yards. This was my view:

Fun fact: if you google "jerkface" this weightlifter's mug pops up.

I was trying to work in the yard but the fact that I could see these guys and they could see me got me all worked up. I was practically hissing at them and I think I had a tiny stroke when one of the guys tried to engage me by yelling, "Hey, gardener!"


Greg got home and I informed him that we needed to erect some sort of blind and also I wanted to move to the country so we wouldn't have to have neighbors. Back in the glory days, this was the view of this area:

My garden looks like shit but it's private!

Nice canopy cover, lots of mature shrubs perfectly obscuring that area. Those shrubs (one a flowering quince) weren't just trimmed this weekend, they were completely removed. So they won't grow back to obscure the area.

I went into burn it down! mode and decided that not only did we need a screen right there right now but we needed to make a point while we did it. So I headed out to Bamboo Craftsman and explained my problem. He steered me toward Green Temple bamboo (Semiarundinaria fastuosa 'Viridis'). This is a tall bamboo that is very erect, with most of the fullness at the top. You can read more here. It's excellent for tall, narrow screening. It fills in quickly and thickly.

The best part is that the plants I bought are already tall enough that they'll screen out that area immediately.

We've knocked out the little pony wall that used to have a gate attached to it. I liked having it there but Greg wanted to remove it to open up the entrance to the garden. I liked the slow reveal.

It's gone now. You win, Greg.

The plan is to install a stock tank here (it'll be ready for pickup on Wednesday) and soften the area in front with pots and grasses.

Behold my MS Paint skills!

Any advice on making this look not-dumb is welcome. I want my garden to say, "Welcome to my garden! Unless I haven't specifically invited you; then you can get the hell out!" I need my quiet space.

More to come once we get everything installed!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The boy is earning his keep

I took off on Sunday to see an HPSO open garden (that Loree covered here) and couldn't convince Greg to go with me, which is crazy because he really would've liked it. When I got back he said, "I made a change in the backyard." Those words always make me nervous.



After we put the bamboo in the stock tank it dramatically turned yellow (Laurrie says it was pulling its energy into root reformation), a few of the culms died, and then it greened up again. I hit it with fish emulsion last week and it responded by sending up new culms. We still had a bare section in the middle of the tank so Greg dug up the last of the in-ground bamboo and got it in the tank, after removing the dead stalks.

I've never known how two-gardener households landscape without killing each other. I *might* be able to do it if it involved more surprises like this. I think we need a second stock tank now, no?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Well, crap.

I think my transplanted bamboo is in shock. It's turning yellow and some of the culms have died.

I'm hoping it's just sulking and that it will survive. July probably wasn't the best time to put it to the test, but I'm keeping it well watered and it hasn't been crazy hot. I'm hoping the yellowed culms will rebound just like the other transplanted plants I've fretted about this summer. 

The oakleaf hydrangea that I moved was sulky for a good month or so and now it's blooming, something it rarely did in its old spot. I think it's going to be much, much happier here.

The blacklace elderberry I moved has completely recovered and I expect it should enjoy the extra space and  lessened competition. Now I just need to plant something contrasting behind it so you can actually see it.

Has anyone had their bamboo turn yellow and recover? Is this a lost cause?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Operation Move Everything Three Feet to the Left

So. That poorly behaved clump of bamboo. 

We cleared the giant dirt pile from in front of it and headed to Burns Feed Store in Gresham for a stock tank to contain it. A woman behind the counter asked if we needed help.

Yeah, I need one of those galvanized stock tanks.
(Sighs) Are you going to use it as a planter?
(Barely controls rolling her eyes) Are you going to put bamboo in it?

I know this combo is popular but I didn't realize it had become so trite. I had spent the whole ride over talking about how awful the city of Gresham is, so it stung to feel so uncool (though she was nice, otherwise). Well played, people of Gresham.

I also felt stupid because I didn't think it would be that bad getting the bamboo out of the ground. I'd just dig around the base and then I'd pop it out, like I was opening a jar or something. Despite the fact that it just stopped raining in Portland, the ground was hard as a rock. It kind of makes me wonder if that giant dirt pile wasn't blocking all the water from reaching the bamboo, causing it to send out runners in search of moisture.

The root ball was a dense, tangled mess that was reinforced by metal bars that someone had driven into the ground, I guess at the time of planting. I worked at it for a couple of hours with a shovel and a hose until Greg stepped in and said, "This needs a pickax."

He spent about 15 minutes with the pickax and got a trench burrowed around the root ball. He went off to play soccer and I pulled out the wood saw and started hacking off chunks. Then I hung on for dear life, rocking the sawed portion back and forth, cascading SPIDERS, OF MY GOD SPIDERS all around me until the chunk broke off.

You know what would have helped when filling this planter? All that dirt we hauled away a few weekends back. I wish I thought these things out better.

I didn't pack the bamboo in there, so this will have a chance to fill in (assuming it survives) and I won't have to thin it for a few years. It now blocks my neighbor's kitchen widow, which will be important when we build the deck off the back of the house.

I'm toying with getting a second feed trough for the rest of the bamboo. This planting area needs to stay narrow, because this will be the pathway around the deck and through the side yard and into the front.

I'd love to put Tetrapanax in a second stock tank (I'm just copying everything that's in Loree's yard at this point) but I think it might get too wide, making it difficult to get through here. Or maybe I just don't want to deal with the derision at Burns Feed Store. I hate feeling unhip.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Garden oopses

Some of the garden bloggers out there talk about GOOPs. No, not the newsletters from a delusional celebrity suggesting you purchase a $2600 purse for "your summer leisure time." These are gardening oopses. I had a couple of noteworthy ones this summer.

First, I planted this cucumber in the corner of the bed, hoping it would, I don't know, grow obediently along the ground or something? Levitate in the air?

Instead the cucumber sprawled like an insolent drunk, belligerently growing wherever it wanted. Into the pathway . . .

. . . onto the tomato cages . . .

. . . through the herbs, trampling the chard . . .

. . . and clinging to the retaining wall.

And then it got powdery mildew and died but the tendrils stayed strong, making it almost impossible to remove them until the tomato cages came out this weekend. Also, we had to wire the tomato cages together because I planted them too closely together and the plants got too big and started to fall over. Cleaning that all up was super fun.

Remember when I planted fennel in a victory barrel so it would do something like this? 

Yeah, fennel likes sun, so when I planted it on the north side of my garage, which lies in shade all day, it grew sideways. 

That's just sad. Weeds took over this summer and the old lady annuals died and it looked awful. But I left it alone to feed the pollinators, not because I was lazy!

Also dead? A flowering currant that I moved 600 times, relegated to a pot, then forgot to water.

I'm going to give this bamboo a try instead. It should top out at eight feet and it doesn't mind shade.

And then I shall never make a gardening mistake again! [Cue the Internet to inform me that bamboo kills children and pollinators.]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thwarted by fences

Remember this fence?  The one that defines the boundary between our properties but provides no privacy?

It was patched with chicken wire and chain link, I'm guessing to stop a dog from burrowing underneath it.

So in, oh, eleven thousand spots someone had attached the chain link with twisted bits of wire wrapped around screws in the fence.

This is a stupid way to secure a fence.

So I had to climb behind the shrubs (like the rhododendron) that had been planted *right next to the fence* and find all the places it was attached and untwist the wire so it would release.  I had this brilliant idea to cover this fence in bamboo screens to provide more privacy.  I bought one section and labored to squeeze it past the rhododendron and the bamboo.

Isn't it so private now?  I'm going to try adding a second layer of bamboo to see if that helps, but I'm not very confident it will.  WHY CAN NOTHING BE EASY?