Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rules I have flouted, grasses I have loved

If there are two things I should've learned by now, they would include:

  1. Short plants go in front and tall plants go in the back.
  2. Read the plant tags (and then count on them getting bigger).

When I asked Scott to help me design my meadow he gave me these really great plant lists and three different planting schemes but I went sort of off-script and then I forgot about the two bullet points above. I planted little bluestem grasses (Schizachyrium scoparium 'Blue Heaven') right in the front of the meadow, thinking they'd stay two feet tall even though the tag clearly said they'd get four feet tall (and because this is Portland they'll probably grow to six).

So while the grasses were beautiful, they were obscuring the lovely fountaining of the Pennisetum 'Redhead' just behind them and generally looking inappropriate for front and center placement. And they were straight up hiding the Panicum 'Shenandoah.' They're in there, I swear.

So I relocated them to the back of the meadow. I'm hoping they'll continue to bulk up and I'll get a nice color block there. Even with their smaller stature I'm enjoying them in their new location.

And now Pennisetum 'Redhead' can really strut her stuff.

It's hard to tell, but there's a ribbon of Sedum 'Matrona' along the front of the bed. Hopefully that will bulk up next summer, too.

I am a little concerned that the little bluestems won't get enough sun next summer at the back of the bed. "Right plant, right place" has also been a hard one to learn. What other rules of thumb can I ignore next? Plant in groups of odd numbers, work the diagonals, never wake a sleep walker . . . what else?

Of course, all I can see when I'm in the front garden is Muhlenbergia rigens. I am so head over heels for this grass right now.

After its brief foray into bondage with the insulation installation, I decided to move it toward the front door. Greg didn't like the way it reached out and tickled him when he'd walk up the driveway (it's kinky, what can I say).

Because I'm a dick I moved it right in front of the outside faucet (M. rigens up! your! nose! every time you turn on the hose!). This grass can tolerate a lot of manhandling (especially after the bondage) so it will still look nice even if I drag the hose over it again and again. Or step on it to get to the faucet.

I've thought about getting bee hives but who knows what it would do with the hot wax?

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's mushroom season!

Ask me how I know.

Our wood chip pathway has gotten totally overrun with them.

The six inches of rain we got in September has turned our backyard into a terrifying fungal lab experiment. If only they were edible! "Do you like your lasagna? We harvested the mushrooms from under the Sedum 'Autumn Joy.' The mushrooms in the salad came from the walkway." Ick.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Very funny

I picked up a Begonia luxurians at the end of summer at Cistus for a few dollars, knowing it wouldn't get to spend much time outside before it had to come in for the winter.

Greg discovered that the smaller desiccated leaves look like spiders and he thought it would be hilarious to leave one on the floor, call me into the room, then point it out.

Guys, if Alfred Hitchcock had been in the room with me he would've offered me a contract on the spot. I don't think I've ever screamed like that before. I'm tempted to leave one on Greg's pillow but I know that I'll see it, forget what it is, and scare myself all over again.

The upshot is that I had to give a big presentation at work the next morning and I had not a drop of adrenaline left in my body to make me nervous. But still, revenge must happen. Ideas?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Done and done.

Well, our insulation is in. It was very stressful. And messy. Between weeks of the electrician and this project, I'd like to never have a sweaty man in my attic again.

The attic before

I've learned a lot from this whole project:
  • I shouldn't schedule big projects for the summer. Because I am the type of person who can only focus on one thing at a time, this project (and worrying about it) usurped everything else from July onward. I didn't enjoy my garden this summer because I was worried about it getting trampled. I couldn't blog, read blogs, or focus on anything fun because there was fretting to do!
  • I shouldn't be in the house when projects like this are going on. It's better for everyone if I just go into the office instead of working from home and stressing the whole time.
  • If you are working from home, the workmen will use their radar to sense which room you're taking a conference call in, then work directly above you with as much hammering and boom-boxing as possible. Don't try to change locations, they'll just follow you. Loudly. It reminded me of this McSweeney's piece, "An Imaginary Conversation Between the Construction Workers Upstairs From Me."

We did the insulation in two parts: the attic and crawlspaces in September and the walls in October. I wanted to hold off on the walls as long as possible because I had to remove all the plants around the foundation of the house.

The first snafu came immediately. I'd been given a number of different options by Neil Kelly, one that included removing all of the old insulation from the attic. I chose this option because we had so much debris in the attic from when the last roof was installed. It seemed like a fire hazard and I wanted a clean slate. 

The problem? They sent me the contract that didn't include removal and neither of us noticed. So they didn't schedule the guys to do it and my financing didn't include it. I really didn't want to redo my financing and put up with that awful man at Umpqua Bank condescending to me. Neil Kelly came down on the price a little bit but I still had to come up with $1200 on the spot.

But I had a nice clean attic for one morning.

I hope we never need to access any wires in the attic because everything is buried in 18 inches of pink stuff.

The wall insulation required that they remove the siding, drill a hole in each bay, then shoot insulation into it.

In the kitchen the old fan in the ceiling was removed.

And patched.

And I sold the old Pryne Blo Fan on eBay. For $26. Oh well.

And now we have a practically normal looking kitchen ceiling.

There were some other mishaps during installation, like a broken window and an orange soda spilled all over the basement walls and carpet, which required a visit from a carpet cleaner. There was a nicked wire that required an electrician visit. All of these things are normal course-of-work things and they were fixed. My only beef at this point with the whole process was that contract issue.

On the outside wall of the dining room, where I removed the electrical panel, there's the old access box. We have proof that we're snug as a bug.

Now I can finally get to work on the important stuff: getting the thousand or so plants I bought between July and now in the ground. Whew.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just FYI

Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' doesn't appreciate being moved.

Oh, baby girl.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden bloggers' bloom day October 2013

 The blooms are in there somewhere.

How about the coloring on that dogwood?

I told the insulation installers that I would murder them if they harmed my babies so they staged my yard like a murder scene.

Touche, Neil Kelly. Touche. Be sure to check out real posts of real flowers at May Dream Gardens. Thank you, Carol!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall is here

I've pulled the tomatoes out of the ground and brought my tender plants inside. I made bolognese and Brussels sprouts for dinner. All I want to do is make chicken stock and roast vegetables. Fall is here and I welcome it with flannel-clad arms. Let's put on socks and talk about Oscar contenders and our favorite squash. 

I always said I'd never buy plants that couldn't survive the winter outside but then I went to Rare Plant Research this spring and caved. And then Ricki posted about her Opuntia microdasys 'Bunny Ears' and I had to have one. And then I needed, absolutely needed, an Agave 'Blue Glow' so I bought two. Then the flood gates had broken and I was like, f*ck it, I'm gonna buy a bunch of aeonium and sedum that aren't hardy to my zone. 

And you know what? I still have room inside! I could've bought way more tender stuff!

Mike the ceramic squirrel makes these guys feel like they're still outside

I could totally squeeze a few smaller pots here!

Everything is looking balanced and almost . . . planned. Next year I'm buying everything.

Thank goodness we don't have kids or cats. Danger, danger everywhere. Happy fall, y'all!