it almost rained

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “The Fast Learner”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in  a characteristic pose.I know, super cute. It comes naturally.

You can see the stain on the carpet near the door; the guy I live with said he was “semi-resigned” to having to work on it every few days. I think it’s a pretty boring subject. But I guess this is what his retirement has turned into. Cleaning the carpet, and staring at the floor. The funny thing is that the guy I live with actually likes doing both of those things.

And the other day he went to the paint store with a piece of paint scraped from the garage door. The door has had some kaolin-based primer on it for several months. What the neighbors thought, I don’t know, but there are weirder things than that going on in other yards, so, whatever, I guess. Anyway, one of the people who works there helped him match the color exactly, and so he painted most of the door, and decided that he’s going to paint the whole house again. He loves to paint.

Some gardening took place today. The first garden-related thing was that he realized the aster in the previous post wasn’t ‘Alma’ but instead it was ‘Septemberrubin’, or, if you insist, ‘September Ruby’. There used to be tons of New England asters here but most of them were given away. The beautiful pure white, ‘Chilly Winds’, is flowering in his friend’s garden. This is the time of year when the garden starts to come to life again, after a dreary summer like this one has been, and he always regrets not having enough asters and other autumn-flowering plants. Some need too much watering to be good garden plants here, but others do well.

Then a plant of Salvia greggii, which wilted every single day, was dug up and given the once-over. The root ball was mostly peat moss, dry and hard as a rock. You can see that some roots have been growing out of the root ball, but this plant has been in the ground for several years, so this was totally unacceptable. It certainly explained the wilting. It was repotted, and the rather minimalist border on the west side of the house, where it was growing (and wilting) was spruced up, some. The milk can was moved from the north border. I think it looks better here. The French scare cat in the lower left is just there because it isn’t anywhere else. That’s a big, non-wilting Salvia greggii in the lower center. It isn’t flowering because it’s been so dry. Then it almost rained. Some locust pods were raked up; there was a bit of tidying, and then it really started to thunder. I had to hide in my fort.The guy I live with looked at the weather page online and it said something about a “significant weather event”, complete with hail, which was headed our way.  At this time of year. There was a great deal of colorful language in the house.

But, as often happens, the storm dissipated just as it moved over the foothills. We don’t really live on the plains, more like nestled among rolling hills and mesas. The plains do begin just a bit to the east of us, though.

It rained for about ten minutes. Not enough to penetrate down to roots, but it was still nice.You can see our tomato plant in the lower left. There are even tomatoes on it. I don’t eat tomatoes. One tomato ripened on the vine, and the guy I live with started talking about tomato and cheese sandwiches, but a squirrel bit into the tomato an hour or so before the guy I live with was going to pick it. You can imagine what he said about the squirrel. And the tomato.

The rain wasn’t enough to perk up all the cow-pen daisies growing in what used to be a lawn, but is just now a bunch of plants. I guess, if you’re the kind of person that notices things, like I certainly am, you’ll notice the solar lantern is back on its post. It doesn’t work. The post looked dumb with nothing hanging from it. The guy I live with said the solar panels were “shot”. The plastic covering on the little panels wore away over the years and now the sun can’t recharge the batteries in the lamp. So it’s just there, the way so many things here are. The mulleins, on the right, definitely need to be cut down. They’re Verbascum densiflorum, if you were wondering. After dinner, there was a walk that needed to be gone on. So we went.

It was pretty uneventful, though there were some of those powered hang gliders flying around.I watched them for quite some time. It isn’t something I’d want to try, but it’s pretty interesting watching them.We stopped to look at some red ants, too. The guy I live with said I should call them “harvester ants” instead of “red ants”, even though they are red.The gravel around abandoned red–sorry, harvester ant piles makes a superior mulch for seed pots and even troughs, if it’s washed first, so there aren’t the trillion weed seeds that usually come with “wild-collected gravel”.

So that was my day. Partly interesting, partly scary, partly fun, partly instructive. 

Until next time, then.



Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

next to nothing

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “Nothing Again Nothing”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically horticultural pose.The guy I live with was planting some lavenders in the North Border, which is what this is. If it looks sort of empty, that’s because, so someone says, a certain puppy (not sure who that might be) wiped out most of the plants here when he first showed up at the house and discovered squirrels. Squirrels are interesting and need to be chased, if you didn’t know.

This is an extremely hot and dry part of the yard, with awful soil, and so we’re not sure why the aster ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ (to be super precise about the name) looks so good. But it does. Usually asters like this get all wilty when it’s too dry for them.

Here’s a picture, similar to the hundred others just like it that have been posted here, of the view to the west, looking down the path. You can see the aster, flowering away. In the lower right are the leaves of the ‘Grace’ smokebush he planted there some years ago. It’s had a rough life, but maybe the roots have finally left the root ball and grown into the surrounding soil. It’s been incredibly dry here in the last few weeks, but even so, the guy I live with decided to plant all the lavenders, and then water them a lot. I understand there’s been quite a bit of watering going on while I’ve been at Day Care, playing with my friends.

You can see that the roots of the lavenders did leave the root balls, using the “super genius” method. It’s been so dry here that the guy I live with said he wouldn’t mind if it snowed. I know, right? Ordinarily he would never say something like that, but that’s how dry it’s been. And extremely dark, with clouds almost all the time. It isn’t going to snow, because even though in the past it snowed in September pretty often, things seem to have changed. It might not snow, or rain, for that matter, until some time in December. Rain would be nice, though.

Speaking of roots …. You may have noticed that I’ve been gone for rather a long time. Longer than usual. It wasn’t because of the carpet stains; I mean, the guy I live with didn’t have to be taken away to a home because of the stains. He bought a couple of commercial carpet cleaning sprays and tried one. It worked pretty well, so that only a little work is left to do, but it had such an awful smell to it that it almost drove the guy I live with right up the wall. The guy I live with detests almost all chemical fragrances and this one, I guess, was really icky.

No, it wasn’t that. The sewer drain got clogged up. The guy I live with called a plumber, but had to wait a whole day, which was okay, really, because he’s always liked this company, but he almost went completely crazy worrying about it. The sewer line was snaked and it was tree roots blocking the line. There aren’t any trees, like big shade trees, in the front yard, so the guy I live with suspected that it was the tree across the street which was the culprit. Or a tree growing somewhere else. That can happen, I guess.

And then, remember all the smoke in the air? The air cleared up, so some of his neighbors decided it would be a good time to …..burn wood. It’s legal to burn wood, like in a fire pit, but then the smoke comes into our house, because of the fans cooling off the house, and the guy I live with gets annoyed. (That’s about the biggest understatement I can make.)

I fear, because of that, he might be turning into a cranky senior citizen. He does have a cane, which was his dad’s, and which he refers to as an “ashplant” (like in Joyce, you know), which he could go around shaking at people, yelling that his right to cool off his house outweighs the right to burn wood (it does, by the way) and stuff like that, but instead we just stay up, and hope the smoke has cleared by the time we go to bed. I of course go to bed much earlier, but I participate in the bedtime ritual by being awakened, going outside, and then coming back in, for bed. I get all tucked in, in my Upstairs Fort, with my Lamb Chop. It’s really cozy there.

I tore up my Lamb Chop toy the other evening (I couldn’t help myself), and so I got a brand new one that evening. I hope there’s an endless supply of Lamb Chops….

Sometimes, with all the darkness and no rain, the guy I live with gets into a brown study. Probably most people do. I know I do, sometimes. (Not very often.) If you’ve read Sherlock Holmes, you know about brown studies. This is the book he reads, when that happens. I don’t think pictures of this have been posted before.He says, and I guess I have to take his word for it, that in some ways this is one of the most remarkable books written by this author. It’s about trees, in the landscape (as I guess you can tell), but not about “the landscape” as we Americans would think of it, but rather how to create a pleasant picture, or view, in a planted landscape, which I guess most of them in Britain are.

The photographs are utterly delightful. (The guy I live with says the printing by Jonathan Cape has the most color photographs.) This is the kind of book where you sort of skim over it, then re-read parts, then other parts, and stare at the photographs, and the compare the before and after pictures, over and over.

This was an ex-library book that he bought online. It had a special owner, previously. A very special owner indeed.Well, I guess that’s all. To recap, the guy I live with has been reading, very slowly, doing some gardening, thinking about plumbing, wood smoke, and trees in a planted landscape like we don’t have here. And it would be nice if we had some rain. Mist and drizzle would be really nice, but those things hardly ever happen here. They used to, I’m told, but not any more.

I’ll leave you with another horticulturally-oriented picture of me.

Until next time, then.


Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments