Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day Camp for Toddler Geese

Carl Brandt and his helper, Jacob, are rebuilding our dock.  The grass along our part of the lakeshore is the favorite restaurant of several families of Canada Geese.  So when builders put on waders and enter the water, I wonder if the geese consider them some kind of water fowl.

They started the project yesterday by exposing the joists and piers to see if they were usable.  They are.  The challenge is to convert the dock's wavy profile into something straight and level.  They've attached a band board on the left side, leveled it, and begun the work of attaching the joists to this new level.

The green stuff in the water is the first big bloom of algae.

The area they're working on will be the lower of two levels.  The area with floorboards still attached will be rebuilt somewhat higher, with a dock entrance that is wider than the dock.

As the men worked in the mid-afternoon, several new families of Canada geese brought their goslings onto my neighbor's back yard for what reminded me of day camp.  The local duck didn't know what to make of it!

The two farthest goslings are "Teen Youth Leaders."  They were the firstborn on our lake.  Two younger families are down there, but only one is visible, with six goslings.

When the parents saw me taking pictures, they all moved together onto our back yard and down to the lake shore about twenty feet away from the non-threatening work on the dock.

Trailing behind them came a family of five.  This is how the trailing adult prods the toddlers to keep a move on toward the water.

While the procession moved into the water, the workmen shifted their attention to the band board on the right side.

When they leveled the right band board, they found that the piers on the right side were five or six inches taller than on the left side.  They will cut off the excess and continue tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Still Life with Peonies

We grow a patch of peonies and irises off to the right side of our big daylily show in the back yard.  We bought some from Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery, selected because of "self-supporting" stems, and we added one or two over the past couple of years.  We have several of the whopper Itoh peonies, too.  They combine features of the woody tree peony and the more delicate standard varieties, and their flowers can be as wide as a salad plate.

The show is on now, and sometimes when you're up close, what you see can remind you of still life paintings you see in museums.

This is a peony named White Cap.  The white blossom behind it is a fabulous peony named Do Tell.

This is the massive plant of Do Tell that I planted as just a small thing from Song Sparrow Nursery in 2011, so this is the third season we've seen it in bloom, and this is a wowzer!  Here's a solo blossom of Do Tell.

I am thrilled by the appearance of peonies that can support their flowers.  Here is Itoh peony Yumi.

I bought this in a large container at one of the local nurseries.  I had planned to add one more each year but the plants are growing so well that the space is already maxed out.

Here is White Cape again, with Itoh peony Mikasa on the right.

Do Tell is in the background, and the small mound of little purple flowers to the right of Do Tell is a fabulous hardy geranium, Max Frei.

Up around our small patio, we planted an alternating pattern of Hosta First  Frost and the geranium Max Frei, which makes for a wonderful display of color and texture in the second half of May.

And here's some of the work ahead in the next couple of days, a living To-Do List.

There's a tray of yellow zinnias not in bloom next to a tray of unusual red portulacas, also not in bloom, a set of Johnson Blue geraniums for one of the berms, some Wooly Thyme for the berms, several sedums for Kathy's collection, and what-have-you.

Yesterday I went to Home Depot for another 12 Lariope starts and paused to inspect the vegetable offerings again.  We've been searching and searching for the San Marzano tomatoes.  They resemble the Italian Romas but are meatier and sweeter; the best for Italian dishes.  You can find Romas everywhere.  The name is easy.  You can't find San Marzanos almost ever.  Many nurserymen don't recognize the name.  It's not easy, so it won't sell like Roma sells.  But Home Depot does not select which varieties it will sell.  It buys a collection of veggies from some supplier, a big collection to suit all needs, and the latest shipment, which I browsed yesterday, included SAN MARZANOS!!

I also bought a pot of feathery Dill, a pot of purple Basil, a pot of green Basil, and four pots of Artichokes.  I already have four plants of Anaheim chilis in the garden, so the California theme, or the Italian theme, will expand!  There are three Basil plants in each pot, so I will divide each pot and plant the Basil plants several feet apart so they can grow into edible shrubbery!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Curves and Diagonals

We live on the shore of tiny Hidden Lake, on a property shaped like a wide slice of pie that slants down from the street to the water.  Our lot is downhill from our neighbors on either side, downhill from the neighbors across the street and beyond, so when it rains, much the water that doesn't soak down into the dense clay soil runs off into small drainage channels and into a larger drainage swale that cuts down through the left side of our lot.

Much of the water does NOT get to that swale, though, so the primary strategic need of landscaping here is to manage the flows of all that water "on the run."  The aim is to convert regular washout catastrophes into occasional annoyances.

Here is a diagonal swale we made in the lawn when we saw how storm water found its way from the rain spouts on garage side of the house down to the lake.  Our contractor laid pipes to carry the outflow from the rain gutters under the lawn to a discharge point just below the feet of the bird bath.  From there it runs down a gentle groove between the flower beds into the lake.

This channel is a diagonal with respect to the sightlines from the house.  It divides the pie piece into smaller sections.  Meanwhile, the geometry of the beds is curved to mirror the shoreline.

The same thing was done last fall on the right side of the back yard where I had dug a graceless channel for storm water in 2011.  Our contractor used his tractor to widen my channel and add some grace to it.  Underground pipes convey water from the rain gutters to a point above the flower gardens and the outflow empties into the graceful channel.

To the right of the channel is an area for our daylily seedling beds.  Last spring we added metal edging to define all the beds and to deflect water.  Now we are adding lines of brick to help us develop a slight terraced effect in each strip of seedlings or paths.  The paths will be covered with cypress mulch.  Some of them were done last year.  Now that the scheme has proved effective in the upper section, we will carry it out in the lower section.

Where'd we get the bricks?  I imagine they are the former owner's patio.  I found them tossed or arranged in the main drainage swale on the left side of the property, part of the mound of rubble that prevented storm water from staying in the channel.  So I tossed 'em aside, one by one and chunk by chunk until the channel held the water.  Then we stacked them and waited for a way to use them.  We have recycled what I called "The Hidden Lake Rubble Museum."