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Author Topic: The 2015 season of "Todd's Annual Yard Adventure . . ."  (Read 7928 times)
Oldcarsarecool
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« on: February 25, 2015, 12:41:14 AM »

Welcome to my annual yard adventure .  .  .
 
 
 
 
 
Welcome back my friends,
to the show that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend,
come inside, come inside .  .  ."

-  Greg Lake  -  
 
 
And it is truly a "show."  The star is a man who has absolutely no idea what he's doing.  There is no script.  Successes and misadventures that occur on their own are chronicled with each episode, some of which can be quite entertaining especially to someone who actually knows what he/she is doing and thinks, "Why did he do that ?"  In that case, Mother Nature is quick to slap me on the wrist when I step out of line or shake her head when I step into the Poison Ivy that lurks.  The results, both good and bad, are posted here for your entertainment.
 
This year's tale will be the fifth season of the series.  What began in 2010 as posting a bunch of "Hey, does anyone know what this is ?" pictures has evolved into actually trying to do something that resembles landscaping.  With each passing season, the star gets a little more ambitious and daring.  The successes have the potential to be more surprising.  The misadventures can also be much more amusing, the degree of which is inversely proportional to the amount of newly discovered knowledge that is carried forward from the previous season.  Speaking of which .  .  .
 
Last year's adventure was an overall success.  A lot of the experiments I attempted seemed to play out as designed.  I surrounded the pear tree with a bunch of ornamental grass plants that have done very well, as have the Gardenia, Small Anise Tree, and Chinese Snowball I put in front of the house.  
 
 
July 5, 2014

 
 
Moving the bulbs from the back yard out front showed positive results almost immediately and stayed positive throughout the year, (which is a fancy way of saying that they didn't die).   
 
 
August 24, 2014

 
 
The three Pampas Grass plants I moved out by the mailbox responded by growing more in the few subsequent months than they did during the entire previous year.  Now that I've realized if you plant something in the sun, it will grow, the remaining Pampas Grass plant in back will be getting moved out front sometime soon.  
 
 

 
 
I've also discovered that some ideas just aren't going to work.  I was all smiles back in 2013 thinking about the palm tree paradise I envisioned for my back yard.  My vision contained two critical flaws:  a) Palm trees aren't suited very well for the shade, and b) Mother Nature has made it perfectly clear that Athens doesn't have the ideal climate for such an adventure.  The four I initially planted stayed "alive" for a while, but never showed any real "growth."  A run of single digit overnight low temperatures last winter proved to be too much for two of the original four, despite being labeled as "Cold Hardy."  
 
The jury is still out on several items.  All the mystery bulbs I mentioned above grew very well after the move.  But whether or not they will produce flowers remains to be seen.  The Seiryu Japanese Maple, Red Buckeye, one of the azaleas I planted last year don't look healthy at the moment, which I'm hoping is due to winter hibernation.  And I've come to the conclusion that rose bushes don't like me for whatever reason.  My rose "bushes" resemble a collection of upright sticks.  My mom had amazing roses all over the place in her garden in Pennsylvania.  As for me .  .  . no.
 
 
My mom's house, June 10, 2011

 
 
I don't know if any of you have this same problem.  The passage of time from my perspective speeds up exponentially as I age.  It seems like I just ended last year's tale, when in fact the last post was from August 24.  Six months have already passed !  I've been reminding myself that I have to get the annual cleanup started when spring approaches.  My apologies to the residents of the northeastern US reading this.  But I've already had quite a few days in the upper 60s as of this writing, including the 65 degrees on tap for today.  And I've got a mess to clean up.
 
 
 
 
 
Time to this show started .  .  .
« Last Edit: April 17, 2015, 01:33:10 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2015, 12:44:06 AM »

Let's see what I'm working with this year .  .  .
February 7, 2015
Part 1 of 3
 
 
 
 
 
This season is getting under way with a familiar feel.  The Japanese Camellia is already beginning to wake up.
 
 

 
 
This shrub always blooms first (usually in late February), and stays in bloom for several months.
 
 

 
 

 
 
Some of you may be familiar with Sweet Gum trees and the grenades they drop.  Walking on top of them can be challenging.  Mowing over them sounds like fireworks.  
 
 

 
 
The Sweet Gum tree grenades cover the center of the yard.  Several tall pine trees sit beside the driveway and cover that side of the yard with pine needles.  
 
 

 
 
Speaking of which .  .  .



 
 
I finally figured out what the fascination with Pine Straw is in this part of the country, and how I can put the large quantities present in my yard to good use.  We'll get to that later.  
 
 

 
 
Something unusual occurred over the winter.  English Ivy is an aggressive ground cover that will quickly take over everything in its way.  The small patch I had under the mailbox died.  One lone strand can be seen on the far right of the photo below.
 
 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2015, 01:24:43 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2015, 12:45:28 AM »

continued .  .  .
Part 2 of 3
 
 
 
 
 
Last year's thread may have ended in August.  But I found homes for a few more things in September and October.  The area next to the wall at my garage has looked pretty sad since I moved in.  I decided to convert that corner into an extension of what is seen in front of the house.  
 
 
September 21, 2014

 
 
This is another item where the jury is still out.  I'm hoping the 7 ornamental grass plants seen above will turn green again in the spring.  They don't look too good at the moment.  Both of my above mentioned "collection of upright sticks" are also visible in the photo below.  
 
 

 
 
Taking up the space between the grass plants will (hopefully) be a bunch of flowers.
 
 

 
 
The "Guaranteed to grow" declaration is encouraging, although quite suspect considering my track record.  The early, mid, and late spring designations mean I should see flowers for a decent period of time.  Earlier in the week, I discovered this .  .  .
 
 

 
 
I forgot to record where I planted each type of bulb, (33 bulbs total).  I'm going to assume I'm seeing early spring Crocus bulbs.  
 
 

 
 
If that's the case, there should be 14 bulbs making an appearance very soon, only 5 of which are presently accounted for.
 
 
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 12:51:56 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2015, 12:47:04 AM »

continued .  .  .
Part 3 of 3
 
 
 
 
 
I made a couple of changes in the back yard.  Two Illicium Pink Frost plants flank a Pieris Snowdrift that now sits in the spot formerly occupied by the Green European Fan palm tree, (which got moved into a sunnier location in the side yard).  These shrubs like "filtered sunlight" and should grow well in this location.
 
 

 
 
I thought I moved all of the bulbs out front from the patio area last year.  Apparently, I missed a bunch of them on the left side of the photo below.
 
 

 
 
I believe these are daffodils.   
 
 

 
 
A couple of them actually appear to be in the process of blooming.
 
 

 
 
I'll move them out front with the others when the blooming season ends.
 
 



It looks like most of the items under my care have survived !  So far, so good .  .  .
« Last Edit: April 21, 2015, 01:29:11 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2015, 12:47:59 AM »

What a mess !
February 7, 2015
Part 1 of 2
 
 
 
 
 
My plan for today was two-fold.  The primary goal was to get the mess cleaned up.    
 
 

 
 

 
 
I'm also trying to figure out how I can solve a design dilemma.  Planting the individual items in what I'll call "semi-random" locations in the front yard during the last two years seems like a decent idea at the time.  But the more I look at it, the more I feel that something isn't quite right.  It's like something is missing.  
 
 



I mentioned above that the concept of buying pine straw seemed very unusual to me when I was a new Georgia resident.  But seeing the efforts my neighbors would make to get it made me think there was more to this idea than I realized.  I have seen one neighbor on several occasions make multiple trips up the street with her wheelbarrow and return a few minutes later with a full load.  "I'm raking it out of the ditches because I need all of it I can get !"  Another neighbor recently knocked on my door to ask me if I would mind if she would sweep my driveway for the pine straw.  I came home from work that night to find my driveway cleaner than it has been in a long while.  
 
I later learned that there are several benefits to using pine straw which is why I see it used EVERYWHERE !  A 4" - 5" layer of pine straw will suffocate weeds.   It also makes a great composting material as it breaks down over time.  And it does look good when properly applied.  The question at hand is how can I make this knowledge work for me.  

Many of my neighbors use pine straw to create, for lack of a better term, an "island" in a particular area of the yard.  It occurred to me while on one of my many walks around the neighborhood that I can use this principle to highlight the group of individual plants  -  the maple, dogwood, and magnolia trees, and the mystery bulbs  -  in my yard by connecting all them together in this manner.   I've got a whole yard full of pine straw and other debris from the winter waiting to be mulched.  Running the lawn mower with the bag attached seemed to work quite well in catching and mulching most of the debris in the past.  But rather than bag all of it and set it out for Leaf & Limb collection, this year I'll dump it around each of the individual plants.  This will not only make the "island" design idea happen, but should also help suffocate some of the weeds that populate most of my front yard.
 
 

 
 
I used the garden rake to pull what weeds I could first.  All I need now is for the mulch to do its thing.
 
 

 
 
Bulbs are planted in the circular area seen in the photos above and below.  Since I actually want them to grow, I took it easy with the mulch in that spot.  The borders and grass areas in between the trees and bulbs received the thickest layer of mulch.  
 
 

 
 
I surrounded the maple tree with a bunch of lilies last year.  Deer frequent my yard regularly and seem find them tasty.  So I don't know if they are still in place.  I guess I'll find out in a few weeks.  I'll go easy on the mulch here as well.
 
 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2015, 01:32:27 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2015, 12:48:11 AM »

continued .  .  .
Part 2 of 2
 
 
 
 
 
The debris from the center and right side of the yard will take care of the functional end of this project.  The pine straw that covers the left side of the yard will handle the aesthetic end.  A few passes with the mower gathered a bunch of pine straw that always falls next to the azaleas.
 
 

 
 
The idea is to put a layer of pine straw over the mulched debris and make the area look a little better.
 
 



A tank of gas and a bunch of walking later, I now have what I'll call a "random curved shape" in the center of my front yard.
 
 

 
 

 
 
The yard also appears much more neat and orderly, which is always a good thing.
 
 

 
 

 
 
Now I play the waiting game with the hopes that I will see a lot of color this spring .  .  .
« Last Edit: April 15, 2015, 12:45:58 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2015, 11:08:57 PM »

Naturally, as soon as I get everything cleaned up .  .  .
February 17, 2015
Part 1 of 3
 
 
 
 
 



After several days of mild temperatures, a blast of cold air settled in bringing with it an ice storm.





Combining rain with overnight low temperatures hovering around the freezing mark can cause problems around here.  Getting around during an ice storm isn't a concern because the city essentially shuts down with the onset of any kind of winter weather.  The problem is that the trees, (especially Georgia pine trees), don't like ice.





I've posted many pictures of my Yoshino Cherry tree in the past while it is blooming.  The tree turns white with flowers each spring. 


March 31, 2013



The problem is that we are still in mid-February.  The "white" seen in the photo below is all ice.


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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2015, 11:10:13 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 2 of 3





The Yoshino Cherry seems to be pretty stout, as is the giant oak tree in the back yard.  The only limbs that fell either of those were already dead. 





The multitude of pine trees in my yard was a whole other matter.





There is a lot of surface area on all those needle covered branches.   





As the ice forms, the weight becomes too much for the limb to handle. 





I've got quite a mess in back where most of the pine trees in my yard are concentrated.








The good news is that there is nothing back there falling branches can hurt besides other trees and bushes.  And that did happen, unfortunately.


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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2015, 11:11:38 PM »

continued .  .  .
Part 3 of 3





However, I do have a few pine trees next to the house.   





I'm sitting at my kitchen table after work that night when a loud CRASH got my attention.





Looks like I've got some spouting to repair when the weather gets nicer.





But other than that, I actually fared pretty well.





The excess weight from the ice caused a lot of the more flexible trees to bend, but not break.








And as strange as it is for me to say this, the visual effect was actually pretty awesome !








I saw quite a few trees down on my way home from work and figured I would have a mess to clean up. 





But I did ok especially compared to some of my neighbors.





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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2015, 05:59:26 PM »

Cleaning up again .  .  .
February 27-28, 2015





I've mentioned Athens-Clarke County's Leaf & Limb collection for county residents many times in the past.  Items such as grass clippings, tree branches, and any other form of lawn and garden debris are collected on a rotating schedule that is posted on the County's website.  My neighborhood also has a sign at each entrance specifically for Leaf & Limb collection.  "Next Week" and "This Week" notices are always posted when the time approaches, thus reminding me that the upcoming weekend's activity list has been updated.

Leaf & Limb collection normally occurs once every 9 weeks.  But every now and then, Mother Nature jumps at the chance to throw a wrench into the schedule in the form of something like the ice storm seen last week.  When that happens, the County will issue a notice telling everyone to get their storm debris to the curb ASAP, and also suspend the size limits of the piles of debris.  

I actually fared pretty well during the ice storm from a debris standpoint.  





This storm occurred before any leaves had appeared on the hardwoods.  A bare branch doesn't have a lot of surface area and can handle the weight of the ice that accumulates.  Hardwood branches that fall in this case are probably already dead.    





Pine tree branches are loaded with surface area in the form of needles and cones.  The ice that forms in every nook and cranny on a pine tree branch has the potential to add some serious weight.  





Loud crashes follow shortly afterward.








The task before me on this day is clear.  





I don't have a wheelbarrow, which means I'll be doing a lot of additional walking.





This is not a bad thing by any means.  I certainly do need the exercise.  And with most of my debris in the back yard, I will get plenty of it.





The process is pretty straight forward. Walk around the yard, pick up as much as your hands will hold, and pile it out front.





I'm only interested in the large branches today.  The small stuff will get ground up and mulched when I mow later.  





I ended up with a lot more debris than I thought.  My pile was around 5 feet tall.





And it's a good thing I listened to the County's instructions.  Collection in my neighborhood began about a week later .  .  .


« Last Edit: March 14, 2015, 06:02:55 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2015, 11:44:59 PM »

It's about that time again .  .  .
March 4, 2015





My essays from yard adventures past have all began in roughly the same manner.  Cold temperatures arrive in January in this part of the country and begin to moderate in February.  Mother Nature likes to throw another cold snap in the mix late in the season before transitioning into progressively warmer temperatures that begin to wake things up.  Last year's adventure, for example, began around the same late February time period and in the manner described above.  After a series of cold days, the temperatures rebounded spurring a bunch of growth.  

This year, she also threw in a roller coaster ride of daytime high temps:
~  March 1:  43 degrees F
~  March 2:  73 degrees F
~  March 3:  56 degrees F
~  March 4:  78 degrees F

The daffodils in the back yard were not fazed by this and bloomed the way they usually do.  These guys, and the Japanese Camellia out front, are always the first to appear. 





Everyone else's daffodils in the neighborhood seem to bloom with more intensity than mine, which is probably due to where I have them planted.  I'm going to move them out front after the blooming season ends. 





Next to the Daffodils are a few Crocus plants.





The Crocuses have been there since I moved in.  I'll probably move these guys out front with the other Crocuses I planted earlier next to the driveway.





Speaking of which .  .  .





The Crocuses, (that bloom in early spring), are mixed with some Tulips, (mid-spring), and some Alliums, (late spring).  So far, the Crocuses are doing their thing.





I now have a line of Crocuses and a line of whatever the taller plants happen to be, which escapes me at the moment.  I'm not sure what bulbs went where.





I'm really hoping to see a bunch of flowers this year.  Keep your fingers crossed .  .  .


« Last Edit: March 14, 2015, 11:54:17 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2015, 10:14:03 PM »

I've got flowers !
March 11, 2015





FLOWERS !  





And yes, I see that I've got some weeding to do.  But the Crocus plants are blooming !





And it looks like the Tulips are beginning to make an appearance.  There were 7 bulbs in the package.  So far, I've got one.  Keep your fingers crossed.





The Japanese Camellia continues to do its thing.





Some of you may be wondering why I left the lower branches in place when I first saw them years ago.  I didn't really pay attention to them initially until they started to bloom.  At this point, I don't want to get rid of them completely because the flowers are really nice.  So this summer, I think I'm going to trim the top of of the main tree so I can make the whole assembly look like one giant shrub instead of a tree with excess growth at the bottom.  Right or wrong, I don't know.  But I'm going to try it.





The bulbs continue to grow out front, which is good.  I'm really hoping for a bunch of flowers this year.





I'm looking forward to seeing the Bridal Wreath Spirea turn white this year.  It was beautiful last spring. 





The daffodils in back still show a few flowers.  There aren't that many.  But there are more than I had last year.  They will be moving somewhere out front after the blooming season ends.





I found this guy in the grass next to the patio in the back yard.  I'm not sure what this is.  But it's a flower, which is ok by me.





And I see several other bulb-like plants that are growing in the grass. 





I don't have a whole lot of hope for the Japanese Maple tree.  I see absolutely no greening of any kind which leads me to believe it won't recover.  This is disappointing because it was a really beautiful tree.  Then it turned brown and dropped all of its leaves very suddenly.





But the Red Buckeye is alive and well !





After looking completely bare since the fall, leaves began to appear this past week.





It looks like everything is waking up on schedule .  .  .
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2015, 01:21:52 AM »

Looking good brother, I love doing yard work when possible. I think my days of those activities are over but I still enjoy seeing your success, and occasional failures turn out. Axe
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2015, 12:41:40 AM »

Thanks Axe !  Glad you enjoy the read.  Hope you can get out in your yard this spring.  How are you feeling ?
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2015, 12:02:32 AM »

Well, if it worked out front .  .  .
March 15, 2015
Part 1 of 2





I really wish I could take credit for this one.  But I can't.  This beautiful Saucer Magnolia belongs to a neighbor.  It's HUGE, perfectly shaped, and explodes with color every spring.  Everyone walking past his house stops to take a picture, myself included.





I've got a long way to go before I have that kind of color.  





There are a few flowers beginning to appear on the Cleveland Select Flowering Pear tree.  I should see a bunch of white pretty soon.  





The same is true with the Chinese Snowball.





It looks like it's preparing itself for the big event.  I should be seeing a bunch of white appearing here very soon.  





And I'm also anticipating great things from the Bridal Wreath Spirea at the mailbox.





I'd say give it another couple of weeks.





More bulbs are appearing next to the garage.





And yes, I know I've still got some weeding to do !  I'll get there soon.





The mystery bulbs in the middle of the front yard continue to grow.  My neighbor thinks they might be irises.  But we're not sure.  Whatever they are, I hope they bloom.





And I'm glad to see the lilies around the maple tree reappearing.  I thought the local deer population enjoyed a bountiful feast last year.  But they are perennials and should reappear each year as long as the roots are intact.


« Last Edit: April 17, 2015, 01:50:43 AM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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