Two long days of yard work, tired but happy.
Lisa and I busted our butts doing spring yard work over the weekend. Despite two very long, grueling, sometimes hot, sometimes rainy/windy days of labor, we still did not get everything done! We’ve got at least one more full day next weekend–possibly even two more days.
Out front we’re pretty much done. We got all the plants, palms, trees, bushes and hedges trimmed; we weeded and mulched; we planted dozens of beautiful annuals (Petunias); we did some transplanting and staking; I did a full granular fertilization/watering (this alone is a huge job).
We had a couple of hard freezes this past winter, but nothing like the two winters prior. The lawn is already looking amazing, and is several months ahead of where it was this time last year.
Out back we accomplished a tremendous amount, but we didn’t quite get everything done. We had so much do out there! Next weekend we’ve got to do some more trimming, all the weeding and the granular fertilization.
We planted all of our potted herbs, peppers and tomatoes. This year we’ve got basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, rosemary, 3 different varieties of tomato, strawberries, jalapeno peppers, red chili peppers, poblano peppers, serrano peppers, hot banana peppers and red bell peppers. Last year we had a tremendous amount of success growing our own herbs, tomatoes, vegetables and peppers and we’re really excited about this year’s crop!
We had a lot of work to do with our various fruit trees…
First of all, the three banana plants we planted last year all made it through the two hard freezes, and are already a couple of feet high. The banana plants will reach 12-15 feet very quickly.
The grapefruit tree also made it, but unfortunately the young key lime tree, the lemon tree, the papaya tree and the orange tree did not survive: they just didn’t have enough time to establish before the first hard freeze, which lasted two full nights. Fortunately Lowe’s has a one year unconditional guarantee on all their plants, and so we were able to replace all of these fruit trees at no charge. Of course we had to dig up the dead trees and plant the new ones, but it was worth it. We decided to replace the Ponderosa lemon tree with a Sanbokan lemon tree (which is more cold hardy), we replaced the Valencia orange tree with a seedless Navel orange tree, and the new Key lime tree is more than twice the size of the one we planted last year (it’s six feet high) and should become established by winter. We also got these trees in the ground a month sooner than last year, so we’re hopeful that everything will survive their first winter.
Along the back fence we were excited to finally complete a project that has been more than two years in the making. We’ve experimented with several varieties of climbing/flowering plants over the past couple of years, and after many tests we’ve settled on Bougainvillea. Bougainvilleas are very fast growers, they flower until the first freeze and they will survive winter and return each spring . We’ve got an incredible rainbow of Bougainvillea planted along more than 40 feet of our backyard fence, and within few months that entire long stretch of fence will be transformed from boring white into an almost surreal wall of living color more than six feet feet high! The 240 square-foot wall of flowers will not only be incredibly beautiful, it will attract countless butterflies and humming birds. The ultimate goal is to have the entire backyard fence covered in Bougainvilleas. I have never seen anything like that before, and I think we’ll have something truly unique and special.
Moving on to the butterfly garden…
We planted this little garden last year, just to the left of the patio. We sort of threw all kinds of butterfly-attracting plants in there just to see how they grew/filled in, what worked and what didn’t. This year we had a good idea of what needed to come out, what needed to be moved and what we thought would work as new additions.
We continued the back fence Bougainvillea theme with several of those along the fence, plus we have one placed on a central trellis. We’ve got all kinds of flowers planted in the garden, and we planted lots of bulbs such as pink amaryllis and zinnia.
One of the best plants for butterflies is “Milkweed”, which is also known as “Butterfly Bush”. We planted a couple of these last year, and Monarch butterflies just loved it! There were times when dozens of Monarch caterpillars were all over the bushes, and then we got to see them go through metamorphosis and become butterflies.
The butterfly garden will fill in nicely over the next month or two and look absolutely amazing.
Finally, the pond. There was not much to do to the pond itself. It’s very healthy. There are already hundreds of tadpoles swimming around in there (I’m pretty sure they are Southern Leopard Frog tadpoles). All of the water lilies and marginals that we put in last year are coming back very quickly. About a half-dozen lily pads have already reached the surface of the water, and the marginals are returning with a vengeance. Soon the lilies and marginal plants will begin to flower, and that show will continue all year long.
All that work has left me feeling pretty tired and beat up, but I’m going to soldier up and have a great leg workout this afternoon. Just a week or two left to go in my cut–I’m not letting off the gas now!