A Better Sense of Place

The Leaf Incident

I wasn't sure I wanted to post about the latest interaction with the neighbor, but I figure it might help give a more complete history of this yard-restoration process. It's been two weeks since it happened, but it feels like it was only yesterday.

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Four years of stumbling

Plants grow so slowly, I have to actively remind myself of how far I've managed to restore the land and ecology. I've been planning a new blog post for a month or so, and I was initially only going to look at what I've planted and sowed in 2014. But this morning I thought it might be more interesting to compare 2014 to 2012 and 2013 to see if there's an interesting progression. (There is.) And to really make it interesting, I decided to compare now to how the land was handed to me when we bought it back in 2010. ("Bought" is the legal term that I may as well continue using for convenience.)

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Exotics that I haven't killed yet

I've planted and left alone species fairly native to my parish and I've pulled up many an exotic from the ground, but there are still many larger individuals in the yard that are definitely not from 'round these parts. I thought it'd be a good exercise to write about them and why I haven't killed them yet. I also list alternatives that I would plant instead (and which are not necessarily what native appears the most similar).

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Fall failure

I talk and think so much about native plants that I'm sure people assume my gardening is nothing but success upon success. Surely I've got a lush, healthy, multi-layer ecosystem flourishing around the house, right? Well, now that it's fall and plants are starting to peter out in preparation for the winter hibernation, I thought it'd be a good time to share how things did in this 2014 growing season.

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Two-month recap

As I said in yesterday's post, this post will sum up with pictures what's been going on the past two months. I'll start with the alley circa August 15, a mere twelve days after my neighbor accosted me at my front door with "But have you seen the alley?"

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Blog unveiling

Yes, I'm writing a blog post about this blog. I think I just want to lay down some thoughts about why I'm making this upgrade. I wasn't sure when I created my "Yard Diary" webpage on July 20, 2013, how many entries I was going to write or for how long I'd be writing. Maybe I thought it'd only be a year and that I'd have a good before-and-after picture set and a feeling of completing another 12-month project. Well, it's not turning out to be as finite as I thought.

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Neighbor interaction #2

In the mail today — yes, the literal, physical, paper mail — I received a letter. It was written by my neighbor and is "Re: Landscape Concerns". I will include the key parts of it here:

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Neighbor interaction #1

On Tuesday evening as I was finally sitting down and sketching some design plans for the front yard, there was a knock on my front door. I opened the door. It was the neighbor who lives behind me. He started by asking, "Have you seen your front yard? It looks terrible." He complained about the front yard. He complained about the back alley that separates us. I let him finish and then told him I was very offended. Then I launched into telling him my plans for increasing the biodiversity of my yard through introducing native plant species. I said it was a restoration project and I'm still figuring out which species do well and where.

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New seeds and seedlings

I acquired a whole lotta seeds and plants at the CANPS summer party last night.

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A surprise hit: the back alley

Native biodiversity is steadily increasing. The area that is doing the best is the full-sun back alley, which kind of surprised me. I thought I'd have the hardest time back there because of the blazing hot sun and dry, washed-away soil, but a lot of plants are actually starting to thrive: straggler daisy, partridge pea, lanceleaf coreopsis, purple coneflower, prairie verbena, Maximilian sunflower, black-eyed Susan, and coralbean. Some aren't particularly native to my parish, but Texas isn't that far off and I use the seeds that I've got.

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