A Better Sense of Place

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Unsolicited landscape help

As I was about to sit down to begin writing this, there was a knock on the front door. I had just come inside from taking pictures of the front yard for this post. We don't get very many knocks. Usually just a delivery of our weekly CSA or a brown cardboard box of cat food, books, or shoes, and I was expecting neither today.

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Describing conditions with graphs

The new front bed that I created in March is an area of stress. I didn't remove the St. Augustine grass after I hoed it and before I sowed seed. I just tossed all the seed right alongside the existing turf grass that I was trying to replace. I was once told (a rumor?) that natives would eventually outcompete the turf grass, so it's not super important to pull everything first.

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Progress report

It's been a long time since I've shared pictures of the yard and not just close-ups of plants. For everyone who's questioned how things are actually going these days, today's the day. (Except for the back alley. I didn't actually take a picture of it this time.)

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Late summer fruits and flowers

It's looking like the hot summer drought has ended here. As the sun is moving closer to equinox, temperatures are now only going up to about 92°F. Many plants are doing better after some rain showers last week gave them water to drink. We even had a pretty good cold front come through. Fall is coming, so I figured it's a good time to focus on all the fruit and flowers around the yard to make me feel like my efforts didn't all end in failure this summer.

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But have you seen the alley?

I forget where I learned this, but it is said that you don't remember where you hear things as much as the thing that you hear. I think of this lesson when I try to remember where I heard that growing native flowers and grasses is harder where the soil is fertile. I think this was in reference to prairie plants. When I see how things have gone so far all over my yard, I can agree. The back alley is amazing while the rain garden, Chicken Yard, and front yard are a bit lackluster.

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Spring weeds eternal

In my last post, I mentionned that the area I hoed and bordered between the sidewalk and the street is overtaken by exotic invasives. Yesterday, I was standing over it and wondering how to kill it back so that the seeds I sowed in October could sprout and see sunlight. But this morning, I was thinking that maybe it's a useful cover crop that I should live with until it dies from the heat. For this post, I've picked out seven plants, including the aforementionned exotic, that come back year after year to my yard in early spring. I think I've identified them all, and putting a name to a plant helps to understand where it's from and what it's doing. (Spoiler alert: only two are native.)

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It all wakes up

I've been trying to be patient all winter. I've sowed seed here and there (milkweed, lanceleaf coreopsis, blue mistflower, tickseed, rattlesnake master, coralbean, and little bluestem). I've planted new things (witchhazel, swamp sunflower, buttonbush, American beautyberry, crossvine, red mulberry, arrowwood viburnum, Turk's cap, and Eastern redbud). I've moved some others (ironweed and groundsel). I've dug things up and put them into pots (redcedars and pines). And I've waited, because this entire time, nothing has grown. At least above ground. As they say, the activity has all been below ground. But that's pretty boring because there's no proof that anything is happening.

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Winter update

The rain garden has now been in existence for about 1.4 years. Way back in August and September 2013, I carved out a retention area and sowed the seed. The Chicken Yard was sown at the same time but without any land-sculpting. So how do they look now in their second mid-winter? (Or is it late winter?)

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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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alley before caterpillars exotic fall flowers front yard laws neighbor planning plant id prep rain rain garden snow sowing spring sprouts summer winter