January 19, 2019

Today was the first clear and sunny day in two weeks, and the temperatures remain mild during the day.  Nighttime temperatures close to freezing are expected next week, but that is next week.

I started the day by digging out the fence beside the driveway in preparation for replacing the bottom panel. Three mismatched boards will be replaced by a single piece that I will prime and paint.  I also dug out a strip to lay flagstones alongside the fence.  If my ultimate dream comes to be, the flagstones will provide a back path to pick blackberries off the bushes planted between the driveway and the fire lane.

After that chore, I joined MJ in pruning the rockroses, salvia and lantana.  As in past years we pruned the lantana along the house down to the core root ball.  Nothing seems to prevent it from spreading three feet in all directions, other than the house wall.  We tried to separate the core root ball in two to thin it out.  The ball is so intertwined that the options appear to be all or nothing.  We left it for now and may replace it later.

We also pulled back the rockrose from tumbling  over the rock wall along the driveway, although I suspect it will get back to tumbling this summer.  I rather like the effect. We worked until Judy called us in for breakfast.  I feel like such a farmer coming in from the fields for a hot bowl of oatmeal and coffee.

Mike was up with his trailer after breakfast.  I pitched in clearing brush from the fire prevention pond.  The pond is still low, and we cut and hauled away the dead wood from the bank nearest the driveway.  Hauling included a forty-five degree slope up to the driveway.  Two workers can split the difference on the slope. The bank is now mostly cleared, and we removed dead branches that might have blown onto the driveway.

While we worked below, Judy took the hedge clippers to the two large coleonemas. She left the clippings on the grounds as an impromptu mulch.  Coleonemas are winter-blooming plants, and we saved a few blooms for the breakfast table. We also saved the last of the rose blooms from the pink citrus rose, and then undertook the winter pruning of all three roses.  Judy and I removed the cross pieces and cut back the stems to buds.  The roses responded well to this pruning last year.  I will feed them when the growing season begins.

The Saint Francis rockrose appears to have lost a branch in the wind, but has otherwise weathered the storms well.  It is already near his shoulder height, hopefully encouraging the birds to roost and drop on the bush and not on his head.  He has never seemed to mind.


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