May 7, 2020

I was up early to dig out the ground in front of the gas tank and lay in the boxes for the new concrete pads.  A pickax helps when reaching rock shelf less than two inches into the ground.

Mike was up to plan the work – hire a mixer for concrete, lay in a gravel base, and embed steel cross pieces so that the concrete will not crumble.  I had a piece of galvanized fencing that was precisely 31 inches square that will fit one box comfortably.  The plan is to pour concrete, lay in the steel cross piece and cover it with more concrete.  I may need to have a plumber redirect the intake pipe to the tank before it can be moved onto the pads.

Mike was carrying a pistol and proudly showed me pictures of a baby rattler he had dispatched from this earth.   A baby rattler is more dangerous because its venom is uncontrolled.  A baby is also the sign of other snakes nearby on the property.

In the afternoon I made it up to the circle garden to lay down Preen and mulch and water it in. Spot weeding around the garden suffices for now.  Delighted to see the first blooms on the oenothera, and it appears to be spreading by roots as is its habit.

 

May 6, 2020

This morning I finished clearing the warning track under the retaining wall.  Digging the ground was much harder out from under the valley oaks.  I sprayed Roundup to discourage the grass and thistle a little.

I added irrigation feeders to the radiant lantana and butterfly bush in the new back border garden.  I am pleased to see the lemon tree and lime tree flourishing.  Now if they will just blossom and bear fruit.

I spent the afternoon building boxes, 31 inches square.  The concrete footers on the gas tank are 31 inches long.  The boxes will be the forms for concrete pads, six inches of concrete Mike recommends to hold the weight of the tank.  Eventually we will move the tank on top of the pads, which should keep it from subsiding down the hill and having to be shored up every winter.  Reminder to self: when building boxes, always buy new wood and not scraps that are bowed and misshaped from years of storage in the barn.

Three turkey buzzards circled the front driveway late in the day.  I thought they only hovered around when ready food was available.  I hear ducks often, and this afternoon I saw a pair of ducks paddling around the fire prevention pond in front of the house.

Lingering light at 8.00 in the evening these days.  I had a full moon for my late night walk to find a World Atlas and find Cape Horn.  The current reading is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and the Nautilus just cleared the tip of South America.

Cinco de Mayo, 2020

I am back to my routine after devoting several days to professional conferences and maintenance of the yard in Oakland.  All the plants in that yard have taken off.  The beginning of May is always the blooming time for the shrub rose that now overtops the garage.  I don’t want the house to look neglected.

Lilies are coming up in the narrow tip of the Triangle Garden.  I do not know when they were planted between they return each spring faithfully.  The purple alyssum in that corner is self-sowing and expanding.

The new monkey flower has pail yellow, almost white blooms.  The plant leaf and blooms are familiar, but I am used to the traditional yellow flower in the Oakland front garden.  In any event, it is on its way to becoming established.

I spent the morning on the warning track just on the other side of the retaining wall behind the back porch.  The grass, thistle and other weeds are still giving up without much resistance, even despite no rain for several weeks.  I poured out the vinegar mixture along the track.  At least the grass is 12 to 18 inches away from the wall.

I spent a few hours laying Preen with standard mulch in the St. Francis Memorial Garden and the Back Corner Garden.  The yarrows have significant dead growth underneath, and will try pulling it off to direct energy into the new growth.  The helichrysum in that corner seems to be taking hold.  Clearing the weeds out of the bed and laying down mulch looks so much better from the window in the master bath.

Berkeley Hort is scheduled to re-open on May 12.

April 30, 2020

Down at church this morning to record the hymns for the Sunday service.  While there, I made a quick run into Lowe’s for mulch.  While there, I might just as well pick up a radiant lantana for the new back border garden, a small day lily to fill the terra cotta planter and sweet basil.

I am developing expertise in the maintenance and repair of irrigation lines.  Bubbler heads tend to pop off into the wild; lines need to be plugged.  I adjusted the sprinkler heads on the back lawn to reduce water output and dialed back the irrigation time.   Substantial water flows down the slope of the back lawn and collects more or less uselessly at the rock border.

The irises in the Triangle Garden are sprouting.  I can not remember whether they are perennials or biennials, but this appears to be their year.   I also cut back the rhaphiolepsis to encourage a possible second bloom.

The wall flower was flourishing and needed to be pruned by a third to not overshadow the other plants.  I also dead headed the shrub daisy.  Long shooting stars appear to be its blooming pattern.

April 26, 2020

The before breakfast chore was thinning the ice plant around the white oleander in the front border garden.  The roots were compacted, butting against the sidewalk, and thick with weeds.  I removed almost half of the growth and cleared the weeds.  The cleared space leave rooms for a bit of lysimachia that self-seeded from the container last year and continues to huddle around its base.   I also removed the dead leaves from the white oleander, per instructions from Del.  

I applied Mike’s Mulch in the barrel container and around the dahlia.

Later in the morning I dug out the clover and grass around the valley oak in the Circle Garden at the barn.  In the process I managed to sever an artery to the irrigation system and will need to repair it.  The cistus is a cluster of white flowers and an unexpected joy as I drive in from town.  All the intentional plants in the Circle Garden are thriving and weeds too.

Just for fun, I removed the lower branches from the valley oak in the center of the driveway.  I guess the theory was to avoid their scraping my car or the truck.  Removing lower branches as the dry season comes on is a general drill.

April 25, 2020

I  finished relaying the stones on the western 21 feet of the back lawn border.  Puzzling that the ones I had dug out were one short to complete the entire length of border. I found a replacement stone along the driveway and hauled it to the back yard to finish the border.

I laid down mulch over the entire 21 feet of the bed.  The madia elegans was moved out of the front year container and into the shelter of the large crape myrtle because part sun is recommended.  The feeder line that used to irrigate the large crape myrtle was already in place. I retrieved the phacelia that had already overgrown the terra cotta planter and overrun the geranium and settled it into the new bed next to Madia.  As is my routine, I applied Plant Starter on all the new plants and the bulbine.

I was at Ace Hardware for a new mailbox lock and took a peek at the Garden Section.  The Tripot mix is a terrific marketing idea – petunia, calibrachoa and verbena, perfect for the barrel container at the entrance to the front garden.  I never have had much luck transplanting a mixed  flower into a container.  The Tripot starts earlier and looks to have a better chance of success.  I also found an unusual butterfly bush, a darker green leaf and a raspberry colored bloom.  The stock in the Garden Section was limited but the plants were well tended and not overgrown.

I ended the day mowing the lawn. I told Mike that he did not need to apologize for the tracks the tractor left in the lawn moving topsoil to the back bed.  I aerated the tracks and will let plentiful water and sun do the rest.

April 24, 2020

I was recording down at the church this morning.  With other chores, I did not get out into the yard until 1.00.  I can work in 82 degree weather with a cool breeze coming up the valley but not for more than an hour.  This week temperatures are rising  steadily until 6.00 with a high of 88 today.  I will need to switch to my summer schedule with work hours only in the morning.

In an hour I still made significant progress turning over the new bed and raising the stone border.  Work will continue tomorrow.