I mowed the lawn Thursday (yesterday), electing to do so then because today was supposed to be hotter (near 90º) and humid. Yesterday was already more humid than I had expected anyway. I realize that news insʼt much to report here on the blog, but it reminded me that I wanted to talk about our plantings, which for Janet and me means bushes and trees. And a few flowers.
I also want to kill the neighborhood rabbits* (thus the title of this post), but I can tell you about that a bit later on.
The flowers lead the list. A few years ago (four or five) I bought three deeply discounted lilies at the end of a season and planted them on the eastern side of our house, where Janet had decades ago put in some lilies-of-the-valley. I am not really sure what made me do that, except the plants were really, really cheap and I have always enjoyed the orange ditch lilies that bloom in June-July along the secondary roads around Iowa each year. Amazingly (for me), these three plants took, blooming the next year for a few weeks in early June and then starting to spread (I wasnʼt aware in advance that bulb plants did that) in the third, fourth and fifth years (I think itʼs been five years). As you can see in my picture, they have spread to become fairly thick in their little spot, and itʼs blooming time.
I actually took the picture to send Janet by e-mail because she hadnʼt seen them since the first blossoms appeared last Friday-Saturday. But then I thought of sharing them here, and that inspired me to go around shooting most of the other trees and shrubs we have around the yard.
The rabbits got to a brand-new sand cherry we bought back in late April (along with the two little lilacs and three tiny wigelias). However, with some chicken wire badly around it for too-late protection, the sand cherry, which the vicious rodents had reduced to three tiny sticks, has recovered nicely (making me wonder what it might be like if there hadnʼt been any rabbit predation).
The varmints also chewed the heck out of a three-year-old dogwood toward the end of winter (the price of having snow on the ground for three full months). They only left two sprouts out of the whole bush still growing (theyʼre the two lumps on the right side, lying over because the tops are too heavy for the stems; I know weʼll have to cut them off). However, as you can see, the plant came back like a champ. The whole third lump of growth on the left is new this spring, so we hope it will continue to grow and be lush. — If anyone knows what we could do with the two yard-long leaned-over stalks of the dogwood, I would be pleased to learn.
Our whole plan has been to cover the chain-link fence line between us and the bad neighbors — Gasser True Value — with bushes. The original developers were supposed to plant a “living barrier” between us and the businesses, but they chose tiny plants that only now are starting to grow, and their thickness is anything but a barrier.
We started with a forsythia, which grew mighty and large, but seems to have taken a hit of some kind on its western side, with lots of dead stems not producing growth or leaves this year. (I think Janet, who loves to have bushes trimmed, had me trim too much last year!) Then we added a lilac on the northwestern corner of our property, which either the city or demon Mediacom workers attacked one day in the early spring to take out three stems on the western side that I presume were potentially in the way for climbing the power pole (no one even tried knocking on our door to let us know they were invading the property and doing what I consider damage).
We had planted one lilac on the western side of our house much earlier, about the turn of the millennium, I think, and I found I really liked it, so that was the cause of us now having a grand total of four lilacs (counting the two little babies we bought in April). Also, the rabbits never have bothered the lilacs.
At the time we added the dogwood, we also planted another forsythia and a hydrangea. Both have done well, growing from tiny little unwanted, end-of-the-season discount plants. This forsythia seems to grow differently (taller and narrower) than its spreading older sibling, so itʼs probably a slightly different variety. Both get the yellow flowers for a week in the earliest spring. The hydrangea (a word I find funny and so used it for humorous effect in a spring play) produces white flowers, and Janet heard or read that you can make them blue by putting a rusty nail in the ground by its roots (making me presume the iron produces the blue coloration). I had a big rusty bolt this year, so I put it in last weekend when I was doing fertilizer spikes.
The biggest bush in the line-up may be the second oldest. We donʼt know what it is, but it was on sale (at Gasser, dagnabbit) one weekend and it looked nice. The first years it grew a bushy round lower section with longer stems extending way up, so we nicknamed it the “penis bush” (sorry about that, but thatʼs still what we call it, even though as you can see it no longer resembles any such thing). Janet likes it when itʼs in “bloom” with the fine tracery globes of lightweight stuff (as in the photo).
So along our fence line we have (in order from west to east, our left to right as we look out on the back yard): a lilac, forsythia, the nameless plant, dogwood, big forsythia, hydrangea and finally the baby sand cherry. And although the supposed “living barrier” is older than any of our plants, our bushes are pretty nicely creating the kind of barrier we wanted all along.
Thereʼs a prickly tiny-leaved reddish bush that we transplanted right by the fence this year, but itʼs so tiny I donʼt count it (yet). Itʼs small even though itʼs years old because it formerly lived in the little garden Janet had on the western side of the house and she always trimmed it back severely. Now the three weigelas live in the garden space instead of annual flowers .
We also have trees, but I guess that should be a different post because this one is long enough.
*We did, by the way, buy some liquid fence (although not the name brand product) to keep the wascaly wabbits away from our plants on the day I saw the hideously suggestive statue at the garden store in Bettendorf.