Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I'm almost too busy to blog.

I got temporarily waylaid by one of those family betrayal situations that sends me into a full-on retreat. I don't want to talk about it now because I'm still feeling pretty bitter and just want to focus on the good in my life. So back to the house...
I can't even let a forlorn mailbox just be. The bent and rusty wrought iron post is firmly cemented into the ground so it would have been excessively difficult to replace.
But it could be camouflaged. I spray-painted the post black, detached the newspaper box (because I don't subscribe to our right-leaning local paper), bought a new mailbox and even painted the silver flag on it red. Seriously, everyone knows mailbox flags should be red. I planted a gorgeous pink mandevilla vine I found on sale and then discovered that it is a tender perennial and unlikely to survive the winter in my zone. I'm treating it as an annual and on the other side of the post I planted a purple clematis so it can be establishing itself through the summer and fall for next year.
On the deck, the former owner had an enormous cement planter with a boxwood in it. A boxwood. What a bland, uninteresting choice. I do not care for boxwoods and I felt no remorse as I chopped it down and dug out the roots.
It now houses a deliciously sweet-smelling gardenia bush. When I was packing up the basement I discovered I still had a bag of coconut husk bedding left over from when I had my pet python, Mike. Rather than toss it, I used it as mulch for some of the potted plants. It was the perfect place for my grandfather's smiling boddhisatva statue.
This yard is largely devoid of planting beds other than the ones immediately in front of the house and this one on the side around a dogwood tree. The previous owner wasn't a gardener and the bed was insanely over-grown.
I spent the better part of an afternoon digging up weeds from that one bed and chatting with my neighbor on the side of me. He is retired and tried to convince me that the tradition in the neighborhood was for anyone who moved in to work on their next-door neighbor's yard. This pile is the result of my labor. One of the results, that is. The other?
A lovely case of poison ivy. I thought I was being careful but when I stood up at one point, I saw where I had been kneeling a healthy crop of the wicked weed. My heart sunk because I'd been in that spot for about 45 minutes.
Oh yeah, it got me. Every part of me that wasn't covered by shorts, a tank top, sneakers and gloves has a rash on it. The exposure was over a week ago, and I've just now reached a point where it is starting to get a little better.
On the upside, I do have this beautifully weeded bed. I will likely transplant some of the things in it to more suitable locations and plan to expand the bed considerably. In the meantime, I've added some pink coneflowers. You see my next door neighbor's yard? He's a gardener, and I've been studying the way he's landscaped so I can design something that flows from it. More on that later - I'll be bouncing back and forth between indoor and outdoor projects.

48 comments:

  1. I don't blame you in the least for being too busy to blog, I would be the same way too if I just moved into new house.

    And can I just tell you, what you're doing looks faaaaaaaabulous! I cannot get over the new MAIL BOX. It's looks AWESOME! And I am so lovin' the boddhisatva statue at the base of the gardenia bush, beautiful touch! When I was still living in Florida, my landlords had gardenia bushes all around their house, and the smell was delicious. I love the smell of gardenia's!

    Your next door neighbors yard looks beautiful. And I'm sure yours will look the same because you have such a talent for gardening.

    I had poison ivy a few times when I was a kid. And all I can remember was how much it itched and pouring calamine lotion over it.

    Thanks for the update. Looking forward to seeing more as you progress.

    X

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    1. Gardenias are such a deep South plant and remind me of my childhood. I'm right at the edge for where they can survive, so we'll see how it does over the winter.

      I am surrounded on this street by gardeners - it really is beautiful and I'm looking forward to making my yard fit in better.

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  2. That flower bed looks lovely, the poison ivy, not so much. I've never had it thank goodness. I think we're too far north for poison ivy. Sadly, too far north for gardenias as well.

    And family drama and betrayal, I got that too. Hope it goes well.

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    1. I don't know where you live but poison ivy even grows in the southern parts o Canada. But may be a lot less prevalent farther north.

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  3. ouch ouch ouch...hope that dries up pretty quick for you...not fun...yard is looking nice....and great job on the mailbox...nice face lift...ugh...sucks on the betrayal...worst thing in the world...still smiting by one from well, years ago...ok...really it only resurfaces when it comes up...ha

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    1. Those hurts tend to hang on, don't they?

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  4. I'm thinking there's got to be a blog post in the fact you had a python named Mike. Ouch with the poison ivy! I like what you did with the mailbox, it is always fun to get settled into your new place and make it the home you want it to be. I am sorry about the family betrayal; you would think families would want to stick together and get along, but more often than not there always seems to be strife in them.

    betty

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    1. Mike was immediately post-separation, but my older s on hated having a snake in the house.

      Thanks. Families can be a mixed bag.

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  5. Good job on the mailbox! I thought of you last week when I was pulling out some weeds and brush and saw something that looked like poison ivy. I remember your run ins with it in the past. Feel better!

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    1. I seem to attract poison ivy. I've declared war on it.

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  6. I was feeling good about myself yesterday when I rearranged my closet... That's a lot of work.

    The last time I got poison ivy, I got a shot in the rear end and it cleared up quickly.

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    1. Any work done is progress.

      I'm a needle phobe, so I didn't even consider the shot option.

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  7. Your neighborhood looks positively bucolic.
    Never had poison Ivy, but poison oak many times. Once I had to have my wedding ring cut off and take steriods. If you can stand the side effects, prednisone works well.
    Good luck.

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    1. It is very green and tree-filled, that's for sure.

      Prednisone. All that swelling and the moon face thing. I'd rather ride it out.

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  8. Nice work, but ouch! The price we pay for beautification...Do you have any photos of Mike?

    I hope you feel better quickly.

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    1. I do, but they are on an external drive still in a box. Eventually I'll dig one out.

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  9. The flower gardens look beautiful but ouch that poison ivy! (and family stuff) Hope your skin and heart heal quickly...

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    1. The skin is already healing, so that's a start.

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  10. Ouch. That looks really painful. I got a case of poison ivy when I was younger so I feel your pain.

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    1. I seem to get a really bad case every other year or so.

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  11. Yeep. Sorry about the poison ivy. How horrid. Sorry too about the toxic family issue. It's good that you can still focus on the good things which really are still bountiful. The garden looks great in a way a blank canvas is now ready for your masterstrokes of inspiration. The post box looks great too. Don't forget a place for your squir...er.....bird feeder.

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    1. The good in my life far outweighs the bad, and I try to keep reminding myself of that. And not to worry - I have a couple of birdfeeders and a squirrel corn feeder out.

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  12. Your busy bee-ness puts me to shame. I just love your house, perfect size. And your gardens and ouch the poison ivy, I do hope it leaves you soon :)

    XO
    WWW

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    1. When I want to get things done, I have huge amounts of energy. And then I go into sloth mode for a while.

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  13. Replies
    1. The work and now, the fact that the rash has not taken the sense of humour off!

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  14. How big a plot have you got ? In the UK we don't have the yard concept, of our land joining next door's without a stone wall or a fence. We don't have poison ivy either! Bad luck, that looks sore!

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    1. It's just a third of an acre. We often have no clear boundary between yards, although my back yard is fenced in.

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  15. Wow, you've wasted no time getting to grips with the garden and rectifying the things you don't like! The mandevilla is lovely - a shame it's unlikely to survive the winter. You were unlucky with the poison ivy - I hope the rash clears up quickly.

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    1. It's okay about the mandevilla - it was inexpensive and brought some needed color into the yard. I figure what I don't change now, I'll probably let go for a long time, so I want to strike while the iron is hot.

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  16. I could use you at my house - not to do the work, but for your ideas. The transformation of your mailbox is magical.

    Sorry about the poison ivy. But if you're past the itchy part you're almost home.

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    1. Thanks! And yes, I'm now at the looks worse than it is stage with the poison ivy.

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  17. Isn't it fun to take on a new place and make it your own? The mailbox makes a big difference, and that bed looks great. I spent a few days on one of my overgrown beds and replanted flowers. I don't claim to be a gardener, but there is a little swell in my heart when I look out in the yard and see those flowers each morning. I hope that the poison ivy rash has healed. It makes me wonder what the purpose of that oil is within the evolutionary framework of the world.

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    1. See, I think that makes you a gardener. Perhaps not a master gardener, but I'm not that either. But working on flower beds to make them more beautiful and bring joy to your heart is what counts.

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  18. I like your new mailbox a lot better than the old one. Some people have the weirdest ideas what makes a place attractive.

    Sorry about the betrayal, I hope it clears up as fast as the poison ivy marks will.

    Enjoy your new home, making it your own will be a pleasure.

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    1. I think that mailbox post fit with the era when it was put up and then was a victim of neglect. I'm not a huge fan of wrought iron and less so of white wrought iron.

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  19. Lovely the way you have transformed the mailbox! But that poison ivy looks vile. I was just talking about it with an American friend. We don't have it here. I had no idea its effects were that bad. I surely hope you're better soon.

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    1. People vary in their susceptibility and I'm unfortunately very sensitive to the stuff. You can even get it internal if you breathe in burning poison ivy.

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  20. by now the poison ivy is gone, right? yes? i hope so. you are a trooper even in the way you describe the plight of it. i despise poison ivy. it pins me down.

    love the mailbox. love the new yard bed. i'm having a good gardening time myself:the yard was totally neglected all last year and this year i have the time. today and tomorrow the garden area: the zinnias and cosmos are in, the tomato plants are waiting (overdue), the bush beans may or may not get done. loving every minute of it. love love love this time of year.

    i still want details about your move: e.g. the differences between your old house and area and your new house and area.

    :^) happy for you, cs

    love
    kj

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    1. I have no itchiness left, just the healing patches. I've sprayed all I could find outside.

      I'll get to the descriptions as I go - a little at a time! And I love, love, love this time of year, too.

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  21. i quite agree with you about front doors and mailbox flags. red is it! it looks like a great little place and you've already done so much! i'm excited for you to be living amongst gardeners. i look forward to seeing what you do! i am sorry about the family situation and the poison ivy though....hope the healing goes well on both fronts.

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    1. I actually thought that was a rule for mailboxes, but apparently not. I do feel very lucky with my neighbors - it's an interesting contrast to my old neighbors who laughed a little (nicely) about how much time I spent working in my yard.

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  22. Sorry to hear about the family situation--yuck. Glad our family garbage is mostly restricted to my in-laws so I can just play dumb.

    I hope the poison ivy is now a memory.

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    1. I don't have in-laws anymore but they were never a problem for me. It's my own family that's filled with craziness!

      Almost a memory. The spots are fading now.

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  23. So sorry about your betrayal situation :( The mailbox looks great! True a boxwood is so dull....like what you did. Also sorry about the poison ivy. Looks like things are shaping up outside and I know you do enjoy the yard work.

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