Sunday, February 07, 2010

All Around the Mulberry Tree...


It has been so raining hard the last few weeks that our door mat has grown an impressive coating of furry white mold. The rains have also meant that the arborist we've hired to cut down our mulberry tree hasn't been able to work.

I really hate to cut down any tree, but this one has to go. The base is rotted out, it has a form like the Whomping Willow, the berries get stuck in everyone's shoes and make the floors look like bloody murder. I'm hoping that when this tree is removed, we'll have more sun, which will increase my gardening options.

Not very attractive, huh? If this were a native tree, or a tree that produced fruits that either Robb or I actually enjoyed eating, I'd work to improve its health.

This is the view from the back corner of our yard. I'm standing under our plum tree, which is also in rough shape, but which I'm hoping can be pruned (over the next few years) back into a healthier, more manageable form. You can see our little sitting area, which is under our Pittosporum undulatum, or Victorian Box Tree. Right now this tree is in bloom. The flowers aren't much to look like, but they smell heavenly. And the local honey bees are all over them.

Here's another view of the mulberry. It's really a mess. Behind it, in a black plastic pot is our baby Meyer Lemon. I still haven't figured out where it is going to live. Luckily, these trees are quite happy to grow in containers.

Further down, and on the left side of the path are the persimmon tree and the camellia. Both will be getting some love from the arborist on Monday. The persimmon was incompetently butchered, probably when the house was put up for sale. Some bonehead chopped one half of the tree off, with no regard for its health or appearance. The arborist assures me that he can improve things. The camellia was covered with jasmine vines when we moved in. Jasmine is lovely, but around here it's incredibly aggressive. I chopped off the lower parts of the vines, and tomorrow the crown of the camellia will be set free. (I still have more jasmine than I know what to do with. Anyone want some? I'll dig it up for you.)

On the right side of the path is our beautiful dwarf lemon. I still haven't figured out what variety it is. That tree needs no work. Or, I should say, it's short enough that I was able to do all the pruning myself.

The pitosporum will also see some care. When we bought the house, that portion of the yard was completely overgrown with inch-thick, elastic, Tarzan-worthy vines. The vines covered our back fence, two lilac bushes, and most of the pitosporum. I've been working on the ground-level vine eradication project, but it's slow going. The vines grow from a mound of tubers that were four feet tall when I started digging them out.

I've never seen anything like this vine. So far, I've filled our big green yard waste trash can two or three times. (I'm not risking putting these tubers in our compost, because I'm afraid they would take over our yard.) The mound from which they grow is literally nothing but tubers. They're smelly, and some of them are completely rotten and slimy.

And they're the habitat for the slender salamanders that live in our yard. I'm have very tender-hearted feelings for the salamanders, so I tried to be careful whilst tearing apart the Devil's Tubers. I found and relocated over twenty little salamanders. I also found three wildly thrashing salamander tails, which was pretty horrible.

(I know we have a lot of blog readers who spent a large portion of this weekend shoveling snow. We'll all have sore muscles together on Monday. But at least you won't be haunted by the spirit of angry tail-less salamanders.)

Once the trees are taken care of, and the veggie garden is further along, the next big garden project is likely to be some kind of improvement to The World's Ugliest Fence. Can you see this mess? It's made of, among other things, rotting plywood, rotting timbers, cinderblock, and orange construction fencing. It's topped off with extension ladders. Awesome.

We don't know the neighbors on this side, don't know who owns the fence, and are not certain if they speak English. So we're not really sure how to proceed.


Mel said...

It's SO good to see the color green! Thanks for sharing - we didn't watch football either, but were holed up indoors.

Anonymous said...

I love doing back yard fix ups, and literally started hyperventilating when I saw the photos of your yard! You have SO MUCH potential its crazy!

I would immediately say "wha hoo!" that you tested your soil and it's ok. it seems impossible to me, but great. You have incredible options with the use of large oversize outside mirrors you could mount on selected walls, in order to achieve the illusion of larger space. Even if you just make sure to have climbing ivy grow on a flat form to create a sort of ivy wall illusion, and put an arched way formed mirror in there as well to create the idea of a pathway to another "room".

I would immediately put bamboo, or wooden fencing up against your "worlds ugliest wall" or plant arbortvitae (they do eventually grow to 5 feet in depth, however). If you paint any structures it could be light-colored to reflect more light into the space, if you want it. It reminds me of different backyards in Baltimore I got to work in, and the comfortable casualness of it all is very appealing.

Trellises will add a few more spaces for things to grow on, you can just stick to growing veggies on them until you decide on a permanent plant- like grapes.

It also looks like you have a LOT of thinning out to do- be brutal, and I suspect your remaining plants will do great.

I will always regret not having a pink flamingo in my yard.


colormecynical said...

speaking of jasmine and brutality, I heartlessly annihilated the one in my yard yesterday. I'm normally patient with flowering vines and just try to re-route 'em and give them a haircut, but it was getting into the house. Creeping tendrils had shoved between a window and the brickwork and made their way not only into the shed (1900's privy, now capped and full of trowels) but pulled the cast iron gutter clear off. Yay renting. The owner has been lenient with the nightmare plant for too long--it's grown along and through a hedgerow 10m long, wound round a fat holly, and has a strong hold on the back fence. I cleared out the whole area next to the shed and discovered it's concrete, which is disappointing for planting but I can put some potted vegetables there (it may be a good parking spot for portable pots, which may be good seeing how the weather is completely berzerk this year. It snowed Again today. In London!)

Kay/The Little Foxes said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures and dreams of your yard - it's lovely - and will be lovelier! I also enjoy the view of "somewhere different" - we have an actual Blizzard Warning out right now! I had to read the weather report to find out what the technical definition of a Blizzard Warning is (snow and wind combo).....

We have a very large mulberry tree on our property - at the top of one of the pastures, where it provides lots of food for lots of birds - but doesn't bother us - that's a good place for it.

We have an apple tree that's almost - but not quite - as ugly as your mulberry tree. If the blizzard of today doesn't take it down, then we will probably have to remove it this summer. It's falling over, and the apples are horrible (though Rosie the rabbit loves them). We are going to replace it with a ginkgo tree or three. We have some growing in the "nursery area" and they are one of my favorite trees.

Oh, and speaking of ugly - and I would never had said it if you hadn't first - your backyard fence..... in the immortal words of Will Smith in "Men in Black"....."Damn".......

Thanks again for sharing!

Anonymous said...







Gina said...

Perhaps put a nice looking wood fence in front of the ugly one?

Karen Anne said...

Salamanders can regrow their tails.


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