And, since there is no commandment that "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's garden," I shall continue to indulge.
Our vacation in North Carolina was almost enough to make me want to move back East. So much water! So much green!! But ... also, lots of bugs and lots of want-to-stay-inside weather. And state-constitutional amendments based on religion, which really piss me off. So, I'll stay here in sunny CA ... though it was a bit sad flying in over our gray & brown city.
Spent several hours and quite a few bucks working on my patio garden over the weekend. I had at least one old plant that I knew I would be getting rid of, although I didn't anticipate just what a chore it would be: A potted palm, about four feet high.
It took me a half hour of wrestling, digging, and chopping to cut loose the tree and another fifteen minutes to get the completely root-filled dirt block out of the planter. But after dragging the corpse out to the alley dumpster, I had room to assemble my new collection of flowering, hummingbird-friendly plants.
The first necessity was new shelving for the rack at the far end of the patio. The way we had it set up, it supported a single layer of plants. I wanted to use two shelves, and that meant putting the top shelf higher. And I needed new actual surfaces, because the particle board that originally came with the thing had long since dissolved and what I had was a trashy assortment of scavenged bits of questionable structural integrity.
After a lot of Googling, I abandoned the notion of buying prefab shelves and just took myself to the lumberyard to have some plywood cut to size. Mr. P helped me reconfigure the rails and then the plywood went on top. And then I could load the shelves!
Another necessity was cutting back my big ficus and re-shaping my little one. The rule I follow is, cut off no more than 20% of the plant if you want it to recover quickly and thrive. The little ficus barely needed any cutting; my goal is to keep it at its present height and let it umbrella out a bit, so I just had to take a little off the top.
The big ficus did end up losing the full 20%. It needs to be re-potted, but I don't want to go to a bigger container: so the entire tree needs to stay the same height it is now, and I will eventually reduce its spread. But once it's recovered from the amputations, the re-potting process has to start.
To do that, I'll need a really big washtub type thing. Once I (and my minions) get the tree out of its current pot, it will go in the washtub to soak in water for at least a week before I trim the roots. I'll add all fresh new Miracle Gro (organic) to the pot before putting the tree back.
It's kind of like doing a bonsai, is my understanding, just with a full-size plant. Although full-size is a joke with a ficus, which can get 60 or more feet high.
A full count of the life on my 150 square foot patio:
- One 5-foot ficus tree
- One 3-foot ficus tree
- One 4-foot money tree sharing tenancy with a peace lily (they seem to get along together very well) and a yellow begonia
- One jade plant
- One yellow cymbidium orchid that needs to be divided and repotted (it has bloomed twice but I suspect it is sulking now)
- Three sets of spider plants, two in a 2-tier planter and one in a separate container
- One dracaena container, with two different small plants
- Another dracaena container, with a single multi-stemmed 4-foot plant
- One Japanese maple, 3-foot size
- One jasmine plant, which I attempt to keep in a shrubby state
- One mostly-white trailing philodendron
- Two chinaberry plants
- One foxtail
- One glass bowl full of money tree cuttings, probably soon to go the way of the palm tree (the way that money tree tries to grow, I will never run out of cuttings)
- Three Astilbe, which I prefer to call "horse feathers," with green foliage and a pink flower (soon)
- Three Coral Bells with a pink flower and maroon foliage
- Two honeysuckle fuschias, with sunset pink flowers and green/maroon foliage
- Three double-ruffle begonias with a scarlet flower and maroon foliage
This seems like A Lot, doesn't it? But our patio constitutes the entirety of our "view," and this is the only green space we really have. There is room to walk through it, and that's good enough for me.