Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to our yard.

The yard. Poor, sad, neglected yard. This will be about our backyard, but can I just confess that yesterday, I was walking through our front yard and realized that one of the bushes is quite dead? And looks like it has been for a long time. And I am only just now noticing. This is typical for my level of involvement in the yard and probably always will be, so bear that in mind as you read the rest of this post.

El Hub's reason for never spending time in or taking care of the yard is because he loathes the sun. He might be a vampire. I'm not sure. Can't be expected to know everything about your spouse. Gotta keep a little mystery, you know?

One of my reasons is because I am allergic to grass. Like, break out in hives allergic. Hives so bad my concerned SIL asked me last Thanksgiving if I was okay after seeing an outbreak on my arm. Turns out I seem to be especially allergic to the kind of grass we have. St. Augustine grass shouldn't even be called a grass, it's essentially a tightly woven network of weeds that dares you to try to break through them with that dinky shovel you received as a hand-me-down when you moved into your own home.

But then we had this kid, and our reasons are ready to fly out the window (and land on the itchy grass outside). This super cute kid who gets super bored if we fail to switch it up constantly and introduce him to fun new things. I do not blame him of no longer finding hanging out in our living room fun anymore. Right there with you, little buddy.

So we expanded to the patio, a makeover I should probably save for another post if I can ever track down "before" photos of the brick desert it once was. Now it is a George-friendly playground with lots of comfortable seating for us adults. But still, his curiosity grows, and he wants to know what's on the other side of that patio screen.

Which brings us back to the yard. Here are some shoddy photos of how it looked in 2009, almost a year after we moved in:

Watching Space Shuttle Launch Watching Space Shuttle Launch


Empty. Bare. Sad. No wonder we didn't spend time out there. So a few years ago when the City had a free tree giveaway, we jumped on it. A very kind coworker let us borrow her truck to tote two very large magnolias to our home:

Electronic Waste Collection and Tree Giveaway at Festival Park

And then for whatever reason, I did not take photos of them after some very nice people from the local nursery planted them for us (remember that El Hub = potential vampire, me = allergic to grass. Which, come to think of it, is probably why I did not take photos. Or I was lazy and did not foresee a day when I would be searching my hard drive for such a photo for before and after purposes.). They were a little taller than me, probably about six feet high. In the years since then, they have grown much, much taller - it is difficult to guess, but it is possible they have doubled in height.

We always intended to plant a third tree on the far side of the yard to create a triangle of trees...and we did, a year after the magnolias. It was another free tree from the City, a Tabebuia. It would have been a gorgeous tree, but we are pretty certain it must have been on its last legs when we brought it home. We had it planted anyway, and sure enough, not one bloom ever graced its branches. Oops.

Our Yard Our Yard: Before the Drake Elm
Both taken with my back to where the fence meets the front of our house, each a slightly different angle to the right and left, respectively.

Our Yard: Before the Drake Elm
Taken with my back to the far corner of our yard.

The little black pot marks where an old orange tree stump needs to be removed. A little to the left of that is where the Tabebuia met its maker. This photo also makes it apparent how bare the side of our house looks since there is no landscaping. The corner I am standing in to take the above photo is where I like to dream a gazebo will go someday. El Hub has always talked about doing the research and installing a koi pond someday. Big dreams. Big dreams that cost a lot. More realistic dreams include installing a floodlight or two with motion sensors, planting ridiculously low-maintenance and hard-to-kill plants along the side of the house. Mexican Bluebells, Butterfly Bushes, and Milkweed have been recommended to me for our area of Florida so far, but I need to do some research to find out if any of those are 1) non-toxic or 2) truly impossible for me to kill since they will most certainly be neglected.

Another realistic dream came about a few months ago. After realizing how much the kiddo loves being on the patio and I love not being cooped up in the house with him all day, I started thinking about the spot for that third tree. If we even wanted a decent shot at shade by the time George hits elementary school, we needed to plant something now. This was a much more attainable goal than the gazebo and the koi pond, and its growing canopy would make spending time in the yard more enjoyable for years to come. So say hello to Drake, the Drake Elm (so clever, hardy har har!):

Our Yard: After the Drake ElmOur Yard: After the Drake Elm
Can you see him? He's kind of a waif right now. Don't worry, I have him on a diet of water and fertilizer.

Our Yard: After the Drake Elm
There you go, on the left. You can see the ropes staked to the ground that are holding him upright until we can bulk him (and his roots) up.

Here's a better look:

Our Yard: Drake Elm

So now I just have to keep it alive. The magnolias are alive, right? The dead Tabebuia was a fluke, RIGHT?

Wish me luck.

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