Monday, April 30, 2007

Cedar Tree Planting

On Saturday, Cary's folks and Jack Flannigan came out for an evening visit, and brought us this big (6'), beautiful bare-root cedar tree to add to our plantings. So on Sunday, we planted it on the nature trail into the swamp that Miriam started a couple weeks back. We extended the trail a little further, to a small clearing on a little hill - really a nice spot for a little cedar to grow up. Cary dug a hole and we brought in a wheelbarrow load of compost to give it a good start...
We watered it well, and Cary staked it up. It should do well in this spot, I think.
Someday, when it has grown up into a big tree, maybe it can be the anchor to one end of the zipline. :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Berry Planting No. 1

After we finished the weed whacking, we started planting berries along the fence. We have been collecting plants at various community plant sales and visits to nurseries for a while, but last weekend we really went crazy at RainTree Nursery south of Olympia. Yesterday we planted 11 berry plants, and we still have 6 more in pots. The ones we planted all need support, so thats why we put them along the fence. The remaining 6 are freestanding, so we'll find another spot for them later.

Here's Cary on the second-to-last hole. He dug big, deep holes through the sod for each plant, and then we filled the holes in with compost & mulch. Hopefully that will make up for the heavy, wet clay soil.
One of the plants in its new home. This is a Sylvan Marionberry, which is a little earlier than a regular Marionberry. Doesn't it look healthy!
We aranged the berries along the fence in order of ripening, from Early (July) to Late (October). The early berries are furthest from the house. In order from NW to SE, we have:
  • Thornless Loganberry
  • Obsidian Blackberry
  • Sylvan Marionberry (2)
  • Marionberry
  • Tayberry (3)
  • Cascade Blackberry
  • Mystery Berry (lost ID tag)
  • Chester Blackberry
It's a lot of berries, but we still need more. For one thing, we don't even have any raspberries yet! We'll get them though, eventually.

Once we had planted all the berries along the fence, we also planted a pair of rhubarb startes that Dave had given us, one on each side of the gate. Then I potted up all our remaining plants into larger pots, so they can continue to grow while we think about where they should be permanently planted. Here is our current collection - there's a fair bit of work remaining, as you can see!

Weed Whacker

We got a weed whacker (aka string trimmer) a little while ago, but yesterday was the first day we really put it to work. It's a nice one, a Shindawa T242. It's the light end of the professional models - it's gas powered, and someday we can buy attachments for it like a hedge trimmer or an edger. Cary does several hours a day of weed whacking professionally at the cemetery, so he'd have been really frustrated with a low powered home-owner model. With the amount of grass we have out here, it was definitely worth getting the best trimmer we could afford - and it really does a great job. We cleared along both sides of the fence in front of the house, and then planted blackberries, loganberries, marionberries & tayberries (more on that in my next post).

Here's what the grass looked like before we got started:

Cary actually did most of the cutting, but I took a turn at the start:

Bwa-ha-ha! I am the all-powerful Destoyer of Grass. It can't run or hide.

Here's the whole fence, about 250' long, cleared on both sides:
Looks pretty nice, doesn't it? Lots more to do, of course. I'll be back in a while with part II - the Planting. Right now, it's a beautiful morning and I've finished my breakfast, so it's time to go back outside and do some more work!

Friday, April 20, 2007


The seeds I started about a week ago on the sunporch are coming up! I planted sunflowers, snapdragons, calendula & nasturtiums. The seeds for the sunflowers and the snapdragons came from my cousin Jess's garden, and the calendula & nasturtiums came from grandma Joy's garden. It sure felt good to plant them, and its even better to see them come up!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bridge Accomplished

Yesterday, Cary and his brother Eric built a bridge over the stream that divides the property in two. It's not a big waterway, as you can see below, but the sides are muddy & indistinct enough that jumping over it usually meant getting your feet wet.
They used nearby logs for the undersupports, and reclaimed pallet wood (from the tile pallet that had been sitting in the yard for months) for the decking. The nails were from the tail ends of nail-gun ammo strips that we picked up and saved during the construction. A cool side effect of using scavenged/recycled materials is that it makes it feel more like building a childhood fort than a grown-up project.

Sprout models the finished bridge. No more wet & muddy feet! That's a cause a cat can really get behind, you know?

While Cary & Eric put the bridge together, Miriam and I (mostly Miriam) cleared the brush off a mossy ridge of stones which extends into the nearby swamp, creating an incredible little natural stone nook garden. It's very japanese looking, with a beautiful snag sticking up next to to big beautiful moss & fern covered boulders.

It's a really neat little space, we'll have to improve the path and trim a bit more brush around the edges and presto- instant rock garden! Someday the path will continue from bridge to the rock garden and then further into the swamp to the birdwatching tower and the zipline...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Burn Baby Burn

Hurrah! The small pile is burnt, now I just have to do the gigantic one. You can see it in the background of the first two shots, covered with plastic to help dry it out. It's easily 4 times larger than this one I burnt today. It probably requires having some machinery on hand to burn it safely, so I'm hoping Dad will be able to come over sometime and help me with it.

Here's today's pile, after removing the tarp and before lighting it up:
Can you beleive our christmas tree is still green? The needles are all still attached and pliable. Oh well, it'll burn anyway, along with the lower branches I pruned off our cedar trees just today.

Here it goes!

These cedar rootwads have been burnt at least three times now, but they are just such huge lumps that we'd have to burn them for days & days. Cary had a super idea though: instead of trying to burn them yet again, we're going to arrange them into a circle, pile dirt on & in between them, and make a planting area for native red huckleberries. The huckleberries will love it, and I think it will really look nice. I'm not sure where or when we'll do it, but it's a great idea, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Shelves for Organizing Stuff

I put up shelves in the closet under the stairs. I'm pretty happy about it, too. Not only does this mean that I can cross something off the To-Do List (yay!) but I did it all by myself. It might come as a surprise, since I've just managed to get a whole house built, but I really have very little experience actually building things myself. Mostly, my talents seem to lie in instructing* and organizing other people to actually use the tools and build things. I guess putting up some shelving brackets doesn't exactly count as building anything, but I DID use several tools. And it turned out pretty good! The shelves are kind of bare at the moment, but I am sure they will fill up with time.

I even put up a hanging rack thingie to keep the broom & dust mop from falling all over the place. I'm really looking forward to being able to find the hammer, a light bulb, or the WD-40 quickly the next time I need one of them. :)

*OK, I'm just bossy. I can admit it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fairhaven Plant Sale

Yesterday we went to the Fairhaven Plant & Tree sale. We tried to restrain ourselves, and had some success, but even so we came home with the backseat full of new shrubs & plants. We bought two Arctic Willows (salix purpurea 'nana'), which should do very well in our wet, heavy soil.
The other shrub we came home with was a gift from Cary's parents. It's a lovely and unusual shrub from asia, Cryptomeria japonica 'elegans compacta', commonly called Dwarf Japanese Cedar, although it's not related to cedars at all. The regular species is a big tree, but this cultivar is only supposed to get about 6' tall. It's plenty winter hardy for our area, but we will have to try and find a place for it where its roots won't get too flooded.

We haven't yet figured out where these new shrubs will be planted, so for now they are joining our own little "nursery" in the yard. We have some rhubarb, some blackberries, a couple of sea buck-thorns and a few other things already in the collection. We actually planted a pair of Mock Oranges (Philadelphus lewisii) on either side of the driveway the other day, so there's hope that we'll get the rest of the collection in the ground before too much longer.
(no, ours are not in bloom, I found this picture on someone else's website!)

We also picked up a few herb starts at the plant sale, which I planted in one of our large planters, along with a nice big volunteer parsley plant that Dave dug out of his garden for us. What a nice way to spend a spring day - looking at plants and then puttering around potting a little bit. :)