Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ramblers and Ramblings

 HI PEEPS! I spent the weekend on this:

English Ivy creeping (or should I say LEAPING) through the fence. 

The same neighbors that are cultivating running bamboo also have a gargantuan spread of English ivy growing a few feet from the fence that divides our properties. In moderation, I like English ivy. The waxy dark green foliage is a nice counterpoint to the gray skies of the typical Oregon winter. I said MODERATION. But this plant doesn't do moderation. It's an invasive monster that must be kept in check with regular pruning (or blow torch) to keep it from eating the neighborhood. 

Of course, I neglected pruning it last summer, in lieu of more enjoyable pursuits. Dealing with ivy was too much like work especially in this part of the garden which sees temperatures that are at least 50 degrees warmer than the rest of my spread. While I was otherwise occupied, the sneaky stuff had rambled its way over the fence and into our wood box, located just to the right of the photo above. I cropped it out for your protection and my vanity. 

In November the ivy bloomed and despite the fact that Mother Nature had turned the temperature to something more doable, I couldn't disappoint the swarm of honeybees taking advantage of what appeared to be delicious ivy nectar. 

Then we had our arctic event, then Christmas and here it is January. Of course, the ivy flowers are long past their prime and the bees have vacated the premises. With decent weather this past weekend, I figured it was finally time to tackle the beast. Besides, indoor pursuits (read: taking the Christmas tree down) felt too much like work. 

First I had to remove all the wood from said wood box. In case you're wondering, the box is bigger than a small car. It measures roughly four feet tall, five feet deep and about six feet long, and weighs close to five thousand pounds. 

On Saturday I tugged and heaved and tossed the wood out, creating a giant pile. Picture the painter painting himself into a corner. There are purposely no pictures so you'll have to take my word for it. 

Then with everything out and with the hubby's help, the wood box monstrosity was relocated away from the fence so I could get to the aforementioned monster ivy. But I was tired so I called it a day. 

Sunday meant restacking the wood which took a few hours, several cups of coffee and subsequent trips to the bathroom which meant stepping over piles of logs and scrap wood with exposed nails. Yeah. I had to be careful, which is why the coffee was so important. 

Finally, with the wood neatly (sort of) stacked in the wood box, I could tackle the ivy. I was mistaken. A few hours into it, I realized that taking the Christmas tree down was not work. 

Today, I'm fine, as long as I don't move. My muscles are annoyed with me. 

It was too late in the day to get an "after" photo so you'll have to--again--take my word for it. Despite my excessive bitching, the results were worth the effort. 

Moving on, I thought I'd do like the many talented bloggers out there and share a few of the highlights of 2013. 

Here is a photo of what I call the "South Lawn" in the dead of last winter.
The sticks in the foreground are raspberry canes awaiting my pruning prowess. 

Here is the same area in July of 2013.

And just for fun, a different angle of the same border.
So, are we ready for spring? 

Bleh! Here it is in October.
Reality sucks.

In April, I was lamenting to my friend Joy the plight of my 'Tiger Eye Sumac' (Rhus typhina). Basically I thought I'd killed it when I dug and moved it. Joy encouraged me that it was alive and that I needed to exercise a little patience. She was right, of course. Thank you Joy. 

Tiger Eye--alive and well, with rose foliage

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that my hubby and I finally got up the nerve to remove our pathetic excuse for a deck. I documented the project here.

Part of the deck is behind this jungle of plants (below).

Stage 1 -- Crazy Jungle 

Stage 2 -- The taming begins,
Deck removed, no patio yet

Stage 3 -- Much better, patio installed
(If you look closely, you'll see the aforementioned English ivy behind the umbrella.) 

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of my Winter Sweet (Cimonathus praecox) almost blooming.

Stage 1 -- Buds!
On Sunday: 
Stage 2 -- Fragrant Flowers! Hooray. 
In closing, I rarely get good photo of my kitties (not enough patience) but I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to capture Nala in her basket. The photo is a little grainy which proves I'm not a photographer. 



  1. I bet you are happy to get that ivy job finished. It's so nice to see pictures of your garden, especially the ones with flowers!

  2. I feel for you (and with you!) on the ivy!! It is planted along our fence line, as well. Guess who planted it? ME. Years ago. It once covered the fence on both sides and was pretty darned cool but eventually took over my garden beds and that of the neighbors. My husband and I spent days removing it from the fence and the entire area of the ground on our side. Took it off the trees, as well. Except, it is still on the neighbor's side and threatens my garden on an ongoing basis. Whenever it gets to the fence, I reach through and pull it out! So far so good but it's a constant struggle. And yes, you ARE a photographer, I see no graininess in your kitties photo...what a cutie :)

  3. Cute post about your garden ramblings. English Ivy is good when controlled but it can get way out of hand very quickly. I have to constantly pull some coming through the fence from the neighbor's side....grrr! Hope you are feeling better,resting up a bit and keeping warm!

  4. That adorable face at the end knocked out any thoughts I had...what a sweetheart.

  5. Aw! Nala is beautiful! Hope you're feeling a little less sore. I haven't been out there gardening in so long, I'm really kind of scared what kind of aches and pains I'll have when I start up again.

  6. I know it was a lot of work but Nala says thank you. You have an incredible garden Grace...and yes, Nala is adorable. : )

  7. Nala is a cutie! And your garden is looking great. I love all the lush plants in the spring and summer! Yes, I'm ready for spring!

  8. Awwww...sweet Nala! Thanks for the look back, your garden always looks lovely to me, Grace! I haven't really gone out and done anything in the garden raking the leaves off the sidewalks a few months ago...there really isn't anything that needs to be done until the big cutting back next month...so I'm enjoying these few months where I don't have to feel guilty about being lazy ;-)

  9. Oh my gosh, how crazy is that first "before and after" shot?!?! What a difference a few months makes. My screen saver is a rolling slideshow of all my garden photos. It's fun to sit on the bed and see spring and summer flash by. My yard is a holy hell nightmare right now. But I did notice some daffodil buds as I was walking out the door to pick up kids from school today. Now THAT'S exciting!!!

    I lived in a rental where I gardened and the car lot behind the chain link was oblivious to my ivy hatred. I spent too many hours of my life yanking that crap.

  10. The summertime photos are a good reminder of exactly why you spend time performing the seemingly thankless tasks, like pulling out gobs of rampant ivy. Congratulations on taking care of that - and on catching a wonderful photo of the elusive kitty.

  11. I guess after rampant bamboo and rampant ivy you have to have rampany purging of both. I don't envy you that task. I'll keep your battle in mind next summer when my sweet but non- gardening neighbor lets his weeds seed like crazy into my garden. That's nothing compared to what you're dealing with!

    The images of your summer garden are exactly what we all need right now and the image of Nale is perfect for any time of the year - what a lovely girl!

  12. Its amazing to see these ivy invade your garden.
    Don't get me wrong - somehow I find ivies tend to succumb to sudden death when it comes to my garden.
    So much so - I had come to accept that they hate living in my garden...
    Guess bringing down Christmas Tree is a big work.
    Mine had not come down yet..

  13. Grace
    I remember your patio before and after (Stage 3) and I loved the new floor design.Actually the ivy is a hard weed and you're right fighting against it.
    Nice photo of your Nala, I think she loves her basket!

  14. Gracie girl I feel for yo with that ivy ! .. Hubby and I tugged and pulled most of our Englemann(spelling?) down on both side of the deck .. I have yet to attack the roots which are monsters too. So that is a Spring chore for sure ! .. I pulled my muscles attacking yoga, yes .. I am too stupid to live because I thought I could stretch just that much more and my body SNAPPED .. just getting better now .. BIG sigh!
    Every time I see pictures of your gardens there is something I didn't notice before .. always a treat! .. and look at Nala .. how cute can a kitty be ?
    Joy : )

  15. I think your garden is so lush but the ivy would drive me crazy, too. I'm sure a blowtorch would help solve the problem. So would a few sticks of dynamite. Even dormant, your garden isn't as bad as you think it is. Mine is brown blob of blah.


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