Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Healing Power of Dirt and Other Pleasures

It's true: Dirt has properties that make us feel good. Didn't you gardeners know it all along? I always feel marvelous after days of digging and pulling weeds, planting seeds. Any science that confirms what I believe already is the most awesome kind of science there is.

So. I did address the kitty litter and I did move some boxes and fold laundry. And I am still pulled in too many directions, but thanks to the healing power of dirt, I am feeling pretty good.

Here is what is going on at the Bird House. In the back, where the garage wall is perpendicular with the kitchen wall, we have a shady area that was in need of drainage, rat control and a new direction in landscaping. Okay. Time for some before shots...

Nothing too offensive about the plantings, but none of them were particularly happy in this northern exposure corner. Cute stockings, Maria!

Here is a wider view... not of the chicken. Look just passed the cute baby, and you'll notice the monstrous water sucking jungle plant. (My apologies to fans of monstrous water sucking jungle plants.)

Marissa, Betty and Alison are welcome any time, but the water sucker and high soil levels had to go. Water was pooling around the foundation and messing up the siding. There was no drainage. We were violating building codes. Chaos and hysteria were... just kidding. But it was not good.

Everything has a natural order. Plants should not be leggy and useless, water should not sit on the house, and chickens should not stalk children for pumpkin bread handouts.

This is the adjacent bed that needed work. See the clumping mass of green? It was pretty, in a picture, but up close it was plain to see that the woody branches of the mock orange were getting old and tired. The branches were weak and the worst offense... it was a giant rats' nest. Go ahead... say it... Eewww. That's right. So Cal is no stranger to Rattus-rattus, so good-bye mock orange.

Ready for some after shots? I still cannot find my camera battery and then the Maria camera disappeared too. I finally found the little camera and about one hundred self-portraits taken by our resident artist...

Love digital. Imagine if these kinds of shots were taken on film. I would have had double prints of thirty six nostril and ceiling photographs.

Yes, the digital age is quite a blessing. And now we have peek in to the mind of a four year old artist.

It seems Maria is not the only one that wants to make an impression.
Drainage in.
Weed barrier down.

And in goes flagstone, so we can access the meter boxes, faucet and side gate.
And we rescued the pineapple guavas from the lower water, xeriscaped garden, where they were never going to thrive. Now instead of water sucking rat harborers, we have water sucking fruit bearing shrubs, which will nurture and feed us and make guava loving children very, very happy.

Maria planted the barrel on the right, and we are going to get some cool season veggies in the other barrel. Calla lilies were competing with the mock orange... they will be much happier now that they have some room and light. It's coming together. It's messy and labor intensive. It's so much more fun than spot-cleaning rental carpet.

Let me slip in a little pumpkin carving. We did this Saturday night. Not October 31st Saturday... why be typical? We were carving pumpkins November 7th and it was great fun. Alex was finally free of his fever. Garrison was on the radio, praising ketchup. We even knew where there were candles and matches. And then we had roasted pumpkin seeds, which is simply wonderful.

Is this post getting too long? I don't know why I ask, since I fully intend to ramble on.

And here is the kitchen side garden. "We" put the camellias down by the pool, where we hope they will be happier. If you want to see what a happy camelia looks like I suggest you visit Nikkipolani's garden today... she and her Roomie are cooking-photo-kitty-gardening inspirations.

Maria, Max, Alex and I have been putting in gardenias, Irish moss, mint, pansies.
Betty inspects each addition.

And we have planted lots and lots of rocks in here.

It's still too soon to say "Ta-Da."

Oh what the heck...


I am pretty sure this is not the direction Martha would have gone, but our ladybug sandbox just begged to be included in the design. Maria plants herself in the sand and plays for hours.

And now I am going to tackle another box before I get back to the dirt.
Thank you.
Have a healthy-dirty day.

One more thing: Karen, I think of you too as I play in the garden. You are a master gardener.


Simone said...

Looks absolutely wonderful! And I fully agree: gardening makes happy. Unfortunately, our garden is only small, very small... Next time, next house, it'll be different!

judy in ky said...

I wish I had your climate. We are just waiting for everything to freeze. Your "after" picture looks great!

Katie said...

Wow, you have already done so much! And I typically skip thru long posts but never here on Chicken Blog!

Love the sandbox. The Bird House already has such life ans spirit.

Laura Jane said...

looking great!!!!

I can FEEL you having fun!

Jo James said...

Wheeeee! What fun!
My hands are so rarely covered in dirt. Glue and paint, yes. Dirt, not so much. Someday we'll be done with renting and I'll get my hands dirty!
Oh, and I totally approve of incorporating Ladybug into the landscaping! EVERY yard should have a sandbox, preferably bug-shaped.

mtnchild said...

I wonder why some people think that all plants will grow where ever they want to put them? You are a gardener! Knowing where plants will be happiest means a more beautiful garden ... go figure.

I'd love to have a ladybug in my garden (pine barren) but I would have a very happy cat to say the least. I'm also not so old that I think I'm in my second childhood ... LOL - - even though I do want a really tall swing stuck to two pine trees.

Enjoy everything about the bird house!

Hugs, Yvette

lover mother said...

this makes me wish I had a backyard - so bad!