Monday, April 27, 2009

A storm's a-brewin'...

And it's been brewing all weekend! Every second, it looked like it could start pouring. But it didn't. Instead, it was breezy and warm. Absolutely perfect.

Saturday, we got the front flower beds cleared out and weeded. Then we planted 2 varieties of hostas around the bird bath-- 3 small plants and 3 bulbs. I should have planted the tubers last fall, but I never got around to it. So if they don't make it up out of the ground this year, I'll see them next spring!

Here's the best shot I can find of the flower beds "before":

It basically looks as though there's no flower beds there. We had let the grass sort of take over under the gold dust plants, and the vinca and cherry laurels had taken over the bird bath area-- that's right. By the time we got to the weeding, we had small cherry laurel trees growing in the bed. I may transplant one of those trees to the other side of the yard; they're hardy and evergreen. Lovely. And don't get me wrong. Vinca is fantastic as ground cover. But it was looking a little unmanageable. Same thing with what I thought was ajuga under the gold dust plants. It had somewhat similar leaves and purple flowers were appearing; however, the flowers didn't spike up...Now I think it's some variety of dichondra..? Regardless, it is insidious.

Now the front of the house (taken in the dark):

Holy crap, right? There's an actual edge to that flower bed. And let me preempt the stern talkings-to that I anticipate about the cypress mulch. My mom worked in a nursery and did landscaping, and it's what we always used. I love the smell, the color, the texture. I have found out, since buying my front yard supply, that it is not sustainable. I will look into equally attractive more sustainable alternatives in furture. Until then, this is what I have.

The plan is to transplant some of Mom's monkey grass from her garden to fill out the border, to trim or tie back the low-hanging gold dust branches, and then to go behind the grass with brightly colored foliage-- coleus and caladiums. There's too much shade for constantly blooming flowers.

Then we planted some hanging baskets. A fuschia:

And petunias and impatiens:

We also bought some basil and a rather large tomato plant. It's lazy. I know.

In addition to a number of other little minor repairs, Adam and the kiddo put together an outdoor doggie bed. When the weather is nice, the dog wants to stay outside. While outside, he likes to dig his bed. Some have suggested it's for the coolness of the dirt, but I think it's even more instinctual than that. (BTW-- I did consider the pool idea suggested last summer, but this is a dog that hates getting his skin wet SO MUCH that I can't imagine he would use it. Might be worth a shot, though). A lot of dogs dig their beds inside, as well. And as I've mentioned, he's 14-- a lot of habits are pretty ingrained by this point. Simon is also a bit leery of closed spaces. He doesn't even like us to close the door in the bedroom, which is why I think he doesn't like to go into the shed where his comfy dog bed is at present.

So the final product has a roof and bed, but no walls; it's against the house (where he seems to prefer), and it is diggable.

Ok. Now to preempt bed filler discussions. Yes that is cedar bedding. Yes I am aware that many people think cedar bedding is a no-no. I have looked into it and am using it for a number of reasons. The main objections to the bedding appears to be that it can cause allergies. Simon had cedar bedding for 12 years at my mother's house with no problems-- in fact, he seemed to like it very much, and for such a creature of habit, the more that's "the same" the better. So no allergies. Pregnant dogs and puppies shouldn't use it for a few reasons. There are some worries that some dogs eat it; he doesn't. Another concern is respiratory problems. This seems to be primarily involving small animals that live 24/7 confined in cages or glass tanks with the stuff. Again, he doesn't. And finally, people who use their dogs for hunting say that it interferes with their sense of smell.

We used it because, again, it's something he is very familiar with and has enjoyed in the past, it has a number of pest repellant properties, it will keep him drier than blankets and it's cooler than straw, I believe. I may mix straw in with the chips, and it's not that he spends all day there. He is in and out, but with the weather as nice as it is, he's out more than in. I open the door and he stands and looks at me and dances around for me to come play, but doesn't want to come in. So be it. We'll shingle and paint the house if he does indeed use it and like it.

The vet did give us new meds that we hope he is tolerating. We have mega storms blowing in this afternoon and evening, so we'll know a bit more tomorrow on how effective they are with the the thunder and lightning. I'm hoping to add in the anxiety wrap, as the vet warned these meds will only "take the edge off." Fingers crossed. He had such a happy weekend with the beautiful weather and lots of our time spent outside. He's a very helpful overseer of all my outdoor projects, following me all around and keeping a very close watch on what I'm doing. I think he's officiall my General Yard Manager!

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