I think I saw a U.G.O….

I would say that it is our first full Spring in our house, but with the way that the weather has been, I think both the plants and myself are confused.  It has been so deliciously warm the past few weeks that, as I’m sure you know, all the Spring flowers, that typically are only beginning to peak their heads out to see the sun in the coming weeks, have begun to bloom now.

Because we moved in mid-May of last year, we missed many of the typical Spring flowers and were bewildered by what was in our garden beds.  The only thing I knew for sure was that we had some daffodils in the front.

I spent most of the warm weather last year ripping out lots and lots of English and Boston ivy as well as honeysuckle off the side of the house, where it covered the dining room window, and out of the garden beds where it was trying to strangle our plants and trees.

The past few weeks have been a joyful discover of color. However, I still didn’t know what half the trees were in our yard.  We contacted a wonderful landscaper to come over and get some opinions on what to do with our yard, as well as to identify the U.G.Os – unidentified growing objects.

What we found out was that we had a whole lot of orphan trees and seedlings all over that should be removed.  And I had my own personal tutorial in what lives in my garden.

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We have a young Crape Myrtle next to our weeping cherry, common lilac, and Star of Bethlehem.  There was a dogwood tree hiding under a see of ivy, and a flowering quince that I felt bad for hard pruning the previous summer (when we didn’t know what it was and I was avenging wrath for the holes in my gardening gloves and fingers that it had caused). Finding the Grape Hyacinth all over the beds was a delight, and we have more Rose of Sharon than we know what to do with. Perhaps most exciting to me was that the tree right by our back door is a double flowering cherry tree. I can’t wait until it sets its blooms.

The front of our house was very plain and very symmetrical when we bought it, and only has a few rhododendrons, azaleas, and a whole lot of weeds. The trees are beautiful, if not a little close to the front of my house for my taste, but the azaleas were hugely overgrown, and the parts that you could see from inside the house were largely dead or thinning.

Unfortunately (for the azaleas) I hated how big they were and how close to the stairs they were. So the obvious solution was to rip them out.  With a tow rope and a Ford Ranger.

Removing large bushes is always a challenge. And very heavy. But the man did so admirably. After reversing down the driveway with the azalea in tow, he had to drag it to behind the garagCan you see a truck? Nope, no truck here!e. We learned the hard way with the first azalea we removed the our garbage men are not a big fan of actually taking the garbage with them, even when we had hacked it into itty bitty pieces. So instead, the area behind the back of our garage has become a bush graveyard.

After the azalea was safely behind the garage, the man and I walked across the street to get a good view of the change. I cannot tell you the joy!

Now you can SEE the house!

So now with a lot of raking, grass seed, and new plants, we will begin the restoration of the gardens, front and back.

One of the biggest frustrations prior to buying a house was that I wanted to be able to sit in my own backyard and read a book or plant some vegetables, or simply enjoy the sun (while slathered in 70SPF). The past few weeks, I have pulled into the driveway, gotten out of the car, dropped my work bag on the patio, pulled out a book, and sat myself down to read for an hour.  How can you not love that?

Most nights during the spring and summer, the man will turn on the grill, cook dinner, and I spend the time either reading or chatting with him. Being outside and simply enjoying the colors of our yard is beautiful, relaxing, and even joyful. And now that we no longer have any UGOs, I feel at one with my gardens.  I know what lives there now, and can’t wait to tend to it.


life as a plant

It seems like the hardest part of anything I do these days is starting it.  I have always had a tough time finding motivation during the winter months. I’ve been told I have seasonal depression, among other problems.  I blame it on my mom.

The day I was born was a full moon, 30 some odd degrees, and when my mom went into labor the maternity wing of the hospital was full.  The hospital was forced to open up an older cancer wing that, while fully functional, had been closed for a few months.  My mom thought after she gave birth that she was freezing and in shock; they informed her it was just that the heat hadn’t fully turned on. And then when they realized how jaundiced I was, they told my mom that I would have to be put under one of the therapy lights to try to lower my bilirubin count. But the lights were broken.  So my pediatrician, an older Italian doctor who believed in using home remedies, told my mother to just make sure that I got enough sunlight.  So for the first weeks of my life, I was essentially a geranium, happily sitting in a bassinet in my parent’s apartment window. It worked.  And thus began my love, my desire, my need for sunlight.

The only problem with my sunlight addiction is that I am very fair with red hair and practically get a sunburn if I think about sunlight.  But every year, as the day light hours grow shorter, I become more panicked, more depressed. And when the days finally begin to darken at 5:00 pm, I am invariably miserable, feeling like I have missed out on something while I was at work, and when I get home I panic thinking the day is over and I have accomplished nothing. This year, it has been particularly bad.  After Thanksgiving, all of my work on the house halted.  I couldn’t find the motivation after dinner to do anything other than curl up on the couch with a book or watch TV when I got home from work.  Whereas the summer and fall were filled with me racing home, changing into my work jeans, and tackling sanding, painting, spackling, puttying, caulking, or any other multitude of things to get a room done, I felt like without the sunlight, there was no point.

The past week or two have been better.  I’m finding my groove again. I just schedule a painter to come in and take care of the ceiling in our living room. The past owners’ exuberance with the fireplace which left horrible black stains on the ceiling (they burnt photos, circulars, bills, boxes, etc. not long before they moved out) combined with 20 years of smoking has left the plaster ceiling a mess that 5’4″ me is not willing to deal with.  After tackling the ceilings in 3 other rooms, I have decided it is a job best left to the professionals. I spent today packing up the knick knacks in the room, and tomorrow hope to throw open the windows and remove the remainder of the wall paper.

The plants in my kitchen are perking up again. I guess it is time I do too.