|Our backyard - heavily Photoshopped.|
Vines are so much fun - and trouble. The ones we want do not grow overnight. The ones we hate will lie in wait and make their way across the places they are not wanted.
The Ivy League is called that because a Harvard bigshot liked Japanese ivy and began growing it on the old buildings, so it is called Boston ivy. Yale copied it. No one thought the vines could be tree-like and destructive of buildings. The other schools united with the ivy fad and called their football league of eggheads the Ivy League.
I have English ivy - not the kind grown at Harvard in Boston - growing on the front of the house. We like it and let the vine grow over the picture window. Those are our organic drapes, always changing a bit, and perfect for male birds to land on and see the reflection of imagined rivals in the spring.
The best and worst about vines is their seeking for sunlight. The English ivy tried to grow into the house through the window and under the door. The ivy spread across the patio and entered the rose garden. We found it easy to cut away from unwanted areas, but that is only an armistice, not a peace treaty.
I planted three Trumpet vines, one by the maple tree in the front, one on the fence where it would get sunlight and water, one in the shade behind a tree. The most neglected is still growing up a tree and finding sunlight. The most coddled is growing ferociously now and has bloomed. The one in the maple tree rose garden is doing well on the ground and up the tree.
Morning Glory vines reach out for support, just like pumpkins. I enjoy the architecture of those plants, willing to grab a fence spring, a rose branch, anything for support.
| Hostas thrive in shade,|
and Hummingbirds love Hosta flowers.
The pine needles already look good on the Hosta garden, which only lacks another dose of needles and more Hostas.
We got the first application from the neighbors on Saturday, and they promised more would fall. I offered to harvest them too.
The rain got all the fresh cardboard soggy and heavy, and rain will bring down more needles and leaves.
The mulch not only preserves moisture and soil, but keeps the soil warmer for the soil creatures that decompose and re-arrange all the useful chemicals. The soil creatures keep up some activity as it gets cooler, but more is done when the critters are kept warm.
They proposed bubble plastic for swimming pools in the winter, in Phoenix. The sun would beat down and warm up the water, they claimed. I tried that once and got an algae bloom that was second to none, but not the desired warmth in the pool.
Coverings on the soil can promote all kinds of growth, including fungi and algae, but in natural conditions the food is eaten by the vegetarian creatures. The vegans are eaten by the predators, and the predators by other predators - even their own kind.
In this circle of life designed by the Creator and managed expertly by Him, nothing gets out of hand unless man steps in with some wild ideas.
- Landscaper's cloth - that will block weeds for a time, then the weeds break through to make an unholy mess.
- Black plastic partially covered by rocks or wood mulch. Plastic does not last and those coverings do not work very well at all. Soil should not be suffocated with plastic.
- Herbicides kill a lot more than weeds, and many weeds can be covered and converted to compost. Some weeds are easily pulled - like crabgrass. Other weeds are herbs that should be left alone - like dandelion.
- Pesticides kill spiders, beneficial insects, and lots of other life. If I kill a million skeeters with poison, a billion more will replace them.
- Fungicides are good for killing fungus, which is what we really want in our gardens. I like slime molds that show up to devour other molds. They look like dog vomit and go away fast. Some pranksters used to buy plastic stuff like that - it's free.
- Excess digging, rototilling, double digging, plowing. If God wanted all those delicate fungus strands broken up, all the earthworms killed, and all the balance destroyed, He would have done it by now.