31 May 2022


I finally got my little Christmas tree from 2021 planted!

my 2020 Christmas tree

I'd decided after buying my first cut Christmas tree in decades in 2020 to get live trees from that point on. Why kill a tree for a month of potential Christmas card photos? (I didn't cut that year's tree myself; I bought it that way.)

I actually bought two little live Christmas trees last year, but one wasn't really alive. I didn't realize that until a couple of weeks after the purchase. The surviving tree now thrives. I plan to repeat this again this year (hopefully getting two live trees instead of a live one and a dead one) and add tree barrels to my backyard landscaping each spring. My backyard landscaping project continues; sometimes I think it might not ever end. So much to do! But this most recent little bit of work gave me just the perfect spot to plant my first Christmas tree.

The landscaping project began as a way to prevent my window well from flooding my basement during and after storms. First, I terraced the steep slope that carried all rain water and snow melt right into the window well. It helped but did not solve the problem.

Everyone asks what made me think of putting flowers inside the bricks I used in the terracing. The bricks I selected had holes in them. I love flowers. So why not???

One of the benefits of all those rocks is an extended growing season. The rocks provide a ton of heat when cooler temperatures begin to settle in, and many of the flowers in the bricks last longer than the flowers in my front yard and raised-bed garden. That captured solar heat also gives California poppies an idea environment before the official start of spring. I didn't exactly plan for weeds and poppies to take over the rocks, and weeding is taking up far more time than I anticipated. But how could I not be thankful for the poppies???

We discovered after the terracing project that the gutter along the back of the house and its downspout were causing as much havoc as the slope had. We had to wait until this year's tax refund to get an estimate on replacement. What we thought would be a fast, easy and not-too expensive fix morphed into a new roof. HOAs are so much fun. But that's another story for another day. We're still awaiting the new gutter and downspout, and the May 20 foot of snow re-emphasized the need to raise the level of the ground closest to the window well and slope it away from the house. We spent the sunny melt bailing water again.

As I dig up the rocks near the window well to enable beefing up the soil content, I find tons of volunteer grape hyacinth bulbs, which I have been transplanting in the bricks.

I decided I could try to do the same with the volunteer California poppies that are flourishing in the red sand between the flagstone I put in last year.

Unfortunately, that didn't work so well.

The May 20 snow didn't help.

My main concern prior to the storm, though, was the tomatoes and peppers I'd just planted a few days prior. I covered one raised-bed garden with the rain fly from the tent we haven't used in about four years now. I covered the second raised-bed garden with fleece and a towel. I used tomato cages to keep the weight of the snow off the plants. I stuck photo lights beneath each canopy to prevent the 26-degree overnight low from destroying everything I'd just planted.

I covered my stevia with a plastic construction bucket and then insulated it with a down vest from my closet.

I didn't know if I'd be able to save the veggies. I removed the pounds of snow and cloth coverings after the second hard freeze night to give the plants some air and sunshine. Another hard freeze initially was forecast for the third night, but by the third day, the forecast had been upgraded to a low of 44 degrees overnight. I took a chance and left everything uncovered that third night. It's been a week now, and I'm very pleasantly surprised.

Meanwhile, I rescued already-blooming flowers for bouquets for neighbors and for inside our own house.

Also inside the house, my hoya cuttings are beginning to root!!!

We lost a few tree branches to the storm. Chipping stations have been set up throughout the metro area to give second life to all the trees and tree limbs that came down as a result of the storm.

I took advantage of the extremely wet ground to dig up more volunteers... this time, spiderwort, bluebells and cosmos. We're just a few days in now, but these transplants seem to be taking to the improved growing conditions a lot better than the California poppies did.

cosmos and bluebells

And, as I expected, the irises survived the extreme cold. Some gave way to the weight of the snow, and I've got some upside down blossoms now, but I don't think I lost a single iris flower!

raspberry sorbet, I think

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