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Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

The rain clouds finally parted and we actually had a couple of very nice days on the weekend. So, of course, I overdid it.

Don got out the chain saw and did a little garden work, too. He started with the Camellia. It suffered some damage in the last snow storm back in March and then the heaviness of all the blooms further compromised it.

Before.

After.

Then he turned the chain saw onto the holly tree.

Now we have an unobstructed view of the neighbor’s back yard (darn!) but see that dog run leaning up against the shed? That is going where the holly used to stand. Finally! A home for both dogs!

I had to sneak up on him to get a photo of him doing all this work. He chipped nearly half the tree before he got tired. I couldn’ t help him because I am allergic to the Camellia. My face swells up, my eyes swell shut, and I get hives on my arms.

True Story.

Murphy is convinced the chain saw (and the chipper) are giant monsters. He shoved Harvey aside and climbed up onto my lap while I was weeding.

He is not a little dog.

I was not being lazy while Don did all the saw work. I was on my hands and knees turning my north flower bed into a presentable flower bed. I hate grass that grows where grass is not supposed to go. I hate chickweed after it goes to seed. I hate dandelions, thistles, buttonweed, and the other sundry things that clog up my garden.

I will say this: the advent of the hazelnut mulch seems to have stifled the purple clover. I didn’t see any purple clover and it is generally more prolific than chickweed. In fact, I didn’t find any clover in this flower bed this year. Just a lot of grass that didn’t belong.

And a couple small slugs.

I hope a few small slugs is all I see. Those little white flowers are future wild strawberries. I don’t want to share my strawberries with slugs.

I also did a little bit of work in my prayer garden. It’s a mess.

The weeds are coming in, the forget-me-nots have taken over pockets, the native bleeding hearts are pushing out other plants, and I didn’t get around to dead-heading anything before winter came. I also regret opening it up so the dogs could run through it.

By the way, I am buying more of that bamboo to put up on the rest of the fence that the holly used to block.

This was all I actually got done in the prayer garden: I weeded and fenced off that little corner. The neighbor’s cat likes to sit on the fence there and the dogs think they should dig there. I don’t resent the cat; I resent the damage the dogs do.

Apple blossoms.

Garden work wouldn’t exist if not for the weeds, plant diseases and pests. We could just let plants grow, bloom, and fruit. It would be so wonderful.

But we have weeds.

Some of my peonies have a blight.

Something is nibbling at them! I’ll need to do some homework. It’s just a few of my peonies, not all of them. But a few are a few too many.

I didn’t see very many large slugs, but when I got into the shadier part of my prayer garden, I found a number of large snails.

If they were Pacific Northwest Natives, I wouldn’t be alarmed, but I don’t think they are. I think they are Brown Garden Snails. And that presents a problem, ecologically and in my garden. I am going to have to do some study on how to rid my garden of the pests, and do it quickly.

I don’t know what this is, but I am having a heck of a time killing it. It’s some wild relative of Borage, but the flowers are bell-shaped. Borage has star-shaped flowers. I thought it would make a nice accent plant. HA! It took over my garden. Round-Up acted like fertilizer to it. The only effective way to kill it is to salt it heavily when I see it. The salt kills it. It is the plant equivalent of a slug.

Die, Weed, Die!

There, I feel better.

Under Random Garden Notes is this: the first rhododendron to bloom is so over-loaded with blossoms that when the sun is on it, it makes my kitchen blinds appear to be pink.

It also suffered damage during the last March snow storm, damage that has been exacerbated by the heavy show of blooms. There are gaps at the top of it where branches have bent downward. The photo doesn’t do the damage justice. It’s ugly.

My tulips opened.

Has nothing to do with work because I haven’t started on the front flower beds.

They’re just pretty.

This is not a honey bee. It has a black abdomen. It’s a little larger than a honey bee and it lives underground.

Here’s one of the holes.

My resident Apiarist has not (yet) identified these bees, but he is making plans to protect their nests. They aren’t aggressive. They are just another insect oddity in our yard and another little bee we need to be careful of.

We love bees. The flowers I plant are planted with bees in mind. The more bees, the healthier the environment.

That’s my Earth Day Statement.

Encourage bees in your yard. (Bees are not the same as wasps. Wasps are not all “bad”. Even Yellowjackets have their place in the ecology, except during the end of the summer month when they become aggressive and mean. I am not fond of Yellowjackets then.)

This sad-looking puppy didn’t feel good.

He moped like this all weekend. I even took him to see the vet, but she couldn’t find anything wrong with him. I know something is wrong, because this is not a happy Harvey.

Stay tuned. Harvey was happier tonight.

I am headed to bed early. I have a slight pink tinge to my arms, but no sunburn. My muscles are tired.

I have so much more to do and the rain is coming back on Tuesday.

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And GARDENING.

We had almost perfect weather this weekend (my heart goes out to those in the Midwest who had tornadoes).

Today I woke up and decided to let the house fend for itself: it was too lovely and dry to be inside, and I wasn’t expecting any interruptions. I had a laundry list of work to get done in the yard. But first, I needed to pick up a few things from the store.

First stop: Fred Meyer’s (Kroger’s). I really was going there to look at their selection of decorative garden fencing, but while I was there, I had a coupon for 15% off of several sale items… I need comfy new sandals to wear with slacks to work, I wanted a purse that I could convert into a camera bag, and there was this big rack of baby clothes on sale.

What can I say?

I have been looking at camera bags that convert to purses, but they are very expensive. And very large. I wanted something compact that could work as a purse AND a camera bag at the same time. I found this. My 70-300mm zoom fits into a velvet bag, and both the lens and the camera with the 50mm lens on fit inside the purse. There are enough pockets for my purse essentials: pocket knife, flashlight, lipstick, wallet, cell phone, meds, spare keys… And it is a smaller purse, so I still have that nice compact feel.

I found a nice pair of strappy sandals for work, too, but I neglected to take a photo of them.

Unfortunately, Fred’s didn’t have much in the way of decorative fencing, so I had to settle with my “girly” purchases. Not that I’m complaining.

I went to Home Depot without Harvey. That’s almost a cardinal sin. But I reasoned that we (Harvey and I) took a mile-and-half walk before I had a full cup of coffee and I didn’t bring him along in the car, anyway. And I wasn’t going to swing back by the house to get him.

Don’t tell Harvey I went to Home Depot without him. He likes HD. So do all the other dogs that frequent the hardware chain store here in Oregon City. And there were lots of dogs there today.

I found what I wanted at Home Depot: nice decorative garden fencing and some 2×5′ rolls of hardware cloth.

My first job back at home was to Harvey-proof the fence, hence the hardware cloth.

It isn’t pretty, but it covers up the hole Harvey dug under the fence and keeps him from digging some more. I stapled the wire to the fence and I will cover what is on the ground with mulch later this Spring. Harvey is an opportunist and only digs where he finds an existing gap.  I have nearly all the holes under the fence blocked now, so unless Harvey gets really desperate and tries to dig where there is no existing gap… We’re at least good for awhile and I have three more rolls of hardware cloth in reserve.

He even tried it out. That must have hurt the big old paws some! He gave up, obviously.

The next project was to pretty up the top of the fence. We have a low fence in front and along one side of the yard. This isn’t a big deal with Murphy, who has never figured out he could scale a shorter fence, but Harvey has been known to attempt to climb over. Last fall, I jury-rigged the fence with pieces of wire decorative fencing, but that didn’t really look very nice. It was an emergency band-aid since I’d just pulled Harvey off of the fence.

I bought some bamboo fencing and stapled it to the existing fence (I used the staple gun – should’ve purchased fence staples but I didn’t think the project through that far. Eventually, we’ll get fence staples.)

I did the side fence.

And the front fence.

It looks funky from the inside, but not half-bad from the street-side, and that was my goal.

The effect is enough to keep a dog from trying to climb out, and it doesn’t look quite as trashy as the wobbly wire fencing I had up there all winter.

It doesn’t look like much, but I got in there and weeded one flower bed. And I replaced the decorative fencing that I took down last Autumn.

I took it down because Murphy was jumping over it, anyway. And I needed something on the fence to keep Harvey from trying to climb out when I turned my back on him.

But my peonies are coming along and I’m tired of having dogs run through there, stepping and peeing on plants. And the Dragon Lilies are coming up. I have to put extra wiring around the Dragon Lilies to keep the dogs from eating the spathe. I guess they think that because it smells like rotting flesh, it must taste like it, too?

The fun part of this weeding job is that I discovered an iris coming up. I thought I had lost it! I’m going to baby that sucker.

It should not have worn me out, but by the time I reached this point, I was done for. I pushed on for an additional thirty minutes, but I just had to call it quits.

It bugs me that I couldn’t get more accomplished.

And it rained overnight and will rain all week, so no working in the yard for another week.

“Way to go, Mom! You worked hard! Now I need a dog biscuit!”

Harvey, doing supervisor work.

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July Rain

My goal last night was to do some gardening today.


I woke up this morning to find that Mother nature was refilling my rain barrel at a very steady rate.

I decided to take photos of the front yard in lieu of actually working on it. It was a great sacrifice: by the time I got back inside the house my jeans were soaked to the knees, my hair looked like I had been standing in the shower, my windbreaker was dripping and I badly needed another cup of coffee.

My lovely prickly pear cactus that never blooms.

A touch of front porch color. I haven’t killed it (yet). I usually end up killing my hanging basket flowers. I think the rain we’ve had this summer has saved this one (so far).

The pale pink rhododendron is much prettier in bloom, when the bumblebees cover it. I planted the hostas two summers ago and they have eked out an existence under the rhodie. I think I need a better plan for the hostas but I haven’t come up with one.

Oh look! Raindrops on the camera lens! This is the dark pink rhodie under which I have a hosta, some honesty plants (now past), some lilies and the forsythia. There’s some foxglove back in there, too, but I am afraid it is year one for that pretty biennial. I lost the established foxgloves last winter. It’s sure weird what plants you lose and what manage to make it through the winter.

This is the mid-pink rhodie, not as dark as the one and not as pale as the other. It needs so much pruning! There’s a stack of pruned branches sitting there on the base of it because I got in there and trimmed it up, cut out a bunch of dead stuff and tried to open it up. Don hauled half of it off already. I need to trim more.

I have bear grass under this rhodie, some wild licorice ferns, bunchberries that need to be moved to a better location (they don’t like the rhododendron and the constant layer of fallen leaves, and fringe cups all growing under this bush – all native plants I have gathered and transplanted (with a permit, of course). Nothing grows right under the rhododendrons except the native “Boston” -type ferns. Even the licorice ferns appear to be trying to escape the alkali soil and lack of sunlight…

The side closest to the front door with my store-bought picket fence. The Dianthus (Sweet Williams) are all falling over themselves in an attempt to escape the rhodie.

I planted this hydrangea seven years ago. It is nestled under the lone tree in our yard, a half-dead Lodgepole pine that we hang our bird feeders from. I chose the spot carefully: I wanted my hydrangea flowers to be blue. The color of the flowers is dependent on the acidity of the soil.

This poor bush doesn’t grow very quickly. The tree saps the water from the soil. I forget to water it and it is in direct sunlight most of the day. But after seven years, it has begun to hold a nice round shape and it shows signs of surviving the Lodgepole pine.

The pine has a fungus inside of it. I don’t want to cut it down because it holds my bird feeders. It isn’t a big tree and our house is in no danger should it ever fall. It’s just that it is our only tree and the birds love it.

Rain drenched day lilies. These were salvage plants. I brought them home and planted them in the grass in front of the retaining wall and hoped they would live. Day lilies are rather like irises and Shasta daisies. You have to work hard to kill them. I picked a place where I knew I would never want to move them from. They thrive on lack of water and neglect and they reward you with a couple weeks of beautiful blooms.

And, yes, my car door is open in the background. I was still unloading groceries when I decided I needed to take some photos of the front. In the rain.

The ever-popular bird bath, overflowing in the rain.

I had no idea how popular a bird bath would be when I bought my first one last summer (it froze and broke in half. Don purchased this one-piece concrete one for me to replace it).

Last summer, I had the bird bath closer to the house. This year, I put it closer to the retaining wall and the day lilies, where the birds could see cats coming. The change in location seemed to help: it gets used by crows, the band-tailed pigeons, robins and more.

Robins especially like the bird bath. This guy was so soaked that he had to sit on the edge a few minutes to allow his feathers to dry! Robins won’t use the bird feeders but they love-love-love bird baths.

The water in the yard art more than doubled since yesterday. Little rain gauges.

A lovely shot of the weeds in front of the garage door: forget-me-nots, dandelions, false dandelions and more. I was going to pull weeds today but instead Mother Nature watered and they will grow taller before I get to pulling them.

Last (but not least) my lovely yucca. It was also a salvage plant. The guy up the street had it sitting on the curb with a sign that read “FREE”. that was five years ago. It’s grown, it’s bloomed every year, and I completely forget about it when it isn’t blooming. I love my yucca and it loves me.

There’s a weed growing in it that is nearly as tall as the yucca itself. I keep forgetting to pull the weed.

The creek beyond the yucca is the street I live on. Lovely how it turns into a creek when we have nearly an inch of rain fall in one morning.

That’s the tour for now. I have so much work to do. So much work… But it is all worth it.

ttfn!

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GARDEN!

I felt like I needed to shout that.

1. It has been unseasonably cold here. And wet, but that is normal.

2. The nice days we did have happened when I was in Nevada.

3. My garden should have had the decency to wait for me to get home but the weeds and flowers just kept on growing. In some cases, the weeds outpaced the flowers by several feet.

Case in point. My prayer garden.

You can see a smattering of blue forget-me-nots and pink bleeding hearts. It was a jungle.

The first thing I did this weekend was I bought two rolls of bamboo screen from Home Depot. For less than $48, I now have privacy in my prayer garden! I don’t have to worry about the neighbors coming out to work in their garden at the same time I am enjoying mine (except I will still be able to hear them).

I don’t know why I did not think of this sooner. Ever since the big tree fell and smashed the chain link, I have had to deal with the renters next door. Nice enough people, but she tends to like to garden in her bikini. I should be thankful she doesn’t garden in the nude: she’s around 55-65 years old age, 5’10” and weighs about 100 pounds. Not an obscene visual just a highly unnecessary one.

Now I don’t have to look. And on the flip side, she doesn’t have to look at me.

I wear clothes when I garden.

Thought I should point that out.

I digress.

I was up at 7:30 on Saturday, raring to go. I knew it would get warm and I wanted to get as much done in that little section of yard as possible before the sun was too high in the sky. I hauled all my tools, a large bottle of water, my knee pads and a wide-brimmed hat out with me. I even broke out a pair of jean cut-offs that are too obscene to wear in public but are perfect for a hot day in the garden.

I was done in by noon. I’d managed to clear out exactly one-fourth of the mess. It was disheartening.

I started in again when the sun sank low enough for the garden to be in the shade, around 6:30pm. By 8, I had slightly over one-third of the garden done. I’d filled the curb-side yard debris bin and had a couple piles of weeds building in the garden. I’d love to compost them and I probably will put some of them into the compost bin – but no seeds or woody stalks.

That’s what else I did on Saturday! I purchased a compost pile turner. Years ago when I bought my compost bin from the county, I thought I wouldn’t need the turner so I did not buy one. And I have regretted it ever since. I haven’t been able to use the compost bin to its fullest potential because I couldn’t turn the compost! Well, that’s all fixed now: the county offered the turners again and I happened to see the flyer and have $15 to spare at the same time. More on composting later – I have to re-situate the bin and sort through the weeds to toss into it so it will be a blog post in the future.

I went to bed early last night (OK, not real early: I stayed up to watch some episodes of “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet’s website. My friend, Jodi, suggested I watch them. I’m glad she did! But more on Bigfoot later.)

Harvey and I slept like dogs (well, he is a dog) until 8:30 this morning. Round two began by 9AM. I was very thankful that I thought to soak the ground last night before I gave up entirely on weeding: this sudden dry and warm spell dried up the ground and weeding would have been next-to-impossible in dry soil today. As it was, the ground stayed damp enough and I cleared the final 2/3’s of the garden by 1:00. Today was cooler and cloudier or I’d have never made it that long.

You can see the ground!

You can see one stack of weeds to be composted sitting against the shed.

I can even find my pathway!

There’s still so much to do but I beat back the 3.5′ weeds in the worst-hit section of my yard and that makes me feel wonderful.

I also edged another flower bed and cleared out the grass from around my raspberry and from under my ceanothus (California Lilac).

Yes, I have the chair there for a reason: think dogs. Two Big Dogs.

Isn’t it pretty?

The chicken wire – not so much. That’s another project for this summer: get some lattice and cover up the space under the ramp to keep Harvey out. And kill the grass under there.

I’d like to kill the entire lawn.

I didn’t just work all weekend. I sat back and enjoyed my garden, too.

Bumblebees in the rhododendrons.

A plethora of peonies. I love my peonies.

Tomorrow is predicted to drop back down into the low seventies. The low seventies are warmer than it has been in months. If I feel up to it and the rain holds off, I have two-and-a half flower beds in the back yard that need my attention and all the bushes in the front yard.

But even if I don’t get to them, I am content that I got this one garden taken care of!

I feel GOOD (and SORE).

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Rosemary Arch

I saw this item for sale at a nursery a couple weeks ago and I told Don, “I could do that.”

He said, “Yes, you could. We certainly have the wire available.”

He brought me home two big bales of galvanized wire once a long time ago when I was going to devote my life to making wire sculptures. I’m still going to devote my life to making wire sculptures, but in the meantime… we have a lot of galvanized 8-gauge wire in twelve foot lengths.

Anyway, back to my story. I picked out two rosemary plants.

And they have languished on our front stoop waiting for a break in the rain.

We didn’t exactly have much of a break in the rain this weekend. Yesterday I spent it killing myself by weeding. Today I decided to see how much more damage I could do to myself by potting the rosemary.

First, the pot:

I decided on a pedestal planter big enough that Murphy can’t knock it over accidentally. Well, he could, but please do not tell him that. I settled on the pedestal style because it looks… um, Grecian, and somehow a rosemary planting sounds like it should be Grecian. Truly.

The pot I purchased is made of fiberglass. I prefer ceramic but after pricing a few, I settled for the fiberglass pot at 25% off retail.

I filled the bottom of the pot with broken terra cotta pots and river rock.

I already knew that I needed to do this, but the pot came with instructions: “fill the bottom with gravel, rocks or broken pottery to 3″ depth to insure good drainage”.  (7.6 cm)

Then I braided the wire together into a circle the size I want my rosemary to grow to. That was fairly simple: just wind it in and out of itself using one single strand.

I buried the ends of the wire in the potting soil (also purchased at the same time I bought the planter).

Last, I added the rosemary plants. (The glittery globe was a Christmas gift from Chrystal. She gave me three plastic garden decoration “balls” and I finally have a place for one of them.)

I decided that I may not be out there to oversee the first growth spurts of the rosemary plants, so I gave them a little incentive to grow toward the wire by using some of that Velcro™ produce tape:

Eventually, the rosemary will grow up the wire and intertwine.

Well, it will look prettier than that, but I wanted to give myself an idea of what it should eventually look like, properly pruned & trimmed. It will stand a meter tall (about 40″).

When I was finished with that, I obsessed and attempted to weed the north flower bed. I hoed, pulled, dug and clawed through 2/3’s of it before giving in to the compacting mud & the imminent drizzle. I also confess that my shoulders, upper arms and back were beginning to hurt from two marathon days of trying to get in all the weeding that should have been done over a course of several weekends back in April & May, but which were confined to one three-day weekend at the end of May.

I threw in my rubber garden gloves and called it quits.

Then I put Tripod to pasture.

(Don’t blame me: Donald named him!)

I inserted myself into a hot shower, took some pain reliever and settled in for a long movie on the television while the rain began to pour.

Maybe next weekend we will have another break…

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This blog is supposed to be about my garden (sometimes), but I haven’t done much with my garden since July when I busted my ribs. The ribs have healed completely, but now the weather has changed and my life has changed and priorities have changed. Pretty much in that order.

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And there’s this. This is new. This is a gopher or a mole that has invaded our yard.

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This has been hunting the gopher. It can’t end well.

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The gopher may live another day, but the back door may have taken a fatal blow.

I just love dogs.

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This is my garden today. In between rain storms.

I don’t want to get all muddy and wet, so instead I took photos. I’ll contemplate the photos awhile and guilt myself into planning a day in the yard to work on everything that needs to be done before winter really sets in. I’m thinking sometime between now and Thanksgiving Day there will be a relatively dry Saturday or Sunday and I can get the shovel out.

I’ll divide irises, peonies, grape hyacinth and daylilies. I’ll dig out some of the Shasta daisies and the borage that took over my prayer garden. I’ll dead-head all the flowers that still need it: the asters, the nasturtiums, the hollyhocks, the peonies and the sunflowers. The chickadees have stripped the sunflowers of seeds. I’ll cut down the old canes on the black-cap raspberry and trim up the Oregon grape. And by that time, I will have filled the yard debris bin and topped off the compost pile.

Don has already cleaned out the vegetable garden. He’s mowed the front lawn for the last time this year and is waiting for a dry day to tackle the backyard one more time. Then we will both be done with gardening for 2009 and we’ll be looking forward to seed catalogs.

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Two years ago I blogged about my Mother’s Day gift: more plants for my garden. We went out and purchased some ariseaema (aroids) from a specialty nursery. That fall, I planted all the bulbs in the ground (including anenomes & crucuses) and Murphy dug half of them up. I think he ate them.

Of the three ariseaemas that I planted, two survived. And of those two, one is in bloom right now. It’s in my lovely little prayer garden (that needs a lot of work still).

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My garden is behind this rather funky fence. The story behind the fence is… the dog. He can jump over the 4′ tall plastic green fence, so we had to be creative to keep him out. There are plants in there that I don’t want stepped on, and they’re not all ariseaemas. Fuschias, a bracken fern, the borage. Oh, heck: all of the plants except the grass. The grass has to go.

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We have a lovely view into the neighbor’s backyard. Eventually, we want to plant some clumping bamboo along that chainlink. This year, I planted some climbing nasturtiums and a trumpet vine for the hummingbirds. The borage works pretty well, too, but eventually, it gets so large that it falls over. (Why isn’t that fence fixed? Well, the guy who owns the rental behind us isn’t real keen on fixing it and we haven’t had that many nice days on weekends that weren’t taken up with something else.)

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The grass is going to GO. I intend to put a pond in there. The rock is natural: I want to pump the water over the rock in a natural waterfall effect.

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You can see why we’d like to hide that fence… I planted sunflowers along the wall of our garden shed. Can’t wait for them to grow! It’s always been too shady in this corner for most flowers, but now I have full sun and I can go wild with flowers.

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The borage is a hummingbird plant. My goal is to attract hummers and bees. Borage is also an edible herb – maybe one of these days I’ll get my act together and try it in salads. Right now, I just like it for its sheer size and the fact that hummingbirds love it.

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Right now, this little plant is the star of this garden spot; ariseaema tortuosum.

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A little jack-in-the-pulpit with it’s very own parasol leaves.

Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Hope you can imagine my corner of the yard like I can. My biggest hurdle will be the pond – and a permanent decorative fence to keep the Murphy at bay. I’m thinking something natural with an arch. The yard drops quite a few feet on that end of the yard and maybe the pond could extend into a series of small pools? Imagine yellow Japanese irises and Pacific tree frogs croaking. And lots of strange plants like the arisaemas.

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