Help!! My Plant is Healthy!

That’s not a phrase I usually cry in despair and self-loathing, but it was today. I’ve been side-eyeballing my potted ficus on the front lawn in a very un-trusting manner for that last few months. Shiny leaves with a lush and deep green happy vigor and an ever expanding crown reaching towards the heavens are usually a really good sign. But this tree is in a pot that’s way too small for such growth.


There is a very good reason for such a limiting pot. It’s not because I hate this tree or wish to see it stunted or sad. It’s because the location I chose for this ficus is directly over my sewer lines going out into the street. As illustrated in this high-tech 3D rendering of the “brown line express” (oh, how crass!).

The poop evacuation route. Well, the second evacuation route actually.

As a homeowner, you can imagine how costly it would be to have some root invasion for this essential poop escape highway! Like several grand to replace these pipes. And the last thing I want is any backing up or flooding in the house to let me know that I have made a grave error! Gross and costly are not my favorite combinations! Gross and cheap is okay in a pinch. Continue reading “Help!! My Plant is Healthy!”

Night of the Living Jasmine

[in the voice of Vincent Price]

From dark and chilly depths of fetid yet well fertilized and mulched dirt, the beast reaches deeply into the abyss in search of evil nutrients and minerals of ill intent. Its sickly sweet scent fills the air mockingly, as a warning of what horrors await the gentle passers by. With icy tendrils reaching to the heavens that will no longer accept it, the cold grip seizes all that tread near.

Not only a grip to grasp maidens hair or heroes well coiffed mustaches, these skeletal fingers seek something more profound; your very soul. Move verily and hastily to safe quarters, dear traveler, for ye are beyond the safety of home and hearth!

The jasmine is among us!! For tonight belongs to it. The night of the living jasmine!! Mwahahaha!!

Just in time for Halloween, I have a tale of pure gardening horror and danger. But as with all tales, one must begin…well…in the beginning.

My plan was of noble and simple origins. To sweeten the air entering my bedroom with delicious jasmine flowers. Here in California, the winds are almost always blowing from the West to the East off of the ocean. When I was house hunting I brought along my trusty compass to make certain that sun and wind will be positioned to my favor. So, if I plant a jasmine vine by my back door where the breezes always waft into the house, I’d have my own natural air freshener. Genius right? Yes, yes it is.

What I failed to anticipate was how viney vines are. I began training this vine properly, but as it rose up columns it began to get away from me as I had nowhere to secure it above the columns. I thought I’d tackle that issue as it arose. Well, dear reader, it has risen!

And then some! It began reaching out in all directions to the point that I couldn’t exit the house without getting a face full of reaching tendrils. Some of them tipped with creepy crawly things! I had a friend record a typical day for me to show you. Here I am passing by the vine…

As you can see, something needed to be done! My thanks to Craig T. Nelson for coming over to help me out. And a special wag of the finger to Taylor for not chipping in and cuddling with that weird little blonde girl! Bad Taylor! Coward!!
Continue reading “Night of the Living Jasmine”

A New Bed for the Coastal Coral Tree with a Cardboard Weed Barrier

Before I begin this post, I’d like to say how today was total providence!

I began this project around 9 am as overhead clouds hung low and fat with a promise of rain. After having THE hottest summer in recorded history, getting a day like today to work outside is truly a gift. As I labored away, which you will see below, I would often stop and look up with a ginormous grin on my face as fat drops of water pounded my face.

Exactly when I took my very last photograph after finishing this project, the sun popped out around 2pm and the heat came back with a vengeance. Just as I was slipping in the front door to sit in front of my many fans. My feelings can best be summed up via the masterpiece film A Scanner Darkly, based on the Phillip K. Dick novel. See it. Read it. Now.

I’m calling this a sign that today’s post was meant to be. That said, let’s begin.

My coastal coral tree, which I’ve written about a few times here, has proven to be quite the fast grower. Every year it doubles in size. Much to my immense pleasure. Here it is as a young pup. Also, this specimen was from a branch cutting . You can learn how to propagate coastal corals right over here. Or how to prune this tree over here.

It’s grown so damn fast that the paltry tree ring I placed lovingly around it is now dwarfed in only two years. It looks like a poor geisha girl with feet bound and shoes too tight. That, coupled with some incessant crab grass, has caused me to want to remedy the situation. Just look at this unsightly mess!

A New Bed for the Coastal Coral 01_The unsightly mess

A New Bed for the Coastal Coral 02_The unsightly mess detail

Good lord! You can’t even see the ring any more! Something must be done to free up the tree trunk as well as the carnations surrounding it. In case you’re about to cast judgment upon me for the length of my grass, rest assured it is completely intentional. This summers experiment involved some tight state-mandated water restrictions because of our continued drought.

I am proud to say that I’ve maintained a lush and healthy green lawn ALL season long. Using about 30% of the water I used in previous years. The length of the grass is all part of the experiment. A rather successful one at that. Interested in learning more? Go here.

 But let’s get back to our new tree bed shall we? Continue reading “A New Bed for the Coastal Coral Tree with a Cardboard Weed Barrier”