1. Yesterday we replaced some sod in our yard (the area between the sidewalk and the street had pretty much gone to weeds). If it were up to me I would have filled the area with gravel. I really don’t like St. Augustine grass. My Honey and I generally refer to it as “crabgrass.” It wants lots and lots of water. It is prone to chinch bugs. It wants lots of fertlizer. It basically wants to die. So why is it not up to me about the gravel? Well, my Honey would vote for green, and the Homeowner’s Association rules don’t allow it. The Florida Legislature recently passed a “Florida Friendly” landscaping law, but I am unaware so far of any implementing rules and regulations. To some degree, the law will free us Floridians from the tyranny of our own Associations.
2. We had put a kind of yellow shrub in our yard when we had the house built. Lots of them. They don’t like frost. This past winter had several consecutive days of frost. The yellow shrubs died back despite being covered. We decided to rip them out. Now they are gone, leaving big voids in our planting beds (more gravel!!). We rode our bikes yesterday and saw that several neighbors, and the Association down by the clubhouse, had planted a fresh batch of the things. Have these people no sense? Even if you trim them back and let them re-grow after frost, it takes most of the year for them to look like anything again, and then it’s time for: MORE FROST! Of course, they are planted quite small, so it takes a few years for them to look like much to start with.
3. So, our plan is to put Azaleas in the beds. They thrive here. They make blossoms, and they seem to be frost-hardy. You can hedge them up for a nice look, too.
4. Our plantings need better care than they are getting. We have a “mow and blow” kind of guy working for us. We have asked him to do more weeding, saying we’ll pay him more, and still he lacks the ambition to do it. I offered to let him dig up the old bad sod referred to above and put in new, and we set a day to do it. He didn’t show up that day and didn’t call. I waited a couple of days, hired someone else (who came as scheduled), and left him a message saying don’t bother, and that if he’d already purchased sod, to find something else to do with it. He is also a terrible trimmer of shrubs, can’t seem to get them a uniform height.
5. So, why have we kept this unambitious fellow? His wife and two little girls. One of the youngsters is Babycakes’s best friend. The three of them are near and dear to our hearts. We don’t want to take food from their mouths. We have decided that this sympathy thing is over. We are tired of crooked shrubs and weeds. He does a number of other lawns with his business. Still, it’s hard.
6. Lawn-tending guys are ubiquitous here in Florida. They can be seen most days driving (slowly) down the roads in their pickups or vans, towing flatbed trailers with their gas-powered polluting equipment on board. They use really noisy things like leaf blowers (isn’t leaf-blowing like the stupidest waste of fuel in the world?). Each homeowner selects their own guy, and their own day, so noise pollution is spread evenly over the week (thank goodness they aren’t allowed here on Sunday). Many of them find it more than they can manage to park their rigs close to the curb, thus narrowing the street. Oh, well.
7. In the past, at various houses, we’ve employed companies to fertilize and spray for garden pests. I specific license is required in Florida for someone to do that for a living. There are several large companies whose trucks one sees most often. They are pretty much useless (there are rumors that many times, when their tank truck comes to spray the lawn, that all they are spraying is—WATER). If they know you are away, they neglect your lawn/gardens, but of course don’t stop charging their monthly fee. If a small operator with talent and good work habits is found, and you hire them, they are soon bought out by one of the big operators, and you are back to square one. So, now, I do it. I’ve learned a bit about the process (it ain’t rocket science), and do my best. I have special stuff for palms, for evergreens and azaleas (Hollytone), for the other shrubs, and for the grass. I really don’t mind doing it.
I think I read recently that before too long, even homeowners will have to take a course and get a certificate to feed and pest-control their own lawns! <sigh>
8. We are required to have a hedge next to the house, and around our air-conditioning units. A variety of plants will serve this purpose. Our landscaper, back when the house was finished, suggested Pineapple Guava. It has pretty blossoms (although never prolific yet), and allegedly edible fruit (never seen by us). I think our “mow and blow” guy trims them at the wrong time, so the tops, where the blooms and fruit would come, never have a chance. There is at least one house in the ‘hood with Azalea hedging. Wish we had that.
9. When we got back from Las Vegas, it looked so wonderfully green here. I don’t hate the desert, it is actually beautiful in its way (and we got to see and enjoy that out in Red Rock Canyon, and I saw it out by Hoover Dam and Lake Mead). However, when you build a city in the desert, a city not full of trees and other greenery, it is, in my (always humble) opinion, damned ugly. Other than the “beauty” of the fancy part of Vegas, the place is just really ugly. Apologies to those I care for who live there. And those with allergies suffer mightily there, believe it or not, when the desert plants are blooming. And they are gonna run out of water, and Hoover Dam is gonna stop making electricity, and I ain’t moving there.
10. In a few short weeks, we’ll be back at Cape Cod, and I’ll have another set of gardening issues to discuss. I really like gardening there because it’s not so hot, and so many lovely things will grow.