Manifest Destiny

Remember learning about Manifest Destiny in school?  As I remember it, MD was basically the belief that the settlers had a natural born right to settle the frontier.  This was all well and good but there were already Native Americans on that land.  Whoops!  Somehow my teachers glossed over that and went right to pictures of frontier cabins and such.  Ahh…such a bucolic little story about American perseverance and independence.

When I bought my house the edges of the back lawn were a bit frontier like in that there was about 5 feet of hardscrabble and old fencing and general shit.  Each year I reclaim a foot or two in spots, a reasonable pace. At this pace, my yard will overtake my neighbors in about 6 years. I wonder if they’ll mind.

Last summer I cleared out this whole area and just this weekend I created this new bed in which I’ll plant a new shade garden.  I’ll keep you, eager reader, up to date.

first step

first step


I vote for Sunday

Today was so great, I wish it could go on for another 12 hours. Who’s with me?

Go to Egypt, will you

The weekend is no time to pontificate, friends.

Here’s a video I took on lover’s bridge in Cairo, Egypt.  I went there a year ago.

Take a minute to check out the Nile. Here.

A mini green house

I have an 11th cousin who got married last summer. I know what you’re thinking. 11th cousin!?!  We actually started out as friends growing up, and in a lengthy conversation between our mothers, they realized they shared the same last name, did some digging and found out that they were both descendants of Henri Zimmerman from Switzerland from the 1700s.  How cool is that?

Back to their wedding.

As a parting gift, then handed out seeds of Hollyhock seeds with a custom message attached to the seed packet. How cool and different is that?  There was a quote from Oscar Wilde on the attached semi-opaque card.  Something about a life without love is like a garden without flowers.  That’s a very palatable quote.

So I planted these last sunday.  I took an egg carton, did a little surgery, and turned it into a planter. As a test I put the glass salad bowl over half of the carton, to see how a little greenhouse action would speed along the germination process.

If I had an aircraft carrier, I would proudly stand underneath a banner that says “mission accomplished” .  Everyone knows that doing so guarantees success in the present endeavor.

So there’s no banner, but this picture proves that it works.  The seeds  in the greenhouse came out about 3 days before the uncovered, and they are coming out with a sense of purpose!

If you’ve got some seeds lying around, try this out to get them going since outdoor planting season is still a few weeks away.

finally the salad bowl has a purpose

finally the salad bowl has a purpose

It’s time for an IPA

A few weeks ago I made a 5 gallon batch of an India Pale Ale that came from a brewers best kit.  These are great kits to follow for novice beer makers.  I followed the recipe, but then dry hopped the beer with Amarillo Hops.  They call it dry hopping, but it’s actually just dumping in a bunch of fresh hops after the beer has fermented.

Back when the sun never set on the British Empire, beer had a long journey getting to India.  In order to ensure that the beer didn’t spoil or get scurvy, they started adding a bunch of hops.  This slightly fruity taste addition paired well with the oppresive heat of India.  So the India Pale was born.

I fermented for 8 days, then dry hopped for 2 weeks.  It tastes delicious and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

A couple of years ago, I went to the plant swap that I had read about in Ms. Cheap’s section of the paper.  I was a recent homeowner and pretty broke.

So I drove to the plant swap in Hohenwald, got completely lost and arrived 2 hours late. Most of the plants were gone, but a retired high school teacher gave me some irises.

Here they are in all their beauty.  Last year there was only 1 bloom, this year it looks more like 5 or so!

I’m thinking about organizing a plant swap in a few weeks. You know…after all the irises bloom but before shasta daisies and those things. If anyone is interested, please let me know in the comment section.  We can have it at my house. You can split your perennials and we’ll all get some cool plants on the cheap!

Guerilla Gardening

Guerilla Gardening is my latest  obsession.  It’s on a very short list, somewhere  behind pesto but way ahead of scattegories.

I first heard about it in an article in the NY Times.  They had a picture of gardeners, illegally planting  in Los Angeles.  Did you know L.A. was  originally named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula?  Talk about a mouthful!  Imagine saying “oh yeah, I have a friend trying to make it as an actor in El pueblo de….yadda yadda blah blah Rio de la blah blah smackety smack”

I got a book about Guerilla Gardening for Christmas, but it was mostly what was already on the website.  Thanks though, Santy Clause!

The idea is simple:  improve an otherwise unkempt public space with plants. The assumption is that the state is bankrupt, so why not beautify your own neighborhood, since they’re light in the $$ areas these days.

So back in November of 08, I decided to give it a go.  I had two areas to focus on.  Attend to some River Birches at 800 Main Street, and then plant something at the exit off Ellington Parkway near my house. I’ll write about  the exit  sometime soon.

One of the greatest assets of River Birch trees is their beautiful bark.

At the old Bank of America building at 80o Main Street, there were 3 mature Birches that had not been trimmed in years.  This allowed for a  lot of lower growth that blocked a view of the bark.

Seeing an opportunity, I went with my big limb loppers and spent 45 minutes or so making these trees shine again.  I was a veritable Edward Scisscorhands, except without the akward suburban teenage gal  at my side who’s never going to win her father’s approval.

As I was working my illegal magic, lots of folks stopped by to see what I was up to.  They thought I worked for the building.  No, I said, I’m just doing this b/c it needed to be done.

They were mostly a drunk lot,  b/c it was a saturday after 11 am, so they found this most agreeable and affirmed me in my venture. One man thanked me becuase he rode his bike by everyday and was always pistol whipped by the overhanging branches.  Maybe he said branch-whipped, I can’t remember.

I didn’t know what to do with the branches, so I left them thinking they’d be picked up by metro disposal at some point.  I learned a very important lesson on Guerilla gardening that day.

Clean up your mess, slacker.

You see, there’s a lot of wind in my neighborhood. Well not more than other neighborhoods, but it’s more noticeable b/c there’s an excess of litter that blows with it.  These 3 massive pile of branches sat there for months collecting trash like a spider’s web.  I would drive by, thinking of who had a truck I could borrow to clean the mess I had made in an effort to make things more beautiful.

I was spared the guilt when a good natured group of concerned citizens cleaned up a couple of weeks ago in preparation for a massive Main Street planting effort.

But Metro has to check the status of old irrigation equipment. And we have to get lane closures from the police, and The sherrif’s office will let us know when they can help with the weed removal….and etc, etc.

And this is how guerilla gardening gets going:  it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission.