Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Mindy thought her courtyard was boring, but at least she could see it this spring. In this photo from November 2008 the stone arch of the courtyard is almost invisible. On that day the Divas of the Dirt met at Mindy's for our November project. DivasoftheDirt,rip off fig ivyWe spent that entire day taking down every visible piece of an out-of-control creeping fig vine, ripping it off stone walls, the arch, siding, the timbers of the roof overhang and getting rid of all the roots we could see. DivasoftheDirt,fig ivy underneathMindy climbed a ladder and balanced on the beams of the courtyard to clip and reveal the wood. DivasoftheDirt,into CY beforeWhen we left we knew the vine was only slowed...not vanquished.DivasoftheDirt,Stone wall B4 The walls were temporarily blank, but the odds were that the fig would come back. When it did - so would we!
DivasoftheDirt,B4 look out courtyardLast week it was Mindy's turn to be hostess once again for our March project. She and Warren had made enormous project on revamping the walkway & courtyard entrance- by the time we arrived there were gutters and the rain barrel above was in place, though not yet attached. Mindy hoped we could help to improve the view into the courtyard and work on the front of the house near the walkway. We were pleased that not too much of the fig had dared to show above ground. But first things first!
DivasoftheDirt,Mindy tablescapeThe breakfast table looked beautiful, decorated with Texas Mountain laurels picked from some of Mindy's large established shrubs. Her stone house is set on a couple of acres in a hilly part of SW Austin, where deer play and wild flowers grow naturally around the rock piles.

DivasoftheDirt,Morning glory muffinsWe feasted on country ham, scrambled eggs Benedict, berries and pineapples, blueberry juice and Morning Glory Muffins. They're wonderful! Here's a link to the recipe from Earthbound Farm.

DivasoftheDirt,pup & plantsButtercup the Golden Lab led us out the door to the courtyard where Mindy had a bunch of plants waiting in the shade. There were more plants waiting under a ex-peach trees, victims of age and the ongoing drought. The soil in the courtyard was daunting and it was pretty doubtful we'd get around to using all the plants but we'd try our best. Mindy had bought plenty of composts and mulches.

DivasoftheDirt,yuccasA recent fun project by Mindy and Warren was now revealed - they'd made a recycled wine bottle border along the sidewalk that led across the front of the house to the entrance courtyard. The border defined and area of decomposed granite. Burying wine bottles as a garden edging may sound new and trendy, but it's actually an old Texas tradition, found around historic homes where German settlers made their homes.

DivasoftheDirt,pyracanthas & recycled bottle edgeMindy knew the two tired pyracanthas against the house had to go. For one thing, that wall is scheduled to be redone and the thorny tall shrubs were in the way. And in spite of the thorns, the deer that munch on Mindy's landscape thought the shrubs were delicious, drawing them into the heart of the border.

Buffy and I were already on record as not being fond of the way the pyracantha (sometimes called Fire Thorns) looked against the house wall, so as soon as we had the go-ahead on demolition, we happily waded in with loppers while Mattie, Sophia, Karla and DivaAnnie started to dig up the courtyard beds and Mindy ran back and forth coordinating, bringing supplies and answering constant questions.

DivasoftheDirt,cutting pyracanthas
Chop! Chop! Chop! The tops were cut up small and put into yard waste bags.
DivasoftheDirt,Buffy & firethornsWe left enough of the trunks to use as handles, after taking off all small branches with their vicious thorns. Then we hauled, pulled and rocked the two pyracanthas, while using garden forks and spades to pry and dig the roots out. Buffy was triumphant!

DivasoftheDirt,right wall B4Back in the courtyard the almost-clean walls belied the reality beneath the surface.

DivasoftheDirt,Mattie, fig root
Mattie's ripping up the left inside courtyard - this is hard work! We'd pulled up at least 50-feet of thick roots last November -guess that was just practice!

About the photos in Mindy Parts I and II: The photos that were taken during the project are mostly mine. The photos of the courtyard before we arrived and the photos taken last week after we left are mostly Mindy's. We had so many fun pictures there just had to be two posts! On to Part II.

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