Wednesday, April 08, 2015

2014 - February MATTIE'S GARDEN DAY

This post, 2014 - February MATTIE'S GARDEN DAY, was written by Glinda/Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt Blog. If you are reading it elsewhere it is without our consent.

Early in February Mattie sent a photo and a cry for help at her garden day - the enormous red tip photinia on the front corner of the house was half-dead and removing it would be our main project.

A few weeks later we arrived at Mattie's house ready to work. We took a quick look around to see how the plants had fared over winter. Some iris were already blooming, weeds were rampant and a lot of plants needed cutting back before their spring growth spurt kicked in.

The beds had lost their edges and everything needed compost and mulch.

But first things first! Mattie had coffee, juices, a bowl of berries and a Challah Sausage Strata waiting for us. Breakfast with friends is as important as the project, right?

The berries and strata were delicious, but the Ricotta-lemon muffins were the big hit.

After breakfast we went outside and split into two teams - one group worked on the beds and borders while the other group went after the photinia.

Sugar and Karla worked on the central border - transplanting and weeding. Once the weeds are gone and the edges reclaimed, they'd add Revitalizer compost.

Sophia ponders moving some of the extra liriope to a bare spot near the front door. Mattie has already tried growing a few things but the roof overhang makes it a tricky area.

Diva-Annie goes after the wicked weeds in the curb bed with her Cobrahead.

For decades, Red tip photinia has been planted in Austin as an inexpensive non-native plant, usually sold as small shrubs, described as good for hedges and foundation plants and with the promise of being trouble-free. But photinias are Asian trees, not shrubs, so it takes constant pruning to keep them in scale with houses. And as things turned out, the overplanted photinias are prone to fatal diseases. Mattie's photinia was already half dead. It had to go.

Our plan was to get off all the parts that could be cut with hand tools first, before bringing in the chainsaws. Mattie wanted to see this happen!

I (Glinda) had my pole pruner ready to take off the higher, thinner branches.
Mindy and Buffy have loppers and know how to use them!

Getting down to the frame took less time than anticipated, but we need to work on the cut branches, too.

Everyone helped to reduce the reduce the debris into yard bags or tied bundles of branches cut to the acceptable length. The thicker logs have to be 3-ft. for yard waste.

Mindy was taking no chances on getting this photinia down... she brought two chainsaws.

Finally! Mattie displays the last trunk.

The photinia overshadowed the other plants in this bed and it probably got most of the nutrients and water... it will be interesting to see how the white Loropetalum, variegated Abelia and Indian Hawthorn respond to more sun!

At this point we were glad for some comic relief - three pups came to visit the Divas of the Dirt.

Here are Luci and Lynda, the petite chihuahua sisters.

Fredric, Buffy's new Westie, may turn out to be a companionable dog for a gardener - he's certainly interested in this garden spade!

Barbie is pretty good about welcoming other dogs to her home - she hopes Lynda will become a new friend.

The hours had flown and it was already after 4 pm - time for a late lunch.

Mattie gave us a wonderful meal - beginning with a fabulous Butternut squash, shrimp, cilantro, coconut and lime soup, from a Whole Foods Recipe. 

Then Sweet Kale & vegetable salad with cranberry & pumpkin seeds for crunch and vitamins, with slices of pizza for fun - spinach mushroom & pepperoni.

And to celebrate a Diva birthday, Mattie served us this over-the-top Central Market Berry Chantilly Cake, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, delicate yellow cake, and inch-high topping of whipped cream.

Now, back to the garden.

Once the mulching was finished the long front border looked good!

Iris are ready to bloom in the central bed, while the dormant plants will soon fill the empty spaces with foliage and flowers.

Iris are also ready to bloom in the curb bed - and there will be roses in a month or so.

Before the light faded, we managed to get a few things done in the back yard. We transplanted a pittosporum and helped this Cleveland pear escape from its container.

We also planted some rooted cuttings from the long-gone Rose of Sharon, then weeded, cleaned and clipped the entire long back border. Then bags of leaves were raked from the side passageway.

But dusk was upon us - by 6:30 pm we'd packed up our tools and said goodnight.

This post, 2014 - February MATTIE'S GARDEN DAY, was written by Glinda/Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt Blog. If you are reading it elsewhere it is without our consent.

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