Ok all you garden-y types. Time for a long overdue Eternal Project Update.
Yes yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on the goings-on in my never ending backyard improvement project. I’ve been remiss. Lax in my duties. Being slackerific. Seriously though, I’ve been busy.
Mind you, that isn’t to say I’ve been slacking off on the Eternal Project itself! Oh no no no my dear flora-nistas. I’ve been a busy little beaver in my bustling backyard, I have! I’ve been growing lots n lots of stuff of the green leafy chlorophyll-filled CO2-mitigating variety. And I now have a lovely little patio set, so I can actually sit at a TABLE and, like, work and stuff. Or read. Or surf the interwebs. At a TABLE. OUT SIDE. Amazing! I’m still trying to decide which big project I’m going to tackle this year. Last year was the fire pit (which got some great use this past weekend!). The year before that was pouring the patio. This year, I’m toying with the idea of some planting, some wall building, and perhaps a stone-paved hammock nook, complete with hammock-level shelf for drink storage. Ahh, the lazy days of summer. Bring it.
Lilacs smelled AMAZING. I wanted to snort them like cocaine.
The Salad Garden:
So I had this goal to 1. eat way more salad and 2. never buy salad from the store this summer. Ergo, salad garden.
The First Salad!
MY VERY FIRST ROSE BLOOM FROM MY VERY FIRST ROSE BUSH
I think the picture speaks for itself.
I live in Portland. Isn't there an ordinance that says all PDX residents must have at least one rose bush? I'm just doing my civic duty.
is finally growing. At an approximate velocity of 5.3 feet a day (roughly, compounded). Help me.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
For some reason, even though that first line from A Tale of Two Cities resonated in my young brain so loudly, I just couldn’t get into that book. Never did. I’m sure I read that first page at least a dozen times. Maybe I should try again. But this, dear interwebs, is A Tale of Three Bamboo. Or is it Bamboos? Whatever. Our story opens…
The Triff...er I mean Bamboo
Despite numerous warnings that I was insane to even contemplate the idea, I planted bamboo in my backyard. And not even the relatively safe kind, i.e. ‘clumping’ bamboo. No, I planted the ravenous, crawl into your house in the middle of the night and kill your pets kind of bamboo. The Day of the Triffids bamboo: timber bamboo.
But on the other hand, this is the same kind of bamboo they make floors out of. And utensils. Gorgeous ones! Or at least that was the counter argument in my head when I was rationalizing this step in my Eternal Project. Seriously, everyone I talked to thought I was insane:
“And then, I’m gonna plant some bamboo along the fence here…”
“You’re going to plant bamboo?”
“Yeah. The big kind. Timber. Black, and Tiger. They’re so pretty!”
“You’re going to…plant. Bamboo. Willingly. In your backyard.”
“Um, yeah. Pretty much.”
“Do you KNOW what bamboo does??”
“Yes…I’ve taken precautionary steps.”
“Yes but…it’s crazy! It gets into EVERYTHING!”
“Yes, I know. Like I said, I’ve taken steps. Two sides are going to be surrounded in concrete, for starters!”
“Well…I still think you’re crazy for even considering it.”
“Thanks. Your concern is duly noted.”
That’s how most of my conversations went.
But I did it. It’s done. And so far, all my pets are still here. Or, well, they didn’t die of bamboo related injuries, at least.
I can’t say the same for my poor bamboo though.
I did my research, you know. Like I said, I surrounded the planting area on two sides with concrete. The other two sides, a foot and a half deep bamboo barrier, especially made for the task. I planted them in little mounds, so the runners would be easy to spot. I fertilized only the top six inches of soil or so, so the runners would stay close to the surface and be easy to maintain. I check all the runners twice a year, and trim the ones that are heading in the wrong directions.
I did not, however, protect them from my dog.
I started with 3 bamboo. Two black and one tiger, just like I wanted. (Interestingly, both are classified as Phyllostachys nigra.) Jessie and I drove waaaay out to Hillsboro to the Bamboo Garden Nursery (Yes, Jessie and I did meet Oggie the Bamboo Dog). We were driven around the woods in a golf cart by the nice and helpful bamboo guy, who helped us pick out two black bamboo and one tiger bamboo. We carefully drove them home, planted according to directions, watered and carefully watched over my new charges. Well, watched them except while I was at work.
I guess Jessie was still in her destructive stage, because it wasn’t long before one of the black bamboo was ripped out of the ground. And replanted. And ripped out again. And replanted again. And ripped out AGAIN. And replanted, but by this time, it was becoming clear that the poor thing had met its match. Eventually I had to admit that the plant was dead, and had now become a doggy chew toy.
Now, I have a fence around my bamboo. They’re probably safe at this point, but I’m not taking any chances. I have since replaced the unfortunate black bamboo with some free golden timber bamboo that I found on craigslist. One of my favorite things to do around this time is to look for all the new little bamboo shoots popping out of the ground, letting me know that my mission of creating a privacy screen between me and my neighbors is coming to fruition.
Grow faster, bamboo! FASTER!
Apparently my endless reserves of patience do not extend to plants. Or actually, weather. Because you know once the weather warms up for a couple weeks, those bamboo are going to be all crazy in yo face growing fiends. Unkillable. Unstoppable. With poisonous whip-like stingers.
Hmm…perhaps I should get a really big machete. You know, just in case. Plus, it gives me an excuse to go to Andy and Bax!
Stay tuned for the next chapter, wherein my bamboo start growing at a rate of 2.65 feet a minute for the entire summer, and I next complain that they’re growing too damn fast. Yay, gardening!
I don’t usually like to use that word to describe my mood, because it has such sophomoric (ha! props to @smithrockneil) connotations for me, but…there’s no better word to describe how I feel when I get that first hint of spring in the air.
After the giddiness, however, comes the speculative gaze over my backyard. The time where I announce loudly, to no one in particular, while standing in my backyard, that I am the MASTER OF MY DOMAIN, dammit, and ALL VEGETABLE MATTER EXISTING THEREIN SHALL BOW BEFORE ME. And that, my friends, is what happened last weekend. Yes, interwebs, hold on to your hats: it’s time to resume my Eternal Project.
Being without beginning or end; existing outside of time.
Continuing without interruption; perpetual.
Forever true or changeless: eternal truths.
Seemingly endless; interminable.
Of or relating to spiritual communion with God, especially in the afterlife.
Right. My eternal project is my backyard. I have a grand vision of a peaceful, secluded sanctuary, and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to balance my available funds against my vision. Hard hard hard to do. Especially now, when funds are so scarce these days, right?
So the plan for this year:
Figure out what to do with the slide in my backyard. It’s just in the wrong place. But I do love watching my dog run down it. And, I must confess, I’ve been known to run down the thing myself, but don’t tell anybody, k? Our secret. Yeah. So, a slide compromise is required.
Plant a tree in the back corner. Birch, or maybe maple. Or both? Huh. Or…maybe a paperbark cherry. Love those.
Plant lilacs. No, I’m not making my backyard an homage to the official New Hampshire state flora. It’s a coincidence, seriously. Yes, I did live in New Hampshire for 9 years. So?
Do something with the grass on my little front planting strip. I know, not part of my back yard per se, but there’s project leakage. Scope creep. The backyard is the biggest piece, is all.
Pergola? Maybe? If I build it myself. I can do that, right? Right? Sure. I think?
And then of course there’s the bamboo maintenance, so it doesn’t turn into all Day of the Triffids on me (by the way, one of my favorite movies growing up!). And figuring out possible seating around my fire pit of awesomeness. And of course, building a shed. Ugh. So freakin much to do! Oh, and I want to grow veggies this year too. Mmm, backyard salad. And disconnecting my downspouts into a nifty little bioswale. And more lavendar, since it seems to withstand dog antics pretty well, unlike many of my other unfortunate planting attempts.
So. I’ll be posting updates. And pictures! It will be GLORIOUS. Perhaps, dare I say it? as glorious as John Metta’s blog. Stay tuned!
I am currently taking bids for any of the above-mentioned work. Payment will be in the form of beer, pizza and of course my undying gratitude. Please submit your bid in the comment section below. Extra points if you request good beer. I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, is good beer.