I decided that I should get some watering and weed pulling done before I start my cleaning day, so I headed outside at 9 am for a little yard work in a pair of knit capris and a short sleeved tee shirt.
Firstly, and you wouldn't think it, too much clothing. I should have opted for a tank top, to begin with. The temp had already hit 85 and the humidity was oppressive. Not to be too gross about it, I am descended from a line of profusive prespirers. That's one of the reasons I hate to wear makeup and eventually just swore off it. I can raise a sweat getting dressed in the morning. Lugging a garden hose around the yard? So not a pretty sight.
The capris, though, are a hit for a simple reason: if I need to kneel down and pull a weed, for example, I can hike the pants legs up and rest on my bare knees. Skin is easier to wash than clothing!
I pulled the weeds around the bottom of my struggling pear tree project and had to make a hard decision. I had a pear tree than contracted fire blight and had to be cut down after several years of unsuccessful treatment. It was cut flush with the ground and I never had the stump removed. Around the edge of the stump sprouts appeared. I decided to give it a shot and let the strongest of them grow. There were six. I watched them, and today weeded it down to four. When I can tell which one is the best of the bunch, it will be selected and nurtured. I would love to have the pear tree back. I don't really even like pears all that much, and I liked these. The only drawback was during its peak producing years: there would be ripe pears fallen all over the ground and wasps LOVE dropped fruit. And if you hit one with the lawnmower it shot out like artillary.
I washed out the birdbath and inspected my flower bed, which is actually growing a little too well, especially the verbena. I'm going to have to do some trimmng soonn, before it takes over the place. The purported short zinnia plants are as tall as my birdbath, which is not exactly what I planned, but they're blooming well. And the balloon flowers are blooming, which I get such a kick out of. They're weird looking little flowers.
The amaryllis is doing very well this year and hasn't had to be staked yet. I attribute it to adequate rainfall. The tall stalks are like hose segments, hollow in the middle, and if there's enough hydration, they're round. If it's been drier, they flatten like that garden hose you retract on a reel, and the flower heads become too heavy to hold up. I have a handful of stakes for lillies that I will deploy if things get droopy, but so far so good.
I can't claim credit for most of the plants in my yard. I put in the flower bed around the birdbath, and extended the azalea border of the patio, but the trees and the amaryllis were here when I arrived. There was also a garden plot that we decided to give back to the yard (not really gardeners - more like the tomato-in-a-pot sort). We've lost and cut down several trees in the last 15 years - the place looked like a national forest when we moved in. The unlamented lost are long needle white pine trees, which are the most aggravating conifers I have ever had. The branches grew straight out from the trunk, and attained such a length that the weight of them caused the branch to crack in the center along its length. They also dropped a profuse amount of needles which could not be mulched up or chopped by the mower, and killed the lawn with their acidity. Better long gone.
We had three fruit trees which met bad ends - the apple was hit by lightening, the peach was blown over by a tornado and the pear contracted fire blight, a nasty tree disease which seems almost impossible to eradicate. I may have a happy ending with the pear tree if the sprouts grow.
We may lose a dogwood this year. I have been fighting the anthracnose disease for years, as has much of the southeast, and five of the six are holding their own, although need watering in the summer due to the drought. The sixth was trimmed back hard this week due to branch die-off, although it might instead be a type of borer infestation from the look of the lower trunk, but we're not sure. We're hoping we can save it. If it dies, I will probably replace it with a Cornus kousa, the dogwood that is resistant to anthracnose. We wouldn't want to give up the spring flowers.
Heat or not, that was the fun part of the morning. Now, to house cleaning.