AhuvaNet 2.0

After my first attempt at netting my garden seemed to have holes in it *giggle*, I decide to up my game. 🙂 I wanted to move the nets up and out from the plants, so that nothing could nibble through the netting. My neighbor mentioned that the deer had totally stripped her mandevilla plant, although to date they’d not touched mine. They (or the groundhogs) had consumed nearly all of the potato vine in the base of that pot, but not the mandevilla itself. I decided that as long as I was going to re-work the netting along the front walk, I’d do “something” about protecting the plants in front of the hedge – which is where there is no longer a pale orange gladiola.

if you are walking by on the sidewalk, you still see flowers first, and then the netting

I stared at all the different net and screen material in the store, some nylon/plastic, some wire. I chose nylon netting for 2 reasons: easier to handle and a little less obvious. I stayed with the chicken wire (as opposed to screen material) because I think that webbing is sufficient to deter the deer but still let the insects move about, and let the flowers be seen.

the green plant stakes do a decent job of keeping the netting off of the plants themselves

I wanted to drape the net over all the pots along the front walk, but not on the plants directly. I realized that I could use the plant stakes I had already to lift the net up above the plants and out to the sides of the pots. That worked quite nicely. I’ve anchored the bottom under various pots and so far it appears to be stable. It’s only been 3 nights but no obvious damage in those 3 nights.

the front netting wraps about the side of the gladiola

Protecting the front garden was going to be a bit more tricky. I wanted it protected but not obscured. I needed a fence stretching across the whole front, and hope that the deer would not be smart enough to figure out they could go around the side of the house and come in through the back. 🙂 The only draw-back to the netting that I’ve noticed so far is that I’ve made it difficult for butterflies to get to the flowers. 😦 I realized this when I saw a huge beautiful butterfly on my zinnias. I’m not sure I can have it both ways – No to Deer, Yes to Butterflies – but I’ll give it more thought.

there’s easily 2 feet between the hedge and the netting, and the stupid gladiolas INSIST on poking through, no matter how I try to rearrange them

Did We Annoy Someone?

My neighbors and I had an interesting weekend. We are living the Homeowners’ Motto: It’s Always Something. You know that last week for me was the HVAC worker stepping through the dining room ceiling. The fun continued.

Only 3 of the piles in this pic. This morning there were 5 and they were much larger.

Either Friday or Saturday I noticed a huge dirt ant pile between my lawn and the sidewalk. As we were still allowed to water that day (maybe it was as early as Thursday?) I used the hose to wash away the pile. There is also some huge and scary looking flying thing that has appeared in the last few days. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I wish I’d not seen it now. It’s big and it moves very quickly. There had been only one and now there are 2, and they seem to like those ant piles. First there was one ant pile which I washed away. There were 2 the next day. This morning there were 5. Thank goodness for the electricians!!!! Eli kicked them all apart with his big heavy steel protected work boots and he stepped on something icky as well. My hero! Could the extreme heat and drought be causing the ant hills and these bugs? The flying things don’t look like wasps – I don’t see any obvious stinger. But they are intimidating.

UPDATE: Or why it’s important to have your teeth cleaned regularly. According to the folks at the dentists’ office these are wood wasps, and those are NOT ant hills. They are the burrows of these ground wasps. I was told to flood them out. I’ll let you know if that works.

This is the little one. I think that the larger one has a more vibrant, larger yellow/black body

Two houses down from me an ENORMOUS branch came down. No wind. No storm. No noise. They’d had branches trimmed several weeks ago. This was a live branch – not dead wood. No sign of infestation. I wonder if one of those lower branches had been supporting this big one and no one had noticed. My other neighbor snapped a picture capturing how lucky someone was – the branch landed BETWEEN 2 cars, not on any car, not on any person. Lucky despite the bad luck.

Those are soft white pine needles so the cars are not scratched

As Helen and I stood there this morning staring at the tree, my next door neighbor came out. THEIR main is backed up and he’s home waiting for the plumber. Do you think it’s going to stop with us 3 or do we need to warn the rest of the neighbors????

Why does a live branch come down if there’s no obvious climate event?

I Need A Better Net

Let’s see you get through this bamboo cloche!!!!

Something nibbled off the top of one of my grape tomato plants. I understand that hibiscus is to deer as dark chocolate is to Ahuva, but do NOT touch my grape tomatoes!!!! I have a lot of old netting and screen material in the garage from other projects so I decided it was time to be creative.

I had a very long piece of nylon netting that I strung over the potted plants along the front walk. Then I sprayed the netting with Repel-All. I’d like to think it worked but if you look closely at the photos you can see that there IS a big red hibiscus flower under the netting, but that flower is NOT there now. I’m going to guess that means the gaps were large enough for someone to reach in and snag the flower.

I took the screen material and draped it about the tomato cages. I used binder clips to hold it in place. It was actually quite easy to cut and attach, despite the fact that I was attempting this after returning from cocktails with my sister. 🙂 I had one little piece of leftover screen that I draped over the small hibiscus plant and anchored that by tucking it against other pots.

Maybe it’s working, maybe not. What DID happen last night was a savage attack on my gladiolas. 😦 I noticed yesterday that I had a gorgeous pale orange gladiola in full bloom. I didn’t have my camera with me at that moment and then forgot to go back and take a picture. She who hesitates is lost. There is NO beautiful gladiola this morning. There IS a bitten stalk. Sigh.

I think I’ll head out and look for some light-weight netting this weekend. I’ll drive stakes into the grass so I can raise the netting up off of the plants but still protect them. Not quite sure how to raise/anchor the side that is next to the walk. Maybe if I put stakes in the pots to lift the net UP, and then anchor the material under the pots that will be effective. I’d worry about watering through the netting but we’ve been placed under voluntary water restrictions. I’m not going to be doing that much watering anyway. *snort* I’ll be ‘watering’ with Repel-All and Critter Ridder.

Losing Battle

Denuded Hibiscus 😦

We went to dinner at friends’ house last night. Before I got in the car I sprayed all the tasty plants with Repel-all. Truth to tell, I don’t know if the plants were okay when we got home again – we were both tired and went inside and to bed. It rained last night/early this morning. We’ve needed the rain. It’s been 3 or 4 weeks since it rained last. I went out this morning and the hibiscus plants are denuded. It really is a bit discouraging. I don’t want to live in drought conditions but I have to believe that the deer came by for a post-rain snack. So in that respect the rain is NOT my friend. 😦 If they’d only stick to the flowers and not eat the leaves, the plants would regenerate so much faster. 😦

Bounteous crop

On the plus side I DO have a crop of grape tomatoes! AND I took the hedge trimmer into my own hands and dealt with the hedge. I’ve hired someone to come dig up and grind 3 bushes on the side of the house for the planned central air unit. Randy came by to give the quote either the week I had Covid or the 2nd week when I no longer tested positive but was still completely wiped out. I asked him to add trimming the front hedge to the quote. I had an email from him last Friday that said they’d be here this past week, weather permitting. Let me remind you: no rain for 3-4 weeks now. They never came, they never called, they never wrote. Yesterday morning I got out my ladders and hedge clippers, dealt with the hedge, and sent an email to Randy asking for a revised quote – no hedge trimming. I guess that would count as a winning battle, right? 🙂

“I’ll do it myself” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

Construction or Destruction?

Because no matter what the post topic, nothing beats a beautiful orange hibiscus

Sometimes during a renovation it’s hard to tell which description is most apt. Of course given that I’m still dragged-out from Covid, and I’m STILL congested with a runny nose, it’s hard to do most anything.

Grape tomatoes don’t require my brains or energy to thrive. Can you see all those green tomatoes?

There has been some work done with framing and pipes since my husband and I were felled by Covid. I think it all happened on the Monday before I lost touch with reality. Ken & Chris added more pipes and connections for the new bathroom.

sometime last week there were pipes for the sink & toilet

Yesterday John and coworker (don’t know his name) were here doing more framing – hammering, sawing, generator running, maneuvering large plywood sheets around my old, beloved chestnut bannister and railing. You know I first started to watch and then decided to turn away because I did NOT want to see it go wrong. Of course it was fine. They are pros, after all.

and we’ll have a working shower as well 🙂

The HVAC person, Marcel, came by last week with Don. We got the quote on that yesterday. All told, not unreasonable. I really consider putting in central air to be a necessity. Yes I’ve lived here 38 years without it, but there have certainly been times it would have been a very nice option. Once I decided we’d do this renovation, I figured out there were 3 guiding principles.

Boards come, they go. I thought that was framing the shower but later photos say no

First goal was to give my husband the 2nd bathroom he’s been wanting for years and years now. The second goal is to add the other things that we’ve thought would be nice to have. For instance a new floor. The original/current one squeaks. A lot. It’s also very worn. We’re going to use it as sub-flooring for new wood floors.

replacing broken boards, and they’ve leveled the original floor that was under the wall – had to bring it to the level of the exposed flooring

The third and very important guideline is for selling the house. Ultimately we will move and have to sell the house. We cannot sell it with the knob&tube wiring in place. We’ve been told that insurance companies will no longer insure homes with K&T and so we either deal with it ourselves before we sell or we have to factor that into a reduced desirability/cost when we sell.

In case you forgot knob & tube wiring. I believe the fuzzy stuff is insulation, NOT wiring 🙂

Although we love our hot water radiator heating, the radiators are the old huge iron radiators. They take up a LOT of space and are not especially attractive. We’ve dealt with them on the first floor by purchasing attractive radiator covers decades ago, and removing the 2 in the kitchen & front hall as part of that renovation. But there are 5 old iron ones upstairs and we’re replacing them as part of this effort. I don’t want to hear about “ew the radiators are so big and ugly”. Incredibly efficient but ugly.

Chris removing the radiators

I want my windows back. For 38 years I’ve had to deal with a/c units rendering windows useless. In 2019 we replaced all of the upstairs windows yet I still lost 3 of them to a/c units. I LIKE windows. A lot. As long as the walls and ceilings would be ripped open I said let’s put central air up there. Don said it would not be much more effort to drop it to the 1st floor as well, which would be wonderful. I’d get back my dining room window. We’re going to take the window that was removed from the little room (which will now be a bathroom) and we’re going to put that in our bedroom next to the existing side window. MORE LIGHT!!!! And fresh air in season.

There will be a different window up there ultimately, in the shower. an “awning” window

Today John & friend and Ken & Chris were here. Not sure what all the woodworking was about but the radiators were going. *laughing* And not a moment too soon. I had the a/c units going this past weekend. I woke up Monday morning and as I pulled up the shades I thought “is that radiator WARM???” Yep. I’d forgotten to turn DOWN the thermostat while the a/c was on. *rolling eyes* I told Ken & Chris to make sure they not only removed the radiators but turn OFF the connections from the thermostat as well. *grin*

there was a board, now there is not. but there IS insulation

So here we be. We are still home not working. Well, I managed to do a little something today that did not require a lot of brain power. There’s something I need to do for someone at work but it requires much more attention to detail and thought than I can muster at this point. The radiators are disconnected. There’s woodworking done. Don said that next he wants to start on the shower!!!

If those boxes are for the shower, WHY NOT THE TILES??????

I was SO EXCITED and asked if that meant I should have the tile delivered so we could start designing the tile walls. Don got that patient long-suffering face he uses with me and started shaking his head saying “too soon”. 😦 I want to play with the tiles! And I’m afraid that he will tell us one day – get the tiles so we can install them tomorrow, without leaving us time to obsess and agonize and do and redo our design. 🙂

the gardenias are blooming. so are the canna lilies but they are the WRONG cannas. 😦 too short
Why I need to protect the hibiscus every day with repell-all. so beautiful!!

“What’s It Like?”

I am having top-notch nursing care

I can’t believe how many people have asked me that this week. What’s it like to have Covid? MISERABLE. No matter how much you want to be “in” with the “in crowd” – pass up the opportunity to get sick.

Not the usual counter-top picture I share with you, but neither of us is much into food or cooking this week.

My husband and I have the same symptoms. It’s like having a horrible, horrible head cold or, imagine this, a viral infection in the sinuses. We are both congested. He’s coughing every few minutes and I’m blowing my nose non-stop. We’re both trying desperately to keep it out of our chests, because once the congestion is in your chest you KNOW how disgustingly uncomfortable that gets. I have had a painful scratchy sore throat for days. One of my personal issues is that if I take too many Tylenol or Advil I tend to get an ulcer. Yeah, this is probably NOT one of the more pleasant weeks in my life.

thank goodness the grape tomatoes are healthier than i am

Fever, yep that’s present too. We are living on Tylenol and Sudafed during the day, and Nyquil and Afrin nose-spray at night. We are drinking oceans of liquids. Sleeping a lot. For me yesterday that meant most of the day. Not sure I was awake for even 10 hours. Brain fog. What’s brain fog? That’s when you can’t focus at all on any one thought. It’s too much effort to think, you can’t remember why you wanted to think, and it hurts too much to think. I have no idea what day it is.

I have the butterfly weed but no butterflies 😦

I am so very grateful that we have our house, our garden, the deck, my sister & her husband, and that the contractors are NOT here this week working on the renovation. With the things we HAVE to help us survive, and the things we do NOT have to deal with, this week is less horrible than it could be. I tried to imagine the 2 of us feeling like this in a small apartment with no real space to separate and no way to go outside. I’m sorry that we had to cancel weekend plans, and maybe even next weekend plans, but we are very fortunate to have the support system we do. My sister and brother-in-law have run errands for us, replenishing the depleted medicine stock. I wonder if they’ll do a grocery run for us too? 🙂

the pink echinacea makes me happy

On the positive side we do seem to be getting a little better. My husband has a prescription for some meds that are supposed to help him not relapse as he recovers. Of course the list of potential side-effects sound almost worse than the current symptoms. I felt strong enough last night that before I went to bed (in the recliner, because he’s in our bed and I’m living in the recliner in our sun room) I Windex’d every surface and handle and knob I could reach. And I only slept 10.5 hours last night! Definitely on the road to recovery. I hope. Please.

I LOVE these very tall daisies. I thought I’d lost them – choked out by other plants. But I have this group and a small group on the other side of the house. They grow to 2-3′ tall

Keeping the Hibiscus Growing

Apparently it’s going to take daily applications of Repel-All and hot chili powder to get my hibiscus and other plants to flower. I’ve had to add the zinnia to the daily treatments because I came out yesterday morning to discover the zinnia had served as a midnight snack – leaves & buds gone, just the stems left. I hate the smell of the Repel-All but hey – if this is what it takes to have flowers, stink-city it is!

Morning Deer

NOT a lawn ornament

We have a lot of deer in our neighborhood. There are those that love ’em, those that loathe ’em, and those of us who are conflicted. The truth is that I DO feel pleasure as I walk about town and see the deer. I feel the same way about all the “wild” animals I might see: opossum, raccoon, hawks, the very occasional fox. There is something very joyful about nature despite “civilization”.

On the other hand, as a gardener, I would really prefer NOT to have to deal with the deer. There has been so much edifice development in this area that the pockets of greenery are becoming more and more scarce. The deerhave become incredibly bold, strolling down the streets even in the middle of the day. Several times we’ve pulled up to our house in our cars, whether daytime or night, and there are deer on the lawn, and the deer don’t move. They have become totally blase about cars and people. They look at us as if to say “Hey there, how are YOU today?”

Hmmm. Let’s see what’s on the menu today

I don’t know any good solutions. Hunting? Poison? Co-existence? Barbed wire enclosures? What I DO know is that I want to have a garden and I want my plants to have flowers. I do NOT enjoy plants that consist of bitten stems and branches. There’s not much color in a bitten stem, nor does it attract pollinators, butterflies, or hummingbirds.

Yesterday’s breakfast

This morning when I walked out after waking, I was looking at my rudbeckia in the front garden. I heard my neighbor calling to me from across the street. “There’s a deer in your garden!” she called. “It’s been there for hours!” I edged cautiously down the sidewalk and indeed – there was deer sitting in a nice shady spot in the lawn. Of course I took pictures. 🙂 You can see it was unconcerned with me playing paparazzi.

How’s the Starwort this morning?

I went inside to take care of the cats. I could see the deer from the dining room window. It didn’t flinch as I opened the window to let in air. As I moved about inside I noticed that the deer had gotten up and was moving around the house. I grabbed my camera and went out to observe.

Oh garcon!!! A little fresh water please!

The good news is that it seemed to ignore most of my plants. It did take a bite of the False Starwort, but only one bite. The evergreen hedge got a few nibbles, but everything else was ignored. Thank goodness, since it (or a friend) had already done a number on the hibiscus plants in the pots. The deer meandered across my lawn, across my neighbor’s lawn, and then headed back behind that house.

Loving me some evergreens

It was a lovely interlude in my morning but it was a reminder as well. I got the “repel all” spray from the porch and doused the False Starwort and the hibiscus. 🙂 Co-existence but do NOT eat my flowers!!!!

The mandevilla does NOT look fresh today

I wish I could blame the deer for the dying mandevilla – all I can think is too much water, even though that pot is open on the bottom. 😦

Breakfast buffet