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Garden En Flambe

Today, we burned! The Weed Dragon garden flamethrower is Kevin's nod to yard work. It works very well for frying things between paving stones that would otherwise take a great deal of labor to pull. As it is, I ignore the things and then during the growing season, when the grass starts to grow up in the cracks, Kevin takes about forty minutes and burns everything. (Would that I could weed so easily in the beds...)

Found a slug today. I will resent it greatly before long, but today, it was kinda like those Looney Tunes where the wolf and the sheepdog punch in the timeclock in the morning. "Morning, George. Morning, Fred." Morning, Slug.

The frog-pond is full of masses of eggs. I'm hoping some of them belong to the salamanders, but it's hard to tell.

And that thing happened where you plant a plant, hoping that it will do a thing, and then it does that thing, and then you're a little frightened of how well it did the thing?

Yeah. I had a vague dream that someday my old-fashioned southern climbing rose would cover the fence and get up into the cedar juniper. It's a little skeptical about the fence, but it shot about twenty-five feet up into the tree and there is just this TRUNK of rose stem and suddenly whips of rose leaves hanging in space over my head. I mean, I...err...wanted that...but...uh. I've never grown climbing roses before. I did not realize they were quite so...vigorous.

Found my old garden hand-shears. They have been missing for a few months and now they are muddy and a mantis laid an egg case on the handle, so I think maybe I should just get a new pair. They're cheap and I feel the mantises will resent being dragged around to prune things.

Tomorrow we have another Dog Interview. I am trying to treat this as an interview, not a date. We are looking to fill a position (entry-level dog) and meeting candidates. This one's resume is acceptable, but he must pass the all important on-the-job Cat Test before I am allowed to become attached. (I am still a bit broken up about the Staffordshire, honestly. In a slightly different life, she would have been My Dog Forever and she was so good. She found a good home and that's the actually important thing, but I think I may be permanently scarred. I do not understand how people who dump dogs do not wake up screaming every night.)

So, here is hoping!

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As long as the climbing rose doesn't do the Multiflora thing and start taking over the woods...

I hope the wisteria was a sufficient distance from your home. My father planted one at a corner of the pergola over our back patio when we lived in the California Bay Area, and three years later he was having to climb up on the roof several times a year and hack the wisteria back so it wouldn't take shingles off the house. It also grew down into the porch swing and immobilized it.

Wisteria is beautiful, and where my mother lives in Texas it grows wild fifty feet or so up into the trees out in the woods, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination, a garden plant unless you're willing to whack at it with a machete rather frequently.

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My sympathies. Did you finally manage to kill it?

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my grandparents lived in berkeley, ca, where their back garden backed up to st. mary's highschool. after the highschool put in TALL (12', i think) chain link fences in the 60s, my grandmother planted wisteria against them. by the late 60s they had done an excellent job of screening the garden from the school, and by the 90s when my grandfather passed, you couldn't see that there was a fence at all; just a solid mass of wisteria that bloomed violently every spring.

Wisteria actually brought down my parents' fence, and it would have started on the house if they hadn't been so aggressive with the pruning. They also planted some grapes that helped act as a barrier against further wisteria incursion.

Many years ago, when my father asked me my opinions about wisteria, because a) he was thinking of planting it and b) I had worked in greenhouses and landscaping a bit and thus had Opinions, my advice was that wisteria was a very pretty but extremely invasive exotic, and there was a really good reason you often saw it growing on pergolas and trellises and such- because eventually it would grow out of control, and at that point the only thing left to do was burn it and the structure it was growing on to the ground in order to control it.

So rather than putting it on the fence around the yard, he had a little section of fence put inside the yard, unconnected to any other sections and not near any trees, and that's where the wisteria lives.

Somewhere there is a picture of an old rambler rose-not sure if it's 'Kiftsgate' or 'Rambling Rector'- that was planted to grow up an old apple tree next to a pond. It engulfed the tree and now looks like a big white weeping willow when in bloom. Just letting you know what could happen.

I'm originally from California, and I'm quite fond of climbing roses--Belle of Portugal, in particular. It's an old rose, blooms once, massively, in the spring, then nothing. In the right climate (read: California), it can climb a 35 foot building in what seems like a single bound. And when it blooms, it's spectacular.

Which Weed Dragon did you guys get? I've been looking them over for a while, thinking that it might help with the kudzu in the places that I can't fence for goats.

Good luck with the Dog Interview! Have you met The Candidate before?

If you find yourself taking remarkably long naps, be sure your climbing rose doesn't encircle your house, okay? Fairy tales gotta start somewhere.....

(and seriously, have you ever seen the Tombstone Rosebush? The gigantic one with the pale yellow little flowers that *thrive* in Sonoran Desert heat? It's a 'Lady Banks' rose, scrappy as anything, and it covers 8,000 square feet. Yes, it's that big. Tucson is freakin' FULL of its descendants-- hell, my workplace's parking-lot is ringed by it-- and the worst summer temps do not kill this thing. It's astounding.)

One of my few laments about living in Minnesota is that yellow climbing roses tend to not survive here. I have dreams of trellises full of yellow climbing roses that will never happen, because, Zone 4.

Ah, but at least you have Fall! We don't really have fall; we have this brief, fleeting period during which you can practically hear the crash as anything that's not a cactus or Juniper and still retains its leaves drops them all at once. You have to drive to the north end of the state to see leaves turn, or up to a sky island maybe-- sometimes you have aspens on some of those. That's it, though; no beautiful post-card Autumns here.

good luck on the dog interview... and the cat adjustment.

yeah, gardening,.. weeding.. my tulips are up and blooming now.


re: mantis egg case

I tweeted you about this, then saw this post and figured more info is better.

The photo you posted on Twitter looks dry with holes in it--meaning it's empty so you can knock it off and use the shears. When they're full of little mantises the cases are solid and kinda shiny. If there are holes in the case, it's either hatched (often the case will look aerated, like dried foam) or predated (just a few holes, but the whole case has gone dry and flakey) and nobody will mind if you discard it.

(I am not an expert, just someone who grew up in the extra-rural parts of Guam. Your NC mantises may be different.)

My family had a dog that had been dumped when I was a boy. My parents suspected that someone had tried to make Misty mean (she was a doberman pincher and it was the 1980s), but she was a kind, neurotic, loving dog. She tolerated two small children thoughtlessly trying to make her a sled dog, climbing all over her, and teasing her. The down side was her obsessive need to dig, often in beds mother lovingly planted in hope of strawberries. Wish I were less allergic to animal hair, it would be nice to have a dog.

You should post snapshots of your climbing rose to Tumblr to show us the rose that eats trees. :)

I walk around my neighborhood and imagine "Oh if only I had a weed dragon. I'd get *you* and *you* and you're toast, buddy!"

We can't have a weed dragon. The whole lot of us at the house are incipient pyromaniacs, so we play it safe.

But I do want a weed dragon so bad!


I've seen the Kiftsgate rose, and it's impressive, but I was kind of forewarned. Nothing, however, prepared me for going to RHS Wisley, and reading a sign about a climbing rose. Which I hadn't seen. Which I only saw once I looked up. It had eaten several trees and showed no signs of stopping there. I used to think this whole 'engulfed by a rose bush' was a myth. I'm a convert.

Climbing roses can be the devil

but not as bad as wild roses. I wonder if they still fight that bastard at my old Prairie Village House.

We will be moving next month, alas it will shove us into the wrong time of year for everything but I can plan landscaping and such for next year. We have a large side yard that I may plant a couple, three fruit trees in.

And anyone who abandons a dog is evil. Especially when they let them out at the road (My folks lived on a farm. Their last big dog did not know she was a dog, and KILLED other dogs. It was heartbreaking to my mom. I would remind her to be angry with the people, because Heather just saw it as an intruder. And at about 150 lbs, could take just about anything.)

climbing roses can get massive. one of my grandmother's neighbors in berkeley had a beautiful and venerable yellow climber that was a good 20-30' wide and tall.

i relocated some giant catmint today and all was going well until i replanted it and realised a HUGE banana slug was sitting int he middle of clump looking vaguely traumatised by the move. (i'm very fond of my banana slugs, all of whom are named "slugworth". mostly they prefer dried cat food to eating up the garden.)

My (admittedly limited) experience with climbing roses says that they'll do vertical just fine. Fences, or other horizontals, they need to be trained to. Tie a branch or two to the fence and see what happens. Repeat further along the fence as necessary.

People who dump dogs deserve to have mantis lay an egg case in their brain stem *nods*

Do you have an approximate mantis egg case count for your yard?

I ask because I've now found seventeen of the things in my 5th-or-so year of intensively planting natives, and I'm only working with a quarter acre that's half buildings and this seems kind of ridiculous and like they're all going to end up eating each other twenty minutes after hatching because I can't possibly have enough insects for them all to eat! (ahem)

So, I'm wondering if this is actually a normal density or not.

Over twenty years ago I had to find a new home for my cat, because I had become so allergic to her I was ending up in the emergency room because I couldn't breathe. I know the people I gave her to gave her a good home, but my heart still aches to this day.

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