Spring having arrived earlier this week, I remembered the last few years' disasters, and bombed outside on Tuesday after work and spent just slightly over an hour raking out the back lily bed. Being on a bit of a roll, I also got the other garden I reduced last fall raked out, as well as under all the bushes by the back of the house, under the creeping hydrangea, and around the bilco door. In the process of doing this I raised a truly lovely blister on the inside of my right thumb. I didn't think it was too bad until Wednesday morning just before our staff meeting when I realized how distended it was from the pus. Oops.
I'm thinking about chopping down the rhododendron after/if it blooms this year. I don't really care for them, and it's really too close against the house. Gotta think about that for a bit.
Wednesday I didn't get home until it was too dark. So over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, Bob was able to haul all the huge piles of leaves that I generated back into the woods. Thursday I headed straight outside and raked for about an hour and a half - until I lost the light. Got some of the vinca under the apple tree cleaned out, some of the yard, and moved around to the other side of the deck. Got the funny little triangular garden space that I don't know what to do with cleared out, under the assorted edge-of-the-woods specimen trees/shrubs, and the whole slope along the outside library wall. Once I cleared the mat of leaves I discovered what the chipmunks had been up to over the winter. It looked like the minefields of Laos. Or like a closeup of termite damage. I need to get online and order more snap traps, and this year I'm baiting them. I need to seriously decimate that population, but I really don't want to put poison out for a variety of very good reasons. Break them little chipmunk necks.
Or as someone on GardenWeb pointed out - they're really just rats with racing stripes.
I also *finally* got around to taking the square nosed shovel and cutting away the soil along that part of the foundation. The soil is now more than it's prior inch from the tasty cedar clapboards. I'll smooth it out with the landscaping rake later. I was really done at that point, but I peeked around the front and saw that the irises are coming up. So I got my sorry, fat, sweating butt over there and got that garden cleaned out. At that point I'd run out of places to put the damn leaves, so that batch got piled up on top of the pachysandra that's across the front of the house with a note to Bob to move that pile first. Well, THEN I had to see if the daffodils I transplanted last year survived, so I raked out the margins of the garden I actually want to install. They're alive! And riddled with chipmunk holes. Break them little chipmunk necks...
At that point, there was no more light. On the bright side, no new blisters. I've discovered that it works better to hold the rake like a cannon swab than a rake - that way I don't grow a blister at the pivot point. It took me how many years to figure this out?
The thing that really gets me, is that this place must have been *spectacular* in it's heyday. The way I'm managing things is that I pick a visual line: between two shrubs, or along a line of trees, whatever - and I make that the border of what I'll maintain. Then I go one rake reach beyond that to clean up the leaves. No matter how far back I go, I keep finding more circles of rocks where there was obviously something. I have to think this place had full english country style gardens or something similar at some point. All I can figure was that she either had a service to at least come out and do spring and fall cleaning... or that's why he had to have a double knee replacement.
Well, it's not going to look like that again while I'm living here. Sad, but true.
This weekend - more raking! I need to finish raking out the front beds and my new proto-garden out front. I need to rake the other half of the back yard. I need to rake out the euonimus alongside the garage - that's always complete misery. I need to rake the sides of the driveway - that's going to be miserable because it's two years of leaves. Last spring I asked Bob to clean up the sides of the driveway, and he hasn't gotten around to it yet. Finally, I need to rake out at least a bit down at the entrance to the driveway. Our across the street neighbor has put her house on the market, and I would like to make it neat for her. I can't clean up the frontage - not this year. It's just too much. But I can make a nice looking approach.
Oh, and there's a bit by the side door that I want to dig out, weedblock, and fill with gravel. I can get that all done in a day and a half while watching the baby, right? :-) God, I need staff. But it IS nice to be outside.